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Tess of the d'Urbervilles

A Pure Woman

Faithfully Presented
By Thomas Hardy

Transcribed by Steve Menyhert (phred sit.sps.mot.com)
Proofread by Meredith Ricker and

and John Hamm

Contents

Phase the First: The MaidenI-XI

Phase the Second: Maiden No MoreXII-XV

Phase the Third: The RallyXVI-XXIV

Phase the Fourth: The ConsequenceXXV-XXXIV

Phase the Fifth: The Woman PaysXXXV-XLIV

Phase the Sixth: The ConvertXLV-LII

Phase the Seventh: FulfillmentLIII-LIX

Phase the First: The Maiden

On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged
man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of
Marlottin the adjoining Vale of Blakemore or
Blackmoor. The pair of legs that carried him were
ricketyand there was a bias in his gait which
inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line.
He occasionally gave a smart nodas if in confirmation
of some opinionthough he was not thinking of anything
in particular. An empty egg-basket was slung upon his
armthe nap of his hat was ruffleda patch being
quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in
taking it off. Presently he was met by an elderly
parson astride on a gray marewhoas he rodehummed
a wandering tune.

Good night t'ee,said the man with the basket.


Good night, Sir John,said the parson.

The pedestrianafter another pace or twohalted
and turned round.

Now, sir, begging your pardon; we met last market-day
on this road about this time, and I said Good night
and you made reply 'GOOD NIGHT, SIR JOHN,' as now.

I did,said the parson.

And once before that--near a month ago.

I may have.

Then what might your meaning be in calling me
'Sir John' these different times, when I be plain Jack
Durbeyfield, the haggler?

The parson rode a step or two nearer.

It was only my whim,he said; andafter a moment's
hesitation: "It was on account of a discovery I made
some little time agowhilst I was hunting up pedigrees
for the new county history. I am Parson Tringhamthe
antiquaryof Stagfoot Lane. Don't you really know
Durbeyfieldthat you are the lineal representative of
the ancient and knightly family of the d'Urbervilles
who derive their descent from Sir Pagan d'Urberville
that renowned knight who came from Normandy with
William the Conqueroras appears by Battle Abbey
Roll?"

Never heard it before, sir!

Well it's true. Throw up your chin a moment, so that
I may catch the profile of your face better. Yes,
that's the d'Urberville nose and chin--a little
debased. Your ancestor was one of the twelve knights
who assisted the Lord of Estremavilla in Normandy in
his conquest of Glamorganshire. Branches of your
family held manors over all this part of England; their
names appear in the Pipe Rolls in the time of King
Stephen. In the reign of King John one of them was
rich enough to give a manor to the Knights
Hospitallers; and in Edward the Second's time your
forefather Brian was summoned to Westminster to attend
the great Council there. You declined a little in
Oliver Cromwell's time, but to no serious extent, and
in Charles the Second's reign you were made Knights of
the Royal Oak for your loyalty. Aye, there have been
generations of Sir Johns among you, and if knighthood
were hereditary, like a baronetcy, as it practically
was in old times, when men were knighted from father to
son, you would be Sir John now.

Ye don't say so!

In short,concluded the parsondecisively smacking
his leg with his switchthere's hardly such another
family in England.

Daze my eyes, and isn't there?said Durbeyfield.


And here have I been knocking about, year after year,
from pillar to post, as if I was no more than the
commonest feller in the parish....And how long hev this
news about me been knowed, Pa'son Tringham?

The clergyman explained thatas far as he was aware
it had quite died out of knowledgeand could hardly be
said to be known at all. His own investigations had
begun on a day in the preceding spring whenhaving
been engaged in tracing the vicissitudes of the
d'Urberville familyhe had observed Durbeyfield's name
on his waggonand had thereupon been led to make
inquiries about his father and grandfather till he had
no doubt on the subject.

At first I resolved not to disturb you with such a
useless piece of information,said he. "Howeverour
impulses are too strong for our judgement sometimes.
I thought you might perhaps know something of it all the
while."

Well, I have heard once or twice, 'tis true, that my
family had seen better days afore they came to
Blackmoor. But I took no notice o't, thinking it to
mean that we had once kept two horses where we now keep
only one. I've got a wold silver spoon, and a wold
graven seal at home, too; but, Lord, what's a spoon and
seal? ... And to think that I and these noble
d'Urbervilles were one flesh all the time. 'Twas said
that my gr't-granfer had secrets, and didn't care to
talk of where he came from.... And where do we raise
our smoke, now, parson, if I may make so bold; I mean,
where do we d'Urbervilles live?

You don't live anywhere. You are extinct--as a county
family.

That's bad.

Yes--what the mendacious family chronicles call
extinct in the male line--that is, gone down--gone
under.

Then where do we lie?

At Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill: rows and rows of you in
your vaults, with your effigies under Purbeck-marble
canopies.

And where be our family mansions and estates?

You haven't any.

Oh? No lands neither?

None; though you once had 'em in abundance, as I said,
for you family consisted of numerous branches. In this
county there was a seat of yours at Kingsbere, and
another at Sherton, and another in Millpond, and
another at Lullstead, and another at Wellbridge.

And shall we ever come into our own again?

Ah--that I can't tell!


And what had I better do about it, sir?asked
Durbeyfieldafter a pause.

Oh--nothing, nothing; except chasten yourself with the
thought of 'how are the mighty fallen.' It is a fact
of some interest to the local historian and
genealogist, nothing more. There are several families
among the cottagers of this county of almost equal
lustre. Good night.

But you'll turn back and have a quart of beer wi' me
on the strength o't, Pa'son Tringham? There's a very
pretty brew in tap at The Pure Drop--though, to be
sure, not so good as at Rolliver's.

No, thank you--not this evening, Durbeyfield. You've
had enough already.Concluding thus the parson rode
on his waywith doubts as to his discretion in
retailing this curious bit of lore.

When he was gone Durbeyfield walked a few steps in a
profound reverieand then sat down upon the grassy
bank by the roadsidedepositing his basket before him.
In a few minutes a youth appeared in the distance
walking in the same direction as that which had been
pursued by Durbeyfield. The latteron seeing him
held up his handand the lad quickened his pace and
came near.

Boy, take up that basket! I want 'ee to go on an
errand for me.

The lath-like stripling frowned. "Who be youthen
John Durbeyfieldto order me about and call me 'boy?'
You know my name as well as I know yours!"

Do you, do you? That's the secret--that's the secret!
Now obey my orders, and take the message I'm going to
charge 'ee wi'.... Well, Fred, I don't mind telling you
that the secret is that I'm one of a noble race--it has
been just found out by me this present afternoon, P.M.
And as he made the announcementDurbeyfielddeclining
from his sitting positionluxuriously stretched
himself out upon the bank among the daisies.

The lad stood before Durbeyfieldand contemplated his
length from crown to toe.

Sir John d'Urberville--that's who I am,continued the
prostrate man. "That is if knights were
baronets--which they be. "Tis recorded in history all
about me. Dost know of such a placeladas
Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill?"

Ees, I've been there to Greenhill Fair.

Well, under the church of that city there lie--

'Tisn't a city, the place I mean; leastwise 'twaddn'
when I was there--'twas a little one-eyed, blinking
sort o'place.

Never you mind the place, boy, that's not the question


before us. Under the church of that there parish lie my
ancestors--hundreds of 'em--in coats of mail and
jewels, in gr't lead coffins weighing tons and tons.
There's not a man in the county o' South-Wessex that's
got grander and nobler skillentons in his family than
I.

Oh?

Now take up that basket, and goo on to Marlott, and
when you've come to The Pure Drop Inn, tell 'em to send
a horse and carriage to me immed'ately, to carry me
hwome. And in the bottom o' the carriage they be to
put a noggin o' rum in a small bottle, and chalk it up
to my account. And when you've done that goo on to my
house with the basket, and tell my wife to put away
that washing, because she needn't finish it, and wait
till I come hwome, as I've news to tell her.

As the lad stood in a dubious attitudeDurbeyfield put
his hand in his pocketand produced a shillingone of
the chronically few that he possessed.

Here's for your labour, lad.

This made a difference in the young man's estimate of
the position.

Yes, Sir John. Thank 'ee. Anything else I can do for
'ee, Sir John?

Tell 'em at hwome that I should like for
supper,--well, lamb's fry if they can get it; and if
they can't, black-pot; and if they can't get that, well
chitterlings will do.

Yes, Sir John.

The boy took up the basketand as he set out the notes
of a brass band were heard from the direction of the
village.

What's that?said Durbeyfield. "Not on account o' I?"

'Tis the women's club-walking, Sir John. Why, your
da'ter is one o' the members.

To be sure--I'd quite forgot it in my thoughts of
greater things! Well, vamp on to Marlott, will ye, and
order that carriage, and maybe I'll drive round and
inspect the club.

The lad departedand Durbeyfield lay waiting on the
grass and daisies in the evening sun. Not a soul passed
that way for a long whileand the faint notes of the
band were the only human sounds audible within the rim
of blue hills.

The village of Marlott lay amid the north-eastern


undulations of the beautiful Vale of Blakemore or
Blackmoor aforesaidand engirdled and secluded region
for the most part untrodden as yet by tourist or
landscape-painterthough within a four hours' journey
from London.

It is a vale whose acquaintance is best made by viewing
it from the summits of the hills that surround
it--except perhaps during the droughts of summer. An
unguided ramble into its recesses in bad weather is apt
to engender dissatisfaction with its narrowtortuous
and miry ways.

This fertile and sheltered tract of countryin which
the fields are never brown and the springs never dry
is bounded on the south by the bold chalk ridge that
embraces the prominences of Hambledon HillBulbarrow
Nettlecombe-ToutDogburyHigh Stoyand Bubb Down.
The traveller from the coastwhoafter plodding
northward for a score of miles over calcareous downs
and corn-landssuddenly reaches the verge of one of
these escarpmentsis surprised and delighted to
beholdextended like a map beneath hima country
differing absolutely from that which he has passed
through. Behind him the hills are openthe sun blazes
down upon fields so large as to give an unenclosed
character to the landscapethe lanes are whitethe
hedges low and plashedthe atmosphere colourless.
Herein the valleythe world seems to be constructed
upon a smaller and more delicate scale; the fields are
mere paddocksso reduced that from this height their
hedgerows appear a network of dark green threads
overspreading the paler green of the grass. The
atmosphere beneath is languorousand is so tinged with
azure that what artists call the middle distance
partakes also of that huewhile the horizon beyond is
of the deepest ultramarine. Arable lands are few and
limited; with but slight exceptions the prospect is a
broad rich mass of grass and treesmantling minor
hills and dales within the major. Such is the Vale of
Blackmoor.

The district is of historicno less than of
topographical interest. The Vale was known in former
times as the Forest of White Hartfrom a curious
legend of King Henry III's reignin which the killing
by a certain Thomas de la Lynd of a beautiful white
hart which the king had run down and sparedwas made
the occasion of a heavy fine. In those daysand till
comparatively recent timesthe country was densely
wooded. Even nowtraces of its earlier condition are
to be found in the old oak copses and irregular belts
of timber that yet survive upon its slopesand the
hollow-trunked trees that shade so many of its
pastures.

The forests have departedbut some old customs of
their shades remain. Manyhoweverlinger only in a
metamorphosed or disguised form. The May-Day dance
for instancewas to be discerned on the afternoon
under noticein the guise of the club revelor
club-walking,as it was there called.

It was an interesting event to the younger inhabitants


of Marlottthough its real interest was not observed
by the participators in the ceremony. Its singularity
lay less in the retention of a custom of walking in
procession and dancing on each anniversary than in the
members being solely women. In men's clubs such
celebrations werethough expiringless uncommon; but
either the natural shyness of the softer sexor a
sarcastic attitude on the part of male relativeshad
denuded such women's clubs as remained (if any other
did) or this their glory and consummation. The club of
Marlott alone lived to uphold the local Cerealia.
It had walked for hundreds of yearsif not as
benefit-clubas votive sisterhood of some sort; and it
walked still.

The banded ones were all dressed in white gowns--a gay
survival from Old Style dayswhen cheerfulness and
May-time were synonyms--days before the habit of
taking long views had reduced emotions to a monotonous
average. Their first exhibition of themselves was in a
processional march of two and two round the parish.
Ideal and real clashed slightly as the sun lit up their
figures against the green hedges and creeper-laced
house-fronts; forthough the whole troop wore white
garmentsno two whites were alike among them. Some
approached pure blanching; some had a bluish pallor;
some worn by the older characters (which had possibly
lain by folded for many a year) inclined to a
cadaverous tintand to a Georgian style.

In addition to the distinction of a white frockevery
woman and girl carried in her right hand a peeled
willow wandand in her left a bunch of white flowers.
The peeling of the formerand the selection of the
latterhad been an operation of personal care.

There were a few middle-aged and even elderly women in
the traintheir silver-wiry hair and wrinkled faces
scourged by time and troublehaving almost a
grotesquecertainly a patheticappearance in such a
jaunty situation. In a true viewperhapsthere was
more to be gathered and told of each anxious and
experienced oneto whom the years were drawing nigh
when she should sayI have no pleasure in them,than
of her juvenile comrades. But let the elder be passed
over here for those under whose bodices the life
throbbed quick and warm.

The young girls formedindeedthe majority of the
bandand their heads of luxuriant hair reflected in the
sunshine every tone of goldand blackand brown.
Some had beautiful eyesothers a beautiful nose
others a beautiful mouth and figure: fewif anyhad
all. A difficulty of arranging their lips in this
crude exposure to public scrutinyan inability to
balance their headsand to dissociate
self-consciousness from their featureswas apparent in
themand showed that they were genuine country girls
unaccustomed to many eyes.

And as each and all of them were warmed without by the
sunso each had a private little sun for her soul to
bask in; some dreamsome affectionsome hobbyat
least some remote and distant hope whichthough


perhaps starving to nothingstill lived onas hopes
will. They were all cheerfuland many of them merry.

They came round by The Pure Drop Innand were turning
out of the high road to pass through a wicket-gate into
the meadowswhen one of the women said-


The Load-a-Lord! Why, Tess Durbeyfield, if there
isn't thy father riding hwome in a carriage!

A young member of the band turned her head at the
exclamation. She was a fine and handsome girl--not
handsomer than some otherspossibly--but her mobile
peony mouth and large innocent eyes added eloquence to
colour and shape. She wore a red ribbon in her hair
and was the only one of the white company who could
boast of such a pronounced adornment. As she looked
round Durbeyfield was seen moving along the road in a
chaise belonging to The Pure Dropdriven by a
frizzle-headed brawny damsel with her gown-sleeves
rolled above her elbows. This was the cheerful servant
of that establishmentwhoin her part of factotum
turned groom and ostler at times. Durbeyfieldleaning
backand with his eyes closed luxuriouslywas waving
his hand above his headand singing in a slow
recitative-


I've-got-a-gr't-family-vault-at-Kingsbere--and
knighted-forefathers-in-lead-coffins-there!

The clubbists titteredexcept the girl called Tess-in
whom a slow heat seemed to rise at the sense that her
father was making himself foolish in their eyes.

He's tired, that's all,she said hastilyand he has
got a lift home, because our own horse has to rest
today.

Bless thy simplicity, Tess,said her companions.
He's got his market-nitch. Haw-haw!

Look here; I won't walk another inch with you, if you
say any jokes about him!Tess criedand the colour
upon her cheeks spread over her face and neck. In a
moment her eyes grew moistand her glance drooped to
the ground. Perceiving that they had really pained her
they said no moreand order again prevailed. Tess's
pride would not allow her to turn her head againto
learn what her father's meaning wasif he had any; and
thus she moved on with the whole body to the enclosure
where there was to be dancing on the green. By the
time the spot was reached she has recovered her
equanimityand tapped her neighbour with her wand and
talked as usual.

Tess Durbeyfield at this time of her life was a mere
vessel of emotion untinctured by experience. The
dialect was on her tongue to some extentdespite the
village school: the characteristic intonation of that
dialect for this district being the voicing
approximately rendered by the syllable URprobably as
rich an utterance as any to be found in human speech.
The pouted-up deep red mouth to which this syllable was
native had hardly as yet settled into its definite


shapeand her lower lip had a way of thrusting the
middle of her top one upwardwhen they closed together
after a word.


Phases of her childhood lurked in her aspect still.
As she walked along todayfor all her bouncing handsome
womanlinessyou could sometimes see her twelfth year
in her cheeksor her ninth sparkling from her eyes;
and even her fifth would flit over the curves of her
mouth now and then.


Yet few knewand still fewer considered this. A small
minoritymainly strangerswould look long at her in
casually passing byand grow momentarily fascinated by
her freshnessand wonder if they would ever see her
again: but to almost everybody she was a fine and
picturesque country girland no more.


Nothing was seen or heard further of Durbeyfield in his
triumphal chariot under the conduct of the ostleress
and the club having entered the allotted spacedancing
began. As there were no men in the company the girls
danced at first with each otherbut when the hour for
the close of labour drew onthe masculine inhabitants
of the villagetogether with other idlers and
pedestriansgathered round the spotand appeared
inclined to negotiate for a partner.


Among these on-lookers were three young men of a
superior classcarrying small knapsacks strapped to
their shouldersand stout sticks in their hands.
Their general likeness to each otherand their
consecutive ageswould almost have suggested that they
might bewhat in fact they werebrothers. The eldest
wore the white tiehigh waistcoatand thin-brimmed
hat of the regulation curate; the second was the normal
undergraduate; the appearance of the third and youngest
would hardly have been sufficient to characterize him;
there was an uncribbeduncabined aspect in his eyes
and attireimplying that he had hardly as yet found
the entrance to his professional groove. That he was a
desultory tentative student of something and everything
might only have been predicted of him.


These three brethren told casual acquaintance that they
were spending their Whitsun holidays in a walking tour
through the Vale of Blackmoortheir course being
southwesterly from the town of Shaston on the
north-east.
dh
They leant over the gate by the highwayand inquired
as to the meaning of the dance and the white-frocked
maids. The two elder of the brothers were plainly not
intending to linger more than a momentbut the
spectacle of a bevy of girls dancing without male
partners seemed to amuse the thirdand make him in no
hurry to move on. He unstrapped his knapsackput it
with his stickon the hedge-bankand opened the gate.


What are you going to do, Angel?asked the eldest.


I am inclined to go and have a fling with them. Why
not all of us--just for a minute or two--it will not
detain us long?



No--no; nonsense!said the first. "Dancing in public
with a troop of country hoydens--suppose we should be
seen! Come alongor it will be dark before we get to
Stourcastleand there's no place we can sleep at
nearer than that; besideswe must get through another
chapter of A COUNTERBLAST TO AGNOSTICISM before we turn
innow I have taken the trouble to bring the book."

All right--I'll overtake you and Cuthbert in five
minutes; don't stop; I give my word that I will,
Felix.

The two elder reluctantly left him and walked on
taking their brother's knapsack to relieve him in
followingand the youngest entered the field.

This is a thousand pities,he said gallantlyto two
or three of the girls nearest himas soon as there was
a pause in the dance. "Where are your partnersmy
dears?"

They've not left off work yet,answered one of the
boldest. "They'll be here by and by. Till thenwill
you be onesir?"

Certainly. But what's one among so many!

Better than none. 'Tis melancholy work facing and
footing it to one of your own sort, and no clipsing and
colling at all. Now, pick and choose.

'Ssh--don't be so for'ard!said a shyer girl.

The young manthus invitedclanged them overand
attempted some discrimination; butas the group were
all so new to himhe could not very well exercise it.
He took almost the first that came to handwhich was
not the speakeras she had expected; nor did it happen
to be Tess Durbeyfield. Pedigreeancestral skeletons
monumental recordthe d'Urberville lineamentsdid not
help Tess in her life's battle as yeteven to the
extent of attracting to her a dancing-partner over the
heads of the commonest peasantry. So much for Norman
blood unaided by Victorian lucre.

The name of the eclipsing girlwhatever it washas
not been handed down; but she was envied by all as the
first who enjoyed the luxury of a masculine partner
that evening. Yet such was the force of example that
the village young menwho had not hastened to enter
the gate while no intruder was in the waynow dropped
in quicklyand soon the couples became leavened with
rustic youth to a marked extenttill at length the
plainest woman in the club was no longer compelled to
foot it on the masculine side of the figure.

The church clock struckwhen suddenly the student said
that he must leave--he had been forgetting himself-he
had to join his companions. As he fell out of the
dance his eyes lighted on Tess Durbeyfieldwhose own
large orbs woreto tell the truththe faintest aspect
of reproach that he had not chosen her. Hetoowas
sorry then thatowing to her backwardnesshe had not


observed her; and with that in his mind he left the
pasture.

On account of his long delay he started in a flying-run
down the lane westwardand had soon passed the hollow
and mounted the next rise. He had not yet overtaken
his brothersbut he paused to get breathand looked
back. He could see the white figures of the girls in
the green enclosure whirling about as they had whirled
when he was among them. They seemed to have quite
forgotten him already.

All of themexceptperhapsone. This white shape
stood apart by the hedge alone. From her position he
knew it to be the pretty maiden with whom he had not
danced. Trifling as the matter washe yet
instinctively felt that she was hurt by his oversight.
He wished that he had asked her; he wished that he had
inquired her name. She was so modestso expressive
she had looked so soft in her thin white gown that he
felt he had acted stupidly.

Howeverit could not be helpedand turningand
bending himself to a rapid walkhe dismissed the
subject from his mind.

As for Tess Durbeyfieldshe did not so easily dislodge
the incident from her consideration. She had no spirit
to dance again for a long timethough she might have
had plenty of partners; but ah! they did not speak so
nicely as the strange young man had done. It was not
till the rays of the sun had absorbed the young
stranger's retreating figure on the hill that she shook
off her temporary sadness and answered her would-be
partner in the affirmative.

She remained with her comrades till duskand
participated with a certain zest in the dancing;
thoughbeing heart-whole as yetshe enjoyed treading
a measure purely for its own sake; little divining when
she saw "the soft tormentsthe bitter sweetsthe
pleasing painsand the agreeable distresses" of those
girls who had been wooed and wonwhat she herself was
capable of in that kind. The struggles and wrangles of
the lads for her hand in a jig were an amusement to
her--no more; and when they became fierce she rebuked them.

She might have stayed even laterbut the incident of
her father's odd appearance and manner returned upon
the girl's mind to make her anxiousand wondering what
had become of him she dropped away from the dancers and
bent her steps towards the end of the village at which
the parental cottage lay.

While yet many score yards offother rhythmic sounds
than those she had quitted became audible to her;
sounds that she knew well--so well. They were a
regular series of thumpings from the interior of the
houseoccasioned by the violent rocking of a cradle


upon a stone floorto which movement a feminine voice
kept time by singingin a vigorous gallopadethe
favourite ditty of "The Spotted Cow"-


I saw her lie do'--own in yon'--der green gro'--ove;
Comelove!' and I'll tell' you where!'

The cradle-rocking and the song would cease
simultaneously for a momentand an explanation at
highest vocal pitch would take the place of the melody.

God bless thy diment eyes! And thy waxen cheeks! And
thy cherry mouth! And thy Cubit's thighs! And every
bit o' thy blessed body!

After this invocation the rocking and the singing would
recommenceand the "Spotted Cow" proceed as before.
So matters stood when Tess opened the doorand paused
upon the mat within it surveying the scene.

The interiorin spite of the melodystruck upon the
girl's senses with an unspeakable dreariness. From the
holiday gaieties of the field--the white gownsthe
nosegaysthe willow-wandsthe whirling movements on
the greenthe flash of gentle sentiment towards the
stranger--to the yellow melancholy of this one-candled
spectaclewhat a step! Besides the jar of contrast
there came to her a chill self-reproach that she had
not returned soonerto help her mother in these
domesticitiesinstead of indulging herself
out-of-doors.

There stood her mother amid the group of childrenas
Tess had left herhanging over the Monday washing-tub
which had nowas alwayslingered on to the end of the
week. Out of that tub had come the day before--Tess
felt it with a dreadful sting of remorse--the very
white frock upon her back which she had so carelessly
greened about the skirt on the damping grass--which had
been wrung up and ironed by her mother's own hands.

As usualMrs Durbeyfield was balanced on one foot
beside the tubthe other being engaged in the
aforesaid business of rocking her youngest child.
The cradle-rockers had done hard duty for so many years
under the weight of so many childrenon that flagstone
floorthat they were worn nearly flatin consequence
of which a huge jerk accompanied each swing of the cot
flinging the baby from side to side like a weaver's
shuttleas Mrs Durbeyfieldexcited by her songtrod
the rocker with all the spring that was left in her
after a long day's seething in the suds.

Nick-knocknick-knockwent the cradle; the
candle-flame stretched itself talland began jigging
up and down; the water dribbled from the matron's
elbowsand the song galloped on to the end of the
verseMrs Durbeyfield regarding her daughter the
while. Even nowwhen burdened with a young family
Joan Durbeyfield was a passionate lover of tune. No
ditty floated into Blackmoor Vale from the outer world
but Tess's mother caught up its notation in a week.

There still faintly beamed from the woman's features


something of the freshnessand even the prettiness
of her youth; rendering it probable that the personal
charms which Tess could boast of were in main part her
mother's giftand therefore unknightlyunhistorical.

I'll rock the cradle for 'ee, mother,said the
daughter gently. "Or I'll take off my best frock and
help you wring up? I thought you had finished long
ago."

Her mother bore Tess no ill-will for leaving the
housework to her single-handed efforts for so long;
indeedJoan seldom upbraided her thereon at any time
feeling but slightly the lack of Tess's assistance
whilst her instinctive plan for relieving herself of
her labours lay in postponing them. Tonighthowever
she was even in a blither mood than usual. There was a
dreaminessa pre-occupationan exaltationin the
maternal look which the girl could not understand.

Well, I'm glad you've come,her mother saidas soon
as the last note had passed out of herI want to go
and fetch your father; but what's more'n that, I want
to tell 'ee what have happened. Y'll be fess enough, my
poppet, when th'st know!(Mrs Durbeyfield habitually
spoke the dialect; her daughterwho had passed the
Sixth Standard in the National School under a
London-trained mistressspoke two languages: the
dialect at homemore or less; ordinary English abroad
and to persons of quality.)

Since I've been away?Tess asked.

Ay!

Had it anything to do with father's making such a
mommet of himself in thik carriage this afternoon?
Why did 'er? I felt inclined to sink into the ground
with shame!

That wer all a part of the larry! We've been found to
be the greatest gentlefolk in the whole
county--reaching all back long before Oliver Grumble's
time--to the days of the Pagan Turks--with monuments,
and vaults, and crests, and scutcheonsand the Lord
knows what all. In Saint Charles's days we was made
Knights o' the Royal Oakour real name being
d'Urberville! ... Don't that make your bosom plim?
'Twas on this account that your father rode home in the
vlee; not because he'd been drinkingas people
supposed."

I'm glad of that. Will it do us any good, mother?

O yes! 'Tis thoughted that great things may come o't.
No doubt a mampus of volk of our own rank will be down
here in their carriages as soon as 'tis known. Your
father learnt it on his way hwome from Shaston, and he
has been telling me the whole pedigree of the matter.

Where is father now?asked Tess suddenly.

Her mother gave irrelevant information by way of
answer: "He called to see the doctor today in Shaston.


It is not consumption at allit seems. It is fat
round his heart'a says. Thereit is like this."
Joan Durbeyfieldas she spokecurved a sodden thumb
and forefinger to the shape of the letter Cand used
the other forefinger as a pointer'At the present
moment,' he says to your father, 'your heart is
enclosed all round there, and all round there; this
space is still open,' 'a says. 'As soon as it do meet,
so,'--Mrs Durbeyfield closed her fingers into a circle
complete--"'off you will go like a shadder
Mr Durbeyfield' 'a says. 'You mid last ten years; you
mid go off in ten monthsor ten days.'"


Tess looked alarmed. Her father possibly to go behind
the eternal cloud so soonnotwithstanding this sudden
greatness!


But where IS father?she asked again.


Her mother put on a deprecating look. "Now don't you
be bursting out angry! The poor man--he felt so rafted
after his uplifting by the pa'son's news--that he went
up to Rolliver's half an hour ago. He do want to get up
his strength for his journey tomorrow with that load of
beehiveswhich must be deliveredfamily or no. He'll
have to start shortly after twelve tonightas the
distance is so long."


Get up his strength!said Tess impetuouslythe tears
welling to her eyes. "O my God! Go to a public-house
to get up his strength! And you as well agreed as hemother!"


Her rebuke and her mood seemed to fill the whole room
and to impart a cowed look to the furnitureand
candleand children playing aboutand to her mother's
face.


No,said the latter touchilyI be not agreed.
I have been waiting for 'ee to bide and keep house while
I go fetch him.


I'll go.


O no, Tess. You see, it would be no use.


Tess did not expostulate. She knew what her mother's
objection meant. Mrs Durbeyfield's jacket and bonnet
were already hanging slily upon a chair by her sidein
readiness for this contemplated jauntthe reason for
which the matron deplored more than its necessity.


And take the COMPLEAT FORTUNE-TELLER to the outhouse,
Joan continuedrapidly wiping her handsand donning
the garments.


The COMPLEAT FORTUNE-TELLER was an old thick volume
which lay on a table at her elbowso worn by pocketing
that the margins had reached the edge of the type.
Tess took it upand her mother started.


This going to hunt up her shiftless husband at the inn
was one of Mrs Durbeyfield's still extant enjoyments in
the muck and muddle of rearing children. To discover
him at Rolliver'sto sit there for an hour or two by



his side and dismiss all thought and care of the
children during the intervalmade her happy. A sort
of haloan occidental glowcame over life then.
Troubles and other realities took on themselves a
meta-physical impalpabilitysinking to mere mental
phenomena for serene contemplationand no longer stood
as pressing concretions which chafed body and soul.
The youngstersnot immediately within sightseemed
rather bright and desirable appurtenances than
otherwise; the incidents of daily life were not without
humorousness and jollity in their aspect there. She
felt a little as she had used to feel when she sat by
her now wedded husband in the same spot during his
wooingshutting her eyes to his defects of character
and regarding him only in his ideal presentation as
lover.

Tessbeing left alone with the younger childrenwent
first to the outhouse with the fortune-telling book
and stuffed it into the thatch. A curious fetichistic
fear of this grimy volume on the part of her mother
prevented her ever allowing it to stay in the house all
nightand hither it was brought back whenever it had
been consulted. Between the motherwith her
fast-perishing lumber of superstitionsfolk-lore
dialectand orally transmitted balladsand the
daughterwith her trained National teachings and
Standard knowledge under an infinitely Revised Code
there was a gap of two hundred years as ordinarily
understood. When they were together the Jacobean and
the Victorian ages were juxtaposed.

Returning along the garden path Tess mused on what the
mother could have wished to ascertain from the book on
this particular day. She guessed the recent ancestral
discovery to bear upon itbut did not divine that it
solely concerned herself. Dismissing thishowever
she busied herself with sprinkling the linen dried
during the daytimein company with her nine-year-old
brother Abrahamand her sister Eliza-Louisa of twelve
and a halfcall "'Liza-Lu the youngest ones being
put to bed. There was an interval of four years and
more between Tess and the next of the family, the two
who had filled the gap having died in their infancy,
and this lent her a deputy-maternal attitude when she
was alone with her juniors. Next in juvenility to
Abraham came two more girls, Hope and Modesty; then a
boy of three, and then the baby, who had just completed
his first year.

All these young souls were passengers in the
Durbeyfield ship--entirely dependent on the judgement
of the two Durbeyfield adults for their pleasures,
their necessities, their health, even their existence.
If the heads of the Durbeyfield household chose to sail
into difficulty, disaster, starvation, disease,
degradation, death, thither were these half-dozen
little captives under hatches compelled to sail with
them--six helpless creatures, who had never been asked
if they wished for life on any terms, much less if they
wished for it on such hard conditions as were involved
in being of the shiftless house of Durbeyfield. Some
people would like to know whence the poet whose
philosophy is in these days deemed as profound and


trustworthy as his song is breezy and pure, gets his
authority for speaking of Nature's holy plan."

It grew laterand neither father nor mother
reappeared. Tess looked out of the doorand took a
mental journey through Marlott. The village was
shutting its eyes. Candles and lamps were being put out
everywhere: she could inwardly behold the extinguisher
and the extended hand.

Her mother's fetching simply meant one more to fetch.
Tess began to perceive that a man in indifferent
healthwho proposed to start on a journey before one
in the morningought not to be at an inn at this late
hour celebrating his ancient blood.

Abraham,she said to her little brotherdo you put
on your hat--you bain't afraid?--and go up to
Rolliver's, and see what has gone wi' father and
mother.

The boy jumped promptly from his seatand opened the
doorand the night swallowed him up. Half an hour
passed yet again; neither manwomannor child
returned. Abrahamlike his parentsseemed to have
been limed and caught by the ensnaring inn.

I must go myself,she said.

'Liza-Lu then went to bedand Tesslocking them all
instarted on her way up the dark and crooked lane or
street not made for hasty progress; a street laid out
before inches of land had valueand when one-handed
clocks sufficiently subdivided the day.

Rolliver's innthe single alehouse at this end of the
long and broken villagecould only boast of an
off-licence; henceas nobody could legally drink on
the premisesthe amount of overt accommodation for
consumers was strictly limited to a little board about
six inches wide and two yards longfixed to the garden
palings by pieces of wireso as to form a ledge. On
this board thirsty strangers deposited their cups as
they stood in the road and drankand threw the dregs
on the dusty ground to the pattern of Polynesiaand
wished they could have a restful seat inside.

Thus the strangers. But there were also local
customers who felt the same wish; and where there's a
will there's a way.

In a large bedroom upstairsthe window of which was
thickly curtained with a great woollen shawl lately
discarded by the landlady Mrs Rolliverwere gathered
on this evening nearly a dozen personsall seeking
beatitude; all old inhabitants of the nearer end of
Marlottand frequenters of this retreat. Not only did
the distance to the The Pure Dropthe fully-licensed
tavern at the further part of the dispersed village


render its accommodation practically unavailable for
dwellers at this end; but the far more serious
questionthe quality of the liquorconfirmed the
prevalent opinion that it was better to drink with
Rolliver in a corner of the housetop than with the
other landlord in a wide house.

A gaunt four-post bedstead which stood in the room
afforded sitting-space for several persons gathered
round three of its sides; a couple more men had
elevated themselves on a chest of drawers; another
rested on the oak-carved "cwoffer"; two on the
wash-stand; another on the stool; and thus all were
somehowseated at their ease. The stage of mental
comfort to which they had arrived at this hour was one
wherein their souls expanded beyond their skinsand
spread their personalities warmly through the room.
In this process the chamber and its furniture grew more
and more dignified and luxurious; the shawl hanging at
the window took upon itself the richness of tapestry;
the brass handles of the chest of drawers were as
golden knockers; and the carved bedposts seemed to have
some kinship with the magnificent pillars of Solomon's
temple.

Mrs Durbeyfieldhaving quickly walked hitherward after
parting from Tessopened the front doorcrossed the
downstairs roomwhich was in deep gloomand then
unfastened the stair-door like one whose fingers knew
the tricks of the latches well. Her ascent of the
crooked staircase was a slower processand her face
as it rose into the light above the last stair
encountered the gaze of all the party assembled in the
bedroom.

----Being a few private friends I've asked in to keep
up club-walking at my own expense,the landlady
exclaimed at the sound of footstepsas glibly as a
child repeating the Catechismwhile she peered over
the stairs. "Oh'tis youMrs Durbeyfield--Lard--how
you frightened me!--I thought it might be some gaffer
sent by Gover'ment."

Mrs Durbeyfield was welcomed with glances and nods by
the remainder of the conclaveand turned to where her
husband sat. He was humming absently to himselfin a
low tone: "I be as good as some folks here and there!
I've got a great family vault at Kingsberesub-
Greenhilland finer skillentons than any man in
Wessex!"

I've something to tell 'ee that's come into my head
about that--a grand projick!whispered his cheerful
wife. "HereJohndon't 'ee see me?" She nudged him
while helooking through her as through a window-pane
went on with his recitative.

Hush! Don't 'ee sing so loud, my good man,said the
landlady; "in case any member of the Gover'ment should
be passingand take away my licends."

He's told 'ee what's happened to us, I suppose?asked
Mrs Durbeyfield.


Yes--in a way. D'ye think there's any money hanging by
it?

Ah, that's the secret,said Joan Durbeyfield sagely.
However, 'tis well to be kin to a coach, even if you
don't ride in 'en.She dropped her public voiceand
continued in a low tone to her husband: "I've been
thinking since you brought the news that there's a
great rich lady out by Trantridgeon the edge o' The
Chaseof the name of d'Urberville."

Hey--what's that?said Sir John.

She repeated the information. "That lady must be our
relation she said. And my projick is to send Tess to
claim kin."

There IS a lady of the name, now you mention it,said
Durbeyfield. "Pa'son Tringham didn't think of that.
But she's nothing beside we--a junior branch of usno
doubthailing long since King Norman's day."

While this question was being discussed neither of the
pair noticedin their preoccupationthat little
Abraham had crept into the roomand was awaiting an
opportunity of asking them to return.

She is rich, and she'd be sure to take notice o' the
maid,continued Mrs Durbeyfield; "and 'twill be a very
good thing. I don't see why two branches o' one family
should not be on visiting terms."

Yes; and we'll all claim kin!said Abraham brightly
from under the bedstead. "And we'll all go and see her
when Tess has gone to live with her; and we'll ride in
her coach and wear black clothes!"

How do you come here, child? What nonsense be ye
talking! Go away, and play on the stairs till father
and mother be ready! ... Well, Tess ought to go to this
other member of our family. She'd be sure to win the
lady--Tess would; and likely enough 'twould lead to
some noble gentleman marrying her. In short, I know it.

How?

I tried her fate in the FORTUNE-TELLER, and it brought
out that very thing! ... You should ha' seen how pretty
she looked today; her skin is as sumple as a
duchess's.

What says the maid herself to going?

I've not asked her. She don't know there is any such
lady-relation yet. But it would certainly put her in
the way of a grand marriage, and she won't say nay to
going.

Tess is queer.

But she's tractable at bottom. Leave her to me.

Though this conversation had been privatesufficient
of its import reached the understandings of those


around to suggest to them that the Durbeyfields had
weightier concerns to talk of now than common folks
hadand that Tesstheir pretty eldest daughterhad
fine prospects in store.

Tess is a fine figure o' fun, as I said to myself
today when I zeed her vamping round parish with the
rest,observed one of the elderly boozers in an
undertone. "But Joan Durbeyfield must mind that she
don't get green malt in floor." It was a local phrase
which had a peculiar meaningand there was no reply.

The conversation became inclusiveand presently other
footsteps were heard crossing the room below.

----Being a few private friends asked in tonight to
keep up club-walking at my own expense.The landlady
had rapidly re-used the formula she kept on hand for
intruders before she recognized that the newcomer was
Tess.

Even to her mother's gaze the girl's young features
looked sadly out of place amid the alcoholic vapours
which floated here as no unsuitable medium for wrinkled
middle-age; and hardly was a reproachful flash from
Tess's dark eyes needed to make her father and mother
rise from their seatshastily finish their aleand
descend the stairs behind herMrs Rolliver's caution
following their footsteps.

No noise, please, if ye'll be so good, my dears; or I
mid lose my licends, and be summons'd, and I don't know
what all! 'Night t'ye!

They went home togetherTess holding one arm of her
fatherand Mrs Durbeyfield the other. He hadin
truthdrunk very little--not a fourth of the quantity
which a systematic tippler could carry to church on a
Sunday afternoon without a hitch in his eastings of
genuflections; but the weakness of Sir John's
constitution made mountains of his petty sins in this
kind. On reaching the fresh air he was sufficiently
unsteady to incline the row of three at one moment as
if they were marching to Londonand at another as if
they were marching to Bath--which produced a comical
effectfrequent enough in families on nocturnal
homegoings; andlike most comical effectsnot quite
so comic after all. The two women valiantly disguised
these forced excursions and countermarches as well as
they could from Durbeyfield their causeand from
Abrahamand from themselves; and so they approached by
degrees their own doorthe head of the family bursting
suddenly into his former refrain as he drew nearas if
to fortify his soul at sight of the smallness of his
present residence-


I've got a fam--ily vault at Kingsbere!

Hush--don't be so silly, Jacky,said his wife.
Yours is not the only family that was of 'count in
wold days. Look at the Anktells, and Horseys, and the
Tringhams themselves--gone to seed a'most as much as
you--though you was bigger folks then they, that's
true. Thank God, I was never of no family, and have


nothing to be ashamed of in that way!

Don't you be so sure o' that. From you nater 'tis my
belief you've disgraced yourselves more than any o' us,
and was kings and queens outright at one time.

Tess turned the subject by saying what was far more
prominent in her own mind at the moment than thoughts
of her ancestry--"I am afraid father won't be able to
take the journey with the beehives tomorrow so early."

I? I shall be all right in an hour or two,said
Durbeyfield.

It was eleven o'clock before the family were all in
bedand two o'clock next morning was the latest hour
for starting with the beehives if they were to be
delivered to the retailers in Casterbridge before the
Saturday market beganthe way thither lying by bad
roads over a distance of between twenty and thirty
milesand the horse and waggon being of the slowest.
At half-past one Mrs Durbeyfield came into the large
bedroom where Tess and all her little brothers and
sisters slept.

The poor man can't go,she said to her eldest
daughterwhose great eyes had opened the moment her
mother's hand touched the door.

Tess sat up in bedlost in a vague interspace between
a dream and this information.

But somebody must go,she replied. "It is late for
the hives already. Swarming will soon be over for the
year; and it we put off taking 'em till next week's
market the call for 'em will be pastand they'll be
thrown on our hands."

Mrs Durbeyfield looked unequal to the emergency. "Some
young fellerperhapswould go? One of them who were
so much after dancing with 'ee yesterday she
presently suggested.

O no--I wouldn't have it for the world!" declared Tess
proudly. "And letting everybody know the reason--such a
thing to be ashamed of! I think I could go if Abraham
could go with me to kip me company."

Her mother at length agreed to this arrangement.
Little Abraham was aroused from his deep sleep in a
corner of the same apartmentand made to put on his
clothes while still mentally in the other world.
Meanwhile Tess had hastily dressed herself; and the
twainlighting a lanternwent out to the stable.
The rickety little waggon was already ladenand the girl
led out the horse Princeonly a degree less rickety
than the vehicle.

The poor creature looked wonderingly round at the
nightat the lanternat their two figuresas if he
could not believe that at that hourwhen every living
thing was intended to be in shelter and at resthe was
called upon to go out and labour. They put a stock of


candle-ends into the lanternhung the latter to the
off-side of the loadand directed the horse onward
walking at his shoulder at first during the uphill
parts of the wayin order not to overload an animal of
so little vigour. To cheer themselves as well as they
couldthey made an artificial morning with the
lanternsome bread and butterand their own
conversationthe real morning being far from come.
Abrahamas he more fully awoke (for he had moved in a
sort of trance so far)began to talk of the strange
shapes assumed by the various dark objects against the
sky; of this tree that looked like a raging tiger
springing from a lair; of that which resembled a
giant's head.

When they had passed the little town of Stourcastle
dumbly somnolent under its thick brown thatchthey
reached higher ground. Still higheron their leftthe
elevation called Bulbarrow or Bealbarrowwell-nigh the
highest in South Wessexswelled into the sky
engirdled by its earthen trenches. From hereabout the
long road was fairly level for some distance onward.
They mounted in front of the waggonand Abraham grew
reflective.

Tess!he said in a preparatory toneafter a silence.

Yes, Abraham.

Bain't you glad that we've become gentlefolk?

Not particular glad.

But you be glad that you 'm going to marry a
gentleman?

What?said Tesslifting her face.

That our great relation will help 'ee to marry a
gentleman.

I? Our great relation? We have no such relation.
What has put that into your head?

I heard 'em talking about it up at Rolliver's when I
went to find father. There's a rich lady of our family
out at Trantridge, and mother said that if you claimed
kin with the lady, she'd put 'ee in the way of marrying
a gentleman.

His sister became abruptly stilland lapsed into a
pondering silence. Abraham talked onrather for the
pleasure of utterance than for auditionso that his
sister's abstraction was of no account. He leant back
against the hivesand with upturned face made
observations on the starswhose cold pulses were
beating amid the black hollows abovein serene
dissociation from these two wisps of human life. He
asked how far away those twinklers wereand whether
God was on the other side of them. But ever and anon
his childish prattle recurred to what impressed his
imagination even more deeply than the wonders of
creation. If Tess were made rich by marrying a
gentlemanwould she have money enough to buy a


spyglass so large that it would draw the stars as near
to her as Nettlecombe-Tout?

The renewed subjectwhich seemed to have impregnated
the whole familyfilled Tess with impatience.

Never mind that now!she exclaimed.

Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?

Yes.

All like ours?

I don't know; but I think so. They sometimes seem to
be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them
splendid and sound--a few blighted.

Which do we live on--a splendid one or a blighted
one?

A blighted one.

'Tis very unlucky that we didn't pitch on a sound one,
when there were so many more of 'em!

Yes.

Is it like that REALLY, Tess?said Abrahamturning
to her much impressedon reconsideration of this rare
information. "How would it have been if we had pitched
on a sound one?"

Well, father wouldn't have coughed and creeped about
as he does, and wouldn't have got too tipsy to go on
this journey; and mother wouldn't have been always
washing, and never getting finished.

And you would have been a rich lady ready-made, and
not have had to be made rich by marrying a gentleman?

O Aby, don't--don't talk of that any more!

Left to his reflections Abraham soon grew drowsy. Tess
was not skilful in the management of a horsebut she
thought that she could take upon herself the entire
conduct of the load for the presentand allow Abraham
to go to sleep if he wished to do so. She made him a
sort of nest in front of the hivesin such a manner
that he could not fallandtaking the reins into her
own handsjogged on as before.

Prince required but slight attentionlacking energy
for superfluous movements of any sort. With no longer
a companion to distract herTess fell more deeply into
reverie than everher back leaning against the hives.
The mute procession past her shoulders of trees and
hedges became attached to fantastic scenes outside
realityand the occasional heave of the wind became
the sigh of some immense sad soulconterminous with
the universe in spaceand with history in time.

Thenexamining the mesh of events in her own lifeshe
seemed to see the vanity of her father's pride; the


gentlemanly suitor awaiting herself in her mother's
fancy; to see him as a grimacing personagelaughing at
her povertyand her shrouded knightly ancestry.
Everything grew more and more extravagantand she no
longer knew how time passed. A sudden jerk shook her in
her seatand Tess awoke from the sleep into which she
toohad fallen.

They were a long way further on than when she had lost
consciousnessand the waggon had stopped. A hollow
groanunlike anything she had ever heard in her life
came from the frontfollowed by a shout of "Hoi
there!"

The lantern hanging at her waggon had gone outbut
another was shining in her face--much brighter than her
own had been. Something terrible had happened. The
harness was entangled with an object which blocked the way.

In consternation Tess jumped downand discovered the
dreadful truth. The groan has proceeded from her
father's poor horse Prince. The morning mail-cartwith
its two noiseless wheelsspeeding along these lanes
like an arrowas it always didhad driven into her
slow and unlighted equipage. The pointed shaft of the
cart had entered the breast of the unhappy Prince like
a swordand from the wound his life's blood was
spouting in a streamand falling with a hiss into the
road.

In her despair Tess sprang forward and put her hand
upon the holewith the only result that she became
splashed from face to skirt with the crimson drops.
Then she stood helplessly looking on. Prince also stood
firm and motionless as long as he could; till he
suddenly sank down in a heap.

By this time the mail-cart man had joined herand
began dragging and unharnessing the hot form of Prince.
But he was already deadandseeing that nothing more
could be done immediatelythe mail-cart man returned
to his own animalwhich was uninjured.

You was on the wrong side,he said. "I am bound to
go on with the mail-bagsso that the best thing for
you to do is bide here with your load. I'll send
somebody to help you as soon as I can. It is getting
daylightand you have nothing to fear."

He mounted and sped on his way; while Tess stood and
waited. The atmosphere turned palethe birds shook
themselves in the hedgesaroseand twittered; the
lane showed all its white featuresand Tess showed
hersstill whiter. The huge pool of blood in front of
her was already assuming the iridescence of
coagulation; and when the sun rose a hundred prismatic
hues were reflected from it. Prince lay alongside still
and stark; his eyes half openthe hole in his chest
looking scarcely large enough to have let out all that
had animated him.

'Tis all my doing--all mine!the girl criedgazing
at the spectacle. "No excuse for me--none. What will
mother and father live on now? AbyAby!" She shook


the childwho had slept soundly through the whole
disaster. "We can't go on with our load--Prince is
killed!"

When Abraham realized allthe furrows of fifty years
were extemporized on his young face.

Why, I danced and laughed only yesterday!she went on
to herself. "To think that I was such a fool!"

'Tis because we be on a blighted star, and not a sound
one, isn't it, Tess?murmured Abraham through his
tears.

In silence they waited through an interval which seemed
endless. At length a soundand an approaching object
proved to them that the driver of the mail-car had been
as good as his word. A farmer's man from near
Stourcastle came upleading a strong cob. He was
harnessed to the waggon of beehives in the place of
Princeand the load taken on towards Casterbridge.

The evening of the same day saw the empty waggon reach
again the spot of the accident. Prince had lain there
in the ditch since the morning; but the place of the
blood-pool was still visible in the middle of the road
though scratched and scraped over by passing vehicles.
All that was left of Prince was now hoisted into the
waggon he had formerly hauledand with his hoofs in
the airand his shoes shining in the setting sunlight
he retracted the eight or nine miles to Marlott.

Tess had gone back earlier. How to break the news was
more than she could think. It was a relief to her
tongue to find from the faces of her parents that they
already knew of their lossthough this did not lessen
the self-reproach which she continued to heap upon
herself for her negligence.

But the very shiftlessness of the household rendered
the misfortune a less terrifying one to them than it
would have been to a thriving familythough in the
present case it meant ruinand in the other it would
only have meant inconvenience. In the Durbeyfield
countenances there was nothing of the red wrath that
would have burnt upon the girl from parents more
ambitious for her welfare. Nobody blamed Tess as she
blamed herself.

When it was discovered that the knacker and tanner
would give only a very few shillings for Prince's
carcase because of his decrepitudeDurbeyfield rose to
the occasion.

No,said he stoicallyI won't sell his old body.
When we d'Urbervilles was knights in the land, we
didn't sell our chargers for cat's meat. Let 'em keep
their shillings. He've served me well in his lifetime,
and I won't part from him now.

He worked harder the next day in digging a grave for
Prince in the garden than he had worked for months to
grow a crop for his family. When the hole was ready
Durbeyfield and his wife tied a rope round the horse


and dragged him up the path towards itthe children
following in funeral train. Abraham and 'Liza-Lu
sobbedHope and Modest discharged their griefs in loud
blares which echoed from the walls; and when Prince was
tumbled in they gathered round the grave. The
bread-winner had been taken away from them; what would
they do?

Is he gone to heaven?asked Abrahambetween the
sobs.

Then Durbeyfield began to shovel in the earthand the
children cried anew. All except Tess. Her face was
dry and paleas though she regarded herself in the
light of a murderess.

The haggling businesswhich had mainly depended on the
horsebecame disorganized forthwith. Distressif not
penuryloomed in the distance. Durbeyfield was what
was locally called a slack-twisted fellow; he had good
strength to work at times; but the times could not be
relied on to coincide with the hours of requirement;
andhaving been unaccustomed to the regular toil of
the day-labourerhe was not particularly persistent
when they did so coincide.

Tessmeanwhileas the one who had dragged her parents
into this quagmirewas silently wondering what she
could do to help them out of it; and then her mother
broached her scheme.

We must take the ups wi' the downs, Tess,said she;
and never could your high blood have been found out at
a more called-for moment. You must try your friends.
Do ye know that there is a very rich Mrs d'Urberville
living on the outskirts o' The Chase, who must be our
relation? You must go to her and claim kin, and ask
for some help in our trouble.

I shouldn't care to do that,says Tess. "If there is
such a lady'twould be enough for us if she were
friendly--not to expect her to give us help."

You could win her round to do anything, my dear.
Besides, perhaps there's more in it than you know of.
I've heard what I've heard, good-now.

The oppressive sense of the harm she had done led Tess
to be more deferential than she might otherwise have
been to the maternal wish; but she could not understand
why her mother should find such satisfaction in
contemplating an enterprise ofto hersuch doubtful
profit. Her mother might have made inquiriesand have
discovered that this Mrs d'Urberville was a lady of
unequalled virtues and charity. But Tess's pride made
the part of poor relation one of particular distaste to
her.

I'd rather try to get work,she murmured.


Durbeyfield, you can settle it,said his wife
turning to where he sat in the background. "If you say
she ought to goshe will go."

I don't like my children going and making themselves
beholden to strange kin,murmured he. "I'm the head
of the noblest branch o' the familyand I ought to
live up to it."

His reasons for staying away were worse to Tess than
her own objections to going. "Wellas I killed the
horsemother she said mournfully, I suppose I ought
to do something. I don't mind going and seeing herbut
you must leave it to me about asking for help. And
don't go thinking about her making a match for me--it
is silly." "Very well saidTess!" observed her father
sententiously.

Who said I had such a thought?asked Joan.

I fancy it is in your mind, mother. But I'll go.

Rising early next day she walked to the hill-town
called Shastonand there took advantage of a van which
twice in the week ran from Shaston eastward to
Chaseboroughpassing near Trantridgethe parish in
which the vague and mysterious Mrs d'Urberville had her
residence.

Tess Durbeyfield's route on this memorable morning lay
amid the north-eastern undulations of the Vale in which
she had been bornand in which her life had unfolded.
The Vale of Blackmoor was to her the worldand its
inhabitants the races thereof. From the gates and
stiles of Marlott she had looked down its length in the
wondering days of infancyand what had been mystery to
her then was not much less than mystery to her now.
She had seen daily from her chamber-window towers
villagesfaint white mansions; above all the town of
Shaston standing majestically on its height; its
windows shining like lamps in the evening sun. She had
hardly ever visited the placeonly a small tract even
of the Vale and its environs being known to her by
close inspection. Much less had she been far outside
the valley. Every contour of the surrounding hills was
as personal to her as that of her relatives' faces; but
for what lay beyond her judgment was dependent on the
teaching of the village schoolwhere she had held a
leading place at the time of her leavinga year or two
before this date.

In those early days she had been much loved by others
of her own sex and ageand had used to be seen about
the village as one of three--all nearly of the same
year--walking home from school side by side; Tess the
middle one--in a pink print pinaforeof a finely
reticulated patternworn over a stuff frock that had
lost its original colour for a nondescript
tertiary--marching on upon long stalky legsin tight
stockings which had little ladder-like holes at the
kneestorn by kneeling in the roads and banks in
search of vegetable and mineral treasures; her then
earth-coloured hair handing like pot-hooks; the arms of


the two outside girls resting round the waist of Tess;
her arms on the shoulders of the two supporters.

As Tess grew olderand began to see how matters stood
she felt quite a Malthusian towards her mother for
thoughtlessly giving her so many little sisters and
brotherswhen it was such a trouble to nurse and
provide for them. Her mother's intelligence was that
of a happy child: Joan Durbeyfield was simply an
additional oneand that not the eldestto her own
long family of waiters on Providence. HoweverTess
became humanely beneficent towards the small onesand
to help them as much as possible she usedas soon as
she left schoolto lend a hand at haymaking or
harvesting on neighbouring farms; orby preference
at milking or butter-making processeswhich she had
learnt when her father had owned cows; and being
deft-fingered it was a kind of work in which she
excelled.

Every day seemed to throw upon her young shoulders more
of the family burdensand that Tess should be the
representative of the Durbeyfields at the d'Urberville
mansion came as a thing of course. In this instance it
must be admitted that the Durbeyfields were putting
their fairest side outward.

She alighted from the van at Trantridge Crossand
ascended on foot a hill in the direction of the
district known as The Chaseon the borders of which
as she had been informedMrs d'Urberville's seatThe
Slopeswould be found. It was not a manorial home in
the ordinary sensewith fieldsand pasturesand a
grumbling farmerout of whom the owner had to squeeze
an income for himself and his family by hook or by
crook. It was morefar more; a country-house built
for enjoyment pure and simplewith not an acre of
troublesome land attached to it beyond what was
required for residential purposesand for a little
fancy farm kept in hand by the ownerand tended by a
bailiff.

The crimson brick lodge came first in sightup to its
eaves in dense evergreens. Tess thought this was the
mansion itself tillpassing through the side wicket
with some trepidationand onward to a point at which
the drive took a turnthe house proper stood in full
view. It was of recent erection--indeed almost
new--and of the same rich red colour that formed such a
contrast with the evergreens of the lodge. Far behind
the corner of the house--which rose like a geranium
bloom against the subdued colours around--stretched
the soft azure landscape of The Chase--a truly
venerable tract of forest landone of the few
remaining woodlands in England of undoubted primaeval
datewherein Druidical mistletoe was still found on
aged oaksand where enormous yew-treesnot planted by
the hand of man grew as they had grown when they were
pollarded for bows. All this sylvan antiquity
howeverthough visible from The Slopeswas outside
the immediate boundaries of the estate.

Everything on this snug property was brightthriving
and well kept; acres of glass-houses stretched down the


inclines to the copses at their feet. Everything
looked like money--like the last coin issued from the
Mint. The stablespartly screened by Austrian pines
and evergreen oaksand fitted with every late
appliancewere as dignified as Chapels-of-Ease. On
the extensive lawn stood an ornamental tentits door
being towards her.

Simple Tess Durbeyfield stood at gazein a
half-alarmed attitudeon the edge of the gravel sweep.
Her feet had brought her onward to this point before
she had quite realized where she was; and now all was
contrary to her expectation.

I thought we were an old family; but this is all new!
she saidin her artlessness. She wished that she had
not fallen in so readily with her mother's plans for
claiming kin,and had endeavoured to gain assistance
nearer home.

The d'Urbervilles--or Stoke-d'Urbervillesas they at
first called themselves--who owned all thiswere a
somewhat unusual family to find in such an
old-fashioned part of the country. Parson Tringham had
spoken truly when he said that our shambling John
Durbeyfield was the only really lineal representative
of the old d'Urberville family existing in the county
or near it; he might have addedwhat he knew very
wellthat the Stoke-d'Urbervilles were no more
d'Urbervilles of the true tree then he was himself.
Yet it must be admitted that this family formed a very
good stock whereon to regraft a name which sadly wanted
such renovation.

When old Mr Simon Stokelatterly deceasedhad made
his fortune as an honest merchant (some said
money-lender) in the Northhe decided to settle as a
county man in the South of Englandout of hail of his
business district; and in doing this he felt the
necessity of recommencing with a name that would not
too readily identify him with the smart tradesman of
the pastand that would be less commonplace than the
original bald stark words. Conning for an hour in the
British Museum the pages of works devoted to extinct
half-extinctobscuredand ruined families
appertaining to the quarter of England in which he
proposed to settlehe considered that D'URBERVILLE
looked and sounded as well as any of them: and
d'Urberville accordingly was annexed to his own name
for himself and his heirs eternally. Yet he was not an
extravagant-minded man in thisand in constructing his
family tree on the new basis was duly reasonable in
framing his inter-marriages and aristocratic links
never inserting a single title above a rank of strict
moderation.

Of this work of imagination poor Tess and her parents
were naturally in ignorance--much to their
discomfiture; indeedthe very possibility of such
annexations was unknown to them; who supposed that
though to be well-favoured might be the gift of
fortunea family name came by nature.


Tess still stood hesitating like a bather about to make
his plungehardly knowing whether to retreat or to
perseverewhen a figure came forth from the dark
triangular door of the tent. It was that of a tall
young mansmoking.

He had an almost swarthy complexionwith full lips
badly mouldedthough red and smoothabove which was a
well-groomed black moustache with curled pointsthough
his age could not be more than three-or
four-and-twenty. Despite the touches of barbarism in
his contoursthere was a singular force in the
gentleman's faceand in his bold rolling eye.

Well, my Beauty, what can I do for you?said he
coming forward. And perceiving that she stood quite
confounded: "Never mind me. I am Mr d'Urberville.
Have you come to see me or my mother?"

This embodiment of a d'Urberville and a namesake
differed even more from what Tess had expected than the
house and grounds had differed. She had dreamed of an
aged and dignified facethe sublimation of all the
d'Urberville lineamentsfurrowed with incarnate
memories representing in hieroglyphic the centuries of
her family's and England's history. But she screwed
herself up to the work in handsince she could not get
out of itand answered-


I came to see your mother, sir.

I am afraid you cannot see her--she is an invalid,
replied the present representative of the spurious
house; for this was Mr Alecthe only son of the lately
deceased gentleman. "Cannot I answer your purpose?
What is the business you wish to see her about?"

It isn't business--it is--I can hardly say what!

Pleasure?

Oh no. Why, sir, if I tell you, it will seem---

Tess's sense of a certain ludicrousness in her errand
was now so strong thatnotwithstanding her awe of him
and her general discomfort at being hereher rosy lips
curved towards a smilemuch to the attraction of the
swarthy Alexander.

It is so very foolish,she stammered; "I fear can't
tell you!"

Never mind; I like foolish things. Try again, my
dear,said he kindly.

Mother asked me to come,Tess continued; "and
indeedI was in the mind to do so myself likewise.
But I did not think it would be like this. I came
sirto tell you that we are of the same family as you."

Ho! Poor relations?

Yes.


Stokes?

No; d'Urbervilles.

Ay, ay; I mean d'Urbervilles.

Our names are worn away to Durbeyfield; but we have
several proofs that we are d'Urbervilles. Antiquarians
hold we are,--and--and we have an old seal, marked with
a ramping lion on a shield, and a castle over him. And
we have a very old silver spoon, round in the bowl like
a little ladle, and marked with the same castle. But
it is so worn that mother uses it to stir the
pea-soup.

A castle argent is certainly my crest,said he
blandly. "And my arms a lion rampant."

And so mother said we ought to make ourselves beknown
to you--as we've lost our horse by a bad accident, and
are the oldest branch o' the family.

Very kind of your mother, I'm sure. And I, for one,
don't regret her step.Alec looked at Tess as he
spokein a way that made her blush a little. "And so
my pretty girlyou've come on a friendly visit to us
as relations?"

I suppose I have,faltered Tesslooking
uncomfortable again.

Well--there's no harm in it. Where do you live?
What are you?

She gave him brief particulars; and responding to
further inquiries told him that she was intending to go
back by the same carrier who had brought her.

It is a long while before he returns past Trantridge
Cross. Supposing we walk round the grounds to pass the
time, my pretty Coz?

Tess wished to abridge her visit as much as possible;
but the young man was pressingand she consented to
accompany him. He conducted her about the lawnsand
flower-bedsand conservatories; and thence to the
fruit-garden and greenhouseswhere he asked her if she
liked strawberries.

Yes,said Tesswhen they come.

They are already here.D'Urberville began gathering
specimens of the fruit for herhanding them back to
her as he stooped; andpresentlyselecting a
specially fine product of the "British Queen" variety
he stood up and held it by the stem to her mouth.

No--no!she said quicklyputting her fingers between
his hand and her lips. "I would rather take it in my
own hand."

Nonsense!he insisted; and in a slight distress she
parted her lips and took it in.


They had spent some time wandering desultorily thus
Tess eating in a half-pleasedhalf-reluctant state
whatever d'Urberville offered her. When she could
consume no more of the strawberries he filled her
little basket with them; and then the two passed round
to the rose treeswhence he gathered blossoms and gave
her to put in her bosom. She obeyed like one in a
dreamand when she could affix no more he himself
tucked a bud or two into her hatand heaped her basket
with others in the prodigality of his bounty. At last
looking at his watchhe saidNow, by the time you
have had something to eat, it will be time for you to
leave, if you want to catch the carrier to Shaston.
Come here, and I'll see what grub I can find.

Stoke d'Urberville took her back to the lawn and into
the tentwhere he left hersoon reappearing with a
basket of light luncheonwhich he put before her
himself. It was evidently the gentleman's wish not to
be disturbed in this pleasant TETE-A-TETE by the
servantry.

Do you mind my smoking?he asked.

Oh, not at all, sir.

He watched her pretty and unconscious munching through
the skeins of smoke that pervaded the tentand Tess
Durbeyfield did not divineas she innocently looked
down at the roses in her bosomthat there behind the
blue narcotic haze was potentially the "tragic
mischief" of her drama--one who stood fair to be the
blood-red ray in the spectrum of her young life. She
had an attribute which amounted to a disadvantage just
now; and it was this that caused Alec d'Urberville's
eyes to rivet themselves upon her. It was a luxuriance
of aspecta fulness of growthwhich made her appear
more of a woman than she really was. She had inherited
the feature from her mother without the quality it
denoted. It had troubled her mind occasionallytill
her companions had said that it was a fault which time
would cure.

She soon had finished her lunch. "Now I am going home
sir she said, rising.

And what do they call you?" he askedas he
accompanied her along the drive till they were out of
sight of the house.

Tess Durbeyfield, down at Marlott.

And you say your people have lost their horse?

I--killed him!she answeredher eyes filling with
tears as she gave particulars of Prince's death. "And
I don't know what to do for father on account of it!"

I must think if I cannot do something. My mother must
find a berth for you. But, Tess, no nonsense about
'd'Urberville';--'Durbeyfield' only, you know--quite
another name.

I wish for no better, sir,said she with something of


dignity.

For a moment--only for a moment--when they were in the
turning of the drivebetween the tall rhododendrons
and conifersbefore the lodge became visiblehe
inclined his face towards her as if--butno: he
thought better of itand let her go.

Thus the thing began. Had she perceived this meeting's
import she might have asked why she was doomed to be
seen and coveted that day by the wrong manand not by
some other manthe right and desired one in all
respects--as nearly as humanity can supply the right
and desired; yet to him who amongst her acquaintance
might have approximated to this kindshe was but a
transient impressionhalf forgotten.

In the ill-judged execution of the well-judged plan of
things the call seldom produces the comerthe man to
love rarely coincides with the hour for loving. Nature
does not often say "See!" to her poor creature at a
time when seeing can lead to happy doing; or reply
Here!to a body's cry of "Where?" till the
hide-and-seek has become an irksomeoutworn game. We
may wonder whether at the acme and summit of the human
progress these anachronisms will be corrected by a
finer intuitiona close interaction of the social
machinery than that which now jolts us round and along;
but such completeness is not to be prophesiedor even
conceived as possible. Enough that in the present
caseas in millionsit was not the two halves of a
perfect whole that confronted each other at the perfect
moment; a missing counterpart wandered independently
about the earth waiting in crass obtuseness till the
late time came. Out of which maladroit delay sprang
anxietiesdisappointmentsshockscatastrophesand
passing-strange destinies.

When d'Urberville got back to the tent he sat down
astride on a chair reflectingwith a pleased gleam in
his face. Then he broke into a loud laugh.

Well, I'm damned! What a funny thing! Ha-ha-ha!
And what a crumby girl!

Tess went down the hill to Trantridge Crossand
inattentively waited to take her seat in the van
returning from Chaseborough to Shaston. She did not
know what the other occupants said to her as she
enteredthough she answered them; and when they had
started anew she rode along with an inward and not an
outward eye.

One among her fellow-travellers addressed her more
pointedly than any had spoken before: "Whyyou be
quite a posy! And such roses in early June!"

Then she became aware of the spectacle she presented to
their surprised vision: roses at her breasts; roses in


her hat; roses and strawberries in her basket to the
brim. She blushedand said confusedly that the
flowers had been given to her. When the passengers
were not looking she stealthily removed the more
prominent blooms from her hat and placed them in
basketwhere she covered them with her handkerchief.
Then she fell to reflecting againand in looking
downwards a thorn of the rose remaining in her breast
accidentally pricked her chin. Like all the cottagers
in Blackmoor ValeTess was steeped in fancies and
prefigurative superstitions; she thought this an ill
omen--the first she had noticed that day.

The van travelled only so far as Shastonand there
were several miles of pedestrian descent from that
mountain-town into the vale of Marlott. Her mother had
advised her to stay here for the nightat the house of
a cottage-woman they knewif she should feel too tired
to come on; and this Tess didnot descending to her
home till the following afternoon.

When she entered the house she perceived in a moment
from her mother's triumphant manner that something had
occurred in the interim.

Oh yes; I know all about it! I told 'ee it would be
all right, and now 'tis proved!

Since I've been away? What has?said Tess rather
wearily.

Her mother surveyed the girl up and down with arch
approvaland went on banteringly: "So you've brought
'em round!"

How do you know, mother?

I've had a letter.

Tess then remembered that there would have been time
for this.

They say--Mrs d'Urberville says--that she wants you to
look after a little fowl-farm which is her hobby. But
this is only her artful way of getting 'ee there
without raising your hopes. She's going to own 'ee as
kin--that's the meaning o't.

But I didn't see her.

You zid somebody, I suppose?

I saw her son.

And did he own 'ee?

Well--he called me Coz.

An' I knew it! Jacky--he called her Coz!cried Joan
to her husband. "Wellhe spoke to his motherof
courseand she do want 'ee there."

But I don't know that I am apt at tending fowls,said
the dubious Tess.


Then I don't know who is apt. You've be'n born in the
business, and brought up in it. They that be born in a
business always know more about it than any 'prentice.
Besides, that's only just a show of something for you
to do, that you midn't feel beholden.

I don't altogether think I ought to go,said Tess
thoughtfully. "Who wrote the letter? Will you let me
look at it?"

Mrs d'Urberville wrote it. Here it is.

The letter was in the third personand briefly
informed Mrs Durbeyfield that her daughter's services
would be useful to that lady in the management of her
poultry-farmthat a comfortable room would be provided
for her if she could comeand that the wages would be
on a liberal scale if they liked her.

Oh--that's all!said Tess.

You couldn't expect her to throw her arms round 'ee,
an' to kiss and to coll 'ee all at once.

Tess looked out of the window.

I would rather stay here with father and you,she said.

But why?

I'd rather not tell you why, mother; indeed, I don't
quite know why.

A week afterwards she came in one evening from an
unavailing search for some light occupation in the
immediate neighbourhood. Her idea had been to get
together sufficient money during the summer to purchase
another horse. Hardly had she crossed the threshold
before one of the children danced across the room
sayingThe gentleman's been here!

Her mother hastened to explainsmiles breaking from
every inch of her person. Mrs d'Urberville's son had
called on horsebackhaving been riding by chance in
the direction of Marlott. He had wished to know
finallyin the name of his motherif Tess could
really come to manage the old lady's fowl-farm or not;
the lad who had hitherto superintended the birds having
proved untrustworthy. "Mr d'Urberville says you must be
a good girl if you are at all as you appear; he knows
you must be worth your weight in gold. He is very much
interested in 'ee--truth to tell."

Tess seemed for the moment really pleased to hear that
she had won such high opinion from a stranger whenin
her own esteemshe had sunk so low.

It is very good of him to think that,she murmured;
and if I was quite sure how it would be living there,
I would go any-when.

He is a mighty handsome man!


I don't think so,said Tess coldly.

Well, there's your chance, whether or no; and I'm sure
he wears a beautiful diamond ring!

Yes,said little Abrahambrightlyfrom the
window-bench; "and I seed it! and it did twinkle when
he put his hand up to his mistarshers. Motherwhy did
our grand relation keep on putting his hand up to his
mistarshers?"

Hark at that child!cried Mrs Durbeyfieldwith
parenthetic admiration.

Perhaps to show his diamond ring,murmured Sir John
dreamilyfrom his chair.

I'll think it over,said Tessleaving the room.

Well, she's made a conquest o' the younger branch of
us, straight off,continued the matron to her husband
and she's a fool if she don't follow it up.

I don't quite like my children going away from home,
said the haggler. "As the head of the familythe rest
ought to come to me."

But do let her go, Jacky,coaxed his poor witless
wife. "He's struck wi' her--you can see that. He
called her Coz! He'll marry hermost likelyand make
a lady of her; and then she'll be what her forefathers
was."

John Durbeyfield had more conceit than energy or
healthand this supposition was pleasant to him.

Well, perhaps, that's what young Mr d'Urberville
means,he admitted; "and sure enough he mid have
serious thoughts about improving his blood by linking
on to the old line. Tessthe little rogue! And have
she really paid 'em a visit to such an end as this?"

Meanwhile Tess was walking thoughtfully among the
gooseberry-bushes in the gardenand over Prince's
grave. When she came in her mother pursued her
advantage.

Well, what be you going to do?she asked.

I wish I had seen Mrs d'Urberville,said Tess.

I think you mid as well settle it. Then you'll see her
soon enough.

Her father coughed in his chair.

I don't know what to say!answered the girl
restlessly. "It is for you to decide. I killed the
old horseand I suppose I ought to do something to get
ye a new one. But--but--I don't quite like Mr
d'Urberville being there!"

The childrenwho had made use of this idea of Tess
being taken up by their wealthy kinsfolk (which they


imagined the other family to be) as a species of
dolorifuge after the death of the horsebegan to cry
at Tess's reluctanceand teased and reproached her for
hesitating.

Tess won't go--o--o and be made a la--a--dy of!--no,
she says she wo--o--on't!they wailedwith square
mouths. "And we shan't have a nice new horseand lots
o' golden money to buy fairlings! And Tess won't look
pretty in her best cloze no mo--o--ore!"

Her mother chimed in to the same tune: a certain way
she had of making her labours in the house seem heavier
than they were by prolonging them indefinitelyalso
weighed in the argument. Her father alone preserved an
attitude of neutrality.

I will go,said Tess at last.

Her mother could not repress her consciousness of the
nuptial Vision conjured up by the girl's consent.

That's right! For such a pretty maid as 'tis, this is
a fine chance!

Tess smiled crossly.

I hope it is a chance for earning money. It is no
other kind of chance. You had better say nothing of
that silly sort about parish.Mrs Durbeyfield did not
promise. She was not quite sure that she did not feel
proud enoughafter the visitor's remarksto say a
good deal.

Thus it was arranged; and the young girl wrote
agreeing to be ready to set out on any day on which she
might be required. She was duly informed that Mrs
d'Urberville was glad of her decisionand that a
spring-cart should be sent to meet her and her luggage
at the top of the Vale on the day after the morrow
when she must hold herself prepared to start. Mrs
d'Urberville's handwriting seemed rather masculine.

A cart?murmured Joan Durbeyfield doubtingly.
It might have been a carriage for her own kin!

Having at last taken her course Tess was less restless
and abstractedgoing about her business with some
self-assurance in the thought of acquiring another
horse for her father by an occupation which would not
be onerous. She had hoped to be a teacher at the
schoolbut the fates seemed to decide otherwise. Being
mentally older than her mother she did not regard Mrs
Durbeyfield's matrimonial hopes for her in a serious
aspect for a moment. The light-minded woman had been
discovering good matches for her daughter almost from
the year of her birth.

On the morning appointed for her departure Tess was


awake before dawn--at the marginal minute of the dark
when the grove is still mutesave for one prophetic
bird who sings with a clear-voiced conviction that he
at least knows the correct time of daythe rest
preserving silence as if equally convinced that he is
mistaken. She remained upstairs packing till
breakfast-timeand then came down in her ordinary
week-day clothesher Sunday apparel being carefully
folded in her box.

Her mother expostulated. "You will never set out to see
your folks without dressing up more the dand than
that?"

But I am going to work!said Tess.

Well, yes,said Mrs Durbeyfield; and in a private
toneat first there mid be a little pretence o't....
But I think it will be wiser of 'ee to put your best
side outward,she added.

Very well; I suppose you know best,replied Tess with
calm abandonment.

And to please her parent the girl put herself quite in
Joan's handssaying serenely--"Do what you like with
memother."

Mrs Durbeyfield was only too delighted at this
tractability. First she fetched a great basinand
washed Tess's hair with such thoroughness that when
dried and brushed it looked twice as much as at other
times. She tied it with a broader pink ribbon than
usual. Then she put upon her the white frock that Tess
had worn at the club-walkingthe airy fulness of
whichsupplementing her enlarged COIFFUREimparted to
her developing figure an amplitude which belied her
ageand might cause her to be estimated as a woman
when she was not much more than a child.

I declare there's a hole in my stocking-heel!said
Tess.

Never mind holes in your stockings--they don't speak!
When I was a maid, so long as I had a pretty bonnet the
devil might ha' found me in heels.

Her mother's pride in the girl's appearance led her to
step backlike a painter from his easeland survey
her work as a whole.

You must zee yourself!she cried. "It is much better
than you was t'other day."

As the looking-glass was only large enough to reflect a
very small portion of Tess's person at one timeMrs
Durbeyfield hung a black cloak outside the casement
and so made a large reflector of the panesas it is
the wont of bedecking cottagers to do. After this she
went downstairs to her husbandwho was sitting in the
lower room.

I'll tell 'ee what 'tis, Durbeyfield,said she
exultingly; "he'll never have the heart not to love


her. But whatever you dodon't zay too much to Tess
of his fancy for herand this chance she has got. She
is such an odd maid that it mid zet her against himor
against going thereeven now. If all goes wellI
shall certainly be for making some return to pa'son at
Stagfoot Lane for telling us--deargood man!"

Howeveras the moment for the girl's setting out drew
nighwhen the first excitement of the dressing had
passed offa slight misgiving found place in Joan
Durbeyfield's mind. It prompted the matron to say that
she would walk a little way--as far as to the point
where the acclivity from the valley began its first
steep ascent to the outer world. At the top Tess was
going to be met with the spring-cart sent by the
Stoke-d'Urbervillesand her box had already been
wheeled ahead towards this summit by a lad with trucks
to be in readiness.

Seeing their mother put on her bonnet the younger
children clamoured to go with her.

I do want to walk a little-ways wi' Sissy, now she's
going to marry our gentleman-cousin, and wear fine
cloze!

Now,said Tessflushing and turning quicklyI'll
hear no more o' that! Mother, how could you ever put
such stuff into their heads?

Going to work, my dears, for our rich relation, and
help get enough money for a new horse,said Mrs
Durbeyfield pacifically.

Goodbye, father,said Tesswith a lumpy throat.

Goodbye, my maid,said Sir Johnraising his head
from his breast as he suspended his napinduced by a
slight excess this morning in honour of the occasion.
Well, I hope my young friend will like such a comely
sample of his own blood. And tell'n, Tess, that being
sunk, quite, from our former grandeur, I'll sell him
the title--yes, sell it--and at no onreasonable
figure.

Not for less than a thousand pound!cried Lady
Durbeyfield.

Tell'n--I'll take a thousand pound. Well, I'll take
less, when I come to think o't. He'll adorn it better
than a poor lammicken feller like myself can. Tell'n
he shall hae it for a hundred. But I won't stand upon
trifles--tell'n he shall hae it for fifty--for twenty
pound! Yes, twenty pound--that's the lowest. Dammy,
family honour is family honour, and I won't take a
penny less!

Tess's eyes were too full and her voice too choked to
utter the sentiments that were in her. She turned
quicklyand went out.

So the girls and their mother all walked together
a child on each side of Tessholding her handand


looking at her meditatively from time to timeas at
one who was about to do great things; her mother just
behind with the smallest; the group forming a picture
of honest beauty flanked by innocenceand backed by
simple-souled vanity. They followed the way till they
reached the beginning of the ascenton the crest of
which the vehicle from Trantridge was to receive her
this limit having been fixed to save the horse the
labour of the last slope. Far away behind the first
hills the cliff-like dwellings of Shaston broke the
line of the ridge. Nobody was visible in the elevated
road which skirted the ascent save the lad whom they
had sent on before themsitting on the handle of the
barrow that contained all Tess's worldly possessions.

Bide here a bit, and the cart will soon come, no
doubt,said Mrs Durbeyfield. "YesI see it yonder!"

It had come--appearing suddenly from behind the
forehead of the nearest uplandand stopping beside the
boy with the barrow. Her mother and the children
thereupon decided to go no fartherand bidding them a
hasty goodbye Tess bent her steps up the hill.

They saw her white shape draw near to the spring-cart
on which her box was already placed. But before she
had quite reached it another vehicle shot out from a
clump of trees on the summitcame round the bend of
the road therepassed the luggage-cartand halted
beside Tesswho looked up as if in great surprise.

Her mother perceivedfor the first timethat the
second vehicle was not a humble conveyance like the
firstbut a spick-and-span gig or dog-carthighly
varnished and equipped. The driver was a young man of
three-or four-and-twentywith a cigar between his
teeth; wearing a dandy capdrab jacketbreeches of
the same huewhite neckclothstick-up collarand
brown driving-gloves--in shorthe was the handsome
horsey young buck who had visited Joan a week or two
before to get her answer about Tess.

Mrs Durbeyfield clapped her hands like a child. Then
she looked downthen stared again. Could she be
deceived as to the meaning of this?

Is dat the gentleman-kinsman who'll make Sissy a
lady?asked the youngest child.

Meanwhile the muslined form of Tess could be seen
standing stillundecidedbeside this turn-outwhose
owner was talking to her. Her seeming indecision was
in factmore than indecision: it was misgiving. She
would have preferred the humble cart. The young man
dismountedand appeared to urge her to ascend. She
turned her face down the hill to her relativesand
regarded the little group. Something seemed to quicken
her to a determination; possibly the thought that she
had killed Prince. She suddenly stepped up; he mounted
beside herand immediately whipped on the horse. In a
moment they had passed the slow cart with the boxand
disappeared behind the shoulder of the hill.

Directly Tess was out of sightand the interest of the


matter as a drama was at an endthe little ones' eyes
filled with tears. The youngest child saidI wish
poor, poor Tess wasn't gone away to be a lady!and
lowering the corners of his lipsburst out crying.
The new point of view was infectiousand the next
child did likewiseand then the nexttill the whole
three of them wailed loud.

There were tears also in Joan Durbeyfield's eyes as she
turned to go home. But by the time she had got back to
the village she was passively trusting to the favour of
accident. Howeverin bed that night she sighedand
her husband asked her what was the matter.

Oh, I don't know exactly,she said. "I was thinking
that perhaps it would ha' been better if Tess had not
gone."

Oughtn't ye to have thought of that before?

Well, 'tis a chance for the maid ---- Still, if 'twere
the doing again, I wouldn't let her go till I had found
out whether the gentleman is really a good-hearted
young man and choice over her as his kinswoman.

Yes, you ought, perhaps, to ha' done that,snored Sir
John.

Joan Durbeyfield always managed to find consolation
somewhere: "Wellas one of the genuine stockshe
ought to make her way with 'enif she plays her trump
card aright. And if he don't marry her afore he will
after. For that he's all afire wi' love for her any
eye can see."

What's her trump card? Her d'Urberville blood, you
mean?

No, stupid; her face--as 'twas mine.

VIII

Having mounted beside herAlec d'Urberville drove
rapidly along the crest of the first hillchatting
compliments to Tess as they wentthe cart with her box
being left far behind. Rising stillan immense
landscape stretched around them on every side; behind
the green valley of her birthbeforea gray country
of which she knew nothing except from her first brief
visit to Trantridge. Thus they reached the verge of an
incline down which the road stretched in a long
straight descent of nearly a mile.

Ever since the accident with her father's horse Tess
Durbeyfieldcourageous as she naturally washad been
exceedingly timid on wheels; the least irregularity of
motion startled her. She began to get uneasy at a
certain recklessness in her conductor's driving.

You will go down slow, sir, I suppose?she said with
attempted unconcern.


D'Urberville looked round upon hernipped his cigar
with the tips of his large white centre-teethand
allowed his lips to smile slowly of themselves.

Why, Tess,he answeredafter another whiff or two
it isn't a brave bouncing girl like you who asks that?
Why, I always go down at full gallop. There's nothing
like it for raising your spirits.

But perhaps you need not now?

Ah,he saidshaking his headthere are two to be
reckoned with. It is not me alone. Tib had to be
considered, and she has a very queer temper.

Who?

Why, this mare. I fancy she looked round at me in a
very grim way just then. Didn't you notice it?

Don't try to frighten me, sir,said Tess stiffly.

Well, I don't. If any living man can manage this
horse I can: I won't say any living man can do it--but
if such has the power, I am he.

Why do you have such a horse?

Ah, well may you ask it! It was my fate, I suppose.
Tib has killed one chap; and just after I bought her
she nearly killed me. And then, take my word for it,
I nearly killed her. But she's touchy still, very
touchy; and one's life is hardly safe behind her
sometimes.

They were just beginning to descend; and it was evident
that the horsewhether of her own will or of his (the
latter being the more likely)knew so well the
reckless performance expected of her that she hardly
required a hint from behind.

Downdownthey spedthe wheels humming like a top
the dog-cart rocking right and leftits axis acquiring
a slightly oblique set in relation to the line of
progress; the figure of the horse rising and falling in
undulations before them. Sometimes a wheel was off the
groundit seemedfor many yards; sometimes a stone
was sent spinning over the hedgeand flinty sparks
from the horse's hoofs outshone the daylight. The
aspect of the straight road enlarged with their
advancethe two banks dividing like a splitting stick;
one rushing past at each shoulder.

The wind blew through Tess's white muslin to her very
skinand her washed hair flew out behind. She was
determined to show no open fearbut she clutched
d'Urberville's rein-arm.

Don't touch my arm! We shall be thrown out if you do!
Hold on round my waist!

She grasped his waistand so they reached the bottom.


Safe, thank God, in spite of your fooling!said she
her face on fire.

Tess--fie! that's temper!said d'Urberville.

'Tis truth.

Well, you need not let go your hold of me so
thanklessly the moment you feel yourself our of
danger.

She had not considered what she had been doing; whether
he were man or womanstick or stonein her
involuntary hold on him. Recovering her reserve she sat
without replyingand thus they reached the summit of
another declivity.

Now then, again!said d'Urberville.

No, no!said Tess. "Show more sensedoplease."

But when people find themselves on one of the highest
points in the county, they must get down again,he
retorted.

He loosened reinand away they went a second time.
D'Urberville turned his face to her as they rockedand
saidin playful raillery: "Now thenput your arms
round my waist againas you did beforemy Beauty."

Never!said Tess independentlyholding on as well as
she could without touching him.

Let me put one little kiss on those holmberry lips,
Tess, or even on that warmed cheek, and I'll stop--on
my honour, I will!

Tesssurprised beyond measureslid farther back still
on her seatat which he urged the horse anewand
rocked her the more.

Will nothing else do?she cried at lengthin
desperationher large eyes staring at him like those
of a wild animal. This dressing her up so prettily by
her mother had apparently been to lamentable purpose.

Nothing, dear Tess,he replied.

Oh, I don't know--very well; I don't mind!she panted
miserably.

He drew reinand as they slowed he was on the point of
imprinting the desired salutewhenas if hardly yet
aware of her own modestyshe dodged aside. His arms
being occupied with the reins there was left him no
power to prevent her manoeuvre.

Now, damn it--I'll break both our necks!swore her
capriciously passionate companion. "So you can go from
your word like thatyou young witchcan you?"

Very well,said TessI'll not more since you be so
determined! But I--thought you would be kind to me, and
protect me, as my kinsman!


Kinsman be hanged! Now!

But I don't want anybody to kiss me, sir!she
imploreda big tear beginning to roll down her face
and the corners of her mouth trembling in her attempts
not to cry. "And I wouldn't ha' come if I had known!"

He was inexorableand she sat stilland d'Urberville
gave her the kiss of mastery. No sooner had he done so
than she flushed with shametook out her handkerchief
and wiped the spot on her cheek that had been touched
by his lips. His ardour was nettled at the sightfor
the act on her part had been unconsciously done.

You are mighty sensitive for a cottage girl!said the
young man.

Tess made no reply to this remarkof whichindeed
she did not quite comprehend the driftunheeding the
snub she had administered by her instinctive rub upon
her cheek. She hadin factundone the kissas far
as such a thing was physically possible. With a dim
sense that he was vexed she looked steadily ahead as
they trotted on near Melbury Down and Wingreentill
she sawto her consternationthat there was yet
another descent to be undergone.

You shall be made sorry for that!he resumedhis
injured tone still remainingas he flourished the whip
anew. "Unlessthat isyou agree willingly to let me
do it againand no handkerchief."

She sighed. "Very wellsir!" she said. "Oh--let me
get my hat!"

At the moment of speaking her hat had blown off into
the roadtheir present speed on the upland being by no
means slow. D'Urberville pulled upand said he would
get it for herbut Tess was down on the other side.

She turned back and picked up the article.

You look prettier with it off, upon my soul, if that's
possible,he saidcontemplating her over the back of
the vehicle. "Now thenup again! What's the matter?"

The hat was in place and tiedbut Tess had not stepped
forward.

No, sir,she saidrevealing the red and ivory of her
mouth as her eye lit in defiant triumph; "not againif
I know it!"

What--you won't get up beside me?

No; I shall walk.

'Tis five or six miles yet to Trantridge.

I don't care if 'tis dozens. Besides, the cart is
behind.

You artful hussy! Now, tell me--didn't you make that


hat blow off on purpose? I'll swear you did!

Her strategic silence confirmed his suspicion.

Then d'Urberville cursed and swore at herand called
her everything he could think of for the trick.
Turning the horse suddenly he tried to drive back upon
herand so hem her in between the gig and the hedge.
But he could not do this short of injuring her.

You ought to be ashamed of yourself for using such
wicked words!cried Tess with spiritfrom the top of
the hedge into which she had scrambled. "I don't like
'ee at all! I hate and detest you! I'll go back to
motherI will!"

D'Urberville's bad temper cleared up at sight of hers;
and he laughed heartily.

Well, I like you all the better,he said. "Comelet
there be peace. I'll never do it any more against your
will. My life upon it now!"

Still Tess could not be induced to remount. She did
nothoweverobject to his keeping his gig alongside
her; and in this mannerat a slow pacethey advanced
towards the village of Trantridge. From time to time
d'Urberville exhibited a sort of fierce distress at the
sight of the tramping he had driven her to undertake by
his misdemeanour. She might in truth have safely
trusted him now; but he had forfeited her confidence
for the timeand she kept on the ground progressing
thoughtfullyas if wondering whether it would be wiser
to return home. Her resolvehoweverhad been taken
and it seemed vacillating even to childishness to
abandon it nowunless for graver reasons. How could
she face her parentsget back her boxand disconcert
the whole scheme for the rehabilitation of her family
on such sentimental grounds?

A few minutes later the chimneys of The Slopes appeared
in viewand in a snug nook to the right the
poultry-farm and cottage of Tess' destination.

The community of fowls to which Tess had been appointed
as supervisorpurveyornursesurgeonand friend
made its headquarters in an old thatched cottage
standing in an enclosure that had once been a garden
but was now a trampled and sanded square. The house
was overrun with ivyits chimney being enlarged by the
boughs of the parasite to the aspect of a ruined tower.
The lower rooms were entirely given over to the birds
who walked about them with a proprietary airas though
the place had been built by themselvesand not by
certain dusty copyholders who now lay east and west in
the churchyard. The descendants of these bygone owners
felt it almost as a slight to their family when the
house which had so much of their affectionhad cost so
much of their forefathers' moneyand had been in their


possession for several generations before the
d'Urbervilles came and built herewas indifferently
turned into a fowl-house by Mrs Stoke-d'Urberville as
soon as the property fell into hand according to law.
'Twas good enough for Christians in grandfather's
time,they said.

The rooms wherein dozens of infants had wailed at their
nursing now resounded with the tapping of nascent
chicks. Distracted hens in coops occupied spots where
formerly stood chairs supporting sedate agriculturists.
The chimney-corner and once blazing hearth was now
filled with inverted beehivesin which the hens laid
their eggs; while out of doors the plots that each
succeeding householder had carefully shaped with his
spade were torn by the cocks in wildest fashion.

The garden in which the cottage stood was surrounded by
a walland could only be entered through a door.

When Tess had occupied herself about an hour the next
morning in altering and improving the arrangements
according to her skilled ideas as the daughter of a
professed poultererthe door in the wall opened and a
servant in white cap and apron entered. She had come
from the manor-house.

Mrs d'Urberville wants the fowls as usual,she said;
but perceiving that Tess did not quite understandshe
explainedMis'ess is a old lady, and blind.

Blind!said Tess.

Almost before her misgiving at the news could find time
to shape itself she tookunder her companion's
directiontwo of the most beautiful of the Hamburghs
in her armsand followed the maid-servantwho had
likewise taken twoto the adjacent mansionwhich
though ornate and imposingshowed traces everywhere on
this side that some occupant of its chambers could bend
to the love of dumb creatures--feathers floating within
view of the frontand hen-coops standing on the grass.

In a sitting-room on the ground-floorensconced in an
armchair with her back to the lightwas the owner and
mistress of the estatea white-haired woman of not
more than sixtyor even lesswearing a large cap.
She had the mobile face frequent in those whose sight
has decayed by stageshas been laboriously striven
afterand reluctantly let gorather than the stagnant
mien apparent in persons long sightless or born blind.
Tess walked up to this lady with her feathered
charges--one sitting on each arm.

Ah, you are the young woman come to look after my
birds?said Mrs d'Urbervillerecognizing a new
footstep. "I hope you will be kind to them. My
bailiff tells me you are quite the proper person. Well
where are they? Ahthis is Strut! But he is hardly
so lively todayis he? He is alarmed at being handled
by a strangerI suppose. And Phena too--yesthey are
a little frightened--aren't youdears? But they will
soon get used to you."


While the old lady had been speaking Tess and the other
maidin obedience to her gestureshad placed the
fowls severally in her lapand she had felt them over
from head to tailexamining their beakstheir combs
the manes of the cockstheir windsand their claws.
Her touch enabled her to recognize them in a moment
and to discover if a single feather were crippled or
draggled. She handled their cropsand knew what they
had eatenand if too little or too much; her face
enacting a vivid pantomime of the criticisms passing in
her mind.

The birds that the two girls had brought in were duly
returned to the yardand the process was repeated till
all the pet cocks and hens had been submitted to the
old woman--HamburghsBantamsCochinsBrahmas
Dorkingsand such other sorts as were in fashion just
then--her perception of each visitor being seldom at
fault as she received the bird upon her knees.

It reminded Tess of a Confirmationin which Mrs
d'Urberville was the bishopthe fowls the young people
presentedand herself and the maid-servant the parson
and curate of the parish bringing them up. At the end
of the ceremony Mrs d'Urberville abruptly asked Tess
wrinkling and twitching her face into undulations
Can you whistle?

Whistle, Ma'am?

Yes, whistled tunes.

Tess could whistle like most other country girls
though the accomplishment was one which she did not
care to profess in genteel company. Howevershe
blandly admitted that such was the fact.

Then you will have to practise it every day. I had a
lad who did it very well, but he has left. I want you
to whistle to my bullfinches; as I cannot see them I
like to hear them, and we teach 'em airs that way.
Tell her where the cages are, Elizabeth. You must
begin tomorrow, or they will go back in their piping.
They have been neglected these several days.

Mr d'Urberville whistled to 'em this morning, ma'am,
said Elizabeth.

He! Pooh!

The old lady's face creased into furrows of repugnance
and she made no further reply.

Thus the reception of Tess by her fancied kinswoman
terminatedand the birds were taken back to their
quarters. The girl's surprise at Mrs d'Urberville's
manner was not great; for since seeing the size of the
house she had expected no more. But she was far from
being aware that the old lady had never heard a word of
the so-called kinship. She gathered that no great
affection flowed between the blind woman and her son.
But in thattooshe was mistaken. Mrs d'Urberville
was not the first mother compelled to love her
offspring resentfullyand to be bitterly fond.


In spite of the unpleasant initiation of the day
beforeTess inclined to the freedom and novelty of her
new position in the morning when the sun shonenow
that she was once installed there; and she was curious
to test her powers in the unexpected direction asked of
herso as to ascertain her chance of retaining her
post. As soon as she was alone within the walled garden
she sat herself down on a coopand seriously screwed
up her mouth for the long-neglected practice. She
found her former ability to have generated to the
production of a hollow rush of wind through the lips
and no clear note at all.

She remained fruitlessly blowing and blowingwondering
how she could have so grown out of the art which had
come by naturetill she became aware of a movement
among the ivy-boughs which cloaked the garden-wall no
less then the cottage. Looking that way she beheld a
form springing from the coping to the plot. It was
Alec d'Urbervillewhom she had not set eyes on since
he had conducted her the day before to the door of the
gardener's cottage where she had lodgings.

Upon my honour!cried hethere was never before
such a beautiful thing in Nature or Art as you look,
'Cousin' Tess ('Cousin' had a faint ring of mockery).
I have been watching you from over the wall--sitting
like IM-patience on a monument, and pouting up that
pretty red mouth to whistling shape, and whooing and
whooing, and privately swearing, and never being able
to produce a note. Why, you are quite cross because
you can't do it.

I may be cross, but I didn't swear.

Ah! I understand why you are trying--those bullies!
My mother wants you to carry on their musical
education. How selfish of her! As if attending to
these curst cocks and hens here were not enough work
for any girl. I would flatly refuse, if I were you.

But she wants me particularly to do it, and to be
ready by tomorrow morning.

Does she? Well then--I'll give you a lesson or two.

Oh no, you won't!said Tesswithdrawing towards the
door.

Nonsense; I don't want to touch you. See--I'll stand
on this side of the wire-netting, and you can keep on
the other; so you may feel quite safe. Now, look here;
you screw up your lips too harshly. There 'tis--so.

He suited the action to the wordand whistled a line
of "TakeO take those lips away." But the allusion
was lost upon Tess.

Now try,said d'Urberville.

She attempted to look reserved; her face put on a
sculptural severity. But he persisted in his demand


and at lastto get rid of himshe did put up her lips
as directed for producing a clear note; laughing
distressfullyhoweverand then blushing with vexation
that she had laughed.

He encouraged her with "Try again!"

Tess was quite seriouspainfully serious by this time;
and she tried--ultimately and unexpectedly emitting a
real round sound. The momentary pleasure of success got
the better of her; her eyes enlargedand she
involuntarily smiled in his face.

That's it! Now I have started you--you'll go on
beautifully. There--I said I would not come near you;
and, in spite of such temptation as never before fell
to mortal man, I'll keep my word. ... Tess, do you
think my mother a queer old soul?

I don't know much of her yet, sir.

You'll find her so; she must be, to make you learn to
whistle to her bullfinches. I am rather out of her
books just now, but you will be quite in favour if you
treat her live-stock well. Good morning. If you meet
with any difficulties and want help here, don't go to
the bailiff, come to me.

It was in the economy of this REGIME that Tess
Durbeyfield had undertaken to fill a place. Her first
day's experiences were fairly typical of those which
followed through many succeeding days. A familiarity
with Alec d'Urberville's presence--which that young man
carefully cultivated in her by playful dialogueand by
jestingly calling her his cousin when they were
alone--removed much of her original shyness of him
withouthoweverimplanting any feeling which could
engender shyness of a new and tenderer kind. But she
was more pliable under his hands than a mere
companionship would have made herowing to her
unavoidable dependence upon his motherandthrough
that lady's comparative helplessnessupon him.

She soon found that whistling to the bullfinches in Mrs
d'Urberville's room was no such onerous business when
she had regained the artfor she had caught from her
musical mother numerous airs that suited those
songsters admirably. A far more satisfactory time than
when she practised in the garden was this whistling by
the cages each morning. Unrestrained by the young
man's presence she threw up her mouthput her lips
near the barsand piped away in easeful grace to the
attentive listeners.

Mrs d'Urberville slept in a large four-post bedstead
hung with heavy damask curtainsand the bullfinches
occupied the same apartmentwhere they flitted about
freely at certain hoursand made little white spots on
the furniture and upholstery. Once while Tess was at
the window where the cages were rangedgiving her
lesson as usualshe thought she heard a rustling
behind the bed. The old lady was not presentand
turning round the girl had an impression that the toes


of a pair of boots were visible below the fringe of the
curtains. Thereupon her whistling became so disjointed
that the listenerif such there weremust have
discovered her suspicion of his presence. She searched
the curtains every morning after thatbut never found
anybody within them. Alec d'Urberville had evidently
thought better of his freak to terrify her by an ambush
of that kind.

Every village has its idiosyncrasyits constitution
often its own code of morality. The levity of some of
the younger women in and about Trantridge was marked
and was perhaps symptomatic of the choice spirit who
ruled The Slopes in that vicinity. The place had also
a more abiding defect; it drank hard. The staple
conversation on the farms around was on the uselessness
of saving money; and smockfrocked arithmeticians
leaning on their ploughs or hoeswould enter into
calculations of great nicety to prove that parish
relief was a fuller provision for a man in his old age
than any which could result from savings out of their
wages during a whole lifetime.

The chief pleasure of these philosophers lay in going
every Saturday nightwhen work was doneto
Chaseborougha decayed market-town two or three miles
distant; andreturning in the small hours of the next
morningto spend Sunday in sleeping off the dyspeptic
effects of the curious compounds sold to them as beer
by the monopolizers of the once independent inns.

For a long time Tess did not join in the weekly
pilgrimages. But under pressure from matrons not much
older than herself--for a field-man's wages being as
high at twenty-one as at fortymarriage was early
here--Tess at length consented to go. Her first
experience of the journey afforded her more enjoyment
than she had expectedthe hilariousness of the others
being quite contagious after her monotonous attention
to the poultry-farm all the week. She went again and
again. Being graceful and interestingstanding
moreover on the momentary threshold of womanhoodher
appearance drew down upon her some sly regards from
loungers in the streets of Chaseborough; hencethough
sometimes her journey to the town was made
independentlyshe always searched for her fellows at
nightfallto have the protection of their
companionship homeward.

This had gone on for a month or two when there came a
Saturday in Septemberon which a fair and a market
coincided; and the pilgrims from Trantridge sought
double delights at the inns on that account. Tess's
occupations made her late in setting outso that her
comrades reached the town long before her. It was a
fine September eveningjust before sunsetwhen yellow
lights struggle with blue shades in hairlike linesand
the atmosphere itself forms a prospect without aid from
more solid objectsexcept the innumerable winged


insects that dance in it. Through this low-lit
mistiness Tess walked leisurely along.

She did not discover the coincidence of the market with
the fair till she had reached the placeby which time
it was close upon dusk. Her limited marketing was soon
completed; and then as usual she began to look about
for some of the Trantridge cottagers.

At first she could not find themand she was informed
that most of them had gone to what they called a
private little jig at the house of a hay-trusser and
peat-dealer who had transactions with their farm. He
lived in an out-of-the-way nook of the townletand in
trying to find her course thither her eyes fell upon
Mr d'Urberville standing at a street corner.

What--my Beauty? You here so late?he said.

She told him that she was simply waiting for company
homeward.

I'll see you again,said he over her shoulder as she
went on down the back lane.

Approaching the hay-trussers she could hear the fiddled
notes of a reel proceeding from some building in the
rear; but no sound of dancing was audible--an
exceptional state of things for these partswhere as a
rule the stamping drowned the music. The front door
being open she could see straight through the house
into the garden at the back as far as the shades of
night would allow; and nobody appearing to her knock
she traversed the dwelling and went up the path to the
outhouse whence the sound had attracted her.

It was a windowless erection used for storageand from
the open door there floated into the obscurity a mist
of yellow radiancewhich at first Tess thought to be
illuminated smoke. But on drawing nearer she perceived
that it was a cloud of dustlit by candles within the
outhousewhose beams upon the haze carried forward the
outline of the doorway into the wide night of the
garden.

When she came close and looked in she beheld indistinct
forms racing up and down to the figure of the dance
the silence of their footfalls arising from their being
overshoe in "scroff"--that is to saythe powdery
residuum from the storage of peat and other products
the stirring of which by their turbulent feet created
the nebulosity that involved the scene. Through this
floatingfusty DEBRIS of peat and haymixed with the
perspirations and warmth of the dancersand forming
together a sort of vegeto-human pollenthe muted
fiddles feebly pushed their notesin marked contrast
to the spirit with which the measure was trodden out.
They coughed as they dancedand laughed as they
coughed. Of the rushing couples there could barely be
discerned more than the high lights--the indistinctness
shaping them to satyrs clasping nymphs--a multiplicity
of Pans whirling a multiplicity of Syrinxes; Lotis
attempting to elude Priapusand always failing.


At intervals a couple would approach the doorway for
airand the haze no longer veiling their featuresthe
demigods resolved themselves into the homely
personalities of her own next-door neighbours.
Could Trantridge in two or three short hours have
metamorphosed itself thus madly!

Some Sileni of the throng sat on benches and
hay-trusses by the wall; and one of them recognized
her.

The maids don't think it respectable to dance at The
Flower-de-Luce,he explained. "They don't like to
let everybody see which be their fancy-men. Besides
the house sometimes shuts up just when their jints
begin to get greased. So we come here and send out for
liquor."

But when be any of you going home?asked Tess with
some anxiety.

Now--a'most directly. This is all but the last jig.

She waited. The reel drew to a closeand some of the
party were in the mind of starting. But others would
notand another dance was formed. This surely would
end itthought Tess. But it merged in yet another.
She became restless and uneasy; yethaving waited so
longit was necessary to wait longer; on account of
the fair the roads were dotted with roving characters
of possibly ill intent; andthough not fearful of
measurable dangersshe feared the unknown. Had she
been near Marlott she would have had less dread.

Don't ye be nervous, my dear good soul,expostulated
between his coughsa young man with a wet faceand
his straw hat so far back upon his head that the brim
encircled it like the nimbus of a saint. "What's yer
hurry? Tomorrow is Sundaythank Godand we can sleep
it off in church-time. Nowhave a turn with me?"

She did not abhor dancingbut she was not going to
dance here. The movement grew more passionate: the
fiddlers behind the luminous pillar of cloud now and
then varied the air by playing on the wrong side of the
bridge or with the back of the bow. But it did not
matter; the panting shapes spun onwards.

They did not vary their partners if their inclination
were to stick to previous ones. Changing partners
simply meant that a satisfactory choice had not as yet
been arrived at by one or other of the pairand by
this time every couple had been suitable matched. It
was then that the ecstasy and the dream beganin which
emotion was the matter of the universeand matter but
an adventitious intrusion likely to hinder you from
spinning where you wanted to spin.

Suddenly there was a dull thump on the ground: a couple
had fallenand lay in a mixed heap. The next couple
unable to check its progresscame toppling over the
obstacle. An inner cloud of dust rose around the
prostrate figures amid the general one of the roomin
which a twitching entanglement of arms and legs was


discernible.

You shall catch it for this, my gentleman, when you
get home!burst in female accents from the human
heap--those of the unhappy partner of the man whose
clumsiness had caused the mishap; she happened also to
be his recently married wifein which assortment there
was nothing unusual at Trantridge as long as any
affection remained between wedded couples; andindeed
it was not uncustomary in their later livesto avoid
making odd lots of the single people between whom there
might be a warm understanding.

A loud laugh from behind Tess's backin the shade of
the gardenunited with the titter within the room.
She looked roundand saw the red coal of a cigar: Alec
d'Urberville was standing there alone. He beckoned to
herand she reluctantly retreated towards him.

Well, my Beauty, what are you doing here?

She was so tired after her long day and her walk that
she confided her trouble to him--that she had been
waiting ever since he saw her to have their company
homebecause the road at night was strange to her.
But it seems they will never leave off, and I really
think I will wait no longer.

Certainly do not. I have only a saddle-horse here
today; but come to The Flower-de-Luce, and I'll hire a
trap, and drive you home with me.

Tessthough flatteredhad never quite got over her
original mistrust of himanddespite their tardiness
she preferred to walk home with the work-folk. So she
answered that she was much obliged to himbut would
not trouble him. "I have said that I will wait for
'emand they will expect me to now."

Very well, Miss Independence. Please yourself....
Then I shall not hurry.... My good Lord, what a kick-up
they are having there!

He had not put himself forward into the lightbut some
of them had perceived himand his presence led to a
slight pause and a consideration of how the time was
flying. As soon as he had re-lit a cigar and walked
away the Trantridge people began to collect themselves
from amid those who had come in from other farmsand
prepared to leave in a body. Their bundles and baskets
were gathered upand half an hour laterwhen the
clock-chime sounded a quarter past eleventhey were
straggling along the lane which led up the hill towards
their homes.

It was a three-mile walkalong a dry white roadmade
whiter tonight by the light of the moon.

Tess soon perceived as she walked in the flock
sometimes with this onesometimes with thatthat the
fresh night air was producing staggerings and
serpentine courses among then men who had partaken too
freely; some of the more careless women also were


wandering in their gait--to wita dark viragoCar
Darchdubbed Queen of Spadestill lately a favourite
of d'Urberville's; Nancyher sisternicknamed the
Queen of Diamonds; and the young married woman who had
already tumbled down. Yet however terrestrial and
lumpy their appearance just now to the mean unglamoured
eyeto themselves the case was different. They
followed the road with a sensation that they were
soaring along in a supporting mediumpossessed of
original and profound thoughtsthemselves and
surrounding nature forming an organism of which all the
parts harmoniously and joyously interpenetrated each
other. They were as sublime as the moon and stars
above themand the moon and stars were as ardent as
they.

Tesshoweverhad undergone such painful experiences
of this kind in her father's housethat the discovery
of their condition spoilt the pleasure she was
beginning to feel in the moonlight journey. Yet she
stuck to the partyfor reasons above given.

In the open highway they had progressed in scattered
order; but now their route was through a field-gate
and the foremost finding a difficulty in opening it
they closed up together.

This leading pedestrian was Car the Queen of Spades
who carried a wicker-basket containing her mother's
groceriesher own draperiesand other purchases for
the week. The basket being large and heavyCar had
placed it for convenience of porterage on the top of
her headwhere it rode on in jeopardized balance as
she walked with arms akimbo.

Well--whatever is that a-creeping down thy back, Car
Darch?said one of the group suddenly.

All looked at Car. Her gown was a light cotton print
and from the back of her head a kind of rope could be
seen descending to some distance below her waistlike
a Chinaman's queue.

'Tis her hair falling down,said another.

No; it was not her hair: it was a black stream of
something oozing from her basketand it glistened like
a slimy snake in the cold still rays of the moon.

'Tis treacle,said an observant matron.

Treacle it was. Car's poor old grandmother had a
weakness for the sweet stuff. Honey she had in plenty
out of her own hivesbut treacle was what her soul
desiredand Car had been about to give her a treat of
surprise. Hastily lowering the basket the dark girl
found that the vessel containing the syrup had been
smashed within.

By this time there had arisen a shout of laughter at
the extraordinary appearance of Car's backwhich
irritated the dark queen into getting rid of the
disfigurement by the first sudden means availableand
independently of the help of the scoffers. She rushed


excitedly into the field they were about to crossand
flinging herself flat on her back upon the grassbegan
to wipe her gown as well as she could by spinning
horizontally on the herbage and dragging herself over
it upon her elbows.

The laughter rang louder; they clung to the gateto
the postsrested on their stavesin the weakness
engendered by their convulsions at the spectacle of
Car. Our heroinewho had hitherto held her peaceat
this wild moment could not help joining in with the
rest.

It was a misfortune--in more ways than one. No sooner
did the dark queen hear the soberer richer note of Tess
among those of the other work-people than a long
smouldering sense of rivalry inflamed her to madness.
She sprang to her feet and closely faced the object of
her dislike.

How darest th' laugh at me, hussy!she cried.

I couldn't really help it when t'others did,
apologized Tessstill tittering.

Ah, th'st think th' beest everybody, dostn't, because
th' beest first favourite with He just now! But stop a
bit, my lady, stop a bit! I'm as good as two of such!
Look here--here's at 'ee!

To Tess's horror the dark queen began stripping off the
bodice of her gown--which for the added reason of its
ridiculed condition she was only too glad to be free
of--till she had bared her plump neckshouldersand
arms to the moonshineunder which they looked as
luminous and beautiful as some Praxitelean creationin
their possession of the faultless rotundities of a
lusty country girl. She closed her fists and squared up
at Tess.

Indeed, then, I shall not fight!said the latter
majestically; "and if I had know you was of that sort
I wouldn't have so let myself down as to come with such
a whorage as this is!"

The rather too inclusive speech brought down a torrent
of vituperation from other quarters upon fair Tess's
unlucky headparticularly from the Queen of Diamonds
who having stood in the relations to d'Urberville that
Car had also been suspected ofunited with the latter
against the common enemy. Several other women also
chimed inwith an animus which none of them would have
been so fatuous as to show but for the rollicking
evening they had passed. Thereuponfinding Tess
unfairly browbeatenthe husbands and lovers tried to
make peace by defending her; but the result of that
attempt was directly to increase the war.

Tess was indignant and ashamed. She no longer minded
the loneliness of the way and the lateness of the hour;
her one object was to get away from the whole crew as
soon as possible. She knew well enough that the better
among them would repent of their passion next day.
They were all now inside the fieldand she was edging


back to rush off alone when a horseman emerged almost
silently from the corner of the hedge that screened the
roadand Alec d'Urberville looked round upon them.

What the devil is all this row about, work-folk?he
asked.

The explanation was not readily forthcoming; andin
truthhe did not require any. Having heard their
voices while yet some way off he had ridden creepingly
forwardand learnt enough to satisfy himself.

Tess was standing apart from the restnear the gate.
He bent over towards her. "Jump up behind me he
whispered, and we'll get shot of the screaming cats in
a jiffy!"

She felt almost ready to faintso vivid was her sense
of the crisis. At almost any other moment of her life
she would have refused such proffered aid and company
as she had refused them several times before; and now
the loneliness would not of itself have forced her to
do otherwise. But coming as the invitation did at the
particular juncture when fear and indignation at these
adversaries could be transformed by a spring of the
foot into a triumph over themshe abandoned herself to
her impulseclimbed the gateput her toe upon his
instepand scrambled into the saddle behind him. The
pair were speeding away into the distant gray by the
time that the contentious revellers became aware of
what had happened.

The Queen of Spades forgot the stain on her bodiceand
stood beside the Queen of Diamonds and the new-married
staggering young woman--all with a gaze of fixity in
the direction in which the horse's tramp was
diminishing into silence on the road.

What be ye looking at?asked a man who had not
observed the incident.

Ho-ho-ho!laughed dark Car.

Hee-hee-hee!laughed the tippling brideas she
steadied herself on the arm of her fond husband.

Heu-heu-heu!laughed dark Car's motherstroking her
moustache as she explained laconically: "Out of the
frying-pan into the fire!"

Then these children of the open airwhom even excess
of alcohol could scarce injure permanentlybetook
themselves to the field-path; and as they went there
moved onward with themaround the shadow of each one's
heada circle of opalized lightformed by the moon's
rays upon the glistening sheet of dew. Each pedestrian
could see no halo but his or her ownwhich never
deserted the head-shadowwhatever its vulgar
unsteadiness might be; but adhered to itand
persistently beautified it; till the erratic motions
seemed an inherent part of the irradiationand the
fumes of their breathing a component of the night's
mist; and the spirit of the sceneand of the
moonlightand of Natureseemed harmoniously to mingle


with the spirit of wine.

The twain cantered along for some time without speech
Tess as she clung to him still panting in her triumph
yet in other respects dubious. She had perceived that
the horse was not the spirited one he sometimes rose
and felt no alarm on that scorethough her seat was
precarious enough despite her tight hold of him. She
begged him to slow the animal to a walk which Alec
accordingly did.

Neatly done, was it not, dear Tess?he said by and
by.

Yes!said she. "I am sure I ought to be much obliged
to you."

And are you?

She did not reply.

Tess, why do you always dislike my kissing you?

I suppose--because I don't love you.

You are quite sure?

I am angry with you sometimes!

Ah, I half feared as much.NeverthelessAlec did
not object to that confession. He knew that anything
was better then frigidity. "Why haven't you told me
when I have made you angry?"

You know very well why. Because I cannot help myself
here.

I haven't offended you often by love-making?

You have sometimes.

How many times?

You know as well as I--too many times.

Every time I have tried?

She was silentand the horse ambled along for a
considerable distancetill a faint luminous fogwhich
had hung in the hollows all the eveningbecame general
and enveloped them. It seemed to hold the moonlight in
suspensionrendering it more pervasive than in clear
air. Whether on this accountor from
absent-mindednessor from sleepinessshe did not
perceive that they had long ago passed the point at
which the lane to Trantridge branched from the highway
and that her conductor had not taken the Trantridge
track.


She was inexpressibly weary. She had risen at five
o'clock every morning of that weekhad been on foot
the whole of each dayand on this evening had in
addition walked the three miles to Chaseboroughwaited
three hours for her neighbours without eating or
drinkingher impatience to start them preventing
either; she had then walked a mile of the way homeand
had undergone the excitement of the quarreltillwith
the slow progress of their steedit was now nearly one
o'clock. Only oncehoweverwas she overcome by
actual drowsiness. In that moment of oblivion her head
sank gently against him.

D'Urberville stopped the horsewithdrew his feet from
the stirrupsturned sideways on the saddleand
enclosed her waist with his arm to support her.

This immediately put her on the defensiveand with one
of those sudden impulses of reprisal to which she was
liable she gave him a little push from her. In his
ticklish position he nearly lost his balance and only
just avoided rolling over into the roadthe horse
though a powerful onebeing fortunately the quietest
he rode.

That is devilish unkind!he said. "I mean no
harm--only to keep you from falling."

She pondered suspiciously; tillthinking that this
might after all be trueshe relentedand said quite
humblyI beg your pardon, sir.

I won't pardon you unless you show some confidence in
me. Good God!he burst outwhat am I, to be
repulsed so by a mere chit like you? For near three
mortal months have you trifled with my feelings, eluded
me, and snubbed me; and I won't stand it!

Ill leave you tomorrowsir."

No, you will not leave me tomorrow! Will you, I ask
once more, show your belief in me by letting me clasp
you with my arm? Come, between us two and nobody else,
now. We know each other well; and you know that I love
you, and think you the prettiest girl in the world,
which you are. Mayn't I treat you as a lover?

She drew a quick pettish breath of objectionwrithing
uneasily on her seatlooked far aheadand murmured
I don't know--I wish--how can I say yes or no when--

He settled the matter by clasping his arm round her as
he desiredand Tess expressed no further negative.
Thus they sidled slowly onward till it struck her they
had been advancing for an unconscionable time--far
longer than was usually occupied by the short journey
from Chaseborougheven at this walking paceand that
they were no longer on hard roadbut in a mere
trackway.

Why, where be we?she exclaimed.

Passing by a wood.


A wood--what wood? Surely we are quite out of the
road?

A bit of The Chase--the oldest wood in England. It is
a lovely night, and why should we not prolong our ride
a little?

How could you be so treacherous!said Tessbetween
archness and real dismayand getting rid of his arm by
pulling open his fingers one by onethough at the risk
of slipping off herself. "Just when I've been putting
such trust in youand obliging you to please you
because I thought I had wronged you by that push!
Please set me downand let me walk home."

You cannot walk home, darling, even if the air were
clear. We are miles away from Trantridge, if I must
tell you, and in this growing fog you might wander for
hours among these trees.

Never mind that,she coaxed. "Put me downI beg
you. I don't mind where it is; only let me get down
sirplease!"

Very well, then, I will--on one condition. Having
brought you here to this out-of-the-way place, I feel
myself responsible for your safe-conduct home, whatever
you may yourself feel about it. As to your getting to
Trantridge without assistance, it is quite impossible;
for, to tell the truth, dear, owing to this fog, which
so disguises everything, I don't quite know where we
are myself. Now, if you will promise to wait beside the
horse while I walk through the bushes till I come to
some road or house, and ascertain exactly our
whereabouts, I'll deposit you here willingly. When I
come back I'll give you full directions, and if you
insist upon walking you may; or you may ride--at your
pleasure.

She accepted these termsand slid off on the near
sidethough not till he had stolen a cursory kiss.
He sprang down on the other side.

I suppose I must hold the horse?said she.

Oh no; it's not necessary,replied Alecpatting the
panting creature. "He's had enough of it for tonight."

He turned the horse's head into the busheshitched him
on to a boughand made a sort of couch or nest for her
in the deep mass of dead leaves.

Now, you sit there,he said. "The leaves have not
got damp as yet. Just give an eye to the horse--it
will be quite sufficient."

He took a few steps away from herbutreturning
saidBy the bye, Tess, your father has a new cob
today. Somebody gave it to him.

Somebody? You!

D'Urberville nodded.


O how very good of you that is!she exclaimedwith a
painful sense of the awkwardness of having to thank him
just then.

And the children have some toys.

I didn't know--you ever sent them anything!she
murmuredmuch moved. "I almost wish you had not--yes
I almost with it!"

Why, dear?

It--hampers me so.

Tessy--don't you love me ever so little now?

I'm grateful,she reluctantly admitted. "But I fear
I do not---" The sudden vision of his passion for
herself as a factor in this result so distressed her
thatbeginning with one slow tearand then following
with anothershe wept outright.

Don't cry, dear, dear one! Now sit down here, and
wait till I come.She passively sat down amid the
leaves he had heapedand shivered slightly. "Are you
cold?" he asked.

Not very--a little.

He touched her with his fingerswhich sank into her as
into down. "You have only that puffy muslin dress
on--how's that?"

It's my best summer one. 'Twas very warm when I
started, and I didn't know I was going to ride, and
that it would be night.

Nights grow chilly in September. Let me see.He
pulled off a light overcoat that he had wornand put
it round her tenderly. "That's it--now you'll feel
warmer he continued. Nowmy prettyrest there; I
shall soon be back again."

Having buttoned the overcoat round her shoulders he
plunged into the webs of vapour which by this time
formed veils between the trees. She could hear the
rustling of the branches as he ascended the adjoining
slopetill his movements were no louder than the
hopping of a birdand finally died away. With the
setting of the moon the pale light lessenedand Tess
became invisible as she fell into reverie upon the
leaves where he had left her.

In the meantime Alec d'Urberville had pushed on up the
slope to clear his genuine doubt as to the quarter of
The Chase they were in. He hadin factridden quite
at random for over an hourtaking any turning that
came to hand in order to prolong companionship with
herand giving far more attention to Tess's moonlit
person than to any wayside object. A little rest for
the jaded animal being desirablehe did not hasten his
search for landmarks. A clamber over the hill into the
adjoining vale brought him to the fence of a highway
whose contours he recognizedwhich settled the


question of their whereabouts. D'Urberville thereupon
turned back; but by this time the moon had quite gone
downand partly on account of the fog The Chase was
wrapped in thick darknessalthough morning was not far
off. He was obliged to advance with outstretched hands
to avoid contact with the boughsand discovered that
to hit the exact spot from which he had started was at
first entirely beyond him. Roaming up and downround
and roundhe at length heard a slight movement of the
horse close at hand; and the sleeve of his overcoat
unexpectedly caught his foot.

Tess!said d'Urberville.

There was no answer. The obscurity was now so great
that he could see absolutely nothing but a pale
nebulousness at his feetwhich represented the white
muslin figure he had left upon the dead leaves.
Everything else was blackness alike. D'Urberville
stooped; and heard a gentle regular breathing. He
knelt and bent lowertill her breath warmed his face
and in a moment his cheek was in contact with hers.
She was sleeping soundlyand upon her eyelashes there
lingered tears.

Darkness and silence ruled everywhere around. Above
them rose the primeval yews and oaks of The Chasein
which there poised gentle roosting birds in their last
nap; and about them stole the hopping rabbits and
hares. Butmight some saywhere was Tess's guardian
angel? where was the providence of her simple faith?
Perhapslike that other god of whom the ironical
Tishbite spokehe was talkingor he was pursuingor
he was in a journeyor he was sleeping and not to be
awaked.

Why it was that upon this beautiful feminine tissue
sensitive as gossamerand practically blank as snow as
yetthere should have been traced such a coarse
pattern as it was doomed to receive; why so often the
coarse appropriates the finer thusthe wrong man the
womanthe wrong woman the manmany thousand years of
analytical philosophy have failed to explain to our
sense of order. One mayindeedadmit the possibility
of a retribution lurking in the present catastrophe.
Doubtless some of Tess d'Urberville's mailed ancestors
rollicking home from a fray had dealt the same measure
even more ruthlessly towards peasant girls of their
time. But though to visit the sins of the fathers upon
the children may be a morality good enough for
divinitiesit is scorned by average human nature; and
it therefore does not mend the matter.

As Tess's own people down in those retreats are never
tired of saying among each other in their fatalistic
way: "It was to be." There lay the pity of it. An
immeasurable social chasm was to divide our heroine's
personality thereafter from that previous self of hers
who stepped from her mother's door to try her fortune
at Trantridge poultry-farm.

END OF PHASE THE FIRST


Phase the Second: Maiden No More

The basket was heavy and the bundle was largebut she
lugged them along like a person who did not find her
especial burden in material things. Occasionally she
stopped to rest in a mechanical way by some gate or
post; and thengiving the baggage another hitch upon
her full round armwent steadily on again.

It was a Sunday morning in late Octoberabout four
months after Tess Durbeyfield's arrival at Trantridge
and some few weeks subsequent to the night ride in The
Chase. The time was not long past daybreakand the
yellow luminosity upon the horizon behind her back
lighted the ridge towards which her face was set--the
barrier of the vale wherein she had of late been a
stranger--which she would have to climb over to reach
her birthplace. The ascent was gradual on this side
and the soil and scenery differed much from those
within Blackmore Vale. Even the character and accent
of the two peoples had shades of differencedespite
the amalgamating effects of a roundabout railway; so
thatthough less than twenty miles from the place of
her sojourn at Trantridgeher native village had
seemed a far-away spot. The field-folk shut in there
traded northward and westwardtravelledcourtedand
married northward and westwardthought northward and
westward; those on this side mainly directed their
energies and attention to the east and south.

The incline was the same down which d'Urberville had
driven her so wildly on that day in June. Tess went up
the remainder of its length without stoppingand on
reaching the edge of the escarpment gazed over the
familiar green world beyondnow half-veiled in mist.
It was always beautiful from here; it was terribly
beautiful to Tess todayfor since her eyes last fell
upon it she had learnt that the serpent hisses where
the sweet birds singand her views of life had been
totally changed for her by the lesson. Verily another
girl than the simple one she had been at home was she
whobowed by thoughtstood still hereand turned to
look behind her. She could not bear to look forward
into the Vale.

Ascending by the long white road that Tess herself had
just laboured upshe saw a two-wheeled vehiclebeside
which walked a manwho held up his hand to attract her
attention.

She obeyed the signal to wait for him with
unspeculative reposeand in a few minutes man and
horse stopped beside her.

Why did you slip away by stealth like this?said


d'Urbervillewith upbraiding breathlessness; "on a
Sunday morningtoowhen people were all in bed! I
only discovered it by accidentand I have been driving
like the deuce to overtake you. Just look at the mare.
Why go off like this? You know that nobody wished to
hinder your going. And how unnecessary it has been for
you to toil along on footand encumber yourself with
this heavy load! I have followed like a madmansimply
to drive you the rest of the distanceif you won't
come back."

I shan't come back,said she.

I thought you wouldn't--I said so! Well, then, put up
your basket, and let me help you on.

She listlessly placed her basket and bundle within the
dog-cartand stepped upand they sat side by side.
She had no fear of him nowand in the cause of her
confidence her sorrow lay.

D'Urberville mechanically lit a cigarand the journey
was continued with broken unemotional conversation on
the commonplace objects by the wayside. He had quite
forgotten his struggle to kiss her whenin the early
summerthey had driven in the opposite direction along
the same road. But she had notand she sat nowlike
a puppetreplying to his remarks in monosyllables.
After some miles they came in view of the clump of
trees beyond which the village of Marlott stood.
It was only then that her still face showed the least
emotiona tear or two beginning to trickle down.

What are you crying for?he coldly asked.

I was only thinking that I was born over there,
murmured Tess.

Well--we must all be born somewhere.

I wish I had never been born--there or anywhere else!

Pooh! Well, if you didn't wish to come to Trantridge
why did you come?

She did not reply.

You didn't come for love of me, that I'll swear.

'Tis quite true. If I had gone for love o' you, if I
had ever sincerely loved you, if I loved you still, I
should not so loathe and hate myself for my weakness as
I do now! ... My eyes were dazed by you for a little,
and that was all.

He shrugged his shoulders. She resumed-


I didn't understand your meaning till it was too
late.

Thats what every woman says."

How can you dare to use such words!she cried
turning impetuously upon himher eyes flashing as the


latent spirit (of which he was to see more some day)
awoke in her. "My God! I could knock you out of the
gig! Did it never strike your mind that what every
woman says some women may feel?"

Very well,he saidlaughing; "I am sorry to wound
you. I did wrong--I admit it." He dropped into some
little bitterness as he continued: "Only you needn't be
so everlastingly flinging it in my face. I am ready to
pay to the uttermost farthing. You know you need not
work in the fields or the dairies again. You know you
may clothe yourself with the bestinstead of in the
bald plain way you have lately affectedas if you
couldn't get a ribbon more than you earn."

Her lip lifted slightlythough there was little scorn
as a rulein her large and impulsive nature.

I have said I will not take anything more from you,
and I will not--I cannot! I SHOULD be your creature to
go on doing that, and I won't!

One would think you were a princess from your manner,
in addition to a true and original d'Urberville--ha!
ha! Well, Tess, dear, I can say no more. I suppose I
am a bad fellow--a damn bad fellow. I was born bad, and
I have lived bad, and I shall die bad in all
probability. But, upon my lost soul, I won't be bad
towards you again, Tess. And if certain circumstances
should arise--you understand--in which you are in the
least need, the least difficulty, send me one line, and
you shall have by return whatever you require. I may
not be at Trantridge--I am going to London for a
time--I can't stand the old woman. But all letters
will be forwarded.

She said that she did not wish him to drive her
furtherand they stopped just under the clump of
trees. D'Urberville alightedand lifted her down
bodily in his armsafterwards placing her articles on
the ground beside her. She bowed to him slightlyher
eye just lingering in his; and then she turned to take
the parcels for departure.

Alec d'Urberville removed his cigarbent towards her
and said-


You are not going to turn away like that, dear!
Come!

If you wish,she answered indifferently. "See how
you've mastered me!"

She thereupon turned round and lifted her face to his
and remained like a marble term while he imprinted a
kiss upon her cheek--half perfunctorilyhalf as if
zest had not yet quite died out. Her eyes vaguely
rested upon the remotest trees in the lane while the
kiss was givenas though she were nearly unconscious
of what he did.

Now the other side, for old acquaintance' sake.

She turned her head in the same passive wayas one


might turn at the request of a sketcher or hairdresser
and he kissed the other sidehis lips touching cheeks
that were damp and smoothly chill as the skin of the
mushrooms in the fields around.

You don't give me your mouth and kiss me back. You
never willingly do that--you'll never love me, I fear.

I have said so, often. It is true. I have never
really and truly loved you, and I think I never can.
She added mournfullyPerhaps, of all things, a lie on
this thing would do the most good to me now; but I have
honour enough left, little as 'tis, not to tell that
lie. If I did love you I may have the best o' causes
for letting you know it. But I don't.

He emitted a laboured breathas if the scene were
getting rather oppressive to his heartor to his
conscienceor to his gentility.

Well, you are absurdly melancholy, Tess. I have no
reason for flattering you now, and I can say plainly
that you need not be so sad. You can hold your own for
beauty against any woman of these parts, gentle or
simple; I say it to you as a practical man and
well-wisher. If you are wise you will show it to the
world more than you do before it fades.... And yet,
Tess, will you come back to me! Upon my soul I don't
like to let you go like this!

Never, never! I made up my mind as soon as I
saw--what I ought to have seen sooner; and I won't
come.

Then good morning, my four months' cousin--goodbye!

He leapt up lightlyarranged the reinsand was gone
between the tall red-berried hedges.

Tess did not look after himbut slowly wound along the
crooked lane. It was still earlyand though the sun's
lower limb was just free of the hillhis rays
ungenial and peeringaddressed the eye rather than the
touch as yet. There was not a human soul near. Sad
October and her sadder self seemed the only two
existences haunting that lane.

As she walkedhoweversome footsteps approached
behind herthe footsteps of a man; and owing to the
briskness of his advance he was close at her heels and
had said "Good morning" before she had been long aware
of his propinquity. He appeared to be an artisan of
some sortand carried a tin pot of red paint in his
hand. He asked in a business-like manner if he should
take her basketwhich she permitted him to dowalking
beside him.

It is early to be astir this Sabbath morn!he said
cheerfully.

Yes,said Tess.

When most people are at rest from their week's work.
She also assented to this.


Though I do more real work today than all the week
besides.

Do you?

All the week I work for the glory of man, and on
Sunday for the glory of God. That's more real than the
other--hey? I have a little to do here at this stile.
The man turned as he spoke to an opening at the
roadside leading into a pasture. "If you'll wait a
moment he added, I shall not be long."

As he had her basket she could not well do otherwise;
and she waitedobserving him. He set down her basket
and the tin potand stirring the paint with the brush
that was in it began painting large square letters on
the middle board of the three composing the stile
placing a comma after each wordas if to give pause
while that word was driven well home to the reader's
heart-


THYDAMNATIONSLUMBERETHNOT.
2 Pet. ii. 3.


Against the peaceful landscapethe paledecaying
tints of the copsesthe blue air of the horizon and
the lichened stileboardsthese staring vermilion words
shone forth. They seemed to shout themselves out and
make the atmosphere ring. Some people might have cried
Alas, poor Theology!at the hideous defacement--the
last grotesque phase of a creed which had served
mankind well in its time. But the words entered Tess
with accusatory horror. It was as if this man had
known her recent history; yet he was a total stranger.

Having finished his text he picked up her basketand
she mechanically resumed her walk beside him.

Do you believe what you paint?she asked in low
tones.

Believe that tex? Do I believe in my own existence!

But,said she tremulouslysuppose your sin was not
of your own seeking?

He shook his head.

I cannot split hairs on that burning query,he said.
I have walked hundreds of miles this past summer,
painting these texes on every wall, gate, and stile the
length and breadth of this district. I leave their
application to the hearts of the people who read 'em.

I think they are horrible,said Tess. "Crushing!
killing!"

That's what they are meant to be!he replied in a
trade voice. "But you should read my hottest ones--them
I kips for slums and seaports. They'd make ye wriggle!
Not but what this is a very good tex for rural
districts. ... Ah--there's a nice bit of blank wall up
by that barn standing to waste. I must put one


there--one that it will be good for dangerous young
females like yerself to heed. Will ye waitmissy?"

No,said she; and taking her basket Tess trudged on.
A little way forward she turned her head. The old gray
wall began to advertise a similar fiery lettering to
the firstwith a strange and unwonted mienas if
distressed at duties it had never before been called
upon to perform. It was with a sudden flush that she
read and realized what was to be the inscription he was
now halfway through-


THOUSHALTNOTCOMMIT--

Her cheerful friend saw her lookingstopped his brush
and shouted-


If you want to ask for edification on these things of
moment, there's a very earnest good man going to preach
a charity-sermon today in the parish you are going
to--Mr Clare of Emminster. I'm not of his persuasion
now, but he's a good man, and he'll expound as well as
any parson I know. 'Twas he began the work in me.

But Tess did not answer; she throbbingly resumed her
walkher eyes fixed on the ground. "Pooh--I don't
believe God said such things!" she murmured
contemptuously when her flush had died away.

A plume of smoke soared up suddenly from her father's
chimneythe sight of which made her heart ache. The
aspect of the interiorwhen she reached itmade her
heart ache more. Her motherwho had just come down
stairsturned to greet her from the fireplacewhere
she was kindling barked-oak twigs under the breakfast
kettle. The young children were still aboveas was
also her fatherit being Sunday morningwhen he felt
justified in lying an additional half-hour.

Well!--my dear Tess!exclaimed her surprised mother
jumping up and kissing the girl. "How be ye? I didn't
see you till you was in upon me! Have you come home to
be married?"

No, I have not come for that, mother.

Then for a holiday?

Yes--for a holiday; for a long holiday,said Tess.

What, isn't your cousin going to do the handsome
thing?

He's not my cousin, and he's not going to marry me.

Her mother eyed her narrowly.

Come, you have not told me all,she said.

Then Tess went up to her motherput her face upon
Joan's neckand told.

And yet th'st not got him to marry 'ee!reiterated
her mother. "Any woman would have done it but you


after that!"

Perhaps any woman would except me.

It would have been something like a story to come back
with, if you had!continued Mrs Durbeyfieldready to
burst into tears of vexation. "After all the talk
about you and him which has reached us herewho would
have expected it to end like this! Why didn't ye think
of doing some good for your family instead o' thinking
only of yourself? See how I've got to teave and slave
and your poor weak father with his heart clogged like a
dripping-pan. I did hope for something to come out o'
this! To see what a pretty pair you and he made that
day when you drove away together four months ago! See
what he has given us--allas we thoughtbecause we
were his kin. But if he's notit must have been done
because of his love for 'ee. And yet you've not got
him to marry!"

Get Alec d'Urberville in the mind to marry her! He
marry HER! On matrimony he had never once said a word.
And what if he had? How a convulsive snatching at
social salvation might have impelled her to answer him
she could not say. But her poor foolish mother little
knew her present feeling towards this man. Perhaps it
was unusual in the circumstancesunlucky
unaccountable; but there it was; and thisas she had
saidwas what made her detest herself. She had never
wholly cared for himshe did not at all care for him
now. She had dreaded himwinced before himsuccumbed
to adroit advantages he took of her helplessness; then
temporarily blinded by his ardent mannershad been
stirred to confused surrender awhile: had suddenly
despised and disliked himand had run away. That was
all. Hate him she did not quite; but he was dust and
ashes to herand even for her name's sake she scarcely
wished to marry him.

You ought to have been more careful if you didn't mean
to get him to make you his wife!

O mother, my mother!cried the agonized girlturning
passionately upon her parent as if her poor heart would
break. "How could I be expected to know? I was a child
when I left this house four months ago. Why didn't you
tell me there was danger in men-folk? Why didn't you
warn me? Ladies know what to fend hands against
because they read novels that tell them of these
tricks; but I never had the chance o' learning in that
wayand you did not help me!"

Her mother was subdued.

I thought if I spoke of his fond feelings and what
they might lead to, you would be hontish wi' him and
lose your chance,she murmuredwiping her eyes with
her apron. "Wellwe must make the best of itI
suppose. 'Tis naterafter alland what do please
God!"

XIII


The event of Tess Durbeyfield's return from the manor
of her bogus kinsfolk was rumoured abroadif rumour be
not too large a word for a space of a square mile. In
the afternoon several young girls of Marlottformer
schoolfellows and acquaintances of Tesscalled to see
herarriving dressed in their best starched and
ironedas became visitors to a person who had made a
transcendent conquest (as they supposed)and sat round
the room looking at her with great curiosity. For the
fact that it was this said thirty-first cousinMr
d'Urbervillewho had fallen in love with hera
gentleman not altogether localwhose reputation as a
reckless gallant and heartbreaker was beginning to
spread beyond the immediate boundaries of Trantridge
lent Tess's supposed positionby its fearsomenessa
far higher fascination that it would have exercised if
unhazardous.

Their interest was so deep that the younger ones
whispered when her back was turned-


How pretty she is; and how that best frock do set her
off! I believe it cost an immense deal, and that it
was a gift from him.

Tesswho was reaching up to get the tea-things from
the corner-cupboarddid not hear these commentaries.
If she had heard themshe might soon have set her
friends right on the matter. But her mother heardand
Joan's simple vanityhaving been denied the hope of a
dashing marriagefed itself as well as it could upon
the sensation of a dashing flirtation. Upon the whole
she felt gratifiedeven though such a limited and
evanescent triumph should involve her daughter's
reputation; it might end in marriage yetand in the
warmth of her responsiveness to their admiration she
invited her visitors to stay to tea.

Their chattertheir laughtertheir good-humoured
innuendoesabove alltheir flashes and flickerings of
envyrevived Tess's spirits also; andas the evening
wore onshe caught the infection of their excitement
and grew almost gay. The marble hardness left her
faceshe moved with something of her old bounding
stepand flushed in all her young beauty.

At momentsin spite of thoughtshe would reply to
their inquiries with a manner of superiorityas if
recognizing that her experiences in the field of
courtship hadindeedbeen slightly enviable. But so
far was she from beingin the words of Robert South
in love with her own ruin,that the illusion was
transient as lightning; cold reason came back to mock
her spasmodic weakness; the ghastliness of her
momentary pride would convict herand recall her to
reserved listlessness again.

And the despondency of the next morning's dawnwhen it
was no longer Sundaybut Monday; and no best clothes;
and the laughing visitors were goneand she awoke
alone in her old bedthe innocent younger children
breathing softly around her. In place of the


excitement of her returnand the interest it had
inspiredshe saw before her a long and stony highway
which she had to treadwithout aidand with little
sympathy. Her depression was then terribleand she
could have hidden herself in a tomb.

In the course of a few weeks Tess revived sufficiently
to show herself so far as was necessary to get to
church one Sunday morning. She liked to hear the
chanting--such as it was--and the old Psalmsand to
join in the Morning Hymn. That innate love of melody
which she had inherited from her ballad-singing mother
gave the simplest music a power over her which could
well-nigh drag her heart out of her bosom at times.

To be as much out of observation as possible for
reasons of her ownand to escape the gallantries of
the young menshe set out before the chiming began
and took a back seat under the galleryclose to the
lumberwhere only old men and women cameand where
the bier stood on end among the churchyard tools.

Parishioners dropped in by twos and threesdeposited
themselves in rows before herrested three-quarters of
a minute on their foreheads as if they were praying
though they were not; then sat upand looked around.
When the chants came on one of her favourites happened
to be chosen among the rest--the old double chant
Langdon--but she did not know what it was called
though she would much have liked to know. She thought
without exactly wording the thoughthow strange and
godlike was a composer's powerwho from the grave
could lead through sequences of emotionwhich he alone
had felt at firsta girl like her who had never heard
of his nameand never would have a clue to his
personality.

The people who had turned their heads turned them again
as the service proceeded; and at last observing her
they whispered to each other. She knew what their
whispers were aboutgrew sick at heartand felt that
she could come to church no more.

The bedroom which she shared with some of the children
formed her retreat more continually than ever. Here
under her few square yards of thatchshe watched
windsand snowsand rainsgorgeous sunsetsand
successive moons at their full. So close kept she that
at length almost everybody thought she had gone away.

The only exercise that Tess took at this time was after
dark; and it was thenwhen out in the woodsthat she
seemed least solitary. She knew how to hit to a
hair's-breadth that moment of evening when the light
and the darkness are so evenly balanced that the
constraint of day and the suspense of night neutralize
each otherleaving absolute mental liberty. It is
then that the plight of being alive becomes attenuated
to its least possible dimensions. She had no fear of
the shadows; her sole idea seemed to be to shun
mankind--or rather that cold accretion called the
worldwhichso terrible in the massis so
unformidableeven pitiablein its units.


On these lonely hills and dales her quiescent glide was
of a piece with the element she moved in. Her flexuous
and stealthy figure became an integral part of the
scene. At times her whimsical fancy would intensify
natural processes around her till they seemed a part of
her own story. Rather they became a part of it; for
the world is only a psychological phenomenonand what
they seemed they were. The midnight airs and gusts
moaning amongst the tightly-wrapped buds and bark of
the winter twigswere formulae of bitter reproach.
A wet day was the expression of irremediable grief at her
weakness in the mind of some vague ethical being whom
she could not class definitely as the God of her
childhoodand could not comprehend as any other.

But this encompassment of her own characterization
based on shreds of conventionpeopled by phantoms and
voices antipathetic to herwas a sorry and mistaken
creation of Tess's fancy--a cloud of moral hobgoblins
by which she was terrified without reason. It was they
that were out of harmony with the actual worldnot
she. Walking among the sleeping birds in the hedges
watching the skipping rabbits on a moonlit warrenor
standing under a pheasant-laden boughshe looked upon
herself as a figure of Guilt intruding into the haunts
of Innocence. But all the while she was making a
distinction where there was no difference. Feeling
herself in antagonism she was quite in accord. She had
been made to break an accepted social lawbut no law
know to the environment in which she fancied herself
such an anomaly.

It was a hazy sunrise in August. The denser nocturnal
vapoursattacked by the warm beamswere dividing and
shrinking into isolated fleeces within hollows and
covertswhere they waited till they should be dried
away to nothing.

The sunon account of the misthad a curious
sentientpersonal lookdemanding the masculine
pronoun for its adequate expression. His present
aspectcoupled with the lack of all human forms in the
sceneexplained the old-time heliolatries in a moment.
One could feel that a saner religion had never
prevailed under the sky. The luminary was a
golden-hairedbeamingmild-eyedGod-like creature
gazing down in the vigour and intentness of youth upon
an earth that was brimming with interest for him.

His lighta little laterbroke though chinks of
cottage shuttersthrowing stripes like red-hot pokers
upon cupboardschests of drawersand other furniture
within; and awakening harvesters who were not already
astir.

But of all ruddy things that morning the brightest were
two broad arms of painted woodwhich rose from the
margin of yellow cornfield hard by Marlott village.
Theywith two others belowformed the revolving


Maltese cross of the reaping-machinewhich had been
brought to the field on the previous evening to be
ready for operations this day. The paint with which
they were smearedintensified in hue by the sunlight
imparted to them a look of having been dipped in liquid
fire.

The field had already been "opened"; that is to say
a lane a few feet wide had been hand-cut through the
wheat along the whole circumference of the field for
the first passage of the horses and machine.

Two groupsone of men and ladsthe other of women
had come down the lane just at the hour when the
shadows of the eastern hedge-top struck the west hedge
midwayso that the heads of the groups were enjoying
sunrise while their feet were still in the dawn. They
disappeared from the lane between the two stone posts
which flanked the nearest field-gate.

Presently there arose from within a ticking like the
love-making of the grasshopper. The machine had begun
and a moving concatenation of three horses and the
aforesaid long rickety machine was visible over the
gatea driver sitting upon one of the hauling horses
and an attendant on the seat of the implement. Along
one side of the field the whole wain wentthe arms of
the mechanical reaper revolving slowlytill it passed
down the hill quite out of sight. In a minute it came
up on the other side of the field at the same equable
pace; the glistening brass star in the forehead of the
fore horse first catching the eye as it rose into view
over the stubblethen the bright armsand then the
whole machine.

The narrow lane of stubble encompassing the field grew
wider with each circuitand the standing corn was
reduced to smaller area as the morning wore on.
Rabbitsharessnakesratsmiceretreated inwards
as into a fastnessunaware of the ephemeral nature of
their refugeand of the doom that awaited them later
in the day whentheir covert shrinking to a more and
more horrible narrownessthey were huddled together
friends and foestill the last few yards of upright
wheat fell also under the teeth of the unerring reaper
and they were every one put to death by the sticks and
stones of the harvesters.

The reaping-machine left the fallen corn behind it in
little heapseach heap being of the quantity for a
sheaf; and upon these the active binders in the rear
laid their hands--mainly womenbut some of them men in
print shirtsand trousers supported round their waists
by leather strapsrendering useless the two buttons
behindwhich twinkled and bristled with sunbeams at
every movement of each weareras if they were a pair
of eyes in the small of his back.

But those of the other sex were the most interesting of
this company of bindersby reason of the charm which
is acquired by woman when she becomes part and parcel
of outdoor natureand is not merely an object set down
therein as at ordinary times. A field-man is a
personality afield; a field-woman is a portion of the


field; she had somehow lost her own marginimbibed the
essence of her surroundingand assimilated herself
with it.

The women--or rather girlsfor they were mostly
young--wore drawn cotton bonnets with great flapping
curtains to keep off the sunand gloves to prevent
their hands being wounded by the stubble. There was one
wearing a pale pink jacketanother in a cream-coloured
tight-sleeved gownanother in a petticoat as red as
the arms of the reaping-machine; and othersolderin
the brown-rough "wropper" or over-all--the
old-established and most appropriate dress of the
field-womanwhich the young ones were abandoning.
This morning the eye returns involuntarily to the girl
in the pink cotton jacketshe being the most flexuous
and finely-drawn figure of them all. But her bonnet is
pulled so far over her brow that none of her face is
disclosed while she bindsthough her complexion may be
guessed from a stray twine or two of dark brown hair
which extends below the curtain of her bonnet. Perhaps
one reason why she seduces casual attention is that she
never courts itthough the other women often gaze
around them.

Her binding proceeds with clock-like monotony. From
the sheaf last finished she draws a handful of ears
patting their tips with her left palm to bring them
even. Then stooping low she moves forwardgathering
the corn with both hands against her kneesand pushing
her left gloved hand under the bundle to meet the right
on the other sideholding the corn in an embrace like
that of a lover. She brings the ends of the bond
togetherand kneels on the sheaf while she ties it
beating back her skirts now and then when lifted by the
breeze. A bit of her naked arm is visible between the
buff leather of the gauntlet and the sleeve of her
gown; and as the day wears on its feminine smoothness
becomes scarified by the stubbleand bleeds.

At intervals she stands up to restand to retie her
disarranged apronor to pull her bonnet straight.
Then one can see the oval face of a handsome young
woman with deep dark eyes and long heavy clinging
tresseswhich seem to clasp in a beseeching way
anything they fall against. The cheeks are palerthe
teeth more regularthe red lips thinner than is usual
in a country-bred girl.

It is Tess Durbeyfieldotherwise d'Urberville
somewhat changed--the samebut not the same; at the
present stage of her existence living as a stranger and
an alien herethough it was no strange land that she
was in. After a long seclusion she had come to a
resolve to undertake outdoor work in her native
villagethe busiest season of the year in the
agricultural world having arrivedand nothing that she
could do within the house being so remunerative for the
time as harvesting in the fields.

The movements of the other women were more or less
similar to Tess'sthe whole bevy of them drawing
together like dancers in a quadrille at the completion
of a sheaf by eachevery one placing her sheaf on end


against those of the resttill a shockor "stitch" as
it was here calledof ten or a dozen was formed.

They went to breakfastand came againand the work
proceeded as before. As the hour of eleven drew near a
person watching her might have noticed that every now
and then Tess's glance flitted wistfully to the brow of
the hillthough she did not pause in her sheafing. On
the verge of the hour the heads of a group of children
of ages ranging from six to fourteenrose over the
stubbly convexity of the hill.

The face of Tess flushed slightlybut still she did
not pause.

The eldest of the comersa girl who wore a triangular
shawlits corners draggling on the stubblecarried in
her arms what at first sight seemed to be a dollbut
proved to be an infant in long clothes. Another
brought some lunch. The harvesters ceased working
took their provisionsand sat down against one of the
shocks. Here they fell tothe men plying a stone jar
freelyand passing round a cup.

Tess Durbeyfield had been one of the last to suspend
her labours. She sat down at the end of the shockher
face turned somewhat away from her companions. When
she had deposited herself a man in a rabbit-skin cap
and with a red handkerchief tucked into his beltheld
the cup of ale over the top of the shock for her to
drink. But she did not accept his offer. As soon as
her lunch was spread she called up the big girl her
sisterand took the baby off herwhoglad to be
relieved of the burdenwent away to the next shock and
joined the other children playing there. Tesswith a
curiously stealthy yet courageous movementand with a
still rising colourunfastened her frock and began
suckling the child.

The men who sat nearest considerately turned their
faces towards the other end of the fieldsome of them
beginning to smoke; onewith absent-minded fondness
regretfully stroking the jar that would no longer yield
a stream. All the women but Tess fell into animated
talkand adjusted the disarranged knots of their hair.

When the infant had taken its fill the young mother sat
it upright in her lapand looking into the far
distance dandled it with a gloomy indifference that was
almost dislike; then all of a sudden she fell to
violently kissing it some dozens of timesas if she
could never leave offthe child crying at the
vehemence of an onset which strangely combined
passionateness with contempt.

She's fond of that there child, though she mid pretend
to hate en, and say she wishes the baby and her too
were in the churchyard,observed the woman in the red
petticoat.

She'll soon leave off saying that,replied the one in
buff. "Lord'tis wonderful what a body can get used to
o' that sort in time!"


A little more than persuading had to do wi' the coming
o't, I reckon. There were they that heard a sobbing
one night last year in The Chase; and it mid ha' gone
hard wi' a certain party if folks had come along.

Well, a little more, or a little less, 'twas a
thousand pities that it should have happened to she, of
all others. But 'tis always the comeliest! The plain
ones be as safe as churches--hey, Jenny?The speaker
turned to one of the group who certainly was not
ill-defined as plain.

It was a thousand pitiesindeed; it was impossible for
even an enemy to feel otherwise on looking at Tess as
she sat therewith her flower-like mouth and large
tender eyesneither black nor blue nor grey nor
violet; rather all those shades togetherand a hundred
otherswhich could be seen if one looked into their
irises--shade behind shade--tint beyond tint--around
pupils that had no bottom; an almost standard woman
but for the slight incautiousness of character
inherited from her race.

A resolution which had surprised herself had brought
her into the fields this week for the first time during
many months. After wearing and wasting her palpitating
heart with every engine of regret that lonely
inexperience could devisecommonsense had illuminated
her. She felt that she would do well to be useful
again--to taste anew sweet independence at any price.
The past was past; whatever it had been it was no more
at hand. Whatever its consequencestime would close
over them; they would all in a few years be as if they
had never beenand she herself grassed down and
forgotten. Meanwhile the trees were just as green as
before; the birds sang and the sun shone as clearly now
as ever. The familiar surroundings had not darkened
because of her griefnor sickened because of her pain.

She might have seen that what had bowed her head so
profoundly--the thought of the world's concern at her
situation--was founded on an illusion. She was not an
existencean experiencea passiona structure of
sensationsto anybody but herself. To all humankind
besides Tess was only a passing thought. Even to
friends she was no more than a frequently passing
thought. If she made herself miserable the livelong
night and day it was only this much to them--"Ahshe
makes herself unhappy." If she tried to be cheerful
to dismiss all careto take pleasure in the daylight
the flowersthe babyshe could only be this idea to
them--"Ahshe bears it very well." Moreoveralone in
a desert island would she have been wretched at what
had happened to her? Not greatly. If she could have
been but just createdto discover herself as a
spouseless motherwith no experience of life except as
the parent of a nameless childwould the position have
caused her to despair? Noshe would have taken it
calmlyand found pleasure therein. Most of the misery
had been generated by her conventional aspectand not
by her innate sensations.

Whatever Tess's reasoningsome spirit had induced her
to dress herself up neatly as she had formerly done


and come out into the fieldsharvest-hands being
greatly in demand just then. This was why she had
borne herself with dignityand had looked people
calmly in the face at timeseven when holding the baby
in her arms.

The harvest-men rose from the shock of cornand
stretched their limbsand extinguished their pipes.
The horseswhich had been unharnessed and fedwere
again attached to the scarlet machine. Tesshaving
quickly eaten her own mealbeckoned to her eldest
sister to come and take away the babyfastened her
dressput on the buff gloves againand stooped anew
to draw a bond from the last completed sheaf for the
tying of the next.

In the afternoon and evening the proceedings of the
morning were continuedTess staying on till dusk with
the body of harvesters. Then they all rode home in one
of the largest wagonsin the company of a broad
tarnished moon that had risen from the ground to the
eastwardsits face resembling the outworn gold-leaf
halo of some worm-eaten Tuscan saint. Tess's female
companions sang songsand showed themselves very
sympathetic and glad at her reappearance out of doors
though they could not refrain from mischievously
throwing in a few verses of the ballad about the maid
who went to the merry green wood and came back a
changed state. There are counterpoises and
compensations in life; and the event which had made of
her a social warning had also for the moment made her
the most interesting personage in the village to many.
Their friendliness won her still farther away from
herselftheir lively spirits were contagiousand she
became almost gay.

But now that her moral sorrows were passing away a
fresh one arose on the natural side of her which knew
no social law. When she reached home it was to learn
to her grief that the baby had been suddenly taken ill
since the afternoon. Some such collapse had been
probableso tender and puny was its frame; but the
event came as a shock nevertheless.

The baby's offence against society in coming into the
world was forgotten by the girl-mother; her soul's
desire was to continue that offence by preserving the
life of the child. Howeverit soon grew clear that
the hour of emancipation for that little prisoner of
the flesh was to arrive earlier than her worst
misgiving had conjectured. And when she had discovered
this she was plunged into a misery which transcended
that of the child's simple loss. Her baby had not been
baptized.

Tess had drifted into a frame of mind which accepted
passively the consideration that if she should have to
burn for what she had doneburn she mustand there
was an end of it. Like all village girls she was well
grounded in the Holy Scripturesand had dutifully
studied the histories of Aholah and Aholibahand knew
the inferences to be drawn therefrom. But when the
same question arose with regard to the babyit had a
very different colour. Her darling was about to die


and no salvation.

It was nearly bedtimebut she rushed downstairs and
asked if she might send for the parson. The moment
happened to be one at which her father's sense of the
antique nobility of his family was highestand his
sensitiveness to the smudge which Tess had set upon
that nobility most pronouncedfor he had just returned
from his weekly booze at Rolliver's Inn. No parson
should come inside his doorhe declaredprying into
his affairsjust thenwhenby her shameit had
become more necessary than ever to hide them. He locked
the door and put the key in his pocket.

The household went to bedanddistressed beyond
measureTess retired also. She was continually waking
as she layand in the middle of the night found that
the baby was still worse. It was obviously
dying--quietly and painlesslybut none the less
surely.

In her misery she rocked herself upon the bed. The
clock struck the solemn hour of onethat hour when
fancy stalks outside reasonand malignant
possibilities stand rock-firm as facts. She thought of
the child consigned to the nethermost corner of hell
as its double doom for lack of baptism and lack of
legitimacy; saw the arch-fiend tossing it with his
three-pronged forklike the one they used for heating
the oven on baking days; to which picture she added
many other quaint and curious details of torment
sometimes taught the young in this Christian country.
The lurid presentment so powerfully affected her
imagination in the silence of the sleeping house that
her nightgown became damp with perspirationand the
bedstead shook with each throb of her heart.

The infant's breathing grew more difficultand the
mother's mental tension increased. It was useless to
devour the little thing with kisses; she could stay in
bed no longerand walked feverishly about the room.

O merciful God, have pity; have pity upon my poor
baby!she cried. "Heap as much anger as you want to
upon meand welcome; but pity the child!"

She leant against the chest of drawersand murmured
incoherent supplications for a long whiletill she
suddenly started up.

Ah! perhaps baby can be saved! Perhaps it will be
just the same!

She spoke so brightly that it seemed as though her face
might have shone in the gloom surrounding her. She lit
a candleand went to a second and a third bed under
the wallwhere she awoke her young sisters and
brothersall of whom occupied the same room. Pulling
out the washing-stand so that she could get behind it
she poured some water from a jugand made them kneel
aroundputting their hands together with fingers
exactly vertical. While the childrenscarcely awake
awe-stricken at her mannertheir eyes growing larger
and largerremained in this positionshe took the


baby from her bed--a child's child--so immature as
scarce to seem a sufficient personality to endow its
producer with the maternal title. Tess then stood
erect with the infant on her arm beside the basinthe
next sister held the Prayer-Book open before heras
the clerk at church held it before the parson; and thus
the girl set about baptizing her child.

Her figure looked singularly tall and imposing as she
stood in her long white nightgowna thick cable of
twisted dark hair hanging straight down her back to her
waist. The kindly dimness of the weak candle
abstracted from her form and features the little
blemishes which sunlight might have revealed--the
stubble scratches upon her wristsand the weariness of
her eyes--her high enthusiasm having a transfiguring
effect upon the face which had been her undoing
showing it as a thing of immaculate beautywith a
touch of dignity which was almost regal. The little
ones kneeling roundtheir sleepy eyes blinking and
redawaited her preparations full of a suspended
wonder which their physical heaviness at that hour
would not allow to become active.

The most impressed of them said:

Be you really going to christen him, Tess?

The girl-mother replied in a grave affirmative.

What's his name going to be?

She had not thought of thatbut a name suggested by a
phrase in the book of Genesis came into her head as she
proceeded with the baptismal serviceand now she
pronounced it:

SORROW, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and
the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

She sprinkled the waterand there was silence.

Say 'Amen,' children.

The tiny voices piped in obedient response "Amen!"

Tess went on:

We receive this child--and so forth--"and do sign him
with the sign of the Cross."

Here she dipped her hand into the basinand fervently
drew an immense cross upon the baby with her
forefingercontinuing with the customary sentences as
to his manfully fighting against sinthe worldand
the deviland being a faithful soldier and servant
unto his life's end. She duly went on with the Lord's
Prayerthe children lisping it after her in a thin
gnat-like wailtillat the conclusionraising their
voices to clerk's pitchthey again piped into silence
Amen!

Then their sisterwith much augmented confidence in
the efficacy of the sacramentpoured forth from the


bottom of her heart the thanksgiving that follows
uttering it boldly and triumphantly in the
stopt-diapason note which her voice acquired when her
heart was in her speechand which will never be
forgotten by those who knew her. The ecstasy of faith
almost apotheosized her; it set upon her face a glowing
irradiationand brought a red spot into the middle of
each cheek; while the miniature candle-flame inverted
in her eye-pupils shone like a diamond. The children
gazed up at her with more and more reverenceand no
longer had a will for questioning. She did not look
like Sissy to them nowbut as a being largetowering
and awful--a divine personage with whom they had
nothing in common.

Poor Sorrow's campaign against sinthe worldand the
devil was doomed to be of limited brilliancy--luckily
perhaps for himselfconsidering his beginnings. In
the blue of the morning that fragile soldier and
servant breathed his lastand when the other children
awoke they cried bitterlyand begged Sissy to have
another pretty baby. The calmness which had possessed
Tess since the christening remained with her in the
infant's loss. In the daylightindeedshe felt her
terrors about his soul to have been somewhat
exaggerated; whether well founded or not she had no
uneasiness nowreasoning that if Providence would not
ratify such an act of approximation shefor onedid
not value the kind of heaven lost by the
irregularity--either for herself or for her child.

So passed away Sorrow the Undesired--that intrusive
creaturethat bastard gift of shameless Nature who
respects not the social law; a waif to whom eternal
Time had been a matter of days merelywho knew not
that such things as years and centuries ever were; to
whom the cottage interior was the universethe week's
weather climatenew-born babyhood human existenceand
the instinct to suck human knowledge.

Tesswho mused on the christening a good deal
wondered if it were doctrinally sufficient to secure a
Christian burial for the child. Nobody could tell this
but the parson of the parishand he was a new-comer
and did not know her. She went to his house after
duskand stood by the gatebut could not summon
courage to go in. The enterprise would have been
abandoned if she had not by accident met him coming
homeward as she turned away. In the gloom she did not
mind speaking freely.

I should like to ask you something, sir.

He expressed his willingness to listenand she told
the story of the baby's illness and the extemporized
ordinance. "And nowsir she added earnestly, can
you tell me this--will it be just the same for him as
if you had baptized him?"

Having the natural feelings of a tradesman at finding
that a job he should have been called in for had been
unskilfully botched by his customers among themselves
he was disposed to say no. Yet the dignity of the
girlthe strange tenderness in her voicecombined to


affect his nobler impulses--or rather those that he had
left in him after ten years of endeavour to graft
technical belief on actual scepticism. The man and the
ecclesiastic fought within himand the victory fell to
the man.

My dear girl,he saidit will be just the same.

Then will you give him a Christian burial?she asked
quickly.

The Vicar felt himself cornered. Hearing of the baby's
illnesshe had conscientiously gone to the house after
nightfall to perform the riteandunaware that the
refusal to admit him had come from Tess's father and
not from Tesshe could not allow the plea of necessity
for its irregular administration.

Ah--that's another matter,he said.

Another matter--why?asked Tessrather warmly.

Well--I would willingly do so if only we two were
concerned. But I must not--for certain reasons.

Just for once, sir!

Really I must not.

O sir!She seized his hand as she spoke.

He withdrew itshaking his head.

Then I don't like you!she burst outand I'll never
come to your church no more!

Don't talk so rashly.

Perhaps it will be just the same to him if you don't?
... Will it be just the same? Don't for God's sake
speak as saint to sinner, but as you yourself to me
myself--poor me!

How the Vicar reconciled his answer with the strict
notions he supposed himself to hold on these subjects
it is beyond a layman's power to tellthough not to
excuse. Somewhat movedhe said in this case also-


It will be just the same.

So the baby was carried in a small deal boxunder an
ancient woman's shawlto the churchyard that night
and buried by lantern-lightat the cost of a shilling
and a pint of beer to the sextonin that shabby corner
of God's allotment where He lets the nettles growand
where all unbaptized infantsnotorious drunkards
suicidesand others of the conjecturally damned are
laid. In spite of the untoward surroundingshowever
Tess bravely made a little cross of two laths and a
piece of stringand having bound it with flowersshe
stuck it up at the head of the grave one evening when
she could enter the churchyard without being seen
putting at the foot also a bunch of the same flowers in
a little jar of water to keep them alive. What matter


was it that on the outside of the jar the eye of mere
observation noted the words "Keelwell's Marmalade"?
The eye of maternal affection did not see them in its
vision of higher things.

By experience,says Roger Aschamwe find out a
short way by a long wandering.Not seldom that long
wandering unfits us for further traveland of what use
is our experience to us then? Tess Durbeyfield's
experience was of this incapacitating kind. At last she
had learned what to do; but who would now accept her
doing?

If before going to the d'Urbervilles' she had
vigorously moved under the guidance of sundry gnomic
texts and phrases known to her and to the world in
generalno doubt she would never have been imposed on.
But it had not been in Tess's power--nor is it in
anybody's power--to feel the whole truth of golden
opinions while it is possible to profit by them.
She--and how many more--might have ironically said to
God with Saint Augustine: "Thou hast counselled a
better course than Thou hast permitted."

She remained at her father's house during the winter
monthsplucking fowlsor cramming turkeys and geese
or making clothes for her sisters and brothers out of
some finery which d'Urberville had given herand she
had put by with contempt. Apply to him she would not.
But she would often clasp her hands behind her head and
muse when she was supposed to be working hard.

She philosophically noted dates as they came past in
the revolution of the year; the disastrous night of her
undoing at Trantridge with its dark background of The
Chase; also the dates of the baby's birth and death;
also her own birthday; and every other day
individualized by incidents in which she had taken some
share. She suddenly thought one afternoonwhen
looking in the glass at her fairnessthat there was
yet another dateof greater importance to her than
those; that of her own deathwhen all these charms
would had disappeared; a day which lay sly and unseen
among all the other days of the yeargiving no sign or
sound when she annually passed over it; but not the
less surely there. When was it? Why did she not feel
the chill of each yearly encounter with such a cold
relation? She had Jeremy Taylor's thought that some
time in the future those who had known her would say:
It is the--th, the day that poor Tess Durbeyfield
died; and there would be nothing singular to their
minds in the statement. Of that daydoomed to be her
terminus in time through all the agesshe did not know
the place in monthweekseason or year.

Almost at a leap Tess thus changed from simple girl to
complex woman. Symbols of reflectiveness passed into
her faceand a note of tragedy at times into her
voice. Her eyes grew larger and more eloquent. She


became what would have been called a fine creature; her
aspect was fair and arresting; her soul that of a woman
whom the turbulent experiences of the last year or two
had quite failed to demoralize. But for the world's
opinion those experiences would have been simply a
liberal education.

She had held so aloof of late that her troublenever
generally knownwas nearly forgotten in Marlott. But
it became evident to her that she could never be really
comfortable again in a place which had seen the
collapse of her family's attempt to "claim kin"-and
through hereven closer union--with the rich
d'Urbervilles. At least she could not be comfortable
there till long years should have obliterated her keen
consciousness of it. Yet even now Tess felt the pulse
of hopeful like still warm within her; she might be
happy in some nook which had no memories. To escape
the past and all that appertained thereto was to
annihilate itand to do that she would have to get
away.

Was once lost always lost really true of chastity? she
would ask herself. She might prove it false if she
could veil bygones. The recuperative power which
pervaded organic nature was surely not denied to
maidenhood alone.

She waited a long time without finding opportunity for
a new departure. A particularly fine spring came
roundand the stir of germination was almost audible
in the buds; it moved heras it moved the wild
animalsand made her passionate to go. At lastone
day in early Maya letter reached her from a former
friend of her mother'sto whom she had addressed
inquiries long before--a person whom she had never
seen--that a skilful milkmaid was required at a
dairy-house many miles to the southwardand that the
dairyman would be glad to have her for the summer
months.

It was not quite so far off as could have been wished;
but it was probably far enoughher radius of movement
and repute having been so small. To persons of limited
spheresmiles are as geographical degreesparishes as
countiescounties as provinces and kingdoms. On one
point she was resolved: there should be no more
d'Urberville air-castles in the dreams and deeds of her
new life. She would be the dairymaid Tessand nothing
more. Her mother knew Tess's feeling on this point so
wellthough no words had passed between them on the
subjectthat she never alluded to the knightly
ancestry now.

Yet such is human inconsistency that one of the
interests of the new place to her was the accidental
virtues of its lying near her forefathers' country (for
they were not Blakemore menthough her mother was
Blakemore to the bone). The dairy called Talbothays
for which she was boundstood not remotely from some
of the former estates of the d'Urbervillesnear the
great family vaults of her granddames and their
powerful husbands. She would be able to look at them
and think not only that d'Urbervillelike Babylonhad


fallenbut that the individual innocence of a humble
descendant could lapse as silently. All the while she
wondered if any strange good thing might come of her
being in her ancestral land; and some spirit within her
rose automatically as the sap in the twigs. It was
unexpected youthsurging up anew after its temporary
checkand bringing with it hopeand the invincible
instinct towards self-delight.

END OF PHASE THE SECOND

Phase the Third: The Rally

On a thyme-scentedbird-hatching morning in May
between two and three years after the return from
Trantridge--silent reconstructive years for Tess
Durbeyfield--she left her home for the second time.

Having packed up her luggage so that it could be sent
to her latershe started in a hired trap for the
little town of Stourcastlethrough which it was
necessary to pass on her journeynow in a direction
almost opposite to that of her first adventuring. On
the curve of the nearest hill she looked back
regretfully at Marlott and her father's housealthough
she had been so anxious to get away.

Her kindred dwelling there would probably continue
their daily lives as heretoforewith no great
diminution of pleasure in their consciousnessalthough
she would be far offand they deprived of her smile.
In a few days the children would engage in their games
as merrily as everwithout the sense of any gap left
by her departure. This leaving of the younger children
she had decided to be for the best; were she to remain
they would probably gain less good by her precepts than
harm by her example.

She went through Stourcastle without pausingand
onward to a junction of highwayswhere she could await
a carrier's van that ran to the south-west; for the
railways which engirdled this interior tract of country
had never yet struck across it. While waiting
howeverthere came along a farmer in his spring cart
driving approximately in the direction that she wished
to pursue. Though he was a stranger to her she accepted
his offer of a seat beside himignoring that its
motive was a mere tribute to her countenance. He was
going to Weatherburyand by accompanying him thither
she could walk the remainder of the distance instead of
travelling in the van by way of Casterbridge.

Tess did not stop at Weatherburyafter this long
drivefurther than to make a slight nondescript meal


at noon at a cottage to which the farmer recommended
her. Thence she started on footbasket in handto
reach the wide upland of heath dividing this district
from the low-lying meads of a further valley in which
the dairy stood that was the aim and end of her day's
pilgrimage.

Tess had never before visited this part of the country
and yet she felt akin to the landscape. Not so very
far to the left of her she could discern a dark patch
in the scenerywhich inquiry confirmed her in
supposing to be trees marking the environs of
Kingsbere--in the church of which parish the bones of
her ancestors--her useless ancestors--lay entombed.

She had no admiration for them now; she almost hated
them for the dance they had led her; not a thing of all
that had been theirs did she retain but the old seal
and spoon. "Pooh--I have as much of mother as father in
me!" she said. "All my prettiness comes from herand
she was only a dairymaid."

The journey over the intervening uplands and lowlands
of Egdonwhen she reached themwas a more troublesome
walk than she had anticipatedthe distance being
actually but a few miles. It was two hoursowing to
sundry wrong turningsere she found herself on a
summit commanding the long-sought-for valethe Valley
of the Great Dairiesthe valley in which milk and
butter grew to ranknessand were produced more
profuselyif less delicatelythan at her home--the
verdant plain so well watered by the river Var or
Froom.

It was intrinsically different from the Vale of Little
DairiesBlackmoor Valewhichsave during her
disastrous sojourn at Trantridgeshe had exclusively
known till now. The world was drawn to a larger
pattern here. The enclosures numbered fifty acres
instead of tenthe farmsteads were more extendedthe
groups of cattle formed tribes hereabout; there only
families. These myriads of cows stretching under her
eyes from the far east to the far west outnumbered any
she had ever seen at one glance before. The green lea
was speckled as thickly with them as a canvas by Van
Alsloot or Sallaert with burghers. The ripe hue of the
red and dun kine absorbed the evening sunlightwhich
the white-coated animals returned to the eye in rays
almost dazzlingeven at the distant elevation on which
she stood.

The bird's-eye perspective before her was not so
luxuriantly beautifulperhapsas that other one which
she knew so well; yet it was more cheering. It lacked
the intensely blue atmosphere of the rival valeand
its heavy soils and scents; the new air was clear
bracingethereal. The river itselfwhich nourished
the grass and cows of these renowned dairiesflowed
not like the streams in Blackmoor. Those were slow
silentoften turbid; flowing over beds of mud into
which the incautious wader might sink and vanish
unawares. The Froom waters were clear as the pure
River of Life shown to the Evangelistrapid as the
shadow of a cloudwith pebbly shallows that prattled


to the sky all day long. There the water-flower was
the lily; the crowfoot here.

Either the change in the quality of the air from heavy
to lightor the sense of being amid new scenes where
there were no invidious eyes upon hersent up her
spirits wonderfully. Her hopes mingled with the
sunshine in an ideal photosphere which surrounded her
as she bounded along against the soft south wind.
She heard a pleasant voice in every breezeand in every
bird's note seemed to lurk a joy.

Her face had latterly changed with changing states of
mindcontinually fluctuating between beauty and
ordinarinessaccording as the thoughts were gay or
grave. One day she was pink and flawless; another pale
and tragical. When she was pink she was feeling less
then when pale; her more perfect beauty accorded with
her less elevated mood; her more intense mood with her
less perfect beauty. It was her best face physically
that was now set against the south wind.

The irresistibleuniversalautomatic tendency to find
sweet pleasure somewherewhich pervades all lifefrom
the meanest to the highesthad at length mastered
Tess. Being even now only a young woman of twentyone
who mentally and sentimentally had not finished
growingit was impossible that any event should have
left upon her an impression that was not in time
capable of transmutation.

And thus her spiritsand her thankfulnessand her
hopesrose higher and higher. She tried several
balladsbut found them inadequate; tillrecollecting
the psalter that her eyes had so often wandered over of
a Sunday morning before she had eaten of the tree of
knowledgeshe chanted: "O ye Sun and Moon ... O ye
Stars ... ye Green Things upon the Earth ... ye Fowls
of the Air ... Beasts and Cattle ... Children of Men
... bless ye the Lordpraise Him and magnify Him for
ever!"

She suddenly stopped and murmured: "But perhaps I don't
quite know the Lord as yet."

And probably the half-unconscious rhapsody was a
Fetichistic utterance in a Monotheistic setting; women
whose chief companions are the forms and forces of
outdoor Nature retain in their souls far more of the
Pagan fantasy of their remote forefathers than of the
systematized religion taught their race at later date.
HoweverTess found at least approximate expression for
her feelings in the old BENEDICITE that she had lisped
from infancy; and it was enough. Such high contentment
with such a slight initial performance as that of
having started towards a means of independent living
was a part of the Durbeyfield temperament. Tess really
wished to walk uprightlywhile her father did nothing
of the kind; but she resembled him in being content
with immediate and small achievementsand in having no
mind for laborious effort towards such petty social
advancement as could alone be effected by a family so
heavily handicapped as the once powerful d'Urbervilles
were now.


There wasit might be saidthe energy of her mother's
unexpected familyas well as the natural energy of
Tess's yearsrekindled after the experience which had
so overwhelmed her for the time. Let the truth be
told--women do as a rule live through such
humiliationsand regain their spiritsand again look
about them with an interested eye. While there's life
there's hope is a conviction not so entirely unknown to
the "betrayed" as some amiable theorists would have us
believe.

Tess Durbeyfieldthenin good heartand full of zest
for lifedescended the Egdon slopes lower and lower
towards the dairy of her pilgrimage.

The marked differencein the final particularbetween
the rival vales now showed itself. The secret of
Blackmoor was best discovered from the heights around;
to read aright the valley before her it was necessary
to descend into its midst. When Tess had accomplished
this feat she found herself to be standing on a
carpeted levelwhich stretched to the east and west as
far as the eye could reach.

The river had stolen from the higher tracts and brought
in particles to the vale all this horizontal land; and
nowexhaustedagedand attenuatedlay serpentining
along through the midst of its former spoils.

Not quite sure of her direction Tess stood still upon
the hemmed expanse of verdant flatnesslike a fly on a
billiard-table of indefinite lengthand of no more
consequence to the surroundings than that fly. The
sole effect of her presence upon the placid valley so
far had been to excite the mind of a solitary heron
whichafter descending to the ground not far from her
pathstood with neck erectlooking at her.

Suddenly there arose from all parts of the lowland a
prolonged and repeated call--"Waow! waow! waow!"

From the furthest east to the furthest west the cries
spread as if by contagionaccompanied in some cases by
the barking of a dog. It was not the expression of the
valley's consciousness that beautiful Tess had arrived
but the ordinary announcement of
milking-time--half-past four o'clockwhen the dairymen
set about getting in the cows.

The red and white herd nearest at handwhich had been
phlegmatically waiting for the callnow trooped
towards the steading in the backgroundtheir great
bags of milk swinging under them as they walked.
Tess followed slowly in their rearand entered the barton
by the open gate through which they had entered before
her. Long thatched sheds stretched round the
enclosuretheir slopes encrusted with vivid green
mossand their eaves supported by wooden posts rubbed
to a glossy smoothness by the flanks of infinite cows
and calves of bygone yearsnow passed to an oblivion
almost inconceivable in its profundity. Between the
post were ranged the milcherseach exhibiting herself
at the present moment to a whimsical eye in the rear as


a circle on two stalksdown the centre of which a
switch moved pendulum-wise; while the sunlowering
itself behind this patient rowthrew their shadows
accurately inwards upon the wall. Thus it threw
shadows of these obscure and homely figures every
evening with as much care over each contour as if it
had been the profile of a court beauty on a palace
wall; copied them as diligently as it had copied
Olympian shapes on marble FACADES long agoor the
outline of AlexanderCaesarand the Pharaohs.

They were the less restful cows that were stalled.
Those that would stand still of their own will were
milked in the middle of the yardwhere many of such
better behaved ones stood waiting now--all prime
milcherssuch as were seldom seen out of this valley
and not always within it; nourished by the succulent
feed which the water-meads supplied at this prime
season of the year. Those of them that were spotted
with white reflected the sunshine in dazzling
brilliancyand the polished brass knobs of their horns
glittered with something of military display. Their
large-veined udders hung ponderous as sandbagsthe
teats sticking out like the legs of a gipsy's crock;
and as each animal lingered for her turn to arrive the
milk oozed forth and fell in drops to the ground.

XVII

The dairymaids and men had flocked down from their
cottages and out of the dairy-house with the arrival of
the cows from the meads; the maids walking in patterns
not on account of the weatherbut to keep their shoes
above the mulch of the barton. Each girl sat down on
her three-legged stoolher face sidewaysher right
cheek resting against the cow; and looked musingly
along the animal's flank at Tess as she approached.
The male milkerswith hat-brims turned downresting
flat on their foreheads and gazing on the grounddid
not observe her.

One of these was a sturdy middle-aged man--whose long
white "pinner" was somewhat finer and cleaner than the
wraps of the othersand whose jacket underneath had a
presentable marketing aspect--the master-dairymanof
whom she was in questhis double character as a
working milker and butter maker here during six days
and on the seventh as a man in shining broad-cloth in
his family pew at churchbeing so marked as to have
inspired a rhyme


Dairyman Dick
All the week:--
On Sundays Mister Richard Crick.


Seeing Tess standing at gaze he went across to her.

The majority of dairymen have a cross manner at milking
timebut it happened that Mr Crick was glad to get a


new hand--for the days were busy ones now--and he
received her warmly; inquiring for her mother and the
rest of the family--(though this as a matter of form
merelyfor in reality he had not been aware of Mrs
Durbeyfield's existence till apprised of the fact by a
brief business-letter about Tess).

Oh--ay, as a lad I knowed your part o' the country
very well,he said terminatively. "Though I've never
been there since. And a aged woman of ninety that use
to live nigh herebut is dead and gone long agotold
me that a family of some such name as yours in
Blackmoor Vale came originally from these partsand
that 'twere a old ancient race that had all but
perished off the earth--though the new generations
didn't know it. ButLordI took no notice of the old
woman's ramblingsnot I."

Oh no--it is nothing,said Tess.

Then the talk was of business only.

You can milk 'em clean, my maidy? I don't want my cow
going azew at this time o' year.

She reassured him on that pointand he surveyed her up
and down. She had been staying indoors a good dealand
her complexion had grown delicate.

Quite sure you can stand it? 'Tis comfortable enough
here for rough folk; but we don't live in a cowcumber
frame.

She declared that she could stand itand her zest and
willingness seemed to win him over.

Well, I suppose you'll want a dish o' tay, or victuals
of some sort, hey? Not yet? Well, do as ye like about
it. But faith, if 'twas I, I should be as dry as a kex
wi' travelling so far.

I'll begin milking now, to get my hand in,said Tess.

She drank a little milk as temporary refreshment-to
the surprise--indeedslight contempt--of Dairyman
Crickto whose mind it had apparently never occurred
that milk was good as a beverage.

Oh, if ye can swaller that, be it so,he said
indifferentlywhile holding up the pail that she
sipped from. "'Tis what I hain't touched for years-not
I. Rot the stuff; it would lie in my innerds like
lead. You can try your hand upon she he pursued,
nodding to the nearest cow. Not but what she do milk
rather hard. We've hard ones and we've easy oneslike
other folks. Howeveryou'll find out that soon
enough."

When Tess had changed her bonnet for a hoodand was
really on her stool under the cowand the milk was
squirting from her fists into the pailshe appeared to
feel that she really had laid a new foundation for her
future. The conviction bred serenityher pulse
slowedand she was able to look about her.


The milkers formed quite a little battalion of men and
maidsthe men operating on the hard-teated animals
the maids on the kindlier natures. It was a large
dairy. There were nearly a hundred milchers under
Crick's managementall told; and of the herd the
master-dairyman milked six or eight with his own hands
unless away from home. These were the cows that milked
hardest of all; for his journey-milkmen being more or
less casually hiredhe would not entrust this
half-dozen to their treatmentlestfrom indifference
they should not milk them fully; nor to the maidslest
they should fail in the same way for lack of
finger-grip; with the result that in course of time the
cows would "go azew"--that isdry up. It was not the
loss for the moment that made slack milking so serious
but that with the decline of demand there came decline
and ultimately cessationof supply.

After Tess had settled down to her cow there was for a
time no talk in the bartonand not a sound interfered
with the purr of the milk-jets into the numerous pails
except a momentary exclamation to one or other of the
beast requesting her to turn round or stand still. The
only movements were those of the milkers' hands up and
downand the swing of the cows' tails. Thus they all
worked onencompassed by the vast flat mead which
extended to either slope of the valley--a level
landscape compounded of old landscapes long forgotten
andno doubtdiffering in character very greatly from
the landscape they composed now.

To my thinking,said the dairymanrising suddenly
from a cow he had just finished offsnatching up his
three-legged stool in one hand and the pail in the
otherand moving on to the next hard-yielder in his
vicinity; "to my thinkingthe cows don't gie down
their milk today as usual. Upon my lifeif Winker do
begin keeping back like thisshe'll not be worth going
under by midsummer."

'Tis because there's a new hand come among us,' said
Jonathan Kail. I've noticed such things afore."

To be sure. It may be so. I didn't think o't.

I've been told that it goes up into their horns at
such times,said a dairymaid.

Well, as to going up into their horns,replied
Dairyman Crick dubiouslyas though even witchcraft
might be limited by anatomical possibilitiesI
couldn't say; I certainly could not. But as nott cows
will keep it back as well as the horned ones, I don't
quite agree to it. Do ye know that riddle about the
nott cows, Jonathan? Why do nott cows give less milk in
a year than horned?

I don't!interposed the milkmaidWhy do they?

Because there bain't so many of 'em,said the
dairyman. "Howsomeverthese gam'sters do certainly
keep back their milk today. Folkswe must lift up a
stave or two--that's the only cure for't."


Songs were often resorted to in dairies hereabout as an
enticement to the cows when they showed signs of
withholding their usual yield; and the band of milkers
at this request burst into melody--in purely
business-like tonesit is trueand with no great
spontaneity; the resultaccording to their own belief
being a decided improvement during the song's
continuance. When they had gone through fourteen or
fifteen verses of a cheerful ballad about a murderer
who was afraid to go to bed in the dark because he saw
certain brimstone flames around himone of the male
milkers said-


I wish singing on the stoop didn't use up so much of a
man's wind! You should get your harp, sir; not but what
a fiddle is best.

Tesswho had given ear to thisthought the words were
addressed to the dairymanbut she was wrong. A reply
in the shape of "Why?" came as it were out of the belly
of a dun cow in the stalls; it had been spoken by a
milker behind the animalwhom she had not hitherto
perceived.

Oh yes; there's nothing like a fiddle,said the
dairyman. "Though I do think that bulls are more moved
by a tune than cows--at least that's my experience.
Once there was an old aged man over at
Mellstock--William Dewy by name--one of the family that
used to do a good deal of business as tranters over
thereJonathando ye mind?--I knowed the man by sight
as well as I know my own brotherin a manner of
speaking. Wellthis man was a coming home-along from
a wedding where he had been playing his fiddleone
fine moonlight nightand for shortness' sake he took a
cut across Forty-acresa field lying that waywhere a
bull was out to grass. The bull seed Williamand took
after himhorns agroundbegad; and though William
runned his bestand hadn't MUCH drink in him
(considering 'twas a weddingand the folks well off)
he found he'd never reach the fence and get over in
time to save himself. Wellas a last thoughthe
pulled out his fiddle as he runnedand struck up a
jigturning to the bulland backing towards the
corner. The bull softened downand stood still
looking hard at William Dewywho fiddled on and on;
till a sort of a smile stole over the bull's face. But
no sooner did William stop his playing and turn to get
over hedge than the bull would stop his smiling and
lower his horns towards the seat of William's breeches.
WellWilliam had to turn about and play on
willy-nilly; and 'twas only three o'clock in the world
and 'a knowed that nobody would come that way for
hoursand he so leery and tired that 'a didn't know
what to do. When he had scraped till about four
o'clock he felt that he verily would have to give over
soonand he said to himself'There's only this last
tune between me and eternal welfare! Heaven save meor
I'm a done man.' Wellthen he called to mind how he'd
seen the cattle kneel o' Christmas Eves in the dead o'
night. It was not Christmas Eve thenbut it came into
his head to play a trick upon the bull. So he broke
into the 'Tivity Hymmjust as at Christmas


carol-singing; whenlo and beholddown went the bull
on his bended kneesin his ignorancejust as if
'twere the true 'Tivity night and hour. As soon as his
horned friend were downWilliam turnedclinked off
like a long-dogand jumped safe over hedgebefore
the praying bull had got on his feet again to take
after him. William used to say that he'd seen a man
look a fool a good many timesbut never such a fool as
that bull looked when he found his pious feelings had
been played uponand 'twas not Christmas Eve. ... Yes
William Dewythat was the man's name; and I can tell
you to a foot where's he a-lying in Mellstock
Churchyard at this very moment--just between the second
yew-tree and the north aisle."

It's a curious story; it carries us back to medieval
times, when faith was a living thing!

The remarksingular for a dairy-yardwas murmured by
the voice behind the dun cow; but as nobody understood
the reference no notice was takenexcept that the
narrator seemed to think it might imply scepticism as
to his tale.

Well, 'tis quite true, sir, whether or no. I knowed
the man well.

Oh yes; I have no doubt of it,said the person behind
the dun cow.

Tess's attention was thus attracted to the dairyman's
interlocutorof whom she could see but the merest
patchowing to his burying his head so persistently in
the flank of the milcher. She could not understand why
he should be addressed as "sir" even by the dairyman
himself. But no explanation was discernible; he
remained under to cow long enough to have milked three
uttering a private ejaculation now and thenas if he
could not get on.

Take it gentle, sir; take it gentle,said the
dairyman. "'Tis knacknot strength that does it."

So I find,said the otherstanding up at last and
stretching his arms. "I think I have finished her
howeverthough she made my fingers ache."

Tess could then see him at full length. He wore the
ordinary white pinner and leather leggings of a
dairy-farmer when milkingand his boots were clogged
with the mulch of the yard; but this was all his local
livery. Beneath it was something educatedreserved
subtlesaddiffering.

But the details of his aspect were temporarily thrust
aside by the discovery that he was one whom she had
seen before. Such vicissitudes had Tess passed through
since that time that for a moment she could not
remember where she had met him; and then it flashed
upon her that he was the pedestrian who had joined in
the club-dance at Marlott--the passing stranger who had
come she knew not whencehad danced with others but
not with herand slightingly left herand gone on his
way with his friends.


The flood of memories brought back by this revival of
an incident anterior to her troubles produced a
momentary dismay lestrecognizing her alsohe should
by some means discover her story. But it passed away
when she found no sign of remembrance in him. She saw
by degrees that since their first and only encounter
his mobile face had grown more thoughtfuland had
acquired a young man's shapely moustache and beard--the
latter of the palest straw colour where it began upon
his cheeksand deepening to a warm brown farther from
its root. Under his linen milking-pinner he wore a
dark velveteen jacketcord breeches and gaitersand a
starched white shirt. Without the milking-gear nobody
could have guessed what he was. He might with equal
probability have been an eccentric landowner or a
gentlemanly ploughman. That he was but a novice at
dairy work she had realized in a momentfrom the time
he had spent upon the milking of one cow.

Meanwhile many of the milkmaids had said to one another
of the newcomerHow pretty she is!with something of
real generosity and admirationthough with a half hope
that the auditors would qualify the assertion--which
strictly speakingthey might have doneprettiness
being an inexact definition of what struck the eye in
Tess. When the milking was finished for the evening
they straggled indoorswhere Mrs Crickthe dairyman's
wife--who was too respectable to go out milking
herselfand wore a hot stuff gown in warm weather
because the dairymaids wore prints--was giving an eye
to the leads and things.

Only two or three of the maidsTess learntslept in
the dairy-house besides herself; most of the helpers
going to their homes. She saw nothing at supper-time of
the superior milker who had commented on the storyand
asked no questions about himthe remainder of the
evening being occupied in arranging her place in the
bed-chamber. It was a large room over the milk-house
some thirty feet long; the sleeping-cots of the other
three indoor milkmaids being in the same apartment.
They were blooming young womenandexcept onerather
older than herself. By bedtime Tess was thoroughly
tiredand fell asleep immediately.

But one of the girls who occupied an adjoining bed was
more wakeful than Tessand would insist upon relating
to the latter various particulars of the homestead into
which she had just entered. The girl's whispered words
mingled with the shadesandto Tess's drowsy mind
they seemed to be generated by the darkness in which
they floated.

Mr Angel Clare--he that is learning milking, and that
plays the harp--never says much to us. He is a pa'son's
son, and is too much taken up wi' his own thoughts to
notice girls. He is the dairyman's pupil--learning
farming in all its branches. He has learnt
sheep-farming at another place, and he's now mastering
dairy-work.... Yes, he is quite the gentleman-born. His
father is the Reverent Mr Clare at Emminster--a good
many miles from here.


Oh--I have heard of him,said her companionnow
awake. "A very earnest clergymanis he not?"

Yes--that he is--the earnestest man in all Wessex,
they say--the last of the old Low Church sort, they
tell me--for all about here be what they call High.
All his sons, except our Mr Clare, be made pa'sons too.

Tess had not at this hour the curiosity to ask why the
present Mr Clare was not made a parson like his
brethrenand gradually fell asleep againthe words of
her informant coming to her along with the smell of the
cheeses in the adjoining cheeseloftand the measured
dripping of the whey from the wrings downstairs.

XVIII

Angel Clare rises out of the past not altogether as a
distinct figurebut as an appreciative voicea long
regard of fixedabstracted eyesand a mobility of
mouth somewhat too small and delicately lined for a
man'sthough with an unexpectedly firm close of the
lower lip now and then; enough to do away with any
inference of indecision. Neverthelesssomething
nebulouspreoccupiedvaguein his bearing and
regardmarked him as one who probably had no very
definite aim or concern about his material future.
Yet as a lad people had said of him that he was one who
might do anything if he tried.

He was the youngest son of his fathera poor parson at
the other end of the countyand had arrived at
Talbothays Dairy as a six months' pupilafter going
the round of some other farmshis object being to
acquire a practical skill in the various processes of
farmingwith a view either to the Coloniesor the
tenure of a home-farmas circumstances might decide.

His entry into the ranks of the agriculturists and
breeders was a step in the young man's career which had
been anticipated neither by himself nor by others.

Mr Clare the elderwhose first wife had died and left
him a daughtermarried a second late in life. This
lady had somewhat unexpectedly brought him three sons
so that between Angelthe youngestand his father the
Vicar there seemed to be almost a missing generation.
Of these boys the aforesaid Angelthe child of his old
agewas the only son who had not taken a University
degreethough he was the single one of them whose
early promise might have done full justice to an
academical training.

Some two or three years before Angel's appearance at
the Marlott danceon a day when he had left school and
was pursuing his studies at homea parcel came to the
Vicarage from the local bookseller'sdirected to the
Reverend James Clare. The Vicar having opened it and
found it to contain a bookread a few pages; whereupon
he jumped up from his seat and went straight to the
shop with the book under his arm.


Why has this been sent to my house?he asked
peremptorilyholding up the volume.


It was ordered, sir.


Not by me, or any one belonging to me, I am happy to
say.


The shopkeeper looked into his order-book.


Oh, it has been misdirected, sir,he said. "It was
ordered by Mr Angel Clareand should have been sent to
him."


Mr Clare winced as if he had been struck. He went home
pale and dejectedand called Angel into his study.


Look into this book, my boy,he said. "What do you
know about it?"


I ordered it,said Angel simply.


What for?


To read.How can you think of reading it?


How can I? Why--it is a system of philosophy.
There is no more moral, or even religious, work published.


Yes--moral enough; I don't deny that. But
religious!--and for YOU, who intend to be a minister of
the Gospel!


Since you have alluded to the matter, father,said
the sonwith anxious thought upon his faceI should
like to say, once for all, that I should prefer not to
take Orders. I fear I could not conscientiously do so.
I love the Church as one loves a parent. I shall always
have the warmest affection for her. There is no
institution for whose history I have a deeper
admiration; but I cannot honestly be ordained her
minister, as my brothers are, while she refuses to
liberate her mind from an untenable redemptive
theolarty.


It had never occurred to the straightforward and
simple-minded Vicar that one of his own flesh and blood
could come to this! He was stultifiedshocked
paralysed. And if Angel were not going to enter the
Churchwhat was the use of sending him to Cambridge?
The University as a step to anything but ordination
seemedto this man of fixed ideasa preface without a
volume. He was a man not merely religiousbut devout;
a firm believer--not as the phrase is now elusively
construed by theological thimble-riggers in the Church
and out of itbut in the old and ardent sense of the
Evangelical school: one who could


Indeed opine
That the Eternal and Divine
Dideighteen centuries ago
In very truth...



Angel's father tried argumentpersuasionentreaty.

No, father; I cannot underwrite Article Four (leave
alone the rest), taking it 'in the literal and
grammatical sense' as required by the Declaration; and,
therefore, I can't be a parson in the present state of
affairs,said Angel. "My whole instinct in matters of
religion is towards reconstruction; to quote your
favorite Epistle to the Hebrews'THE REMOVING OF THOSE
THINGS THAT ARE SHAKENAS OF THINGS THAT ARE MADE
THAT THOSE THINGS WHICH CANNOT BE SHAKEN MAY REMAIN.'"

His father grieved so deeply that it made Angel quite
ill to see him.

What is the good of your mother and me economizing and
stinting ourselves to give you a University education,
if it is not to be used for the honour and glory of
God?his father repeated.

Why, that it may be used for the honour and glory of
man, father.

Perhaps if Angel had persevered he might have gone to
Cambridge like his brothers. But the Vicar's view of
that seat of learning as a stepping-stone to Orders
alone was quite a family tradition; and so rooted was
the idea in his mind that perseverance began to appear
to the sensitive son akin to an intent to
misappropriate a trustand wrong the pious heads of
the householdwho had been and wereas his father had
hintedcompelled to exercise much thrift to carry out
his uniform plan of education for the three young men.

I will do without Cambridge,said Angel at last.
I feel that I have no right to go there in the
circumstances.

The effects of this decisive debate were not long in
showing themselves. He spent years and years in
desultory studiesundertakingsand meditations; he
began to evince considerable indifference to social
forms and observances. The material distinctions of
rank and wealth he increasingly despised. Even the
good old family(to use a favourite phrase of a late
local worthy) had no aroma for him unless there were
good new resolutions in its representatives. As a
balance to these austeritieswhen he went to live in
London to see what the world was likeand with a view
to practising a profession or business therehe was
carried off his headand nearly entrapped by a woman
much older than himselfthough luckily he escaped not
greatly the worse for the experience.

Early association with country solitudes had bred in
him an unconquerableand almost unreasonableaversion
to modern town lifeand shut him out from such success
as he might have aspired to by following a mundane
calling in the impracticability of the spiritual one.
But something had to be done; he had wasted many
valuable years; and having an acquaintance who was
starting on a thriving life as a Colonial farmerit
occurred to Angel that this might be a lead in the
right direction. Farmingeither in the Colonies


Americaor at home--farmingat any rateafter
becoming well qualified for the business by a careful
apprenticeship--that was a vocation which would
probably afford an independence without the sacrifice
of what he valued even more than a
competency--intellectual liberty.

So we find Angel Clare at six-and-twenty here at
Talbothays as a student of kineandas there were no
houses near at hand in which he could get a comfortable
lodginga boarder at the dairyman's.

His room was an immense attic which ran the whole
length of the dairy-house. It could only be reached by
a ladder from the cheese-loftand had been closed up
for a long time till he arrived and selected it as his
retreat. Here Clare had plenty of spaceand could
often be heard by the dairy-folk pacing up and down
when the household had gone to rest. A portion was
divided off at one end by a curtainbehind which was
his bedthe outer part being furnished as a homely
sitting-room.

At first he lived up above entirelyreading a good
dealand strumming upon an old harp which he had
bought at a salesaying when in a bitter humour that
he might have to get his living by it in the streets
some day. But he soon preferred to read human nature
by taking his meals downstairs in the general
dining-kitchenwith the dairyman and his wifeand the
maids and menwho all together formed a lively
assembly; for though but few milking hands slept in the
houseseveral joined the family at meals. The longer
Clare resided here the less objection had he to his
companyand the more did he like to share quarters
with them in common.

Much to his surprise he tookindeeda real delight in
their companionship. The conventional farm-folk of his
imagination--personified in the newspaper-press by the
pitiable dummy known as Hodge--were obliterated after a
few days' residence. At close quarters no Hodge was to
be seen. At firstit is truewhen Clare's
intelligence was fresh from a contrasting society
these friends with whom he now hobnobbed seemed a
little strange. Sitting down as a level member of the
dairyman's household seemed at the outset an
undignified proceeding. The ideasthe modesthe
surroundingsappeared retrogressive and unmeaning.
But with living on thereday after daythe acute
sojourner became conscious of a new aspect in the
spectacle. Without any objective change whatever
variety had taken the place of monotonousness. His host
and his host's householdhis men and his maidsas
they became intimately known to Clarebegan to
differentiate themselves as in a chemical process. The
thought of Pascal's was brought home to him: "A MESURE
QU'ON A PLUS D'ESPRITON TROUVE QU'IL Y A PLUS
D'HOMMES ORIGINAUX. LES GENS DU COMMUN NE TROUVENT PAS
DE DIFFERENCE ENTRE LES HOMMES." The typical and
unvarying Hodge ceased to exist. He had been
disintegrated into a number of varied
fellow-creatures--beings of many mindsbeings infinite
in difference; some happymany serenea few


depressedone here and there bright even to genius
some stupidothers wantonothers austere; some mutely
Miltonicsome potentially Cromwellian; into men who
had private views of each otheras he had of his
friends; who could applaud or condemn each otheramuse
or sadden themselves by the contemplation of each
other's foibles or vices; men every one of whom walked
in his own individual way the road to dusty death.

Unexpectedly he began to like the outdoor life for its
own sakeand for what it broughtapart from its
bearing on his own proposed career. Considering his
position he became wonderfully free from the chronic
melancholy which is taking hold of the civilized races
with the decline of belief in a beneficent Power. For
the first time of late years he could read as his
musings inclined himwithout any eye to cramming for a
professionsince the few farming handbooks which he
deemed it desirable to master occupied him but little
time.

He grew away from old associationsand saw something
new in life and humanity. Secondarilyhe made close
acquaintance with phenomena which he had before known
but darkly--the seasons in their moodsmorning and
eveningnight and noonwinds in their different
temperstreeswaters and mistsshades and silences
and the voices of inanimate things.

The early mornings were still sufficiently cool to
render a fire acceptable in the large room wherein they
breakfasted; andby Mrs Crick's orderswho held that
he was too genteel to mess at their tableit was Angel
Clare's custom to sit in the yawning chimney-corner
during the mealhis cup-and-saucer and plate being
placed on a hinged flap at his elbow. The light from
the longwidemullioned window opposite shone in upon
his nookandassisted by a secondary light of cold
blue quality which shone down the chimneyenabled him
to read there easily whenever disposed to do so.
Between Clare and the window was the table at which his
companions sattheir munching profiles rising sharp
against the panes; while to the side was the milk-house
doorthrough which were visible the rectangular leads
in rowsfull to the brim with the morning's milk. At
the further end the great churn could be seen
revolvingand its slip-slopping heard--the moving
power being discernible through the window in the form
of a spiritless horse walking in a circle and driven by
a boy.

For several days after Tess's arrival Claresitting
abstractedly reading from some bookperiodicalor
piece of music just come by posthardly noticed that
she was present at table. She talked so littleand
the other maids talked so muchthat the babble did not
strike him as possessing a new noteand he was ever in
the habit of neglecting the particulars of an outward
scene for the general impression. One dayhowever
when he had been conning one of his music-scoresand
by force of imagination was hearing the tune in his
headhe lapsed into listlessnessand the music-sheet
rolled to the hearth. He looked at the fire of logs


with its one flame pirouetting on the top in a dying
dance after the breakfast-cooking and boilingand it
seemed to jig to his inward tune; also at the two
chimney crooks dangling down from the cotterel or
cross-barplumed with soot which quivered to the same
melody; also at the half-empty kettle whining an
accompaniment. The conversation at the table mixed in
with his phantasmal orchestra till he thought: "What a
fluty voice one of those milkmaids has! I suppose it is
the new one."

Clare looked round upon herseated with the others.

She was not looking towards him. Indeedowing to his
long silencehis presence in the room was almost
forgotten.

I don't know about ghosts,she was saying; "but I do
know that our souls can be made to go outside our
bodies when we are alive."

The dairyman turned to her with his mouth fullhis
eyes charged with serious inquiryand his great knife
and fork (breakfasts were breakfasts here) planted
erect on the tablelike the beginning of a gallows.

What--really now? And is it so, maidy?he said.

A very easy way to feel 'em go,continued Tessis
to lie on the grass at night and look straight up at
some big bright star; and, by fixing your mind upon it,
you will soon find that you are hundreds and hundreds
o' miles away from your body, which you don't seem to
want at all.

The dairyman removed his hard gaze from Tessand fixed
it on his wife.

Now that's a rum thing, Christianner--hey? To think
o' the miles I've vamped o' starlight nights these last
thirty year, courting, or trading, or for doctor, or
for nurse, and yet never had the least notion o' that
till now, or feeled my soul rise so much as an inch
above my shirt-collar.

The general attention being drawn to herincluding
that of the dairyman's pupilTess flushedand
remarking evasively that it was only a fancyresumed
her breakfast.

Clare continued to observe her. She soon finished her
eatingand having a consciousness that Clare was
regarding herbegan to trace imaginary patterns on the
tablecloth with her forefinger with the constraint of a
domestic animal that perceives itself to be watched.

What a fresh and virginal daughter of Nature that
milkmaid is!he said to himself.

And then he seemed to discern in her something that was
familiarsomething which carried him back into a
joyous and unforeseeing pastbefore the necessity of
taking thought had made the heavens gray. He concluded
that he had beheld her before; where he could not tell.


A casual encounter during some country ramble it
certainly had beenand he was not greatly curious
about it. But the circumstance was sufficient to lead
him to select Tess in preference to the other pretty
milkmaids when he wished to contemplate contiguous
womankind.

In general the cows were milked as they presented
themselveswithout fancy or choice. But certain cows
will show a fondness for a particular pair of hands
sometimes carrying this predilection so far as to
refuse to stand at all except to their favouritethe
pail of a stranger being unceremoniously kicked over.

It was Dairyman Crick's rule to insist on breaking down
these partialities and aversions by constant
interchangesince otherwisein the event of a milkman
or maid going away from the dairyhe was placed in a
difficulty. The maids' private aimshoweverwere the
reverse of the dairyman's rulethe daily selection by
each damsel of the eight or ten cows to which she had
grown accustomed rendering the operation on their
willing udders surprising easy and effortless.

Tesslike her compeerssoon discovered which of the
cows had a preference for her style of manipulation
and her fingers having become delicate from the long
domiciliary imprisonments to which she had subjected
herself at intervals during the last two or three
yearsshe would have been glad to meet the milchers'
views in this respect. Out of the whole ninety-five
there were eight in particular--DumplingFancyLofty
MistOld PrettyYoung PrettyTidyand Loud--who
though the teats of one or two were as hard as carrots
gave down to her with a readiness that made her work on
them a mere touch of the fingers. Knowinghoweverthe
dairyman's wishshe endeavoured conscientiously to
take the animals just as they cameexpecting the very
hard yielders which she could not yet manage.

But she soon found a curious correspondence between the
ostensibly chance position of the cows and her wishes
in this mattertill she felt that their order could
not be the result of accident. The dairyman's pupil
had lent a hand in getting the cows together of late
and at the fifth or sixth time she turned her eyesas
she rested against the cowfull of sly inquiry upon
him.

Mr Clare, you have ranged the cows!she said
blushing; and in making the accusation symptoms of a
smile gently lifted her upper lip in spite of herso
as to show the tips of her teeththe lower lip
remaining severely still.

Well, it makes no difference,said he. "You will
always be here to milk them."

Do you think so? I HOPE I shall! But I don't KNOW.


She was angry with herself afterwardsthinking that
heunaware of her grave reasons for liking this
seclusionmight have mistaken her meaning. She had
spoken so earnestly to himas if his presence were
somehow a factor in her wish. Her misgiving was such
that at duskwhen the milking was overshe walked in
the garden aloneto continue her regrets that she had
disclosed to him her discovery of his considerateness.

It was a typical summer evening in Junethe atmosphere
being in such delicate equilibrium and so transmissive
that inanimate objects seemed endowed with two or three
sensesif not five. There was no distinction between
the near and the farand an auditor felt close to
everything within the horizon. The soundlessness
impressed her as a positive entity rather than as the
mere negation of noise. It was broken by the strumming
of strings. Tess had heard those notes in the attic
above her head. Dimflattenedconstrained by their
confinementthey had never appealed to her as now
when they wandered in the still air with a stark
quality like that of nudity. To speak absolutelyboth
instrument and execution were poor; but the relative is
alland as she listened Tesslike a fascinated bird
could not leave the spot. Far from leaving she drew up
towards the performerkeeping behind the hedge that he
might not guess her presence.

The outskirt of the garden in which Tess found herself
had been left uncultivated for some yearsand was now
damp and rank with juicy grass which sent up mists of
pollen at a touch; and with tall blooming weeds
emitting offensive smells--weeds whose red and yellow
and purple hues formed a polychrome as dazzling as that
of cultivated flowers. She went stealthily as a cat
through this profusion of growthgathering
cuckoo-spittle on her skirtscracking snails that were
underfootstaining her hands with thistle-milk and
slug-slimeand rubbing off upon her naked arms sticky
blights whichthough snow-white on the apple-tree
trunksmade madder stains on her skin; thus she drew
quite near to Clarestill unobserved of him.

Tess was conscious of neither time nor space. The
exaltation which she had described as being producible
at will by gazing at a starcame now without any
determination of hers; she undulated upon the thin
notes of the second-hand harpand their harmonies
passed like breezes through herbringing tears into
her eyes. The floating pollen seemed to be his notes
made visibleand the dampness of the garden the
weeping of the garden's sensibility. Though near
nightfallthe rank-smelling weed-flowers glowed as if
they would not close for intentnessand the waves of
colour mixed with the waves of sound.

The light which still shone was derived mainly from a
large hole in the western bank of cloud; it was like a
piece of day left behind by accidentdusk having
closed in elsewhere. He concluded his plaintive
melodya very simple performancedemanding no great
skill; and she waitedthinking another might be begun.
Buttired of playinghe had desultorily come round


the fenceand was rambling up behind her. Tessher
cheeks on firemoved away furtivelyas if hardly
moving at all.

Angelhoweversaw her light summer gownand he
spoke; his low tones reaching herthough he was some
distance off.

What makes you draw off in that way, Tess?said he.
Are you afraid?

Oh no, sir ... not of outdoor things; especially just
now when the apple-blooth is falling, and everything is
so green.

But you have your indoor fears--eh?

Well--yes, sir.

What of?

I couldn't quite say.

The milk turning sour?

No.

Life in general?

Yes, sir.

Ah--so have I, very often. This hobble of being alive
is rather serious, don't you think so?

It is--now you put it that way.

All the same, I shouldn't have expected a young girl
like you to see it so just yet. How is it you do?

She maintained a hesitating silence.

Come, Tess, tell me in confidence.

She thought that he meant what were the aspects of
things to herand replied shyly -


The trees have inquisitive eyes, haven't they?--that
is, seem as if they had. And the river says,--'Why do
ye trouble me with your looks?' And you seem to see
numbers of tomorrows just all in a line, the first of
them the biggest and clearest, the others getting
smaller and smaller as they stand farther away; but
they all seem very fierce and cruel and as if they
said, 'I'm coming! Beware of me! Beware of me!' ...
But YOU, sir, can raise up dreams with your music, and
drive all such horrid fancies away!

He was surprised to find this young woman--who though
but a milkmaid had just that touch of rarity about her
which might make her the envied of her
housemates--shaping such sad imaginings. She was
expressing in her own native phrases--assisted a little
by her Sixth Standard training--feelings which might
almost have been called those of the age--the ache of


modernism. The perception arrested him less when he
reflected that what are called advanced ideas are
really in great part but the latest fashion in
definition--a more accurate expressionby words in
LOGY and ISMof sensations which men and women have
vaguely grasped for centuries.

Stillit was strange that they should have come to her
while yet so young; more than strange; it was
impressiveinterestingpathetic. Not guessing the
causethere was nothing to remind him that experience
is as to intensityand not as to duration. Tess's
passing corporeal blight had been her mental harvest.

Tesson her partcould not understand why a man of
clerical family and good educationand above physical
wantshould look upon it as a mishap to be alive. For
the unhappy pilgrim herself there was very good reason.
But how could this admirable and poetic man ever have
descended into the Valley of Humiliationhave felt
with the man of Uz--as she herself had felt two or
three years ago--'My soul chooseth strangling and death
rather than my life. I loathe it; I would not live
alway."

It was true that he was at present out of his class.
But she knew that was only becauselike Peter the
Great in a shipwright's yardhe was studying what he
wanted to know. He did not milk cows because he was
obliged to milk cowsbut because he was learning to be
a rich and prosperous dairymanlandowner
agriculturistand breeder of cattle. He would become
an American or Australian Abrahamcommanding like a
monarch his flocks and his herdshis spotted and his
ring-strakedhis men-servants and his maids. At times
neverthelessit did seem unaccountable to her that a
decidedly bookishmusicalthinking young man should
have chosen deliberately to be a farmerand not a
clergymanlike his father and brothers.

Thusneither having the clue to the other's secret
they were respectively puzzled at what each revealed
and awaited new knowledge of each other's character and
mood without attempting to pry into each other's
history.

Every dayevery hourbrought to him one more little
stroke of her natureand to her one more of his. Tess
was trying to lead a repressed lifebut she little
divined the strength of her own vitality.

At first Tess seemed to regard Angel Clare as an
intelligence rather than as a man. As such she compared
him with herself; and at every discovery of the
abundance of his illuminationsand the unmeasurable
Andean altitude of hisshe became quite dejected
disheartened from all further effort on her own part
whatever.

He observed her dejection one daywhen he had casually
mentioned something to her about pastoral life in
ancient Greece. She was gathering the buds called
lords and ladiesfrom the bank while he spoke.


Why do you look so woebegone all of a sudden?he
asked.

Oh, 'tis only--about my own self,she saidwith a
frail laugh of sadnessfitfully beginning to peel "a
lady" meanwhile. "Just a sense of what might have been
with me! My life looks as if it had been wasted for
want of chances! When I see what you knowwhat you
have readand seenand thoughtI feel what a nothing
I am! I'm like the poor Queen of Sheba who lived in
the Bible. There is no more spirit in me."

Bless my soul, don't go troubling about that! Why,
he said with some enthusiasmI should be only too
glad, my dear Tess, to help you to anything in the way
of history, or any line of reading you would like to
take up--

It is a lady again,interrupted sheholding out the
bud she had peeled.

What?

I meant that there are always more ladies than lords
when you come to peel them.

Never mind about the lords and ladies. Would you like
to take up any course of study--history, for example?

Sometimes I feel I don't want to know anything more
about it than I know already.

Why not?

Because what's the use of learning that I am one of a
long row only--finding out that there is set down in
some old book somebody just like me, and to know that I
shall only act her part; making me sad, that's all.
The best is not to remember that your nature and your
past doings have been just like thousands' and
thousands', and that your coming life and doings 'll be
like thousands's and thousands'.

What, really, then, you don't want to learn anything?

I shouldn't mind learning why--why the sun do shine on
the just and the unjust alike,she answeredwith a
slight quaver in her voice. "But that's what books
will not tell me." "Tessfie for such bitterness!"
Of course he spoke with a conventional sense of duty only
for that sort of wondering had not been unknown to
himself in bygone days. And as he looked at the
unpracticed mouth and lipshe thought that such a
daughter of the soil could only have caught up the
sentiment by rote. She went on peeling the lords and
ladies till Clareregarding for a moment the wave-like
curl of her lashes as they dropped with her bent gaze
on her soft cheeklingeringly went away. When he was
gone she stood awhilethoughtfully peeling the last
bud; and thenawakening from her reverieflung it and
all the crowd of floral nobility impatiently on the
groundin an ebullition of displeasure with herself
for her NIAISERIESand with a quickening warmth in her


heart of hearts.

How stupid he must think her! In an access of hunger
for his good opinion she bethought herself of what she
had latterly endeavoured to forgetso unpleasant had
been its issues--the identity of her family with that
of the knightly d'Urbervilles. Barren attribute as it
wasdisastrous as its discovery had been in many ways
to herperhaps Mr Clareas a gentleman and a student
of historywould respect her sufficiently to forget
her childish conduct with the lords and ladies if he
knew that those Purbeck-marble and alabaster people in
Kingsbere Church really represented her own lineal
forefathers; that she was no spurious d'Urberville
compounded of money and ambition like those at
Trantridgebut true d'Urberville to the bone.

Butbefore venturing to make the revelationdubious
Tess indirectly sounded the dairyman as to its possible
effect upon Mr Clareby asking the former if Mr Clare
had any great respect for old county families when they
had lost all their money and land.

Mr Clare,said the dairyman emphaticallyis one of
the most rebellest rozums you ever knowed--not a bit
like the rest of his family; and if there's one thing
that he do hate more than another 'tis the notion of
what's called a' old family. He says that it stands to
reason that old families have done their spurt of work
in past days, and can't have anything left in 'em now.
There's the Billets and the Drenkhards and the Greys
and the St Quintins and the Hardys and the Goulds, who
used to own the lands for miles down this valley; you
could buy 'em all up now for an old song a'most. Why,
our little Retty Priddle here, you know, is one of the
Paridelles--the old family that used to own lots o' the
lands out by King's Hintock now owned by the Earl o'
Wessex, afore even he or his was heard of. Well, Mr
Clare found this out, and spoke quite scornful to the
poor girl for days. 'Ah!' he says to her, 'you'll never
make a good dairymaid! All your skill was used up ages
ago in Palestine, and you must lie fallow for a
thousand years to git strength for more deeds!' A boy
came here t'other day asking for a job, and said his
name was Matt, and when we asked him his surname he
said he'd never heard that 'a had any surname, and when
we asked why, he said he supposed his folks hadn't been
'stablished long enough. 'Ah! you're the very boy I
want!' says Mr Clare, jumping up and shaking hands
wi'en; 'I've great hopes of you;' and gave him
half-a-crown. O no! he can't stomach old families!'

After hearing this caricature of Clare's opinion poor
Tess was glad that she had not said a word in a weak
moment about her family--even though it was so
unusually old almost to have gone round the circle and
become a new one. Besides, another diary-girl was as
good as she, it seemed, in that respect. She held her
tongue about the d'Urberville vault, the Knight of the
Conqueror whose name she bore. The insight afforded
into Clare's character suggested to her that it was
largely owing to her supposed untraditional newness
that she had won interest in his eyes.


The season developed and matured. Another year's
instalment of flowers, leaves, nightingales, thrushes,
finches, and such ephemeral creatures, took up their
positions where only a year ago others had stood in
their place when these were nothing more than germs and
inorganic particles. Rays from the sunrise drew forth
the buds and stretched them into long stalks, lifted up
sap in noiseless streams, opened petals, and sucked out
scents in invisible jets and breathings.

Dairyman Crick's household of maids and men lived on
comfortably, placidly, even merrily. Their position
was perhaps the happiest of all positions in the social
scale, being above the line at which neediness ends,
and below the line at which the CONVENANCES begin to
cramp natural feelings, and the stress of threadbare
modishness makes too little of enough.

Thus passed the leafy time when arborescence seems to
be the one thing aimed at out of doors. Tess and Clare
unconsciously studied each other, ever balanced on the
edge of a passion, yet apparently keeping out of it.
All the while they were converging, under an
irresistible law, as surely as two streams in one vale.

Tess had never in her recent life been so happy as she
was now, possibly never would be so happy again. She
was, for one thing, physically and mentally suited
among these new surroundings. The sapling which had
rooted down to a poisonous stratum on the spot of its
sowing had been transplanted to a deeper soil.
Moreover she, and Clare also, stood as yet on the
debatable land between predilection and love; where no
profundities have been reached; no reflections have set
in, awkwardly inquiring, Whither does this new current
tend to carry me? What does it mean to my future? How
does it stand towards my past?"

Tess was the merest stray phenomenon to Angel Clare as
yet--a rosy warming apparition which had only just
acquired the attribute of persistence in his
consciousness. So he allowed his mind to be occupied
with herdeeming his preoccupation to be no more than
a philosopher's regard of an exceedingly novelfresh
and interesting specimen of womankind.

They met continually; they could not help it. They met
daily in that strange and solemn intervalthe twilight
of the morningin the violet or pink dawn; for it was
necessary to rise earlyso very earlyhere. Milking
was done betimes; and before the milking came the
skimmingwhich began at a little past three. It
usually fell to the lot of some one or other of them to
wake the restthe first being aroused by an
alarm-clock; andas Tess was the latest arrivaland
they soon discovered that she could be depended upon
not to sleep though the alarm as others didthis task
was thrust most frequently upon her. No sooner had the
hour of three struck and whizzedthan she left her


room and ran to the dairyman's door; then up the ladder
to Angel'scalling him in a loud whisper; then woke
her fellow-milkmaids. By the time that Tess was
dressed Clare was downstairs and out in the humid air.
The remaining maids and the dairyman usually gave
themselves another turn on the pillowand did not
appear till a quarter of an hour later.

The gray half-tones of daybreak are not the gray
half-tones of the day's closethough the degree of
their shade may be the same. In the twilight of the
morning light seems activedarkness passive; in the
twilight of evening it is the darkness which is active
and crescentand the light which is the drowsy
reverse.

Being so often--possibly not always by chance--the
first two persons to get up at the dairy-housethey
seemed to themselves the first persons up of all the
world. In these early days of her residence here Tess
did not skimbut went out of doors at once after
risingwhere he was generally awaiting her. The
spectralhalf-compoundedaqueous light which pervaded
the open meadimpressed them with a feeling of
isolationas if they were Adam and Eve. At this dim
inceptive stage of the day Tess seemed to Clare to
exhibit a dignified largeness both of disposition and
physiquean almost regnant powerpossibly because he
knew that at that preternatural time hardly any woman
so well endowed in person as she was likely to be
walking in the open air within the boundaries of his
horizon; very few in all England. Fair women are
usually asleep at mid-summer dawns. She was close at
handand the rest were nowhere.

The mixedsingularluminous gloom in which they
walked along together to the spot where the cows lay
often made him think of the Resurrection hour. He
little thought that the Magdalen might be at his side.
Whilst all the landscape was in neutral shade his
companion's facewhich was the focus of his eyes
rising above the mist stratumseemed to have a sort of
phosphorescence upon it. She looked ghostlyas if she
were merely a soul at large. In reality her face
without appearing to do sohad caught the cold gleam
of day from the north-east; his own facethough he did
not think of itwore the same aspect to her.

It was thenas has been saidthat she impressed him
most deeply. She was no longer the milkmaidbut a
visionary essence of woman--a whole sex condensed into
one typical form. He called her ArtemisDemeterand
other fanciful names half teasinglywhich she did not
like because she did not understand them.

Call me Tess,she would say askance; and he did.

Then it would grow lighterand her features would
become simply feminine; they had changed from those of
a divinity who could confer bliss to those of a being
who craved it.

At these non-human hours they could get quite close to
the waterfowl. Herons camewith a great bold noise as


of opening doors and shuttersout of the boughs of a
plantation which they frequented at the side of the
mead; orif already on the spothardily maintained
their standing in the water as the pair walked by
watching them by moving their heads round in a slow
horizontalpassionless wheellike the turn of puppets
by clockwork.

They could then see the faint summer fogs in layers
woollyleveland apparently no thicker than
counterpanesspread about the meadows in detached
remnants of small extent. On the gray moisture of the
grass were marks where the cows had lain through the
night--dark-green islands of dry herbage the size of
their carcassesin the general sea of dew. From each
island proceeded a serpentine trailby which the cow
had rambled away to feed after getting upat the end
of which trail they found her; the snoring puff from
her nostrilswhen she recognized themmaking an
intenser little fog of her own amid the prevailing one.
Then they drove the animals back to the bartonor sat
down to milk them on the spotas the case might
require.

Or perhaps the summer fog was more generaland the
meadows lay like a white seaout of which the
scattered trees rose like dangerous rocks. Birds would
soar through it into the upper radianceand hang on
the wing sunning themselvesor alight on the wet rails
subdividing the meadwhich now shone like glass rods.
Minute diamonds of moisture from the mist hungtoo
upon Tess's eyelashesand drops upon her hairlike
seed pearls. When the day grew quite strong and
commonplace these dried off her; moreoverTess then
lost her strange and ethereal beauty; her teethlips
and eyes scintillated in the sunbeams and she was again
the dazzlingly fair dairymaid onlywho had to hold her
own against the other women of the world.

About this time they would hear Dairyman Crick's voice
lecturing the non-resident milkers for arriving late
and speaking sharply to old Deborah Fyander for not
washing her hands.

For Heaven's sake, pop thy hands under the pump, Deb!
Upon my soul, if the London folk only knowed of thee
and thy slovenly ways, they'd swaller their milk and
butter more mincing than they do a'ready; and that's
saying a good deal.

The milking progressedtill towards the end Tess and
Clarein common with the restcould hear the heavy
breakfast table dragged out from the wall in the
kitchen by Mrs Crickthis being the invariable
preliminary to each meal; the same horrible scrape
accompanying its return journey when the table had been
cleared.

There was a great stir in the milk-house just after


breakfast. The churn revolved as usualbut the butter
would not come. Whenever this happened the dairy was
paralyzed. Squishsquashechoed the milk in the great
cylinderbut never arose the sound they waited for.

Dairyman Crick and his wifethe milkmaids Tess
MarianRetty PriddleIzz Huettand the married ones
from the cottages; also Mr ClareJonathan Kailold
Deborahand the reststood gazing hopelessly at the
churn; and the boy who kept the horse going outside put
on moon-like eyes to show his sense of the situation.
Even the melancholy horse himself seemed to look in at
the window in inquiring despair at each walk round.

'Tis years since I went to Conjuror Trendle's son in
Egdon--years!said the dairyman bitterly. "And he was
nothing to what his father had been. I have said fifty
timesif I have said oncethat I DON'T believe in en;
though 'a do cast folks' waters very true. But I shall
have to go to 'n if he's alive. O yesI shall have to
go to 'nif this sort of thing continnys!"

Even Mr Clare began to feel tragical at the dairyman's
desperation.

Conjuror Fall, t'other side of Casterbridge, that they
used to call 'Wide-O', was a very good man when I was a
boy,said Jonathan Kail. "But he's rotten as
touchwood by now."

My grandfather used to go to Conjuror Mynterne, out at
Owlscombe, and a clever man a' were, so I've heard
grandf'er say,continued Mr Crick. "But there's no
such genuine folk about nowadays!"

Mrs Crick's mind kept nearer to the matter in hand.

Perhaps somebody in the house is in love,she said
tentatively. "I've heard tell in my younger days that
that will cause it. WhyCrick--that maid we had years
agodo ye mindand how the butter didn't come
then---"

Ah yes, yes!--but that isn't the rights o't. It had
nothing to do with the love-making. I can mind all
about it--'twas the damage to the churn.

He turned to Clare.

Jack Dollop, a 'hore's-bird of a fellow we had here as
milker at one time, sir, courted a young woman over at
Mellstock, and deceived her as he had deceived many
afore. But he had another sort o' woman to reckon wi'
this time, and it was not the girl herself. One Holy
Thursday of all days in the almanack, we was here as we
mid be now, only there was no churning in hand, when we
zid the girl's mother coming up to the door, wi' a
great brass-mounted umbrella in her hand that would ha'
felled an ox, and saying 'Do Jack Dollop work
here?--because I want him! I have a big bone to pick
with he, I can assure 'n!' And some way behind her
mother walked Jack's young woman, crying bitterly into
her handkercher. 'O Lard, here's a time!' said Jack,
looking out o' winder at 'em. 'She'll murder me! Where


shall I get--where shall I--? Don't tell her where I
be!' And with that he scrambled into the churn through
the trap-door, and shut himself inside, just as the
young woman's mother busted into the milk-house. 'The
villain--where is he?' says she, 'I'll claw his face
for'n, let me only catch him!' Well, she hunted about
everywhere, ballyragging Jack by side and by seam, Jack
lying a'most stifled inside the churn, and the poor
maid--or young woman rather--standing at the door
crying her eyes out. I shall never forget it, never!
'Twould have melted a marble stone! But she couldn't
find him nowhere at all.

The dairyman pausedand one or two words of comment
came from the listeners.

Dairyman Crick's stories often seemed to be ended when
they were not really soand strangers were betrayed
into premature interjections of finality; though old
friends knew better. The narrator went on-


Well, how the old woman should have had the wit to
guess it I could never tell, but she found out that he
was inside that there churn. Without saying a word she
took hold of the winch (it was turned by handpower
then), and round she swung him, and Jack began to flop
about inside. 'O Lard! stop the churn! let me out!'
says he, popping out his head, 'I shall be churned into
a pummy!' (he was a cowardly chap in his heart, as such
men mostly be). 'Not till ye make amends for ravaging
her virgin innocence!' says the old woman. 'Stop the
churn you old witch!' screams he. 'You call me old
witch, do ye, you deceiver!' says she, 'when ye ought
to ha' been calling me mother-law these last five
months!' And on went the churn, and Jack's bones
rattled round again. Well, none of us ventured to
interfere; and at last 'a promised to make it right wi'
her. 'Yes--I'll be as good as my word!' he said. And so
it ended that day.

While the listeners were smiling their comments there
was a quick movement behind their backsand they
looked round. Tesspale-facedhad gone to the door.

How warm 'tis today!she saidalmost inaudibly.

It was warmand none of them connected her withdrawal
with the reminiscences of the dairyman. He went
forward and opened the door for hersaying with tender
raillery-


Why, maidy(he frequentlywith unconscious irony
gave her this pet name)the prettiest milker I've got
in my dairy; you mustn't get so fagged as this at the
first breath of summer weather, or we shall be finely
put to for want of 'ee by dog-days, shan't we, Mr Clare?

I was faint--and--I think I am better out o' doors,
she said mechanically; and disappeared outside.

Fortunately for her the milk in the revolving churn at
that moment changed its squashing for a decided
flick-flack.


'Tis coming!cried Mrs Crickand the attention of
all was called off from Tess.

That fair sufferer soon recovered herself externally;
but she remained much depressed all the afternoon.
When the evening milking was done she did not care to
be with the rest of themand went out of doors
wandering along she knew not whither. She was
wretched--O so wretched--at the perception that to her
companions the dairyman's story had been rather a
humorous narration than otherwise; none of them but
herself seemed to see the sorrow of it; to a certainty
not one knew how cruelly it touched the tender place in
her experience. The evening sun was now ugly to her
like a great inflamed wound in the sky. Only a
solitary cracked-voice reed-sparrow greeted her from
the bushes by the riverin a sadmachine-made tone
resembling that of a past friend whose friendship she
had outworn.

In these long June days the milkmaidsandindeed
most of the householdwent to bed at sunset or sooner
the morning work before milking being so early and
heavy at a time of full pairs. Tess usually
accompanied her fellows upstairs. Tonighthowever
she was the first to go to their common chamber; and
she had dozed when the other girls came in. She saw
them undressing in the orange light of the vanished
sunwhich flushed their forms with its colour; she
dozed againbut she was reawakened by their voices
and quietly turned her eyes towards them.

Neither of her three chamber-companions had got into
bed. They were standing in a groupin their
nightgownsbarefootedat the windowthe last red
rays of the west still warming their faces and necks
and the walls around them. All were watching somebody
in the garden with deep interesttheir three faces
close together: a jovial and round onea pale one with
dark hairand a fair one whose tresses were auburn.

Don't push! You can see as well as I,said Retty
the auburn-haired and youngest girlwithout removing
her eyes from the window.

'Tis no use for you to be in love with him any more
than me, Retty Priddle,said jolly-faced Marianthe
eldestslily. "His thoughts be of other cheeks than
thine!"

Retty Priddle still lookedand the other looked again.

There he is again!cried Izz Huettthe pale girl
with dark damp hair and keenly cut lips.

You needn't say anything, Izz,answered Retty.
For I zid you kissing his shade.

WHAT did you see her doing?asked Marian.

Why--he was standing over the whey-tub to let off the
whey, and the shade of his face came upon the wall
behind, close to Izz, who was standing there filling a
vat. She put her mouth against the wall and kissed the


shade of his mouth; I zid her, though he didn't.

O Izz Huett!said Marian.

A rosy spot came into the middle of Izz Huett's cheek.

Well, there was no harm in it,she declaredwith
attempted coolness. "And if I be in love wi'enso is
Rettytoo; and so be youMariancome to that."

Marian's full face could not blush past its chronic
pinkness.

I!she said. "What a tale! Ahthere he is again!
Dear eyes--dear face--dear Mr Clare!"

There--you've owned it!

So have you--so have we all,said Marianwith the
dry frankness of complete indifference to opinion.
It is silly to pretend otherwise amongst ourselves, though
we need not own it to other folks. I would just marry
'n to-morrow!

So would I--and more,murmured Izz Huett.

And I too,whispered the more timid Retty.

The listener grew warm.

We can't all marry him,said Izz.

We shan't, either of us; which is worse still,said
the eldest. "There he is again!"

They all three blew him a silent kiss.

Why?asked Retty quickly.

Because he likes Tess Durbeyfield best,said Marian
lowering her voice. "I have watched him every dayand
have found it out."

There was a reflective silence.

But she don't care anything for 'n?at length
breathed Retty.

Well--I sometimes think that too.

But how silly all this is!said Izz Huett
impatiently. "Of course he won't marry any one of us
or Tess either--a gentleman's sonwho's going to be a
great landowner and farmer abroad! More likely to ask
us to come wi'en as farm-hands at so much a year!"

One sighedand another sighedand Marian's plump
figure sighed biggest of all. Somebody in bed hard by
sighed too. Tears came into the eyes of Retty Priddle
the pretty red-haired youngest--the last bud of the
Paridellesso important in the county annals. They
watched silently a little longertheir three faces
still close together as beforeand the triple hues of
their hair mingling. But the unconscious Mr Clare had


gone indoorsand they saw him no more; andthe shades
beginning to deepenthey crept into their beds. In a
few minutes they heard him ascend the ladder to his own
room. Marian was soon snoringbut Izz did not drop
into forgetfulness for a long time. Retty Priddle
cried herself to sleep.

The deeper-passioned Tess was very far from sleeping
even then. This conversation was another of the bitter
pills she had been obliged to swallow that day. Scarce
the least feeling of jealousy arose in her breast. For
that matter she knew herself to have the preference.
Being more finely formedbetter educatedandthough
the youngest except Rettymore woman than eithershe
perceived that only the slightest ordinary care was
necessary for holding her own in Angel Clare's heart
against these her candid friends. But the grave
question wasought she to do this? There wasto be
surehardly a ghost of a chance for either of themin
a serious sense; but there wasor had beena chance
of one or the other inspiring him with a passing fancy
for herand enjoying the pleasure of his attentions
while he stayed here. Such unequal attachments had led
to marriage; and she had heard from Mrs Crick that Mr
Clare had one day askedin a laughing waywhat would
be the use of his marrying a fine ladyand all the
while ten thousand acres of Colonial pasture to feed
and cattle to rearand corn to reap. A farm-woman
would be the only sensible kind of wife for him. But
whether Mr Clare had spoken seriously or notwhy
should shewho could never conscientiously allow any
man to marry her nowand who had religiously
determined that she never would be tempted to do so
draw off Mr Clare's attention from other womenfor the
brief happiness of sunning herself in his eyes while he
remained at Talbothays?

XXII

They came downstairs yawning next morning; but skimming
and milking were proceeded with as usualand they went
indoors to breakfast. Dairyman Crick was discovered
stamping about the house. He had received a letterin
which a customer had complained that the butter had a
twang.

And begad, so 't have!said the dairymanwho held in
his left hand a wooden slice on which a lump of butter
was stuck. "Yes--taste for yourself!"

Several of them gathered round him; and Mr Clare
tastedTess tastedalso the other indoor milkmaids
one or two of the milking-menand last of all Mrs
Crickwho came out from the waiting breakfast-table.
There certainly was a twang.

The dairymanwho had thrown himself into abstraction
to better realize the tasteand so divine the
particular species of noxious weed to which it
appertainedsuddenly exclaimed-



'Tis garlic! and I thought there wasn't a blade left
in that mead!

Then all the old hands remembered that a certain dry
meadinto which a few of the cows had been admitted of
latehadin years gone byspoilt the butter in the
same way. The dairyman had not recognized the taste at
that timeand thought the butter bewitched.

We must overhaul that mead,he resumed; "this mustn't
continny!"

All having armed themselves with old pointed knives
they went out together. As the inimical plant could
only be present in very microscopic dimensions to have
escaped ordinary observationto find it seemed rather
a hopeless attempt in the stretch of rich grass before
them. Howeverthey formed themselves into lineall
assistingowing to the importance of the search; the
dairyman at the upper end with Mr Clarewho had
volunteered to help; then TessMarianIzz Huettand
Retty; then Bill LewellJonathanand the married
dairywomen--Beck Knibbswith her wooly black hair and
rolling eyes; and flaxen Francesconsumptive from the
winter damps of the water-meads--who lived in their
respective cottages.

With eyes fixed upon the ground they crept slowly
across a strip of the fieldreturning a little further
down in such a manner thatwhen they should have
finishednot a single inch of the pasture but would
have fallen under the eye of some one of them. It was
a most tedious businessnot more than half a dozen
shoots of garlic being discoverable in the whole field;
yet such was the herb's pungency that probably one bite
of it by one cow had been sufficient to season the
whole dairy's produce for the day.

Differing one from another in natures and moods so
greatly as they didthey yet formedbendinga
curiously uniform row--automaticnoiseless; and an
alien observer passing down the neighbouring lane might
well have been excused for massing them as "Hodge". As
they crept alongstooping low to discern the planta
soft yellow gleam was reflected from the buttercups
into their shaded facesgiving them an elfishmoonlit
aspectthough the sun was pouring upon their backs in
all the strength of noon.

Angel Clarewho communistically stuck to his rule of
taking part with the rest in everythingglanced up now
and then. It was notof courseby accident that he
walked next to Tess.

Well, how are you?he murmured.

Very well, thank you, sir,she replied demurely.

As they had been discussing a score of personal matters
only half-an-hour beforethe introductory style seemed
a little superfluous. But they got no further in
speech just then. They crept and creptthe hem of her
petticoat just touching his gaiterand his elbow
sometimes brushing hers. At last the dairymanwho


came nextcould stand it no longer.

Upon my soul and body, this here stooping do fairly
make my back open and shut!he exclaimed
straightening himself slowly with an excruciated look
till quite upright. "And youmaidy Tessyou wasn't
well a day or two ago--this will make your head ache
finely! Don't do any moreif you feel fainty; leave
the rest to finish it."

Dairyman Crick withdrewand Tess dropped behind. Mr
Clare also stepped out of lineand began privateering
about for the weed. When she found him near herher
very tension at what she had heard the night before
made her the first to speak.

Don't they look pretty?she said.

Who?

Izzy Huett and Retty.

Tess had moodily decided that either of these maidens
would make a good farmer's wifeand that she ought to
recommend themand obscure her own wretched charms.

Pretty? Well, yes--they are pretty girls--fresh
looking. I have often thought so.

Though, poor dears, prettiness won't last long!

O no, unfortunately.

They are excellent dairywomen.

Yes: though not better than you.

They skim better than I.

Do they?

Clare remained observing them--not without their
observing him.

She is colouring up,continued Tess heroically.

Who?

Retty Priddle.

Oh! Why it that?

Because you are looking at her.

Self-sacrificing as her mood might be Tess could not
well go further and cryMarry one of them, if you
really do want a dairywoman and not a lady; and don't
think of marrying me!She followed Dairyman Crick
and had the mournful satisfaction of seeing that Clare
remained behind.

From this day she forced herself to take pains to avoid
him--never allowing herselfas formerlyto remain
long in his companyeven if their juxtaposition were


purely accidental. She gave the other three every
chance.

Tess was woman enough to realize from their avowals to
herself that Angel Clare had the honour of all the
dairymaids in his keepingand her perception of his
care to avoid compromising the happiness of either in
the least degree bred a tender respect in Tess for what
she deemedrightly or wronglythe self-controlling
sense of duty shown by hima quality which she had
never expected to find in one of the opposite sexand
in the absence of which more than one of the simple
hearts who were his house-mates might have gone weeping
on her pilgrimage.

XXIII

The hot weather of July had crept upon them unawares
and the atmosphere of the flat vale hung heavy as an
opiate over the dairy-folkthe cowsand the trees.
Hot steaming rains fell frequentlymaking the grass
where the cows fed yet more rankand hindering the
late haymaking in the other meads.

It was Sunday morning; the milking was done; the
outdoor milkers had gone home. Tess and the other
three were dressing themselves rapidlythe whole bevy
having agreed to go together to Mellstock Churchwhich
lay some three or four miles distant from the
dairy-house. She had now been two months at
Talbothaysand this was her first excursion.

All the preceding afternoon and night heavy
thunderstorms had hissed down upon the meadsand
washed some of the hay into the river; but this morning
the sun shone out all the more brilliantly for the
delugeand the air was balmy and clear.

The crooked lane leading from their own parrish to
Mellstock ran along the lowest levels in a portion of
its lengthand when the girls reached the most
depressed spot they found that the result of the rain
had been to flood the lane over-shoe to a distance of
some fifty yards. This would have been no serious
hindrance on a week-day; they would have clicked
through it in their high patterns and boots quite
unconcerned; but on this day of vanitythis Sun's-day
when flesh went forth to coquet with flesh while
hypocritically affecting business with spiritual
things; on this occasion for wearing their white
stockings and thin shoesand their pinkwhiteand
lilac gownson which every mud spot would be visible
the pool was an awkward impediment. They could hear
the church-bell calling--as yet nearly a mile off.

Who would have expected such a rise in the river in
summer-time!said Marianfrom the top of the
roadside bank on which they had climbedand were
maintaining a precarious footing in the hope of
creeping along its slope till they were past the pool.


We can't get there anyhow, without walking right
through it, or else going round the Turnpike way; and
that would make us so very late!said Rettypausing
hopelessly.

And I do colour up so hot, walking into church late,
and all the people staring round,said Marian
that I hardly cool down again till we get into the
That-it-may-please-Thees.

While they stood clinging to the bank they heard a
splashing round the bend of the roadand presently
appeared Angel Clareadvancing along the lane towards
them through the water.

Four hearts gave a big throb simultaneously.

His aspect was probably as un-Sabbatarian a one as a
dogmatic parson's son often presented; his attire being
his dairy clotheslong wading bootsa cabbage-leaf
inside his hat to keep his head coolwith a
thistle-spud to finish him off. "He's not going to
church said Marian.

No--I wish he was!" murmured Tess.

Angelin factrightly or wrongly (to adopt the safe
phrase of evasive controversialists)preferred sermons
in stones to sermons in churches and chapels on fine
summer days. This morningmoreoverhe had gone out
to see if the damage to the hay by the flood was
considerable or not. On his walk he observed the girls
from a long distancethough they had been so occupied
with their difficulties of passage as not to notice
him. He knew that the water had risen at that spot
and that it would quite check their progress. So he
had hastened onwith a dim idea of how he could help
them--one of them in particular.

The rosy-cheekedbright-eyed quartet looked so
charming in their light summer attireclinging to the
roadside bank like pigeons on a roof-slopethat he
stopped a moment to regard them before coming close.
Their gauzy skirts had brushed up from the grass
innumerable flies and butterflies whichunable to
escaperemained caged in the transparent tissue as in
an aviary. Angel's eye at last fell upon Tessthe
hindmost of the four; shebeing full of suppressed
laughter at their dilemmacould not help meeting his
glance radiantly.

He came beneath them in the waterwhich did not rise
over his long boots; and stood looking at the entrapped
flies and butterflies.

Are you trying to get to church?he said to Marian
who was in frontincluding the next two in his remark
but avoiding Tess.

Yes, sir; and 'tis getting late; and my colour do come
up so----

I'll carry you through the pool--every Jill of you.


The whole four flushed as if one heart beat through
them.


I think you can't, sir,said Marian.


It is the only way for you to get past. Stand still.
Nonsense--you are not too heavy! I'd carry you all
four together. Now, Marian, attend,he continuedand
put your arms round my shoulders, so. Now! Hold on.
That's well done.


Marian had lowered herself upon his arm and shoulder as
directedand Angel strode off with herhis slim
figureas viewed from behindlooking like the mere
stem to the great nosegay suggested by hers. They
disappeared round the curve of the roadand only his
sousing footsteps and the top ribbon of Marian's bonnet
told where they were. In a few minutes he reappeared.
Izz Huett was the next in order upon the bank.


Here he comes,she murmuredand they could hear that
her lips were dry with emotion. "And I have to put my
arms round his neck and look into his face as Marian
did."


There's nothing in that,said Tess quickly.


There's a time for everything,continued Izz
unheeding. "A time to embraceand a time to refrain
from embracing; the first is now going to be mine."


Fie--it is Scripture, Izz!


Yes,said IzzI've always a' ear at church for
pretty verses.


Angel Clareto whom three-quarters of this performance
was a commonplace act of kindnessnow approached Izz.
She quietly and dreamily lowered herself into his arms
and Angel methodically marched off with her. When he
was heard returning for the third time Retty's
throbbing heart could be almost seen to shake her. He
went up to the red-haired girland while he was
seizing her he glanced at Tess. His lips could not
have pronounced more plainlyIt will soon be you and
I.Her comprehension appeared in her face; she could
not help it. There was an understanding between them.


Poor little Rettythough by far the lightest weight
was the most troublesome of Clare's burdens. Marian
had been like a sack of meala dead weight of
plumpness under which he has literally staggered.
Izz had ridden sensibly and calmly. Retty was a bunch of
hysterics.


Howeverhe got through with the disquieted creature
deposited herand returned. Tess could see over the
hedge the distant three in a groupstanding as he had
placed them on the next rising ground. It was now her
turn. She was embarrassed to discover that excitement
at the proximity of Mr Clare's breath and eyeswhich
she had contemned in her companionswas intensified in
herself; and as if fearful of betraying her secret she
paltered with him at the last moment.



I may be able to clim' along the bank perhaps--I can
clim' better than they. You must be so tired, Mr Clare!

No, no, Tess,said he quickly. And almost before she
was aware she was seated in his arms and resting
against his shoulder.

Three Leahs to get one Rachel,he whispered.

They are better women than I,she replied
magnanimously sticking to her resolve.

Not to me,said Angel.

He saw her grow warm at this; and they went some steps
in silence.

I hope I am not too heavy?she said timidly.

O no. You should lift Marian! Such a lump. You are
like an undulating billow warmed by the sun. And all
this fluff of muslin about you is the froth.

It is very pretty--if I seem like that to you.

Do you know that I have undergone three-quarters of
this labour entirely for the sake of the fourth
quarter?

No.

I did not expect such an event today.

Nor I.... The water came up so sudden.

That the rise in the water was what she understood him
to refer tothe state of breathing belied. Clare
stood still and inclinced his face towards hers.

O Tessy!he exclaimed.

The girl's cheeks burned to the breezeand she could
not look into his eyes for her emotion. It reminded
Angel that he was somewhat unfairly taking advantage of
an accidental position; and he went no further with it.
No definite words of love had crossed their lips as
yetand suspension at this point was desirable now.
Howeverhe walked slowlyto make the remainder of the
distance as long as possible; but at last they came to
the bendand the rest of their progress was in full
view of the other three. The dry land was reachedand
he set her down.

Her friends were looking with round thoughtful eyes at
her and himand she could see that they had been
talking of her. He hastily bade them farewelland
splashed back along the stretch of submerged road.

The four moved on together as beforetill Marian broke
the silence by saying-


No--in all truth; we have no chance against her!
She looked joylessly at Tess.


What do you mean?asked the latter.

He likes 'ee best--the very best! We could see it as
he brought 'ee. He would have kissed 'ee, if you had
encouraged him to do it, ever so little.

No, no,said she.

The gaiety with which they had set out had somehow
vanished; and yet there was no enmity or malice between
them. They were generous young souls; they had been
reared in the lonely country nooks where fatalism is a
strong sentimentand they did not blame her. Such
supplanting was to be.

Tess's heart ached. There was no concealing from
herself the fact that she loved Angel Clareperhaps
all the more passionately from knowing that the others
had also lost their hearts to him. There is contagion
in this sentimentespecially among women. And yet
that same hungry nature had fought against thisbut
too feeblyand the natural result had followed.

I will never stand in your way, nor in the way of
either of you!she declared to Retty that night in the
bedroom (her tears running down). "I can't help this
my dear! I don't think marrying is in his mind at all;
but if he were ever to ask me I should refuse himas I
should refuse any man."

Oh! would you? Why?said wondering Retty.

It cannot be! But I will be plain. Putting myself
quite on one side. I don't think he will choose either
of you.

I have never expected it--thought of it!moaned
Retty. "But O! I wish I was dead!"

The poor childtorn by a feeling which she hardly
understoodturned to the other two girls who came
upstairs just then.

We be friends with her again,she said to them.
She thinks no more of his choosing her than we do.

So the reserve went offand they were confiding and
warm.

I don't seem to care what I do now,said Marian
whose mood was turned to its lowest bass. "I was going
to marry a dairyman at Sticklefordwho's asked me
twice; but--my soul--I would put an end to myself
rather'n be his wife now! Why don't ye speakIzz?"

To confess, then,murmured IzzI made sure today
that he was going to kiss me as he held me; and I lay
still against his breast, hoping and hoping, and never
moved at all. But he did not. I don't like biding
here at Talbothays any longer! I shall go hwome.

The air of the sleeping-chamber seemed to palpitate
with the hopeless passion of the girls. They writhed


feverishly under the oppressiveness of an emotion
thrust on them by cruel Nature's law--an emotion which
they had neither expected nor desired. The incident of
the day had fanned the flame that was burning the
inside of their hearts outand the torture was almost
more than they could endure. The differences which
distinguished them as individuals were abstracted by
this passionand each was but portion of one organism
called sex. There was so much frankness and so little
jealousy because there was no hope. Each one was a
girl of fair common senseand she did not delude
herself with any vain conceitsor deny her loveor
give herself airsin the idea of outshining the
others. The full recognition of the futility of their
infatuationfrom a social point of view; its
purposeless beginning; its self-bounded outlook; its
lack of everything to justify its existence in the eye
of civilization (while lacking nothing in the eye of
Nature); the one fact that it did existecstasizing
them to a killing joy; all this imparted to them a
resignationa dignitywhich a practical and sordid
expectation of winning him as a husband would have
destroyed.

They tossed and turned on their little bedsand the
cheese-wring dripped monotonously downstairs.

B' you awake, Tess?whispered onehalf-an-hour
later.

It was Izz Huett's voice.

Tess replied in the affirmativewhereupon also Retty
and Marian suddenly flung the bedclothes off themand
sighed-


So be we!

I wonder what she is like--the lady they say his
family have looked out for him!

I wonder,said Izz.

Some lady looked out for him?gasped Tessstarting.
I have never heard o' that!

O yes--'tis whispered; a young lady of his own rank,
chosen by his family; a Doctor of Divinity's daughter
near his father's parish of Emminster; he don't much
care for her, they say. But he is sure to marry her.

They had heard so very little of this; yet it was
enough to build up wretched dolorous dreams uponthere
in the shade of the night. They pictured all the
details of his being won round to consentof the
wedding preparationsof the bride's happinessof her
dress and veilof her blissful home with himwhen
oblivion would have fallen upon themselves as far as he
and their love were concerned. Thus they talkedand
achedand wept till sleep charmed their sorrow away.

After this disclosure Tess nourished no further foolish
thought that there lurked any grave and deliberate
import in Clare's attentions to her. It was a passing


summer love of her facefor love's own temporary
sake--nothing more. And thorny crown of this sad
conception was that she whom he really did prefer in a
cursory way to the restshe who knew herself to be
more impassioned in naturecleverermore beautiful
than theywas in the eyes of propriety far less worthy
of him than the homelier ones whom he ignored.

XXIV

Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Froom
Valeat a season when the rush of juices could almost
be heard below the hiss of fertilizationit was
impossible that the most fanciful love should not grow
passionate. The ready bosoms existing there were
impregnated by their surroundings.

July passed over their headsand the Thermidorean
weather which came in its wake seemed an effort on the
part of Nature to match the state of hearts at
Talbothays Dairy. The air of the placeso fresh in
the spring and early summerwas stagnant and
enervating now. Its heavy scents weighed upon them
and at mid-day the landscape seemed lying in a swoon.
Ethiopic scorchings browned the upper slopes of the
pasturesbut there was still bright green herbage here
where the watercourses purled. And as Clare was
oppressed by the outward heatsso was he burdened
inwardly by waxing fervour of passion for the soft and
silent Tess.

The rains having passed the uplands were dry. The
wheels of the dairyman's spring cartas he sped home
from marketlicked up the pulverized surface of the
highwayand were followed by white ribands of dustas
if they had set a thin powertrain on fire. The cows
jumped wildly over the five-barred barton-gate
maddened by the gad-fly; Dairyman Crick kept his
shirt-sleeves permanently rolled up from Monday to
Saturday; open windows had no effect in ventilation
without open doorsand in the dairy-garden the
blackbirds and thrushes crept about under the
currant-bushesrather in the manner of quadrupeds than
of winged creatures. The flies in the kitchen were
lazyteasingand familiarcrawling about in the
unwonted placeson the floorsinto drawersand over
the backs of the milkmaids' hands. Conversations were
concerning sunstroke; while butter-makingand still
more butter-keepingwas a despair.

They milked entirely in the meads for coolness and
conveniencewithout driving in the cows. During the
day the animals obsequiously followed the shadow of the
smallest tree as it moved round the stem with the
diurnal roll; and when the milkers came they could
hardly stand still for the flies.

On one of these afternoons four or five unmilked cows
chanced to stand apart from the general herdbehind
the corner of a hedgeamong them being Dumpling and
Old Prettywho loved Tess's hands above those of any


other maid. When she rose from her stool under a
finished cow Angel Clarewho had been observing her
for some timeasked her if she would take the
aforesaid creatures next. She silently assentedand
with her stool at arm's lengthand the pail against
her kneewent round to where they stood. Soon the
sound of Old Pretty's milk fizzing into the pail came
through the hedgeand then Angel felt inclined to go
round the corner alsoto finish off a hard-yielding
milcher who had strayed therehe being now as capable
of this as the dairyman himself.

All the menand some of the womenwhen milkingdug
their foreheads into the cows and gazed into the pail.
But a few--mainly the younger ones--rested their heads
sideways. This was Tess Durbeyfield's habither
temple pressing the milcher's flankher eyes fixed on
the far end of the meadow with the quiet of one lost in
meditation. She was milking Old Pretty thusand the
sun chancing to be on the milking-side it shone flat
upon her pink-gowned form and her white curtain-bonnet
and upon her profilerendering it keen as a cameo cut
from the dun background of the cow.

She did not know that Clare had followed her roundand
that he sat under his cow watching her. The stillness
of her head and features was remarkable: she might have
been in a tranceher eyes openyet unseeing. Nothing
in the picture moved but Old Pretty's tail and Tess's
pink handsthe latter so gently as to be a rhythmic
pulsation onlyas if they were obeying a reflex
stimuluslike a beating heart.

How very lovable her face was to him. yet there was
nothing ethereal about it; all was real vitalityreal
warmthreal incarnation. And it was in her mouth that
this culminated. Eyes almost as deep and speaking he
had seen beforeand cheeks perhaps as fair; brows as
archeda chin and throat almost as shapely; her mouth
he had seen nothing to equal on the face of the earth.
To a young man with the least fire in him that little
upward lift in the middle of her red top lip was
distractinginfatuatingmaddening. He had never
before seen a woman's lips and teeth which forced upon
his mind with such persistent iteration the old
Elizabethan simile of roses filled with snow. Perfect
heas a lovermight have called them off-hand. But
no--they were not perfect. And it was the touch of the
imperfect upon the would-be perfect that gave the
sweetnessbecause it was that which gave the humanity.

Clare had studied the curves of those lips so many
times that he could reproduce them mentally with ease:
and nowas they again confronted himclothed with
colour and lifethey sent an AURA over his flesha
breeze through his nerveswhich wellnigh produced a
qualm; and actually producedby some mysterious
physiological processa prosaic sneeze.

She then became conscious that he was observing her;
but she would not show it by any change of position
though the curious dream-like fixity disappearedand a
close eye might easily have discerned that the rosiness
of her face deepenedand then faded till only a tinge


of it was left.

The influence that had passed into Clare like an
excitation from the sky did not die down. Resolutions
reticencesprudencesfearsfell back like a defeated
battalion. He jumped up from his seatandleaving his
pail to be kicked over if the milcher had such a mind
went quickly towards the desire of his eyesand
kneeling down beside herclasped her in his arms.

Tess was taken completely by surpriseand she yielded
to his embrace with unreflecting inevitableness.
Having seen that it was really her lover who had
advancedand no one elseher lips partedand she
sank upon him in her momentary joywith something very
like an ecstatic cry.

He had been on the point of kissing that too tempting
mouthbut he checked himselffor tender conscience'
sake.

Forgive me, Tess dear!he whispered. "I ought to
have asked. I--did not know what I was doing. I do
not mean it as a liberty. I am devoted to youTessy
dearestin all sincerity!"

Old Pretty by this time had looked roundpuzzled; and
seeing two people crouching under her whereby
immemorial customthere should have been only one
lifted her hind left crossly.

She is angry--she doesn't know what we mean--she'll
kick over the milk!exclaimed Tessgently striving to
free herselfher eyes concerned with the quadruped's
actionsher heart more deeply concerned with herself
and Clare.

She slipped up from her seatand they stood together
his arm still encircling her. Tess's eyesfixed on
distancebegan to fill.

Why do you cry, my darling?he said.

O--I don't know!she murmured.

As she saw and felt more clearly the position she was
in she became agitated and tried to withdraw.

Well, I have betrayed my feeling, Tess, at last,said
hewith a curious sigh of desperationsignifying
unconsciously that his heart had outrun his judgement.
That I--love you dearly and truly I need not say. But
I--it shall go no further now--it distresses you--I am
as surprised as you are. You will not think I have
presumed upon your defencelessness--been too quick and
unreflecting, will you?

N'--I can't tell.

He had allowed her to free herself; and in a minute or
two the milking of each was resumed. Nobody had beheld
the gravitation of the two into one; and when the
dairyman came round by that screened nook a few minutes
later there was not a sign to reveal that the markedly


sundered pair were more to each other than mere
acquaintance. Yet in the interval since Crick's last
view of them something had occurred which changed the
pivot of the universe for their two natures; something
whichhad he known its qualitythe dairyman would
have despisedas a practical man; yet which was based
upon a more stubborn and resistless tendency than a
whole heap of so-called practicalities. A veil had
been whisked aside; the tract of each one's outlook was
to have a new horizon thenceforward--for a short time
or for a long.

END OF PHASE THE THIRD

Phase the Fourth: The Consequence

Clarerestlesswent out into the dusk when evening
drew onshe who had won him having retired to her
chamber.

The night was as sultry as the day. There was no
coolness after dark unless on the grass. Roads
garden-pathsthe house-frontsthe barton-walls were
warm as hearthsand reflected the noontime temperature
into the noctambulist's face.

He sat on the east gate of the dairy-yardand knew not
what to think of himself. Feeling had indeed smothered
judgement that day.

Since the sudden embracethree hours beforethe twain
had kept apart. She seemed stilledalmost alarmedat
what had occurredwhile the noveltyunpremeditation
mastery of circumstance disquieted him--palpitating
contemplative being that he was. He could hardly
realize their true relations to each other as yetand
what their mutual bearing should be before third
parties thenceforward.

Angel had come as pupil to this dairy in the idea that
his temporary existence here was to be the merest
episode in his lifesoon passed through and early
forgotten; he had come as to a place from which as from
a screened alcove he could calmly view the absorbing
world withoutandapostrophizing it with Walt
Whitman-


Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes
How curious you are to me!-


resolve upon a plan for plunging into that world anew.
But beholdthe absorbing scene had been imported
hither. What had been the engrossing world had
dissolved into an uninteresting outer dumb-show; while


herein this apparently dim and unimpassioned place
novelty had volcanically started upas it had never
for himstarted up elsewhere.

Every window of the house being open Clare could hear
across the yard each trivial sound of the retiring
household. The dairy-houseso humbleso
insignificantso purely to him a place of constrained
sojourn that he had never hitherto deemed it of
sufficient importance to be reconnoitred as an object
of any quality whatever in the landscape; what was it
now? The aged and lichened brick gables breathed forth
Stay!The windows smiledthe door coaxed and
beckonedthe creeper blushed confederacy. A
personality within it was so far-reaching in her
influence as to spread into and make the bricks
mortarand whole overhanging sky throb with a burning
sensibility. Whose was this mighty personality? A
milkmaid's. It was amazingindeedto find how great a
matter the life of the obscure dairy had become to him.
And though new love was to be held partly responsible
for this it was not solely so. Many besides Angel have
learnt that the magnitude of lives is not as to their
external displacementsbut as to their subjective
experiences. The impressionable peasant leads a
largerfullermore dramatic life than the
pachydermatous king. Looking at it thus he found that
life was to be seen of the same magnitude here as
elsewhere.

Despite his heterodoxyfaultsand weaknessesClare
was a man with a conscience. Tess was no insignificant
creature to toy with and dismiss; but a woman living
her precious life--a life whichto herself who
endured or enjoyed itpossessed as great a dimension
as the life of the mightiest to himself. Upon her
sensations the whole world depended to Tess; through
her existence all her fellow-creatures existedto her.
The universe itself only came into being for Tess on
the particular day in the particular year in which she
was born.

This consciousness upon which he had intruded was the
single opportunity of existence ever vouchsafed to Tess
by an unsympathetic First Cause--her all; her every and
only chance. How then should he look upon her as of
less consequence than himself; as a pretty trifle to
caress and grow weary of; and not deal in the greatest
seriousness with the affection which he knew that he
had awakened in her--so fervid and so impressionable as
she was under her reserve; in order that it might not
agonize and wreck her?

To encounter her daily in the accustomed manner would
be to develop what had begun. Living in such close
relationsto meet meant to fall into endearment; flesh
and blood could not resist it; andhaving arrived at
no conclusion as to the issue of such a tendencyhe
decided to hold aloof for the present from occupations
in which they would be mutually engaged. As yet the
harm done was small.

But it was not easy to carry out the resolution never
to approach her. He was driven towards her by every


heave of his pulse.

He thought he would go and see his friends. It might
be possible to sound them upon this. In less than five
months his term here would have endedand after a few
additional months spent upon other farms he would be
fully equipped in agricultural knowledgeand in a
position to start on his own account. Would not a
farmer want a wifeand should a farmer's wife be a
drawing-room wax-figureor a woman who understood
farming? Notwithstanding the pleasing answer returned
to him by the silence he resolved to go his journey.

One morning when they sat down to breakfast at
Talbothays Dairy some maid observed that she had not
seen anything of Mr Clare that day.

O no,said Dairyman Crick. "Mr Clare has gone hwome
to Emminster to spend a few days wi' his kinsfolk."

For four impassioned ones around that table the
sunshine of the morning went out at a strokeand the
birds muffled their song. But neither girl by word or
gesture revealed her blankness. "He's getting on
towards the end of his time wi' me added the
dairyman, with a phlegm which unconsciously was brutal;
and so I suppose he is beginning to see about his
plans elsewhere."

How much longer is he to bide here?asked Izz Huett
the only one of the gloom-stricken bevy who could trust
her voice with the question.

The others waited for the dairyman's answer as if their
lives hung upon it; Rettywith parted lipsgazing on
the tableclothMarian with heat added to her redness
Tess throbbing and looking out at the meads.

Well, I can't mind the exact day without looking at my
memorandum-book,replied Crickwith the same
intolerable unconcern. "And even that may be altered a
bit. He'll bide to get a little practice in the
calving out at the straw-yardfor certain. He'll
hang on till the end of the year I should say."

Four months or so of torturing ecstasy in his
society--of "pleasure girdled about with pain".
After that the blackness of unutterable night.

At this moment of the morning Angel Clare was riding
along a narrow lane ten miles distant from the
breakfastersin the direction of his father's Vicarage
at Emminstercarryingas well as he coulda little
basket which contained some black-puddings and a bottle
of meadsent by Mrs Crickwith her kind respectsto
his parents. The white lane stretched before himand
his eyes were upon it; but they were staring into next
yearand not at the lane. He loved her; ought he to
marry her? Dared he to marry her? What would his
mother and his brothers say? What would he himself say
a couple of years after the event? That would depend
upon whether the germs of staunch comradeship underlay
the temporary emotionor whether it were a sensuous


joy in her form onlywith no substratum of
everlastingness.

His father's hill-surrounded little townthe Tudor
church-tower of red stonethe clump of trees near the
Vicaragecame at last into view beneath himand he
rode down towards the well-known gate. Casting a
glance in the direction of the church before entering
his homehe beheld standing by the vestry-door a group
of girlsof ages between twelve and sixteen
apparently awaiting the arrival of some other onewho
in a moment became visible; a figure somewhat older
than the school-girlswearing a broad-brimmed hat and
highly-starched cambric morning-gownwith a couple of
books in her hand.

Clare knew her well. He could not be sure that she
observed him; he hoped she did notso as to render it
unnecessary that he should go and speak to her
blameless creature that she was. An overpowering
reluctance to greet her made him decide that she had
not seen him. The young lady was Miss Mercy Chantthe
only daughter of his father's neighbour and friend
whom it was his parents' quiet hope that he might wed
some day. She was great at Antinomianism and Bibleclasses
and was plainly going to hold a class now.
Clare's mind flew to the impassionedsummer-steeped
heathens in the Var Valetheir rosy faces
court-patched with cow-droppings; and to one the most
impassioned of them all. It was on the impulse of the
moment that he had resolved to trot over to Emminster
and hence had not written to apprise his mother and
fatheraiminghoweverto arrive about the breakfast
hourbefore they should have gone out to their parish
duties. He was a little lateand they had already sat
down to the morning meal. The group at the table
jumped up to welcome him as soon as he entered. They
were his father and motherhis brother the Reverend
Felix--curate at a town in the adjoining countyhome
for the inside of a fortnight--and his other brother
the Reverend Cuthbertthe classical scholarand
Fellow and Dean of his Collegedown from Cambridge for
the long vacation. His mother appeared in a cap and
silver spectaclesand his father looked what in fact
he was--an earnestGod-fearing mansomewhat gauntin
years about sixty-fivehis pale face lined with
thought and purpose. Over their heads hung the picture
of Angel's sisterthe eldest of the familysixteen
years his seniorwho had married a missionary and gone
out to Africa.

Old Mr Clare was a clergyman of a type whichwithin
the last twenty yearshas wellnigh dropped out of
contemporary life. A spiritual descendant in the
direct line from WycliffHussLutherCalvin; an
Evangelical of the Evangelicalsa Conversionista man
of Apostolic simplicity in life and thoughthe had in
his raw youth made up his mind once for all in the
deeper questions of existenceand admitted no further
reasoning on them thenceforward. He was regarded even
by those his own date and school of thinking as
extreme; whileon the other handthose totally
opposed to him were unwillingly won to admiration for
his thoroughnessand for the remarkable power he


showed in dismissing all question as to principles in
his energy for applying them. He loved Paul of Tarsus
liked St Johnhated St James as much as he daredand
regarded with mixed feelings TimothyTitusand
Philemon. The New Testament was less a Christiad then
a Pauliad to his intelligence--less an argument than an
intoxication. His creed of determinism was such that
it almost amounted to a viceand quite amountedon
its negative sideto a renunciative philosophy which
had cousinship with that of Schopenhauer and Leopardi.
He despised the Canons and Rubricswore by the
Articlesand deemed himself consistent through the
whole category--which in a way he might have been. One
thing he certainly was--sincere.

To the aestheticsensuouspagan pleasure in natural
life and lush womanhood which his son Angel had lately
been experiencing in Var Valehis temper would have
been antipathetic in a high degreehad he either by
inquiry or imagination been able to apprehend it. Once
upon a time Angel had been so unlucky as to say to his
fatherin a moment of irritationthat it might have
resulted far better for mankind if Greece had been the
source of the religion of modern civilizationand not
Palestine; and his father's grief was of that blank
description which could not realize that there might
lurk a thousandth part of a truthmuch less a half
truth or a whole truthin such a proposition. He had
simply preached austerely at Angel for some time after.
But the kindness of his heart was such that he never
resented anything for longand welcomed his son today
with a smile which was as candidly sweet as a child's.

Angel sat downand the place felt like home; yet he
did not so much as formerly feel himself one of the
family gathered there. Every time that he returned
hither he was conscious of this divergenceand since
he had last shared in the Vicarage life it had grown
even more distinctly foreign to his own than usual.
Its transcendental aspirations--still unconsciously
based on the geocentric view of thingsa zenithal
paradisea nadiral hell--were as foreign to his own as
if they had been the dreams of people on another
planet. Latterly he had seen only Lifefelt only the
great passionate pulse of existenceunwarped
uncontorteduntrammelled by those creeds which
futilely attempt to check what wisdom would be content
to regulate.

On their part they saw a great difference in hima
growing divergence from the Angel Clare of former
times. It was chiefly a difference in his manner that
they noticed just nowparticularly his brothers. He
was getting to behave like a farmer; he flung his legs
about; the muscles of his face had grown more
expressive; his eyes looked as much information as his
tongue spokeand more. The manner of the scholar had
nearly disappeared; still more the manner of the
drawing-room young man. A prig would have said that he
had lost cultureand a prude that he had become
coarse. Such was the contagion of domiciliary
fellowship with the Talbothays nymphs and swains.

After breakfast he walked with his two brothers


non-evangelicalwell-educatedhall-marked young men
correct to their remotest fibresuch unimpeachable
models as are turned out yearly by the lathe of a
systematic tuition. They were both somewhat
short-sightedand when it was the custom to wear a
single eyeglass and string they wore a single eyeglass
and string; when it was the custom to wear a double
glass they wore a double glass; when it was the custom
to wear spectacles they wore spectacles straightway
all without reference to the particular variety of
defect in their own vision. When Wordsworth was
enthroned they carried pocket copies; and when Shelley
was belittled they allowed him to grow dusty on their
shelves. When Correggio's Holy Families were admired
they admired Correggio's Holy Families; when he was
decried in favour of Velasquezthey sedulously
followed suit without any personal objection.

If these two noticed Angel's growing social ineptness
he noticed their growing mental limitations. Felix
seemed to him all Church; Cuthbert all College. His
Diocesan Synod and Visitations were the mainsprings of
the world to the one; Cambridge to the other. Each
brother candidly recognized that there were a few
unimportant score of millions of outsiders in civilized
societypersons who were neither University men nor
churchmen; but they were to be tolerated rather than
reckoned with and respected.

They were both dutiful and attentive sonsand were
regular in their visits to their parents. Felixthough
an offshoot from a far more recent point in the
devolution of theology than his fatherwas less
self-sacrificing and disinterested. More tolerant than
his father of a contradictory opinionin its aspect as
a danger to its holderhe was less ready than his
father to pardon it as a slight to his own teaching.
Cuthbert wasupon the wholethe more liberal-minded
thoughwith greater subtletyhe had not so much
heart.

As they walked along the hillside Angel's former
feeling revived in him--that whatever their advantages
by comparison with himselfneither saw or set forth
life as it really was lived. Perhapsas with many
mentheir opportunities of observation were not so
good as their opportunities of expression. Neither had
an adequate conception of the complicated forces at
work outside the smooth and gentle current in which
they and their associates floated. Neither saw the
difference between local truth and universal truth;
that what the inner world said in their clerical and
academic hearing was quite a different thing from what
the outer world was thinking.

I suppose it is farming or nothing for you now, my
dear fellow,Felix was sayingamong other thingsto
his youngest brotheras he looked through his
spectacles at the distant fields with sad austerity.
And, therefore, we must make the best of it. But I do
entreat you to endeavour to keep as much as possible in
touch with moral ideals. Farming, of course, means
roughing it externally; but high thinking may go with
plain living, nevertheless.


Of course it may,said Angel. "Was it not proved
nineteen hundred years ago--if I may trespass upon your
domain a little? Why should you thinkFelixthat I
am likely to drop my high thinking and my moral
ideals?"

Well, I fancied, from the tone of your letters and our
conversation--it may be fancy only--that you were
somehow losing intellectual grasp. Hasn't it struck
you, Cuthbert?

Now, Felix,said Angel drilywe are very good
friends, you know; each of us treading our allotted
circles; but if it comes to intellectual grasp, I think
you, as a contented dogmatist, had better leave mine
alone, and inquire what has become of yours.

They returned down the hill to dinnerwhich was fixed
at any time at which their father's and mother's
morning work in the parish usually concluded.
Convenience as regarded afternoon callers was the last
thing to enter into the consideration of unselfish Mr
and Mrs Clare; though the three sons were sufficiently
in unison on this matter to wish that their parents
would conform a little to modern notions.

The walk had made them hungryAngel in particularwho
was now an outdoor manaccustomed to the profuse DAPES
INEMPTAE of the dairyman's somewhat coarsely-laden
table. But neither of the old people had arrivedand
it was not till the sons were almost tired of waiting
that their parents entered. The self-denying pair had
been occupied in coaxing the appetites of some of their
sick parishionerswhom theysomewhat inconsistently
tried to keep imprisoned in the fleshtheir own
appetites being quite forgotten.

The family sat down to tableand a frugal meal of cold
viands was deposited before them. Angel looked round
for Mrs Crick's black-puddingswhich he had directed
to be nicely grilled as they did them at the dairyand
of which he wished his father and mother to appreciate
the marvellous herbal savours as highly as he did
himself.

Ah! you are looking for the black-puddings, my dear
boy,observed Clare's mother. "But I am sure you will
not mind doing without them as I am sure your father
and I shall notwhen you know the reason. I suggested
to him that we should take Mrs Crick's kind present to
the children of the man who can earn nothing just now
because of his attacks of delirium tremens; and he
agreed that it would be a great pleasure to them; so we
did."

Of course,said Angel cheerfullylooking round for
the mead.

I found the mead so extremely alcoholic,continued
his motherthat it was quite unfit for use as a
beverage, but as valuable as rum or brandy in an
emergency; so I have put it in my medicine-closet.


We never drink spirits at this table, on principle,
added his father.

But what shall I tell the dairyman's wife?said Angel.

The truth, of course,said his father.

I rather wanted to say we enjoyed the mead and the
black-puddings very much. She is a kind, jolly sort
of body, and is sure to ask me directly I return.

You cannot, if we did not,Mr Clare answered lucidly.

Ah--no; though that mead was a drop of pretty tipple.

A what?said Cuthbert and Felix both.

Oh--'tis an expression they use down at Talbothays,
replied Angelblushing. He felt that his parents were
right in their practice if wrong in their want of
sentimentand said no more.

XXVI

It was not till the eveningafter family prayersthat
Angel found opportunity of broaching to his father one
or two subjects near his heart. He had strung himself
up to the purpose while kneeling behind his brothers on
the carpetstudying the little nails in the heels of
their walking boots. When the service was over they
went out of the room with their motherand Mr Clare
and himself were left alone.

The young man first discussed with the elder his plans
for the attainment of his position as a farmer on an
extensive scale--either in England or in the Colonies.
His father then told him thatas he had not been put
to the expense of sending Angel up to Cambridgehe had
felt it his duty to set by a sum of money every year
towards the purchase or lease of land for him some day
that he might not feel himself unduly slighted.

As far as worldly wealth goes,continued his father
you will no doubt stand far superior to your brothers
in a few years.

This considerateness on old Mr Clare's part led Angel
onward to the other and dearer subject. He observed to
his father that he was then six-and-twentyand that
when he should start in the farming business he would
require eyes in the back of his head to see to all
matters--some one would be necessary to superintend the
domestic labours of his establishment whilst he was
afield. Would it not be wellthereforefor him to
marry?

His father seemed to think this idea not unreasonable;
and then Angel put the question-


What kind of wife do you think would be best for me as
a thrifty hard-working farmer?


A truly Christian woman, who will be a help and a
comfort to you in your goings-out and your comings-in.
Beyond that, it really matters little. Such an one can
be found; indeed, my earnest-minded friend and
neighbour, Dr Chant--

But ought she not primarily to be able to milk cows,
churn good butter, make immense cheeses; know how to
sit hens and turkeys and rear chickens, to direct a
field of labourers in an emergency, and estimate the
value of sheep and calves?

Yes; a farmer's wife; yes, certainly. It would be
desirable.Mr Clarethe elderhad plainly never
thought of these points before. "I was going to add
he said, that for a pure and saintly woman you will
not find one more to your true advantageand certainly
not more to your mother's mind and my ownthan your
friend Mercywhom you used to show a certain interest
in. It is true that my neighbour Chant's daughter had
lately caught up the fashion of the younger clergy
round about us for decorating the Communiontable--
alteras I was shocked to hear her call it one
day--with flowers and other stuff on festival
occasions. But her fatherwho is quite as opposed to
such flummery as Isays that can be cured. It is a
mere girlish outbreak whichI am surewill not be
permanent."

Yes, yes; Mercy is good and devout, I know. But,
father, don't you think that a young woman equally pure
and virtuous as Miss Chant, but one who, in place of
that lady's ecclesiastical accomplishments, understands
the duties of farm life as well as a farmer himself,
would suit me infinitely better?

His father persisted in his conviction that a knowledge
of a farmer's wife's duties came second to a Pauline
view of humanity; and the impulsive Angelwishing to
honour his father's feelings and to advance the cause
of his heart at the same timegrew specious. He said
that fate or Providence had thrown in his way a woman
who possessed every qualification to be the helpmate of
an agriculturistand was decidedly of a serious turn
of mind. He would not say whether or not she had
attached herself to the sound Low Church School of his
father; but she would probably be open to conviction on
that point; she was a regular church-goer of simple
faith; honest-heartedreceptiveintelligentgraceful
to a degreechaste as a vestalandin personal
appearanceexceptionally beautiful.

Is she of a family such as you would care to marry
into--a lady, in short?asked his startled motherwho
had come softly into the study during the conversation.

She is not what in common parlance is called a lady,
said Angelunflinchinglyfor she is a cottager's
daughter, as I am proud to say. But she IS a lady,
nevertheless--in feeling and nature.

Mercy Chant is of a very good family.


Pooh!--what's the advantage of that, mother?said
Angel quickly. "How is family to avail the wife of a
man who has to rough it as I haveand shall have to
do?"

Mercy is accomplished. And accomplishments have their
charm,returned his motherlooking at him through her
silver spectacles.

As to external accomplishments, what will be the use
of them in the life I am going to lead?--while as to
her reading, I can take that in hand. She'll be apt
pupil enough, as you would say if you knew her. She's
brim full of poetry--actualized poetry, if I may use
the expression. She LIVES what paper-poets only
write.... And she is an unimpeachable Christian, I am
sure; perhaps of the very tribe, genus, and species you
desire to propagate.

O Angel, you are mocking!

Mother, I beg pardon. But as she really does attend
Church almost every Sunday morning, and is a good
Christian girl, I am sure you will tolerate any social
shortcomings for the sake of that quality, and feel
that I may do worse than choose her.Angel waxed
quite earnest on that rather automatic orthodoxy in his
beloved Tess which (never dreaming that it might stand
him in such good stead) he had been prone to slight
when observing it practised by her and the other
milkmaidsbecause of its obvious unreality amid
beliefs essentially naturalistic.

In their sad doubts as to whether their son had himself
any right whatever to the title he claimed for the
unknown young womanMr and Mrs Clare began to feel it
as an advantage not to be overlooked that she at least
was sound in her views; especially as the conjunction
of the pair must have arisen by an act of Providence;
for Angel never would have made orthodoxy a condition
of his choice. They said finally that it was better
not to act in a hurrybut that they would not object
to see her.

Angel therefore refrained from declaring more
particulars now. He felt thatsingle-minded and
self-sacrificing as his parents werethere yet existed
certain latent prejudices of theirsas middle-class
peoplewhich it would require some tact to overcome.
For though legally at liberty to do as he choseand
though their daughter-in-law's qualifications could
make no practical difference to their livesin the
probability of her living far away from themhe wished
for affection's sake not to wound their sentiment in
the most important decision of his life.

He observed his own inconsistencies in dwelling upon
accidents in Tess's life as if they were vital
features. It was for herself that he loved Tess; her
soulher hearther substance--not for her skill in
the dairyher aptness as his scholarand certainly
not for her simple formal faith-professions. Her
unsophisticated open-air existence required no varnish
of conventionality to make it palatable to him. He held


that education had as yet but little affected the beats
of emotion and impulse on which domestic happiness
depends. It was probable thatin the lapse of ages
improved systems of moral and intellectual training
would appreciablyperhaps considerablyelevate the
involuntary and even the unconscious instincts of human
nature; but up to the present day cultureas far as he
could seemight be said to have affected only the
mental epiderm of those lives which had been brought
under its influence. This belief was confirmed by his
experience of womenwhichhaving latterly been
extended from the cultivated middle-class into the
rural communityhad taught him how much less was the
intrinsic difference between the good and wise woman of
one social stratum and the good and wise woman of
another social stratumthan between the good and bad
the wise and the foolishof the same stratum or class.

It was the morning of his departure. His brothers had
already left the Vicarage to proceed on a walking tour
in the northwhence one was to return to his college
and the other to his curacy. Angel might have
accompanied thembut preferred to rejoin his
sweetheart at Talbothays. He would have been an
awkward member of the party; forthough the most
appreciative humanistthe most ideal religionisteven
the best-versed Christologist of the threethere was
alienation in the standing consciousness that his
squareness would not fit the round hole that had been
prepared for him. To neither Felix nor Cuthbert had he
ventured to mention Tess.

His mother made him sandwichesand his father
accompanied himon his own marea little way along
the road. Having fairly well advanced his own affairs
Angel listened in a willing silenceas they jogged on
together through the shady lanesto his father's
account of his parish difficultiesand the coldness of
brother clergymen whom he lovedbecause of his strict
interpretations of the New Testament by the light of
what they deemed a pernicious Calvinistic doctrine.

Pernicious!said Mr Clarewith genial scorn; and he
proceeded to recount experiences which would show the
absurdity of that idea. He told of wondrous
conversions of evil livers of which he had been the
instrumentnot only amongst the poorbut amongst the
rich and well-to-do; and he also candidly admitted many
failures.

As an instance of the latterhe mentioned the case of
a young upstart squire named d'Urbervilleliving some
forty miles offin the neighbourhood of Trantridge.

Not one of the ancient d'Urbervilles of Kingsbere and
other places?asked his son. "That curiously historic
worn-out family with its ghostly legend of the
coach-and-four?"

O no. The original d'Urbervilles decayed and
disappeared sixty or eighty years ago--at least,
I believe so. This seems to be a new family which had
taken the name; for the credit of the former knightly
line I hope they are spurious, I'm sure. But it is odd


to hear you express interest in old families.
I thought you set less store by them even than I.

You misapprehend me, father; you often do,said Angel
with a little impatience. "Politically I am sceptical
as to the virtue of their being old. Some of the wise
even among themselves 'exclaim against their own
succession' as Hamlet puts it; but lyrically
dramaticallyand even historicallyI am tenderly
attached to them."

This distinctionthough by no means a subtle onewas
yet too subtle for Mr Clare the elderand he went on
with the story he had been about to relate; which was
that after the death of the senior so-called
d'Urberville the young man developed the most culpable
passionsthough he had a blind motherwhose condition
should have made him know better. A knowledge of his
career having come to the ears of Mr Clarewhen he was
in that part of the country preaching missionary
sermonshe boldly took occasion to speak to the
delinquent on his spiritual state. Though he was a
strangeroccupying another's pulpithe had felt this
to be his dutyand took for his text the words from St
Luke: "Thou foolthis night thy soul shall be required
of thee!" The young man much resented this directness
of attackand in the war of words which followed when
they met he did not scruple publicly to insult Mr
Clarewithout respect for his gray hairs.

Angel flushed with distress.

Dear father,he said sadlyI wish you would not
expose yourself to such gratuitous pain from
scoundrels!

Pain?said his fatherhis rugged face shining in the
ardour of self-abnegation. "The only pain to me was
pain on his accountpoorfoolish young man. Do you
suppose his incensed words could give me any painor
even his blows? 'Being reviled we bless; being
persecuted we suffer it; being defamed we entreat; we
are made as the filth of the worldand as the
offscouring of all things unto this day.' Those ancient
and noble words to the Corinthians are strictly true at
this present hour."

Not blows, father? He did not proceed to blows?

No, he did not. Though I have borne blows from men in
a mad state of intoxication.

No!A dozen times, my boy. What then? I have saved
them from the guilt of murdering their own flesh and
blood thereby; and they have lived to thank me, and
praise God.

May this young man do the same!said Angel fervently.
But I fear otherwise, from what you say.

We'll hope, nevertheless,said Mr Clare. "And I
continue to pray for himthough on this side of the
grave we shall probably never meet again. Butafter
allone of those poor words of mine may spring up in


his heart as a good seed some day."

Nowas alwaysClare's father was sanguine as a child;
and though the younger could not accept his parent's
narrow dogma he revered his practiceand recognized
the hero under the pietist. Perhaps he revered his
father's practice even more now than everseeing that
in the question of making Tessy his wifehis father
had not once thought of inquiring whether she were well
provided or penniless. The same unworldliness was what
had necessitated Angel's getting a living as a farmer
and would probably keep his brothers in the position of
poor parsons for the term of their activities; yet
Angel admired it none the less. Indeeddespite his
own heterodoxyAngel often felt that he was nearer to
his father on the human side than was either of his
brethren.

XXVII

An up-hill and down-hill ride of twenty-odd miles
through a garish mid-day atmosphere brought him in the
afternoon to a detached knoll a mile or two west of
Talbothayswhence he again looked into that green
trough of sappiness and humiditythe valley of the Var
or Froom. Immediately he began to descend from the
upland to the fat alluvial soil belowthe atmosphere
grew heavier; the languid perfume of the summer fruits
the miststhe haythe flowersformed therein a vast
pool of odour which at this hour seemed to make the
animalsthe very bees and butterflies drowsy. Clare
was now so familiar with the spot that he knew the
individual cows by their names whena long distance
offhe saw them dotted about the meads. It was with a
sense of luxury that he recognized his power of viewing
life here from its inner sidein a way that had been
quite foreign to him in his student-days; andmuch as
he loved his parentshe could not help being aware
that to come hereas nowafter an experience of
home-lifeaffected him like throwing off splints and
bandages; even the one customary curb on the humours of
English rural societies being absent in this place
Talbothays having no resident landlord.

Not a human being was out of doors at the dairy. The
denizens were all enjoying the usual afternoon nap of
an hour or so which the exceedingly early hours kept in
summer-time rendered a necessity. At the door the
wood-hooped pailssodden and bleached by infinite
scrubbingshung like hats on a stand upon the forked
and peeled limb of an oak fixed there for that purpose;
all of them ready and dry for the evening milking.
Angel enteredand went through the silent passages of
the house to the back quarterswhere he listened for a
moment. Sustained snores came from the cart-house
where some of the men were lying down; the grunt and
squeal of sweltering pigs arose from the still further
distance. The large-leaved rhubarb and cabbage plants
slept tootheir broad limp surfaces hanging in the sun
like half-closed umbrellas.


He unbridled and fed his horseand as he re-entered
the house the clock struck three. Three was the
afternoon skimming-hour; andwith the strokeClare
heard the creaking of the floor-boards aboveand then
the touch of a descending foot on the stairs. It was
Tess'swho in another moment came down before his
eyes.

She had not heard him enterand hardly realized his
presence there. She was yawningand he saw the red
interior of her mouth as if it had been a snake's. She
had stretched one arm so high above her coiled-up cable
of hair that he could see its satin delicacy above the
sunburn; her face was flushed with sleepand her
eyelids hung heavy over their pupils. The brim-fulness
of her nature breathed from her. It was a moment when a
woman's soul is more incarnate than at any other time;
when the most spiritual beauty bespeaks itself flesh;
and sex takes the outside place in the presentation.

Then those eyes flashed brightly through their filmy
heavinessbefore the remainder of her face was well
awake. With an oddly compounded look of gladness
shynessand surpriseshe exclaimed--"O Mr Clare!
How you frightened me--I----"

There had not at first been time for her to think of
the changed relations which his declaration had
introduced; but the full sense of the matter rose up in
her face when she encountered Clare's tender look as he
stepped forward to the bottom stair.

Dear, darling Tessy!he whisperedputting his arm
round herand his face to her flushed cheek. "Don't
for Heaven's sakeMister me any more. I have hastened
back so soon because of you!"

Tess's excitable heart beat against his by way of
reply; and there they stood upon the red-brick floor of
the entrythe sun slanting in by the window upon his
backas he held her tightly to his breast; upon her
inclining faceupon the blue veins of her templeupon
her naked armand her neckand into the depths of her
hair. Having been lying down in her clothes she was
warm as a sunned cat. At first she would not look
straight up at himbut her eyes soon liftedand his
plumbed the deepness of the ever-varying pupilswith
their radiating fibrils of blueand blackand gray
and violetwhile she regarded him as Eve at her second
waking might have regarded Adam.

I've got to go a-skimming,she pleadedand I have
on'y old Deb to help me today. Mrs Crick is gone to
market with Mr Crick, and Retty is not well, and the
others are gone out somewhere, and won't be home till
milking.

As they retreated to the milk-house Deborah Fyander
appeared on the stairs.

I have come back, Deborah,said Mr Clareupwards.
So I can help Tess with the skimming; and, as you are
very tired, I am sure, you needn't come down till
milking-time.


Possibly the Talbothays milk was not very thoroughly
skimmed that afternoon. Tess was in a dream wherein
familiar objects appeared as having light and shade and
positionbut no particular outline. Every time she
held the skimmer under the pump to cool it for the work
her hand trembledthe ardour of his affection being so
palpable that she seemed to flinch under it like a
plant in too burning a sun.

Then he pressed her again to his sideand when she had
done running her forefinger round the leads to cut off
the cream-edgehe cleaned it in nature's way; for the
unconstrained manners of Talbothays dairy came
convenient now.

I may as well say it now as later, dearest,he
resumed gently. "I wish to ask you something of a very
practical naturewhich I have been thinking of ever
since that day last week in the meads. I shall soon
want to marryandbeing a farmeryou see I shall
require for my wife a woman who knows all about the
management of farms. Will you be that womanTessy?"

He put it that way that she might not think he had
yielded to an impulse of which his head would
disapprove.

She turned quite careworn. She had bowed to the
inevitable result of proximitythe necessity of loving
him; but she had not calculated upon this sudden
corollarywhichindeedClare had put before her
without quite meaning himself to do it so soon. With
pain that was like the bitterness of dissolution she
murmured the words of her indispensable and sworn
answer as an honourable woman.

O Mr Clare--I cannot be your wife--I cannot be!

The sound of her own decision seemed to break Tess's
very heartand she bowed her face in her grief.

But, Tess!he saidamazed at her replyand holding
her still more greedily close. "Do you say no? Surely
you love me?"

O yes, yes! And I would rather by yours than
anybody's in the world,returned the sweet and honest
voice of the distressed girl. "But I CANNOT marry you!"

Tess,he saidholding her at arm's lengthyou are
engaged to marry some one else!

No, no!

Then why do you refuse me?

I don't want to marry! I have not thought of doing
it. I cannot! I only want to love you.

But why?

Driven to subterfugeshe stammered-



Your father is a parson, and your mother wouldn' like
you to marry such as me. She will want you to marry a
lady.

Nonsense--I have spoken to them both. That was partly
why I went home.

I feel I cannot--never, never!she echoed.

Is it too sudden to be asked thus, my Pretty?

Yes--I did not expect it.

If you will let it pass, please, Tessy, I will give
you time,he said. "It was very abrupt to come home
and speak to you all at once. I'll not allude to it
again for a while."

She again took up the shining skimmerheld it beneath
the pumpand began anew. But she could notas at
other timeshit the exact under-surface of the cream
with the delicate dexterity requiredtry as she might;
sometimes she was cutting down into the milksometimes
in the air. She could hardly seeher eyes having
filled with two blurring tears drawn forth by a grief
whichto this her best friend and dear advocate she
could never explain.

I can't skim--I can't!she saidturning away from
him.

Not to agitate and hinder her longer the considerate
Clare began talking in a more general way:

You quite misapprehend my parents. They are the most
simple-mannered people alive, and quite unambitious.
They are two of the few remaining Evangelical school.
Tessy, are you an Evangelical?

I don't know.

You go to church very regularly, and our parson here
is not very High, they tell me.

Tess's ideas on the views of the parish clergymanwhom
she heard every weekseemed to be rather more vague
than Clare'swho had never heard him at all.

I wish I could fix my mind on what I hear there more
firmly than I do,she remarked as a safe generality.
It is often a great sorrow to me.

She spoke so unaffectedly that Angel was sure in his
heart that his father could not object to her on
religious groundseven though she did not know whether
her principles were HighLow or Broad. He himself
knew thatin realitythe confused beliefs which she
heldapparently imbibed in childhoodwereif
anythingTractarian as to phraseologyand Pantheistic
as to essence. Confused or otherwiseto disturb them
was his last desire:

Leave thou thy sisterwhen she prays
Her early Heavenher happy views;


Nor thou with shadow'd hint confuse
A life that leads melodious days.

He had occasionally thought the counsel less honest
than musical; but he gladly conformed to it now.

He spoke further of the incidents of his visitof his
father's mode of lifeof his zeal for his principles;
she grew serenerand the undulations disappeared from
her skimming; as she finished one lead after another he
followed herand drew the plugs for letting down the
milk.

I fancied you looked a little downcast when you came
in,she ventured to observeanxious to keep away from
the subject of herself.

Yes--well, my father had been talking a good deal to
me of his troubles and difficulties, and the subject
always tends to depress me. He is so zealous that he
gets many snubs and buffetings from people of a
different way of thinking from himself, and I don't
like to hear of such humiliations to a man of his age,
the more particularly as I don't think earnestness does
any good when carried so far. He has been telling me
of a very unpleasant scene in which he took part quite
recently. He went as the deputy of some missionary
society to preach in the neighbourhood of Trantridge, a
place forty miles from here, and made it his business
to expostulate with a lax young cynic he met with
somewhere about there--son of some landowner up that
way--and who has a mother afflicted with blindness. My
father addressed himself to the gentleman point-blank,
and there was quite a disturbance. It was very foolish
of my father, I must say, to intrude his conversation
upon a stranger when the probabilities were so obvious
that it would be useless. But whatever he thinks to be
his duty, that he'll do, in season or out of season;
and, of course, he makes many enemies, not only among
the absolutely vicious, but among the easy-going, who
hate being bothered. He says he glories in what
happened, and that good may be done indirectly; but I
wish he would not wear himself out now he is getting
old, and would leave such pigs to their wallowing.

Tess's look had grown hard and wornand her ripe mouth
tragical; but she no longer showed any tremulousness.
Clare's revived thoughts of his father prevented his
noticing her particularly; and so they went on down the
white row of liquid rectangles till they had finished
and drained them offwhen the other maids returned
and took their pailsand Deb came to scald out the
leads for the new milk. As Tess withdrew to go afield
to the cows he said to her softly-


And my question, Tessy?

O no--no!replied she with grave hopelessnessas one
who had heard anew the turmoil of her own past in the
allusion to Alec d'Urberville. "It CAN'T be!"

She went out towards the meadjoining the other
milkmaids with a boundas if trying to make the open
air drive away her sad constraint. All the girls drew


onward to the spot where the cows were grazing in the
farther meadthe bevy advancing with the bold grace of
wild animals--the reckless unchastened motion of women
accustomed to unlimited space--in which they abandoned
themselves to the air as a swimmer to the wave. It
seemed natural enough to him now that Tess was again in
sight to choose a mate from unconstrained Natureand
not from the abodes of Art.


XXVIII


Her refusalthough unexpecteddid not permanently
daunt Clare. His experience of women was great enough
for him to be aware that the negative often meant
nothing more than the preface to the affirmative; and
it was little enough for him not to know that in the
manner of the present negative there lay a great
exception to the dallyings of coyness. That she had
already permitted him to make love to her he read as an
additional assurancenot fully trowing that in the
fields and pastures to "sigh gratis" is by no means
deemed waste; love-making being here more often
accepted inconsiderately and for its own sweet sake
than in the carking anxious homes of the ambitious
where a girl's craving for an establishment paralyzes
her healthy thought of a passion as an end.


Tess, why did you say 'no' in such a positive way?
he asked her in the course of a few days.


She started.


Don't ask me. I told you why--partly. I am not good
enough--not worthy enough.


How? Not fine lady enough?


Yes--something like that,murmured she. "Your
friends would scorn me."


Indeed, you mistake them--my father and mother.
As for my brothers, I don't care----He clasped his
fingers behind her back to keep her from slipping away.
Now--you did not mean it, sweet?--I am sure you did
not! You have made me so restless that I cannot read,
or play, or do anything. I am in no hurry, Tess, but I
want to know--to hear from your own warm lips--that you
will some day be mine--any time you may choose; but
some day?


She could only shake her head and look away from him.


Clare regarded her attentivelyconned the characters
of her face as if they had been hieroglyphics. The
denial seemed real.


Then I ought not to hold you in this way--ought I?
I have no right to you--no right to seek out where you
are, or walk with you! Honestly, Tess, do you love any
other man?



How can you ask?she saidwith continued self-suppression.

I almost know that you do not. But then, why do you
repulse me?

I don't repulse you. I like you to--tell me you love
me; and you may always tell me so as you go about with
me--and never offend me.

But you will not accept me as a husband?

Ah--that's different--it is for your good, indeed, my
dearest! O, believe me, it is only for your sake!
I don't like to give myself the great happiness o'
promising to be yours in that way--because--because I
am SURE I ought not to do it.

But you will make me happy!

Ah--you think so, but you don't know!

At such times as thisapprehending the grounds of her
refusal to be her modest sense of incompetence in
matters social and politehe would say that she was
wonderfully well-informed and versatile--which was
certainly trueher natural quicknessand her
admiration for himhaving led her to pick up his
vocabularyhis accentand fragments of his knowledge
to a surprising extent. After these tender contests
and her victory she would go away by herself under the
remotest cowif at milking-timeor into the sedgeor
into her roomif at a leisure intervaland mourn
silentlynot a minute after an apparently phlegmatic
negative.

The struggle was so fearful; her own heart was so
strongly on the side of his--two ardent hearts against
one poor little conscience--that she tried to fortify
her resolution by every means in her power. She had
come to Talbothays with a made-up mind. On no account
could she agree to a step which might afterwards cause
bitter rueing to her husband for his blindness in
wedding her. And she held that what her conscience had
decided for her when her mind was unbiassed ought not
to be overruled now.

Why don't somebody tell him all about me?she said.
It was only forty miles off--why hasn't it reached
here? Somebody must know!

Yet nobody seemed to know; nobody told him.

For two or three days no more was said. She guessed
from the sad countenances of her chamber companions
that they regarded her not only as the favouritebut
as the chosen; but they could see for themselves that
she did not put herself in his way.

Tess had never before known a time in which the thread
of her life was so distinctly twisted of two strands
positive pleasure and positive pain. At the next
cheese-making the pair were again left alone together.
The dairyman himself had been lending a hand; but Mr
Crickas well as his wifeseemed latterly to have


acquired a suspicion of mutual interest between these
two; though they walked so circumspectly that suspicion
was but of the faintest. Anyhowthe dairyman left them
to themselves.

They were breaking up the masses of curd before putting
them into the vats. The operation resembled the act of
crumbling bread on a large scale; and amid the
immaculate whiteness of the curds Tess Durbeyfield's
hands showed themselves of the pinkness of the rose.
Angelwho was filling the vats with his handful
suddenly ceasedand laid his hands flat upon hers.
Her sleeves were rolled far above the elbowand
bending lower he kissed the inside vein of her soft arm.

Although the early September weather was sultryher
armfrom her dabbling in the curdswas as cold and
damp to his mouth as a new-gathered mushroomand
tasted of the whey. But she was such a sheaf of
susceptibilities that her pulse was accelerated by the
touchher blood driven to her finder-endsand the
cool arms flushed hot. Thenas though her heart had
saidIs coyness longer necessary? Truth is truth
between man and woman, as between man and man,she
lifted her eyes and they beamed devotedly into hisas
her lip rose in a tender half-smile.

Do you know why I did that, Tess?he said.

Because you love me very much!

Yes, and as a preliminary to a new entreaty.

Not AGAIN!

She looked a sudden fear that her resistance might
break down under her own desire.

O, Tessy!he went onI CANNOT think why you are so
tantalizing. Why do you disappoint me so? You seem
almost like a coquette, upon my life you do--a coquette
of the first urban water! They blow hot and blow cold,
just as you do, and it is the very last sort of thing
to expect to find in a retreat like Talbothays. ... And
yet, dearest,he quickly addedobserving now the
remark had cut herI know you to be the most honest,
spotless creature that ever lived. So how can I
suppose you a flirt? Tess, why don't you like the idea
of being my wife, if you love me as you seem to do?

I have never said I don't like the idea, and I never
could say it; because--it isn't true!

The stress now getting beyond endurance her lip
quiveredand she was obliged to go away. Clare was so
pained and perplexed that he ran after and caught her
in the passage.

Tell me, tell me!he saidpassionately clasping her
in forgetfulness of his curdy hands: "do tell me that
you won't belong to anybody but me!"

I will, I will tell you!she exclaimed. "And I will
give you a complete answerif you will let me go now.


I will tell you my experiences--all about myself--all!"

Your experiences, dear; yes, certainly; and number.
He expressed assent in loving satirelooking into her
face. "My Tessno doubtalmost as many experiences as
that wild convolvulus out there on the garden hedge
that opened itself this morning for the first time.
Tell me anythingbut don't use that wretched
expression any more about not being worthy of me."

I will try--not! And I'll give you my reasons
tomorrow--next week.

Say on Sunday?

Yes, on Sunday.

At last she got awayand did not stop in her retreat
till she was in the thicket of pollard willows at the
lower side of the bartonwhere she could be quite
unseen. Here Tess flung herself down upon the rustling
undergrowth of spear-grassas upon a bedand
remained crouching in palpitating misery broken by
momentary shoots of joywhich her fears about the
ending could not altogether suppress.

In realityshe was drifting into acquiescence. Every
see-saw of her breathevery wave of her bloodevery
pulse singing in her earswas a voice that joined with
nature in revolt against her scrupulousness. Reckless
inconsiderate acceptance of him; to close with him at
the altarrevealing nothingand chancing discovery;
to snatch ripe pleasure before the iron teeth of pain
could have time to shut upon her: that was what love
counselled; and in almost a terror of ecstasy Tess
divined thatdespite her many months of lonely
self-chastisementwrestlingscommuningsschemes to
lead a future of austere isolationlove's counsel
would prevail.

The afternoon advancedand still she remained among
the willows. She heard the rattle of taking down the
pails from the forked stands; the "waow-waow!" which
accompanied the getting together of the cows. But she
did not go to the milking. They would see her
agitation; and the dairymanthinking the cause to be
love alonewould good-naturedly tease her; and that
harassment could not be borne.

Her lover must have guessed her overwrought stateand
invented some excuse for her non-appearancefor no
inquiries were made or calls given. At half-past six
the sun settled down upon the levelswith the aspect
of a great forge in the heavens; and presently a
monstrous pumpkin-like moon arose on the other hand.
The pollard willowstortured out of their natural
shape by incessant choppingsbecame spiny-haired
monsters as they stood up against it. She went in
and upstairs without a light.

It was now Wednesday. Thursday cameand Angel looked
thoughtfully at her from a distancebut intruded in no
way upon her. The indoor milkmaidsMarian and the
restseemed to guess that something definite was


afootfor they did not force any remarks upon her in
the bedchamber. Friday passed; Saturday. Tomorrow was
the day.


I shall give way--I shall say yes--I shall let myself
marry him--I cannot help it!she jealously panted
with her hot face to the pillow that nighton hearing
one of the other girls sigh his name in her sleep.
I can't bear to let anybody have him but me! Yet it is a
wrong to him, and may kill him when he knows! O my
heart--O--O--O!


XXIX


Now, who mid ye think I've heard news o' this
morning?said Dairyman Crickas he sat down to
breakfast next daywith a riddling gaze round upon the
munching men and maids. "Nowjust who mid ye think?"


One guessedand another guessed. Mrs Crick did not
guessbecause she knew already.


Well,said the dairyman'tis that slack-twisted
'hore's-bird of a feller, Jack Dollop. He's lately
got married to a widow-woman.


Not Jack Dollop? A villain--to think o' that!said a
milker.


The name entered quickly into Tess Durbeyfield's
consciousnessfor it was the name of the lover who had
wronged his sweetheartand had afterwards been so
roughly used by the young woman's mother in the
butter-churn.


And had he married the valiant matron's daughter, as
he promised?asked Angel Clare absentlyas he turned
over the newspaper he was reading at the little table
to which he was always banished by Mrs Crickin her
sense of his gentility.


Not he, sir. Never meant to,replied the dairyman.
As I say, 'tis a widow-woman, and she had money, it
seems--fifty poun' a year or so; and that was all he
was after. They were married in a great hurry; and
then she told him that by marrying she had lost her
fifty poun' a year. Just fancy the state o' my
gentleman's mind at that news! Never such a cat-
and-dog life as they've been leading ever since! Serve
him will beright. But onluckily the poor woman gets
the worst o't.


Well, the silly body should have told en sooner that
the ghost of her first man would trouble him,said Mrs
Crick.


Ay; ay,responded the dairyman indecisively.
Still, you can see exactly how 'twas. She wanted a home,
and didn't like to run the risk of losing him. Don't ye
think that was something like it, maidens?



He glanced towards the row of girls.

She ought to ha' told him just before they went to
church, when he could hardly have backed out,
exclaimed Marian.

Yes, she ought,agreed Izz.

She must have seen what he was after, and should ha'
refused him,cried Retty spasmodically.

And what do you say, my dear?asked the dairyman of
Tess.

I think she ought--to have told him the true state of
things--or else refused him--I don't know,replied
Tessthe bread-and-butter choking her.

Be cust if I'd have done either o't,said Beck
Knibbsa married helper from one of the cottages.
All's fair in love and war. I'd ha' married en just
as she did, and if he'd said two words to me about not
telling him beforehand anything whatsomdever about my
first chap that I hadn't chose to tell, I'd ha' knocked
him down wi' the rolling-pin--a scram little feller
like he! Any woman could do it.

The laughter which followed this sally was supplemented
only by a sorry smilefor form's sakefrom Tess.
What was comedy to them was tragedy to her; and she
could hardly bear their mirth. She soon rose from
tableandwith an impression that Clare would soon
follow herwent along a little wriggling pathnow
stepping to one side of the irrigating channelsand
now to the othertill she stood by the main stream of
the Var. Men had been cutting the water-weeds higher
up the riverand masses of them were floating past
her--moving islands of green crow-footwhereon she
might almost have ridden; long locks of which weed had
lodged against the piles driven to keep the cows from
crossing.

Yesthere was the pain of it. This question of a
woman telling her story--the heaviest of crosses to
herself--seemed but amusement to others. It was as if
people should laugh at martyrdom.

Tessy!came from behind herand Clare sprang across
the gullyalighting beside her feet. "My wife--soon!"

No, no; I cannot. For your sake, O Mr Clare; for your
sake, I say no!

Tess!

Still I say no!she repeated.

Not expecting this he had put his arm lightly round her
waist the moment after speakingbeneath her hanging
tail of hair. (The younger dairymaidsincluding Tess
breakfasted with their hair loose on Sunday mornings
before building it up extra high for attending church
a style they could not adopt when milking with their
heads against the cows.) If she had said "Yes" instead


of "No" he would have kissed her; it had evidently been
his intention; but her determined negative deterred his
scrupulous heart. Their condition of domiciliary
comradeship put heras the womanto such disadvantage
by its enforced intercoursethat he felt it unfair to
her to exercise any pressure of blandishment which he
might have honestly employed had she been better able
to avoid him. He release her momentarily-imprisoned
waistand withheld the kiss.

It all turned on that release. What had given her
strength to refuse him this time was solely the tale of
the widow told by the dairyman; and that would have
been overcome in another moment. But Angel said no
more; his face was perplexed; he went away.

Day after day they met--somewhat less constantly than
before; and thus two or three weeks went by. The end
of September drew nearand she could see in his eye
that he might ask her again.

His plan of procedure was different now--as though he
had made up his mind that her negatives wereafter
allonly coyness and youth startled by the novelty of
the proposal. The fitful evasiveness of her manner when
the subject was under discussion countenanced the idea.
So he played a more coaxing game; and while never going
beyond wordsor attempting the renewal of caresseshe
did his utmost orally.

In this way Clare persistently wooed her in undertones
like that of the purling milk--at the cow's sideat
skimmingsat butter-makingsat cheese-makingsamong
broody poultryand among farrowing pigs--as no
milkmaid was ever wooed before by such a man.

Tess knew that she must break down. Neither a
religious sense of a certain moral validity in the
previous union nor a conscientious wish for candour
could hold out against it much longer. She loved him
so passionatelyand he was so godlike in her eyes; and
beingthough untrainedinstinctively refinedher
nature cried for his tutelary guidance. And thus
though Tess kept repeating to herselfI can never be
his wife,the words were vain. A proof of her
weakness lay in the very utterance of what calm
strength would not have taken the trouble to formulate.
Every sound of his voice beginning on the old subject
stirred her with a terrifying blissand she coveted
the recantation she feared.

His manner was--what man's is not?--so much that of one
who would love and cherish and defend her under any
conditionschangeschargesor revelationsthat her
gloom lessened as she basked in it. The season
meanwhile was drawing onward to the equinoxand though
it was still finethe days were much shorter. The
dairy had again worked by morning candlelight for a
long time; and a fresh renewal of Clare's pleading
occurred one morning between three and four.

She had run up in her bedgown to his door to call him
as usual; then had gone back to dress and call the
others; and in ten minutes was walking to the head of


the stairs with the candle in her hand. At the same
moment he came down his steps from above in his
shirt-sleeves and put his arm across the stairway.

Now, Miss Flirt, before you go down,he said
peremptorily. "It is a fortnight since I spokeand
this won't do any longer. You MUST tell me what you
meanor I shall have to leave this house. My door was
ajar just nowand I saw you. For your own safety I
must go. You don't know. Well? Is it to be yes at
last?"

I am only just up, Mr Clare, and it is too early to
take me to task!she pouted. "You need not call me
Flirt. 'Tis cruel and untrue. Wait till by and by.
Please wait till by and by! I will really think
seriously about it between now and then. Let me go
downstairs!"

She looked a little like what he said she was as
holding the candle sidewaysshe tried to smile away
the seriousness of her words.

Call me Angel, then and not Mr Clare.

Angel.

Angel dearest--why not?

'Twould mean that I agree, wouldn't it?It would
only mean that you love me, even if you cannot marry
me; and you were so good as to own that long ago.

Very well, then, 'Angel dearest', if I MUST,she
murmuredlooking at her candlea roguish curl coming
upon her mouthnotwithstanding her suspense.

Clare had resolved never to kiss her until he had
obtained her promise; but somehowas Tess stood there
in her prettily tucked-up milking gownher hair
carelessly heaped upon her head till there should be
leisure to arrange it when skimming and milking were
donehe broke his resolveand brought his lips to her
cheek for one moment. She passed downstairs very
quicklynever looking back at him or saying another
word. The other maids were already downand the
subject was not pursued. Except Marianthey all
looked wistfully and suspiciously at the pairin the
sad yellow rays which the morning candles emitted in
contrast with the first cold signals of the dawn
without.

When skimming was done--whichas the milk diminished
with the approach of autumnwas a lessening process
day by day--Retty and the rest went out. The lovers
followed them.

Our tremulous lives are so different from theirs, are
they not?he musingly observed to heras he regarded
the three figures tripping before him through the
frigid pallor of opening day.

Not so very different, I think,she said.


Why do you think that?

There are very few women's lives that are
not--tremulous,Tess repliedpausing over the new
word as if it impressed her. "There's more in those
three than you think."

What is in them?

Almost either of 'em,she beganwould make--perhaps
would make--a properer wife than I. And perhaps they
love you as well as I--almost.

O, Tessy!

There were signs that it was an exquisite relief to her
to hear the impatient exclamationthough she had
resolved so intrepidly to let generosity make one bid
against herself. That was now doneand she had not the
power to attempt self-immolation a second time then.
They were joined by a milker from one of the cottages
and no more was said on that which concerned them so
deeply. But Tess knew that this day would decide it.

In the afternoon several of the dairyman's household
and assistants went down to the meads as usuala long
way from the dairywhere many of the cows were milked
without being driven home. The supply was getting less
as the animals advanced in calfand the supernumerary
milkers of the lush green season had been dismissed.

The work progressed leisurely. Each pailful was poured
into tall cans that stood in a large spring-waggon
which had been brought upon the scene; and when they
were milked the cows trailed away. Dairyman Crickwho
was there with the resthis wrapper gleaming
miraculously white against a leaden evening sky
suddenly looked at his heavy watch.

Why, 'tis later than I thought,he said. "Begad! We
shan't be soon enough with this milk at the stationif
we don't mind. There's no time today to take it home
and mix it with the bulk afore sending off. It must go
to station straight from here. Who'll drive it
across?"

Mr Clare volunteered to do sothough it was none of
his businessasking Tess to accompany him. The
eveningthough sunlesshad been warm and muggy for
the seasonand Tess had come out with her milking-hood
onlynaked-armed and jacketless; certainly not dressed
for a drive. She therefore replied by glancing over
her scant habiliments; but Clare gently urged her. She
assented by relinquishing her pail and stool to the
dairyman to take home; and mounted the spring-waggon
beside Clare.

In the diminishing daylight they went along the level
roadway through the meadswhich stretched away into


gray milesand were backed in the extreme edge of
distance by the swarthy and abrupt slopes of Egdon
Heath. On its summit stood clumps and stretches of
fir-treeswhose notched tips appeared like
battlemented towers crowning black-fronted castles of
enchantment.

They were so absorbed in the sense of being close to
each other that they did not begin talking for a long
whilethe silence being broken only by the clucking of
the milk in the tall cans behind them. The lane they
followed was so solitary that the hazel nuts had
remained on the boughs till they slipped from their
shellsand the blackberries hung in heavy clusters.
Every now and then Angel would fling the lash of his
whip round one of thesepluck it offand give it to
his companion.

The dull sky soon began to tell its meaning by sending
down herald-drops of rainand the stagnant air of the
day changed into a fitful breeze which played about
their faces. The quick-silvery glaze on the rivers and
pools vanished; from broad mirrors of light they
changed to lustreless sheets of leadwith a surface
like a rasp. But that spectacle did not affect her
preoccupation. Her countenancea natural carnation
slightly embrowned by the seasonhad deepened its
tinge with the beating of the rain-drops; and her hair
which the pressure of the cows' flanks hadas usual
caused to tumble down from its fastenings and stray
beyond the curtain of her calico bonnetwas made
clammy by the moisturetill it hardly was better than
seaweed.

I ought not to have come, I suppose,she murmured
looking at the sky.

I am sorry for the rain,said he. "But how glad I am
to have you here!"

Remote Egdon disappeared by degree behind the liquid
gauze. The evening grew darkerand the roads being
crossed by gates it was not safe to drive faster than
at a walking pace. The air was rather chill.

I am so afraid you will get cold, with nothing upon
your arms and shoulders,he said. "Creep close to me
and perhaps the drizzle won't hurt you much. I should
be sorrier still if I did not think that the rain might
be helping me."

She imperceptibly crept closerand he wrapped round
them both a large piece of sail-clothwhich was
sometimes used to keep the sun off the milk-cans.
Tess held it from slipping off him as well as herself
Clare's hands being occupied.

Now we are all right again. Ah--no we are not! It
runs down into my neck a little, and it must still more
into yours. That's better. Your arms are like wet
marble, Tess. Wipe them in the cloth. Now, if you
stay quiet, you will not get another drop. Well,
dear--about that question of mine--that long-standing
question?


The only reply that he could hear for a little while
was the smack of the horse's hoofs on the moistening
roadand the cluck of the milk in the cans behind
them.

Do you remember what you said?

I do,she replied.

Before we get home, mind.

I'll try.

He said no more then. As they drove on the fragment of
an old manor house of Caroline date rose against the
skyand was in due course passed and left behind.

That,he observedto entertain heris an
interesting old place--one of the several seats which
belonged to an ancient Norman family formerly of great
influence in this county, the d'Urbervilles. I never
pass one of their residences without thinking of them.
There is something very sad in the extinction of a
family of renown, even if it was fierce, domineering,
feudal renown.

Yes,said Tess.

They crept along towards a point in the expanse of
shade just at hand at which a feeble light was
beginning to assert its presencea spot whereby day
a fitful white streak of steam at intervals upon the
dark green background denoted intermittent moments of
contact between their secluded world and modern life.
Modern life stretched out its steam feeler to this
point three or four times a daytouched the native
existencesand quickly withdrew its feeler againas
if what it touched had been uncongenial.

They reached the feeble lightwhich came from the
smoky lamp of a little railway station; a poor enough
terrestrial staryet in one sense of more importance
to Talbothays Dairy and mankind than the celestial ones
to which it stood in such humiliating contrast. The
cans of new milk were unladen in the rainTess getting
a little shelter from a neighbouring holly tree.

Then there was the hissing of a trainwhich drew up
almost silently upon the wet railsand the milk was
rapidly swung can by can into the truck. The light of
the engine flashed for a second upon Tess Durbeyfield's
figuremotionless under the great holly tree. No
object could have looked more foreign to the gleaming
cranks and wheels than this unsophisticated girlwith
the round bare armsthe rainy face and hairthe
suspended attitude of a friendly leopard at pausethe
print gown of no date or fashionand the cotton bonnet
drooping on her brow.

She mounted again beside her loverwith a mute
obedience characteristic of impassioned natures at
timesand when they had wrapped themselves up over
head and ears in the sailcloth againthey plunged back


into the now thick night. Tess was so receptive that
the few minutes of contact with the whirl of material
progress lingered in her thought.

Londoners will drink it at their breakfasts tomorrow,
won't they?she asked. "Strange people that we have
never seen."

Yes--I suppose they will. Though not as we send it.
When its strength has been lowered, so that it may not
get up into their heads.

Noble men and noble women, ambassadors and centurions,
ladies and tradeswomen, and babies who have never seen
a cow.

Well, yes; perhaps; particularly centurions.

Who don't know anything of us, and where it comes
from; or think how we two drove miles across the moor
tonight in the rain that it might reach 'em in time?

We did not drive entirely on account of these precious
Londoners; we drove a little on our own--on account of
that anxious matter which you will, I am sure, set at
rest, dear Tess. Now, permit me to put it in this way.
You belong to me already, you know; your heart, I mean.
Does it not?

You know as well as I. O yes--yes!

Then, if your heart does, why not your hand?

My only reason was on account of you--on account of a
question. I have something to tell you----

But suppose it to be entirely for my happiness, and my
worldly convenience also?

O yes; if it is for your happiness and worldly
convenience. But my life before I came here--I
want----

Well, it is for my convenience as well as my
happiness. If I have a very large farm, either English
or colonial, you will be invaluable as a wife to me;
better than a woman out of the largest mansion in the
country. So please--please, dear Tessy, disabuse your
mind of the feeling that you will stand in my way.

But my history. I want you to know it--you must let
me tell you--you will not like me so well!

Tell it if you wish to, dearest. This precious
history then. Yes, I was born at so and so, Anno
Domini----

I was born at Marlott,she saidcatching at his
words as a helplightly as they were spoken. "And I
grew up there. And I was in the Sixth Standard when I
left schooland they said I had great aptnessand
should make a good teacherso it was settled that I
should be one. But there was trouble in my family;
father was not very industriousand he drank a


little."

Yes, yes. Poor child! Nothing new.He pressed her
more closely to his side.

And then--there is something very unusual about
it--about me. I--I was----

Tess's breath quickened.

Yes, dearest. Never mind.

I--I--am not a Durbeyfield, but a d'Urberville--a
descendant of the same family as those that owned the
old house we passed. And--we are all gone to nothing!
A d'Urberville!--Indeed! And is that all the trouble,
dear Tess?

Yes,she answered faintly.

Well--why should I love you less after knowing this?

I was told by the dairyman that you hated old
families.

He laughed.

Well, it is true, in one sense. I do hate the
aristocratic principle of blood before everything, and
do think that as reasoners the only pedigrees we ought
to respect are those spiritual ones of the wise and
virtuous, without regard to corporal paternity. But I
am extremely interested in this news--you can have no
idea how interested I am! Are you not interested
yourself in being one of that well-known line?

No. I have thought it sad--especially since coming
here, and knowing that many of the hills and fields I
see once belonged to my father's people. But other
hills and field belonged to Retty's people, and perhaps
others to Marian's, so that I don't value it
particularly.

Yes--it is surprising how many of the present tillers
of the soil were once owners of it, and I sometimes
wonder that a certain school of politicians don't make
capital of the circumstance; but they don't seem to
know it.... I wonder that I did not see the resemblance
of your name of d'Urberville, and trace the manifest
corruption. And this was the carking secret!

She had not told. At the last moment her courage had
failed hershe feared his blame for not telling him
sooner; and her instinct of self-preservation was
stronger than her candour.

Of course,continued the unwitting ClareI should
have been glad to know you to be descended exclusively
from the long-suffering, dumb, unrecorded rank and file
of the English nation, and not from the self-seeking
few who made themselves powerful at the expense of the
rest. But I am corrupted away from that by my
affection for you, Tess (he laughed as he spoke), and
made selfish likewise. For your own sake I rejoice in


your descent. Society is hopelessly snobbish, and this
fact of your extraction may make an appreciable
difference to its acceptance of you as my wife, after I
have made you the well-read woman that I mean to make
you. My mother too, poor soul, will think so much
better of you on account of it. Tess, you must spell
your name correctly--d'Urberville--from this very day.

I like the other way rather best.

But you MUST, dearest! Good heavens, why dozens of
mushroom millionaires would jump at such a possession!
By the bye, there's one of that kidney who has taken
the name--where have I heard of him?--Up in the
neighbourhood of The Chase, I think. Why, he is the
very man who had that rumpus with my father I told you
of. What an odd coincidence!

Angel, I think I would rather not take the name!
It is unlucky, perhaps!

She was agitated.

Now then, Mistress Teresa d'Urberville, I have you.
Take my name, and so you will escape yours! The secret
is out, so why should you any longer refuse me?

If it is SURE to make you happy to have me as your
wife, and you feel that you do wish to marry me, VERY,
VERY much--

I do, dearest, of course!

I mean, that it is only your wanting me very much, and
being hardly able to keep alive without me, whatever my
offences, that would make me feel I ought to say I
will.

You will--you do say it, I know! You will be mine for
ever and ever.

He clasped her close and kissed her.

Yes!

She had no sooner said it than she burst into a dry
hard sobbingso violent that it seemed to rend her.
Tess was not a hysterical girl by any meansand he was
surprised.

Why do you cry, dearest?

I can't tell--quite!--I am so glad to think--of being
yours, and making you happy!

But this does not seem very much like gladness, my
Tessy!

I mean--I cry because I have broken down in my vow!
I said I would die unmarried!

But, if you love me you would like me to be your
husband?


Yes, yes, yes! But O, I sometimes wish I had never
been born!

Now, my dear Tess, if I did not know that you are very
much excited, and very inexperienced, I should say that
remark was not very complimentary. How came you to
wish that if you care for me? Do you care for me? I
wish you would prove it in some way.

How can I prove it more than I have done?she cried
in a distraction of tenderness. "Will this prove it
more?"

She clasped his neckand for the first time Clare
learnt what an impassioned woman's kisses were like
upon the lips of one whom she loved with all her heart
and soulas Tess loved him.

There--now do you believe?she askedflushedand
wiping her eyes.

Yes. I never really doubted--never, never!

So they drove on through the gloomforming one bundle
inside the sail-cloththe horse going as he wouldand
the rain driving against them. She had consented. She
might as well have agreed at first. The "appetite for
joy" which pervades all creationthat tremendous force
which sways humanity to its purposeas the tide sways
the helpless weedwas not to be controlled by vague
lucubrations over the social rubric.

I must write to my mother,she said. "You don't mind
my doing that?"

Of course not, dear child. You are a child to me,
Tess, not to know how very proper it is to write to
your mother at such a time, and how wrong it would be
in me to object. Where does she live?

At the same place--Marlott. On the further side of
Blackmoor Vale.

Ah, then I HAVE seen you before this summer----

Yes; at that dance on the green; but you would not
dance with me. O, I hope that is of no ill-omen for us
now!

Tess wrote a most touching and urgent letter to her
mother the very next dayand by the end of the week a
response to her communication arrive in Joan
Durbeyfield's wandering last-century hand.

DEAR TESS--J write these few lines Hoping they will
find you wellas they leave me at Presentthank God
for it. Dear Tesswe are all glad to Hear that you
are going really to be married soon. But with respect


to your questionTessJ say between ourselvesquite
private but very strongthat on no account do you say
a word of your Bygone Trouble to him. J did not tell
everything to your Fatherhe being so Proud on account
of his Respectabilitywhichperhapsyour Intended is
the same. Many a woman--some of the Highest in the
Land--have had a Trouble in their time; and why should
you Trumpet yours when others don't Trumpet theirs? No
girl would be such a Foolspecially as it is so long
agoand not your Fault at all. J shall answer the
same if you ask me fifty times. Besidesyou must bear
in mind thatknowing it to be your Childish Nature to
tell all that's in your heart--so simple!--J made you
promise me never to let it out by Word or Deedhaving
your Welfare in my Mind; and you most solemnly did
promise it going from this Door. J have not named
either that Question or your coming marriage to your
Fatheras he would blab it everywherepoor Simple
Man.

Dear Tesskeep up your Spiritsand we mean to send
you a Hogshead of Cyder for you Weddingknowing there
is not much in your partsand thin Sour Stuff what
there is. So no more at presentand with kind love to
your Young Man.---From your affectte. Mother.

J. DURBEYFIELD
O mother, mother!murmured Tess.

She was recognizing how light was the touch of events
the most oppressive upon Mrs Durbeyfield's elastic
spirit. Her mother did not see life as Tess saw it.
That haunting episode of bygone days was to her mother
but a passing accident. But perhaps her mother was
right as to the course to be followedwhatever she
might be in her reasons. Silence seemedon the face of
itbest for her adored one's happiness: silence it
should be.

Thus steadied by a command from the only person in the
world who had any shadow of right to control her
actionTess grew calmer. The responsibility was
shiftedand her heart was lighter than it had been for
weeks. The days of declining autumn which followed her
assentbeginning with the month of Octoberformed a
season through which she lived in spiritual altitudes
more nearly approaching ecstasy than any other period
of her life.

There was hardly a touch of earth in her love for
Clare. To her sublime trustfulness he was all that
goodness could be--knew all that a guidephilosopher
and friend should know. She thought every line in the
contour of his person the perfection of masculine
beautyhis soul the soul of a sainthis intellect
that of a seer. The wisdom of her love for himas
lovesustained her dignity; she seemed to be wearing a
crown. The compassion of his love for heras she saw
itmade her lift up her heart to him in devotion. He
would sometimes catch her largeworshipful eyesthat
had no bottom to them looking at him from their depths
as if she saw something immortal before her.


She dismissed the past--trod upon it and put it outas
one treads on a coal that is smouldering and dangerous.

She had not known that men could be so disinterested
chivalrousprotectivein their love for women as he.
Angel Clare was far from all that she thought him in
this respect; absurdly farindeed; but he wasin
truthmore spiritual than animal; he had himself well
in handand was singularly free from grossness.
Though not cold-naturedhe was rather bright than
hot--less Byronic than Shelleyan; could love
desperatelybut with a love more especially inclined
to the imaginative and ethereal; it was a fastidious
emotion which could jealously guard the loved one
against his very self. This amazed and enraptured Tess
whose slight experiences had been so infelicitous till
now; and in her reaction from indignation against the
male sex she swerved to excess of honour for Clare.

They unaffectedly sought each other's company; in her
honest faith she did not disguise her desire to be with
him. The sum of her instincts on this matterif
clearly statedwould have been that the elusive
quality of her sex which attracts men in general might
be distasteful to so perfect a man after an avowal of
lovesince it must in its very nature carry with it a
suspicion of art.

The country custom of unreserved comradeship out of
doors during betrothal was the only custom she knew
and to her it had no strangeness; though it seemed
oddly anticipative to Clare till he saw how normal a
thing shein common with all the other dairy-folk
regarded it. Thusduring this October month of
wonderful afternoons they roved along the meads by
creeping paths which followed the brinks of trickling
tributary brookshopping across by little wooden
bridges to the other sideand back again. They were
never out of the sound of some purling weirwhose buzz
accompanied their own murmuringwhile the beams of the
sunalmost as horizontal as the mead itselfformed a
pollen of radiance over the landscape. They saw tiny
blue fogs in the shadows of trees and hedgesall the
time that there was bright sunshine elsewhere. The sun
was so near the groundand the sward so flatthat the
shadows of Clare and Tess would stretch a quarter of a
mile ahead of themlike two long fingers pointing afar
to where the green alluvial reaches abutted against the
sloping sides of the vale.

Men were at work here and there--for it was the season
for "taking up" the meadowsor digging the little
waterways clear for the winter irrigationand mending
their banks where trodden down by the cows. The
shovelfuls of loamblack as jetbrought there by the
river when it was as wide as the whole valleywere an
essence of soilspounded campaigns of the past
steepedrefinedand subtilized to extraordinary
richnessout of which came all the fertility of the
meadand of the cattle grazing there.

Clare hardily kept his arm round her waist in sight of
these watermenwith the air of a man who was


accustomed to public dalliancethough actually as shy
as she whowith lips parted and eyes askance on the
labourerswore the look of a wary animal the while.

You are not ashamed of owning me as yours before
them!she said gladly.

O no!

But if it should reach the ears of your friends at
Emminster that you are walking about like this with me,
a milkmaid----

The most bewitching milkmaid every seen.

They might feel it a hurt to their dignity.

My dear girl--a d'Urberville hurt the dignity of a
Clare!It is a grand card to play--that of your
belonging to such a familyand I am reserving it for a
grand effect when we are marriedand have the proofs
of your descent from Parson Tringham. Apart from that
my future is to be totally foreign to my family--it
will not affect even the surface of their lives. We
shall leave this part of England--perhaps England
itself--and what does it matter how people regard us
here? You will like goingwill you not?"

She could answer no more than a bare affirmativeso
great was the emotion aroused in her at the thought of
going through the world with him as his own familiar
friend. Her feelings almost filled her ears like a
babble of wavesand surged up to her eyes. She put
her hand in hisand thus they went onto a place
where the reflected sun glared up from the riverunder
a bridgewith a molten-metallic glow that dazzled
their eyesthough the sun itself was hidden by the
bridge. They stood stillwhereupon little furred and
feathered heads popped up from the smooth surface of
the water; butfinding that the disturbing presences
had pausedand not passed bythey disappeared again.
Upon this river-brink they lingered till the fog began
to close round them--which was very early in the
evening at this time of the year--settling on the
lashes of her eyeswhere it rested like crystalsand
on his brows and hair.

They walked later on Sundayswhen it was quite dark.
Some of the dairy-peoplewho were also out of doors on
the first Sunday evening after their engagementheard
her impulsive speechesecstasized to fragmentsthough
they were too far off to hear the words discoursed;
noted the spasmodic catch in her remarksbroken into
syllables by the leapings of her heartas she walked
leaning on his arm; her contented pausesthe
occasional little laugh upon which her soul seemed to
ride--the laugh of a woman in company with the man she
loves and has won from all other women--unlike anything
else in nature. They marked the buoyancy of her tread
like the skim of a bird which had not quite alighted.

Her affection for him was now the breath and life of
Tess's being; it enveloped her as a photosphere
irradiated her into forgetfulness of her past sorrows


keeping back the gloomy spectres that would persist in
their attempts to touch her--doubtfearmoodiness
careshame. She knew that they were waiting like
wolves just outside the circumscribing lightbut she
had long spells of power to keep them in hungry
subjection there.

A spiritual forgetfulness co-existed with an
intellectual remembrance. She walked in brightness
but she knew that in the background those shapes of
darkness were always spread. They might be recedingor
they might be approachingone or the othera little
every day.

One evening Tess and Clare were obliged to sit indoors
keeping houseall the other occupants of the domicile
being away. As they talked she looked thoughtfully up
at himand met his two appreciative eyes.

I am not worthy of you--no, I am not!she burst out
jumping up from her low stool as though appalled at his
homageand the fulness of her own joy thereat.

Claredeeming the whole basis of her excitement to be
that which was only the smaller part of itsaid---


I won't have you speak like it, dear Tess!
Distinction does not consist in the facile use of a
contemptible set of conventions, but in being numbered
among those who are true, and honest, and just, and
pure, and lovely, and of good report--as you are, my
Tess.

She struggled with the sob in her throat. How often
had that string of excellences made her young heart
ache in church of late yearsand how strange that he
should have cited them now.

Why didn't you stay and love me when I--was sixteen;
living with my little sisters and brothers, and you
danced on the green? O, why didn't you, why didn't
you!she saidimpetuously clasping her hands.

Angel began to comfort and reassure herthinking to
himselftruly enoughwhat a creature of moods she
wasand how careful he would have to be of her when
she depended for her happiness entirely on him.

Ah--why didn't I stay!he said. "That is just what I
feel. If I had only known! But you must not be so
bitter in your regret--why should you be?"

With the woman's instinct to hide she diverged
hastily--


I should have had four years more of your heart than I
can ever have now. Then I should not have wasted my
time as I have done--I should have had so much longer
happiness!

It was no mature woman with a long dark vista of
intrigue behind her who was tormented thus; but a girl
of simple lifenot yet one-and twentywho had been


caught during her days of immaturity like a bird in a
springe. To calm herself the more completely she rose
from her little stool and left the roomoverturning
the stool with her skirts as she went.

He sat on by the cheerful firelight thrown from a
bundle of green ash-sticks laid across the dogs; the
sticks snapped pleasantlyand hissed out bubbles of
sap from their ends. When she came back she was herself
again.

Do you not think you are just a wee bit capricious,
fitful, Tess?he saidgood-humouredlyas he spread a
cushion for her on the stooland seated himself in the
settle beside her. "I wanted to ask you somethingand
just then you ran away."

Yes, perhaps I am capricious,she murmured. She
suddenly approached himand put a hand upon each of
his arms. "NoAngelI am not really so--by nature
I mean!" The more particularly to assure him that she
was notshe placed herself close to him in the settle
and allowed her head to find a resting-place against
Clare's shoulder. "What did you want to ask me--I am
sure I will answer it she continued humbly.

Wellyou love meand have agreed to marry meand
hence there follows a thirdly'When shall the day
be?'"

I like living like this.

But I must think of starting in business on my own
hook with the new year, or a little later. And before
I get involved in the multifarious details of my new
position, I should like to have secured my partner.

But,she timidly answeredto talk quite
practically, wouldn't it be best not to marry till
after all that?--Though I can't bear the though o'
your going away and leaving me here!

Of course you cannot--and it is not best in this case.
I want you to help me in many ways in making my start.
When shall it be? Why not a fortnight from now?

No,she saidbecoming grave: "I have so many things
to think of first."

But----

He drew her gently nearer to him.

The reality of marriage was startling when it loomed so
near. Before discussion of the question had proceeded
further there walked round the corner of the settle
into the full firelight of the apartment Mr Dairyman
CrickMrs Crickand two of the milkmaids.

Tess sprang like an elastic ball from his side to her
feet while her face flushed and her eyes shone in the
firelight.

I know how it would be if I sat so close to him!she


criedwith vexation. "I said to myselfthey are sure
to come and catch us! But I wasn't really sitting on
his kneethough it might ha' seemed as if I was
almost!"

Well--if so be you hadn't told us, I am sure we
shouldn't ha' noticed that ye had been sitting anywhere
at all in this light,replied the dairyman. He
continued to his wifewith the stolid mien of a man
who understood nothing of the emotions relating to
matrimony--"NowChristianerthat shows that folks
should never fancy other folks be supposing things when
they bain't. O noI should never ha' thought a word
of where she was a sitting toif she hadn't told me-not
I."

We are going to be married soon,said Clarewith
improvised phlegm.

Ah--and be ye! Well, I am truly glad to hear it, sir.
I've thought you mid do such a thing for some time.
She's too good for a dairymaid--I said so the very
first day I zid her--and a prize for any man; and
what's more, a wonderful woman for a gentleman-farmer's
wife; he won't be at the mercy of his baily wi' her at
his side.

Somehow Tess disappeared. She had been even more
struck with the look of the girls who followed Crick
than abashed by Crick's blunt praise.

After supperwhen she reached her bedroomthey were
all present. A light was burningand each damsel was
sitting up whitely in her bedawaiting Tessthe whole
like a row of avenging ghosts.

But she saw in a few moments that there was no malice
in their mood. They could scarcely feel as a loss what
they had never expected to have. Their condition was
objectivecontemplative.

He's going to marry her!murmured Rettynever taking
eyes off Tess. "How her face do show it!"

You BE going to marry him?asked Marian.

Yes,said Tess.

When?

Some day.

They thought that this was evasiveness only.

YES--going to MARRY him--a gentleman!repeated Izz
Huett.

And by a sort of fascination the three girlsone after
anothercrept out of their bedsand came and stood
barefooted round Tess. Retty put her hands upon Tess's
shouldersas if to realize her friend's corporeality
after such a miracleand the other two laid their arms
round her waistall looking into her face.


How it do seem! Almost more than I can think of!
said Izz Huett.

Marian kissed Tess. "Yes she murmured as she
withdrew her lips.

Was that because of love for heror because other
lips have touched there by now?" continued Izz drily to
Marian.

I wasn't thinking o' that,said Marian simply.
I was on'y feeling all the strangeness o't--that she is
to be his wife, and nobody else. I don't say nay to
it, nor either of us, because we did not think of
it--only loved him. Still, nobody else is to marry'n
in the world--no fine lady, nobody in silks and satins;
but she who do live like we.

Are you sure you don't dislike me for it?said Tess
in a low voice.

They hung about her in their white nightgowns before
replyingas if they considered their answer might lie
in her look.

I don't know--I don't know,murmured Retty Priddle.
I want to hate 'ee; but I cannot!That's how I
feel,echoed Izz and Marian. "I can't hate her.
Somehow she hinders me!"

He ought to marry one of you,murmured Tess.

Why?

You are all better than I.

We better than you?said the girls in a lowslow
whisper. "Nonodear Tess!"

You are!she contradicted impetuously. And suddenly
tearing away from their clinging arms she burst into a
hysterical fit of tearsbowing herself on the chest of
drawers and repeating incessantlyO yes, yes, yes!

Having once given way she could not stop her weeping.

He ought to have had one of you!she cried. "I think
I ought to make him even now! You would be better for
him than--I don't know what I'm saying! O! O!"

They went up to her and clasped her roundbut still
her sobs tore her.

Get some water,said MarianShe's upset by us,
poor thing, poor thing!

They gently led her back to the side of her bedwhere
they kissed her warmly.

You are best for'n,said Marian. "More ladylikeand
a better scholar than weespecially since he had
taught 'ee so much. But even you ought to be proud.
You BE proudI'm sure!"


Yes, I am,she said; "and I am ashamed at so breaking
down."

When they were all in bedand the light was out
Marian whispered across to her-


You will think of us when you be his wife, Tess, and
of how we told 'ee that we loved him, and how we tried
not to hate you, and did not hate you, and could not
hate you, because you were his choice, and we never
hoped to be chose by him.

They were not aware thatat these wordssalt
stinging tears trickled down upon Tess's pillow anew
and how she resolvedwith a bursting heartto tell
all her history to Angel Claredespite her mother's
command--to let him for whom she lived and breathed
despise her if he wouldand her mother regard her as a
foolrather then preserve a silence which might be
deemed a treachery to himand which somehow seemed a
wrong to these.

XXXII

This penitential mood kept her from naming the
wedding-day. The beginning of November found its date
still in abeyancethough he asked her at the most
tempting times. But Tess's desire seemed to be for a
perpetual betrothal in which everything should remain
as it was then.

The meads were changing now; but it was still warm
enough in early afternoons before milking to idle there
awhileand the state of dairy-work at this time of
year allowed a spare hour for idling. Looking over the
damp sod in the direction of the suna glistening
ripple of gossamer webs was visible to their eyes under
the luminarylike the track of moonlight on the sea.
Gnatsknowing nothing of their brief glorification
wandered across the shimmer of this pathwayirradiated
as if they bore fire within themthen passed out of
its lineand were quite extinct. In the presence of
these things he would remind her that the date was
still the question.

Or he would ask her at nightwhen he accompanied her
on some mission invented by Mrs Crick to give him the
opportunity. This was mostly a journey to the
farmhouse on the slopes above the valeto inquire how
the advanced cows were getting on in the straw-barton
to which they were relegated. For it was a time of the
year that brought great changes to the world of kine.
Batches of the animals were sent away daily to this
lying-in hospitalwhere they lived on straw till their
calves were bornafter which eventand as soon as the
calf could walkmother and offspring were driven back
to the dairy. In the interval which elapsed before the
calves were sold there wasof courselittle milking
to be donebut as soon as the calf had been taken away
the milkmaids would have to set to work as usual.


Returning from one of these dark walks they reached a
great gravel-cliff immediately over the levelswhere
they stood still and listened. The water was now high
in the streamssquirting through the weirsand
tinkling under culverts; the smallest gullies were all
full; there was no taking short cuts anywhereand
foot-passengers were compelled to follow the permanent
ways. From the whole extent of the invisible vale came
a multitudinous intonation; it forced upon their fancy
that a great city lay below themand that the murmur
was the vociferation of its populace.

It seems like tens of thousands of them,said Tess;
holding public-meetings in their market-places,
arguing, preaching, quarrelling, sobbing, groaning,
praying, and cursing.

Clare was not particularly heeding.

Did Crick speak to you today, dear, about his not
wanting much assistance during the winter months?

No.

The cows are going dry rapidly.

Yes. Six of seven went to the straw-barton yesterday,
and three the day before, making nearly twenty in the
straw already. Ah--is it that the farmer don't want my
help for the calving? O, I am not wanted here any
more! And I have tried so hard to---

Crick didn't exactly say that he would no longer
require you. But, knowing what our relations were, he
said in the most good-natured and respectful manner
possible that he supposed on my leaving at Christmas I
should take you with me, and on my asking what he would
do without you he merely observed that, as a matter of
fact, it was a time of year when he could do with a
very little female help. I am afraid I was sinner
enough to feel rather glad that he was in this way
forcing your hand.

I don't think you ought to have felt glad, Angel.
Because 'tis always mournful not to be wanted, even if
at the same time 'tis convenient.

Well, it is convenient--you have admitted that.
He put his finger upon her cheek. "Ah!" he said.

What?

I feel the red rising up at her having been caught!
But why should I trifle so! We will not trifle--life
is too serious.

It is. Perhaps I saw that before you did.

She was seeing it then. To decline to marry him after
all--in obedience to her emotion of last night--and
leave the dairymeant to go to some strange placenot
a dairy; for milkmaids were not in request now
calving-time was coming on; to go to some arable farm
where no divine being like Angel Clare was. She hated


the thoughtand she hated more the thought of going
home.

So that, seriously, dearest Tess,he continued
since you will probably have to leave at Christmas, it
is in every way desirable and convenient that I should
carry you off then as my property. Besides, if you
were not the most uncalculating girl in the world you
would know that we could not go on like this for ever.

I wish we could. That it would always be summer and
autumn, and you always courting me, and always thinking
as much of me as you have done through the past
summertime!

I always shall.

O, I know you will!she criedwith a sudden fervour
of faith in him. "AngelI will fix the day when I
will become yours for always!"

Thus at last it was arranged between themduring that
dark walk homeamid the myriads of liquid voices on
the right and left.

When they reached the dairy Mr and Mrs Crick were
promptly told--with injunctions of secrecy; for each of
the lovers was desirous that the marriage should be
kept as private as possible. The dairymanthough he
had thought of dismissing her soonnow made a great
concern about losing her. What should he do about his
skimming? Who would make the ornamental butter-pats
for the Anglebury and Sandbourne ladies? Mrs Crick
congratulated Tess on the shilly-shallying having at
last come to an endand said that directly she set
eyes on Tess she divined that she was to be the chosen
one of somebody who was no common outdoor man; Tess had
looked so superior as she walked across the barton on
that afternoon of her arrival; that she was of a good
family she could have sworn. In point of fact Mrs
Crick did remember thinking that Tess was graceful and
good-looking as she approached; but the superiority
might have been a growth of the imagination aided by
subsequent knowledge.

Tess was now carried along upon the wings of the hours
without the sense of a will. The word had been given;
the number of the day written down. Her naturally
bright intelligence had begun to admit the fatalistic
convictions common to field-folk and those who
associate more extensively with natural phenomena than
with their fellow-creatures; and she accordingly
drifted into that passive responsiveness to all things
her lover suggestedcharacteristic of the frame of
mind.

But she wrote anew to her motherostensibly to notify
the wedding-day; really to again implore her advice.
It was a gentleman who had chosen herwhich perhaps
her mother had not sufficiently considered. A
post-nuptial explanationwhich might be accepted with
a light heart by a rougher manmight not be received
with the same feeling by him. But this communication
brought no reply from Mrs Durbeyfield.


Despite Angel Clare's plausible representation to
himself and to Tess of the practical need for their
immediate marriagethere was in truth an element of
precipitancy in the stepas became apparent at a later
date. He loved her dearlythough perhaps rather
ideally and fancifully than with the impassioned
thoroughness of her feeling for him. He had
entertained no notionwhen doomed as he had thought to
an unintellectual bucolic lifethat such charms as he
beheld in this idyllic creature would be found behind
the scenes. Unsophistication was a thing to talk of;
but he had not known how it really struck one until he
came here. Yet he was very far from seeing his future
track clearlyand it might be a year or two before he
would be able to consider himself fairly started in
life. The secret lay in the tinge of recklessness
imparted to his career and character by the sense that
he had been made to miss his true destiny through the
prejudices of his family.

Don't you think 'twould have been better for us to
wait till you were quite settled in your midland farm?
she once asked timidly. (A midland farm was the idea
just then.)

To tell the truth, my Tess, I don't like you to be
left anywhere away from my protection and sympathy.

The reason was a good oneso far as it went. His
influence over her had been so marked that she had
caught his manner and habitshis speech and phrases
his likings and his aversions. And to leave her in
farmland would be to let her slip back again out of
accord with him. He wished to have her under his
charge for another reason. His parents had naturally
desired to see her once at least before he carried her
off to a distant settlementEnglish or colonial; and
as no opinion of theirs was to be allowed to change his
intentionhe judged that a couple of months' life with
him in lodgings whilst seeking for an advantageous
opening would be of some social assistance to her at
what she might feel to be a trying ordeal--her
presentation to his mother at the Vicarage. Nexthe
wished to see a little of the working of a flour-mill
having an idea that he might combine the use of one
with corn-growing. The proprietor of a large old
water-mill at Wellbridge--once the mill of an
Abbey--had offered him the inspection of his
time-honoured mode of procedureand a hand in the
operations for a few dayswhenever he should choose to
come. Clare paid a visit to the placesome few miles
distantone day at this timeto inquire particulars
and returned to Talbothays in the evening. She found
him determined to spend a short time at the Wellbridge
flour-mills. And what had determined him? Less the
opportunity of an insight into grinding and bolting
than the casual fact that lodgings were to be obtained
in that very farmhouse whichbefore its mutilation
had been the mansion of a branch of the d'Urberville
family. This was always how Clare settled practical
questions; by a sentiment which had nothing to do with
them. They decided to go immediately after the
weddingand remain for a fortnightinstead of


journeying to towns and inns.

Then we will start off to examine some farms on the
other side of London that I have heard of,he said
and by March or April we will pay a visit to my father
and mother.

Questions of procedure such as these arose and passed
and the daythe incredible dayon which she was to
become hisloomed large in the near future. The
thirty-first of DecemberNew Year's Evewas the date.
His wifeshe said to herself. Could it ever be?
Their two selves togethernothing to divide them
every incident shared by them; why not? And yet why?

One Sunday morning Izz Huett returned from church
and spoke privately to Tess.

You was not called home this morning.

What?

It should ha' been the first time of asking today,
she answeredlooking quietly at Tess. "You meant to
be married New Year's Evedeary?"

The other returned a quick affirmative.

And there must be three times of asking. And now
there be only two Sundays left between.

Tess felt her cheek paling; Izz was right; of course
there must be three. Perhaps he had forgotten! If so
there must be a week's postponementand that was
unlucky. How could she remind her lover? She who had
been so backward was suddenly fired with impatience and
alarm lest she should lose her dear prize.

A natural incident relieved her anxiety. Izz mentioned
the omission of the banns to Mrs Crickand Mrs Crick
assumed a matron's privilege of speaking to Angel on
the point.

Have ye forgot 'em, Mr Clare? The banns, I mean.

No, I have not forgot 'em,says Clare.

As soon as he caught Tess alone he assured her:

Don't let them tease you about the banns. A licence
will be quieter for us, and I have decided on a licence
without consulting you. So if you go to church on
Sunday morning you will not hear your own name, if you
wished to.

I didn't wish to hear it, dearest,she said proudly.

But to know that things were in train was an immense
relief to Tess notwithstandingwho had well-nigh
feared that somebody would stand up and forbid the
banns on the ground of her history. How events were
favouring her!

I don't quite feel easy,she said to herself. "All


this good fortune may be scourged out of me afterwards
by a lot of ill. That's how Heaven mostly does. I
wish I could have had common banns!"

But everything went smoothly. She wondered whether he
would like her to be married in her present best white
frockor if she ought to buy a new one. The question
was set at rest by his forethoughtdisclosed by the
arrival of some large packages addressed to her.
Inside them she found a whole stock of clothingfrom
bonnet to shoesincluding a perfect morning costume
such as would well suit the simple wedding they
planned. He entered the house shortly after the
arrival of the packagesand heard her upstairs undoing
them.

A minute later she came down with a flush on her face
and tears in her eyes.

How thoughtful you've been!she murmuredher cheek
upon his shoulder. "Even to the gloves and
handkerchief! My own love--how goodhow kind!"

No, no, Tess; just an order to a tradeswoman in
London--nothing more.

And to divert her from thinking too highly of him he
told her to go upstairsand take her timeand see if
it all fitted; andif notto get the village
sempstress to make a few alterations.

She did return upstairsand put on the gown. Alone
she stood for a moment before the glass looking at the
effect of her silk attire; and then there came into her
head her mother's ballad of the mystic robe--


That never would become that wife
That had once done amiss


which Mrs Durbeyfield had used to sing to her as a
childso blithely and so archlyher foot on the
cradlewhich she rocked to the tune. Suppose this
robe should betray her by changing colouras her robe
had betrayed Queen Guenever. Since she had been at the
dairy she had not once thought of the lines till now.

XXXIII

Angel felt that he would like to spend a day with her
before the weddingsomewhere away from the dairyas a
last jaunt in her company while there were yet mere
lover and mistress; a romantic dayin circumstances
that would never be repeated; with that other and
greater day beaming close ahead of them. During the
preceding weekthereforehe suggested making a few
purchases in the nearest townand they started
together.

Clare's life at the dairy had been that of a recluse in
respect the world of his own class. For months he had
never gone near a townandrequiring no vehiclehad


never kept onehiring the dairyman's cob or gig if he
rode or drove. They went in the gig that day.

And then for the first time in their lives they shopped
as partners in one concern. It was Christmas Evewith
its loads a holly and mistletoeand the town was very
full of strangers who had come in from all parts of the
country on account of the day. Tess paid the penalty
of walking about with happiness superadded to beauty on
her countenance by being much stared at as she moved
amid them on his arm.

In the evening they returned to the inn at which they
had put upand Tess waited in the entry while Angel
went to see the horse and gig brought to the door.
The general sitting-room was full of guestswho were
continually going in and out. As the door opened and
shut each time for the passage of thesethe light
within the parlour fell full upon Tess's face. Two men
came out and passed by her among the rest. One of them
had stared her up and down in surpriseand she fancied
he was a Trantridge manthough that village lay so
many miles off that Trantridge folk were rarities here.

A comely maid that,said the other.

True, comely enough. But unless I make a great
mistake----And negatived the remainder of the
definition forthwith.

Clare had just returned from the stable-yardand
confronting the man on the thresholdheard the words
and saw the shrinking of Tess. The insult to her stung
him to the quickand before he had considered anything
at all he struck the man on the chin with the full
force of his fistsending him staggering backwards
into the passage.

The man recovered himselfand seemed inclined to come
onand Clarestepping outside the doorput himself
in a posture of defence. But his opponent began to
think better of the matter. He looked anew at Tess as
he passed herand said to Clare--


I beg pardon, sir; 'twas a complete mistake. I
thought she was another woman, forty miles from here.

Clarefeeling then that he had been too hastyand
that he wasmoreoverto blame for leaving her
standing in an inn-passagedid what he usually did in
such casesgave the man five shillings to plaster the
blow; and thus they partedbidding each other a
pacific goodnight. As soon as Clare had taken the
reins from the ostlerand the young couple had driven
offthe two men went in the other direction. "And was
it a mistake?" said the second one.

Not a bit of it. But I didn't want to hurt the
gentleman's feelings--not I.

In the meantime the lovers were driving onward.

Could we put off our wedding till a little later?
Tess asked in a dry dull voice. "I mean if we wished?"


No, my love. Calm yourself. Do you mean that the
fellow may have time to summon me for assault?he
asked good-humouredly.

No--I only meant--if it should have to be put off.

What she meant was not very clearand he directed her
to dismiss such fancies from her mindwhich she
obediently did as well as she could. But she was
gravevery graveall the way home; till she thought
We shall go away, a very long distance, hundreds of
miles from these parts, and such as this can never
happen again, and no ghost of the past reach there.

They parted tenderly that night on the landingand
Clare ascended to his attic. Tess sat up getting on
with some little requisiteslest the few remaining
days should not afford sufficient times. While she sat
she heard a noise in Angel's room overheada sound of
thumping and struggling. Everybody else in the house
was asleepand in her anxiety lest Clare should be ill
she ran up and knocked at his doorand asked him what
was the matter.

Oh, nothing, dear,he said from within. "I am so
sorry I disturbed you! But the reason is rather an
amusing one: I fell asleep and dreamt that I was
fighting that fellow again who insulted you and the
noise you heard was my pummelling away with my fists at
my portmanteauwhich I pulled out today for packing.
I am occasionally liable to these freaks in my sleep.
Go to bed and think of it no more."

This was the last drachm required to turn the scale of
her indecision. Declare the past to him by word of
mouth she could not; but there was another way. She
sat down and wrote on the four pages of a note-sheet a
succinct narrative of those events of three or four
years agoput it into an envelopeand directed it to
Clare. Thenlest the flesh should again be weakshe
crept upstairs without any shoes and slipped the note
under his door.

Her night was a broken oneas it well might beand
she listened for the first faint noise overhead. It
cameas usual; he descendedas usual. She descended.
He met her at the bottom of the stairs and kissed her.
Surely it was as warmly as ever!

He looked a little disturbed and wornshe thought.
But he said not a word to her about her revelation
even when they were alone. Could he have had it?
Unless he began the subject she felt that she could say
nothing. So the day passedand it was evident that
whatever he thought he meant to keep to himself. Yet
he was frank and affectionate as before. Could it be
that her doubts were childish? that he forgave her;
that he loved her for what she wasjust as she was
and smiled at her disquiet as at a foolish nightmare?
Had he really received her note? She glanced into his
roomand could see nothing of it. It might be that he
forgave her. But even if he had not received it she
had a sudden enthusiastic trust that he surely would


forgive her.

Every morning and night he was the sameand thus New
Year's Eve broke--the wedding day.

The lovers did not rise at milking-timehaving through
the whole of this last week of their sojourn at the
dairy been accorded something of the position of
guestsTess being honoured with a room of her own.
When they arrived downstairs at breakfast-time they
were surprised to see what effects had been produced in
the large kitchen for their glory since they had last
beheld it. At some unnatural hour of the morning the
dairyman had caused the yawning chimney-corner to be
whitenedand the brick hearth reddenedand a blazing
yellow damask blower to be hung across the arch in
place of the old grimy blue cotton one with a black
sprig pattern which had formerly done duty there. This
renovated aspect of what was the focus indeed of the
room on a full winter morningthrew a smiling
demeanour over the whole apartment.

I was determined to do summat in honour o'tsaid the
dairyman. "And as you wouldn't hear of my gieing a
rattling good randy wi' fiddles and bass-viols
completeas we should ha' done in old timesthis was
all I could think o' as a noiseless thing."

Tess's friends lived so far off that none could
conveniently have been present at the ceremonyeven
had any been asked; but as a fact nobody was invited
from Marlott. As for Angel's familyhe had written
and duly informed them of the timeand assured them
that he would be glad to see one at least of them there
for the day if he would like to come. His brothers had
not replied at allseeming to be indignant with him;
while his father and mother had written a rather sad
letterdeploring his precipitancy in rushing into
marriagebut making the best of the matter by saying
thatthough a dairywoman was the last daughter-in-law
they could have expectedtheir son had arrived at an
age which he might be supposed to be the best judge.

This coolness in his relations distressed Clare less
than it would have done had he been without the grand
card with which he meant to surprise them ere long. To
produce Tessfresh from the dairyas a d'Urberville
and a ladyhe had felt to be temerarious and risky;
hence he had concealed her lineage till such time as
familiarized with worldly ways by a few months' travel
and reading with himhe could take her on a visit to
his parentsand impart the knowledge while
triumphantly producing her as worthy of such an ancient
line. It was a pretty lover's dreamif no more.
Perhaps Tess's lineage had more value for himself than
for anybody in the world beside.

Her perception that Angel's bearing towards her still
remained in no whit altered by her own communication
rendered Tess guiltily doubtful if he could have
received it. She rose from breakfast before he had
finishedand hastened upstairs. It had occurred to
her to look once more into the queer gaunt room which
had been Clare's denor rather eyriefor so longand


climbing the ladder she stood at the open door of the
apartmentregarding and pondering. She stooped to the
threshold of the doorwaywhere she had pushed in the
note two or three days earlier in such excitement. The
carpet reached close to the silland under the edge of
the carpet she discerned the faint white margin of the
envelope containing her letter to himwhich he
obviously had never seenowing to her having in her
haste thrust it beneath the carpet as well as beneath
the door.

With a feeling of faintness she withdrew the letter.
There it was--sealed upjust as it had left her hands.
The mountain had not yet been removed. She could not
let him read it nowthe house being in full bustle of
preparation; and descending to her own room she
destroyed the letter there.

She was so pale when he saw her again that he felt
quite anxious. The incident of the misplaced letter
she had jumped at as if it prevented a confession; but
she knew in her conscience that it need not; there was
still time. Yet everything was in a stir; there was
coming and going; all had to dressthe dairyman and
Mrs Crick having been asked to accompany them as
witnesses; and reflection or deliberate talk was
well-nigh impossible. The only minute Tess could get
to be alone with Clare was when they met upon the
landing.

I am so anxious to talk to you--I want to confess all
my faults and blunders!she said with attempted
lightness.

No, no--we can't have faults talked of--you must be
deemed perfect today at least, my Sweet!he cried.
We shall have plenty of time, hereafter, I hope, to
talk over our failings. I will confess mine at the
same time.

But it would be better for me to do it now, I think,
so that you could not say----

Well, my quixotic one, you shall tell me
anything--say, as soon as we are settled in our
lodging; not now. I, too, will tell you my faults
then. But do not let us spoil the day with them; they
will be excellent matter for a dull time.

Then you don't wish me to, dearest?

I do not, Tessy, really.

The hurry of dressing and starting left no time for
more than this. Those words of his seemed to reassure
her on further reflection. She was whirled onward
through the next couple of critical hours by the
mastering tide of her devotion to himwhich closed up
further meditation. Her one desireso long resisted
to make herself histo call him her lordher
own--thenif necessaryto die--had at last lifted her
up from her plodding reflective pathway. In dressing
she moved about in a mental cloud of many-coloured
idealitieswhich eclipsed all sinister contingencies


by its brightness.

The church was a long way offand they were obliged to
driveparticularly as it was winter. A close carriage
was ordered from a roadside inna vehicle which had
been kept there ever since the old days of post-chaise
travelling. It had stout wheel-spokesand heavy
felloesa great curved bedimmense straps and
springsand a pole like a battering-ram. The
postilion was a venerable "boy" of sixty--a martyr to
rheumatic goutthe result of excessive exposure in
youthcounter-acted by strong liquors--who had stood
at inn-doors doing nothing for the whole five-andtwenty
years that had elapsed since he had no longer
been required to ride professionallyas if expecting
the old times to come back again. He had a permanent
running wound on the outside of his right leg
originated by the constant bruisings of aristocratic
carriage-poles during the many years that he had been
in regular employ at the King's ArmsCasterbridge.

Inside this cumbrous and creaking structureand behind
this decayed conductorthe PARTIE CARREE took their
seats--the bride and bridegroom and Mr and Mrs Crick.
Angel would have liked one at least of his brothers to
be present as groomsmanbut their silence after his
gentle hint to that effect by letter had signified that
they did not care to come. They disapproved of the
marriageand could not be expected to countenance it.
Perhaps it was as well that they could not be present.
They were not worldly young fellowsbut fraternizing
with dairy-folk would have struck unpleasantly upon
their biassed nicenessapart from their view of the
match.

Upheld by the momentum of the time Tess knew nothing of
this; did not see anything; did not know the road they
were taking to the church. She knew that Angel was
close to her; all the rest was a luminous mist. She
was a sort of celestial personwho owed her being to
poetry--one of those classical divinities Clare was
accustomed to talk to her about when they took their
walk together.

The marriage being by licence there were only a dozen
or so of people in the church; had there been a
thousand they would have produced no more effect upon
her. They were at stellar distances from her present
world. In the ecstatic solemnity with which she swore
her faith to him the ordinary sensibilities of sex
seemed a flippancy. At a pause in the servicewhile
they were kneeling togethershe unconsciously inclined
herself towards himso that her shoulder touched his
arm; she had been frightened by a passing thoughtand
the movement had been automaticto assure herself that
he was really thereand to fortify her belief that his
fidelity would be proof against all things.

Clare knew that she loved him--every curve of her form
showed that--but he did not know at that time the full
depth of her devotionits single-mindednessits
meekness; what long-suffering it guaranteedwhat
honestywhat endurance what good faith.


As they came out of church the ringers swung the bells
off their restsand a modest peal of three notes broke
forth--that limited amount of expression having been
deemed sufficient by the church builders for the joys
of such a small parish. Passing by the tower with her
husband on the path to the gate she could feel the
vibrant air humming round them from the louvred belfry
in the circle of soundand it matched the
highly-charged mental atmosphere in which she was
living.


This condition of mindwherein she felt glorified by
an irradiation not her ownlike the angel whom St John
saw in the sunlasted till the sound of the church
bells had died awayand the emotions of the
wedding-service had calmed down. Her eyes could dwell
upon details more clearly nowand Mr and Mrs Crick
having directed their own gig to be sent for themto
leave the carriage to the young coupleshe observed
the build and character of that conveyance for the
first time. Sitting in silence she regarded it long.


I fancy you seem oppressed, Tessy,said Clare.


Yes,she answeredputting her hand to her brow.
I tremble at many things. It is all so serious, Angel.
Among other things I seem to have seen this carriage
before, to very well acquainted with it. It is very
odd--I must have seen it in a dream.


Oh--you have heard the legend of the d'Urberville
Coach--that well-known superstition of this county
about your family when they were very popular here; and
this lumbering old thing reminds you of it.


I have never heard of it to my knowledge,said she.
What is the legend--may I know it?


Well--I would rather not tell it in detail just now.
A certain d'Urberville of the sixteenth or seventeenth
century committed a dreadful crime in his family coach;
and since that time members of the family see or hear
the old coach whenever----But I'll tell you another
day--it is rather gloomy. Evidently some dim knowledge
of it has been brought back to your mind by the sight
of this venerable caravan.


I don't remember hearing it before,she murmured.
Is it when we are going to die, Angel, that members of
my family see it, or is it when we have committed a
crime?


Now, Tess!


He silenced her by a kiss.


By the time they reached home she was contrite and
spiritless. She was Mrs Angel Clareindeedbut had
she any moral right to the name? Was she not more
truly Mrs Alexander d'Urberville? Could intensity of
love justify what might be considered in upright souls
as culpable reticence? She knew not what was expected
of women in such cases; and she had no counsellor.



Howeverwhen she found herself alone in her room for a
few minutes--the last day this on which she was ever to
enter it--she knelt down and prayed. She tried to pray
to Godbut it was her husband who really had her
supplication. Her idolatry of this man was such that
she herself almost feared it to be ill-omened. She was
conscious of the notion expressed by Friar Laurence:
These violent delights have violent ends.It might
be too desperate for human conditions--too rankto
wildtoo deadly.

O my love, why do I love you so!she whispered there
alone; "for she you love is not my real selfbut one
in my image; the one I might have been!"

Afternoon cameand with it the hour for departure.
They had decided to fulfil the plan of going for a few
days to the lodgings in the old farmhouse near
Wellbridge Millat which he meant to reside during his
investigation of flour processes. At two o'clock there
was nothing left to do but to start. All the servantry
of the dairy were standing in the red-brick entry to
see them go outthe dairyman and his wife following to
the door. Tess saw her three chamber-mates in a row
against the wallpensively inclining their heads. She
had much questioned if they would appear at the parting
moment; but there they werestoical and staunch to the
last. She knew why the delicate Retty looked to
fragileand Izz so tragically sorrowful and Marian so
blank; and she forgot her own dogging shadow for a
moment in contemplating theirs.

She impulsively whispered to him---


Will you kiss 'em all, once, poor things, for the
first and last time?

Clare had not the least objection to such a farewell
formality--which was all that it was to him--and as he
passed them he kissed them in succession where they
stoodsaying "Goodbye" to each as he did so. When
they reached the door Tess femininely glanced back to
discern the effect of that kiss of charity; there was
no triumph in her glanceas there might have been.
If there had it would have disappeared when she saw how
moved the girls all were. The kiss had obviously done
harm by awakening feelings they were trying to subdue.

Of all this Clare was unconscious. Passing on to the
wicket-gate he shook hands with the dairyman and his
wifeand expressed his last thanks to them for their
attentions; after which there was a moment of silence
before they had moved off. It was interrupted by the
crowing of a cock. The white one with the rose comb
had come and settled on the palings in front of the
housewithin a few yards of themand his notes
thrilled their ears throughdwindling away like echoes
down a valley of rocks.

Oh?said Mrs Crick. "An afternoon crow!"

Two men were standing by the yard gateholding it
open.


That's bad,one murmured to the othernot thinking
that the words could be heard by the group at the
door-wicket.

The cock crew again--straight towards Clare.

Well!said the dairyman.

I don't like to hear him!said Tess to her husband.
Tell the man to drive on. Goodbye, goodbye!

The cock crew again.

Hoosh! Just you be off, sir, or I'll twist your
neck!said the dairyman with some irritationturning
to the bird and driving him away. And to his wife as
they went indoors: "Nowto think o' that just today!
I've not heard his crow of an afternoon all the year
afore."

It only means a change in the weather,said she;
not what you think: 'tis impossible!

XXXIV

They drove by the level road along the valley to a
distance of a few milesandreaching Wellbridge
turned away from the village to the leftand over the
great Elizabethan bridge which gives the place half its
name. Immediately behind it stood the house wherein
they had engaged lodgingswhose exterior features are
so well known to all travellers through the Froom
Valley; once portion of a fine manorial residenceand
the property and seat of a d'Urbervillebut since its
partial demolition a farmhouse.

Welcome to one of your ancestral mansions!said Clare
as he handed her down. But he regretted the pleasantry;
it was too near a satire.

On entering they found thatthough they had only
engaged a couple of roomsthe farmer had taken
advantage of their proposed presence during the coming
days to pay a New Year's visit to some friendsleaving
a woman from a neighbouring cottage to minister to
their few wants. The absoluteness of possession
pleased themand they realized it as the first moment
of their experience under their own exclusive
roof-tree.

But he found that the mouldy old habitation somewhat
depressed his bride. When the carriage was gone they
ascended the stairs to wash their handsthe charwoman
showing the way. On the landing Tess stopped and
started.

What's the matter?said he.

Those horrid women!she answered with a smile.
How they frightened me.


He looked upand perceived two life-size portraits on
panels built into the masonry. As all visitors to the
mansion are awarethese paintings represent women of
middle ageof a date some two hundred years agowhose
lineaments once seen can never be forgotten. The long
pointed featuresnarrow eyeand smirk of the oneso
suggestive of merciless treachery; the bill-hook nose
large teethand bold eye of the other suggesting
arrogance to the point of ferocityhaunt the beholder
afterwards in his dreams.

Whose portraits are those?asked Clare of the
charwoman.

I have been told by old folk that they were ladies of
the d'Urberville family, the ancient lords of this
manor,she saidOwing to their being builded into
the wall they can't be moved away.

The unpleasantness of the matter was thatin addition
to their effect upon Tessher fine features were
unquestionably traceable in these exaggerated forms.
He said nothing of thishoweverandregretting that
he had gone out of his way to choose the house for
their bridal timewent on into the adjoining room.
The place having been rather hastily prepared for them
they washed their hands in one basin. Clare touched
hers under the water.

Which are my fingers and which are yours?he said
looking up. "They are very much mixed."

They are all yours,said shevery prettilyand
endeavoured to be gayer than she was. He had not been
displeased with her thoughtfulness on such an occasion;
it was what every sensible woman would show: but Tess
knew that she had been thoughtful to excessand
struggled against it.

The sun was so low on that short last afternoon of the
year that it shone in through a small opening and
formed a golden staff which stretched across to her
skirtwhere it made a spot like a paint-mark set upon
her. They went into the ancient parlour to teaand
here they shared their first common meal alone. Such
was their childishnessor rather histhat he found it
interesting to use the same bread-and-butter plate as
herselfand to brush crumbs from her lips with his
own. He wondered a little that she did not enter into
these frivolities with his own zest.

Looking at her silently for a long time; "She is a dear
dear Tess he thought to himself, as one deciding on
the true construction of a difficult passage. Do I
realize solemnly enough how utterly and irretrievably
this little womanly thing is the creature of my good or
bad faith and fortune? I think not. I think I could
notunless I were a woman myself. What I am in
worldly estateshe is. What I becomeshe must
become. What I cannot beshe cannot be. And shall I
ever neglect heror hurt heror even forget to
consider her? God forbid such a crime!"

They sat on over the tea-table waiting for their


luggagewhich the dairyman had promised to send before
it grew dark. But evening began to close inand the
luggage did not arriveand they had brought nothing
more than they stood in. With the departure of the sun
the calm mood of the winter day changed. Out of doors
there began noises as of silk smartly rubbed; the
restful dead leaves of the preceding autumn were
stirred to irritated resurrectionand whirled about
unwillinglyand tapped against the shutters. It soon
began to rain.

That cock knew the weather was going to change,said
Clare.

The woman who had attended upon them had gone home for
the nightbut she had placed candles upon the table
and now they lit them. Each candle-flame drew towards
the fireplace.

These old houses are so draughty,continued Angel
looking at the flamesand at the grease guttering down
the sides. "I wonder where that luggage is. We
haven't even a brush and comb."

I don't know,she answeredabsent-minded.

Tess, you are not a bit cheerful this evening--not at
all as you used to be. Those harridans on the panels
upstairs have unsettled you. I am sorry I brought you
here. I wonder if you really love me, after all?He
knew that she didand the words had no serious intent;
but she was surcharged with emotionand winced like a
wounded animal. Though she tried not to shed tears she
could not help showing one or two.

I did not mean it!said hesorry. "You are worried
at not having your thingsI know. I cannot think why
old Jonathan has not come with them. Whyit is seven
o'clock? Ahthere he is!"

A knock had come to the doorandthere being nobody
else to answer itClare went out. He returned to the
room with a small package in his hand.

It is not Jonathan, after all,he said.

How vexing!said Tess.

The packet had been brought by a special messengerwho
had arrived at Talbothays from Emminster Vicarage
immediately after the departure of the married couple
and had followed them hitherbeing under injunction to
deliver it into nobody's hands but theirs. Clare
brought it to the light. It was less than a foot long
sewed up in canvassealed in red wax with his father's
sealand directed in his father's hand to "Mrs Angel
Clare."

It is a little wedding-present for you, Tess,said
hehanding it to her. "How thoughtful they are!"

Tess looked a little flustered as she took it.

I think I would rather have you open it, dearest,


said sheturning over the parcel. "I don't like to
break those great seals; they look so serious. Please
open it for me!"

He undid the parcel. Inside was a case of morocco
leatheron the top of which lay a note and a key.

The note was for Clarein the following words:

MY DEAR SON----

Possibly you have forgotten that on the death of your
godmotherMrs Pitneywhen you were a ladshe--vain
kind woman that she was--left to me a portion of the
contents of her jewel-case in trust for your wifeif
you should ever have oneas a mark of her affection
for you and whomsoever you should choose. This trust I
have fulfilledand the diamonds have been locked up at
my banker's ever since. Though I feel it to be a
somewhat incongruous act in the circumstancesI amas
you will seebound to hand over the articles to the
woman to whom the use of them for her lifetime will now
rightly belongand they are therefore promptly sent.
They becomeI believeheirloomsstrictly speaking
according to the terms of your godmother's will. The
precise words of the clause that refers to this matter
are enclosed.

I do remember,said Clare; "but I had quite
forgotten."

Unlocking the casethey found it to contain a
necklacewith pendantbraceletsand ear-rings; and
also some other small ornaments.

Tess seemed afraid to touch them at firstbut her eyes
sparkled for a moment as much as the stones when Clare
spread out the set.

Are they mine?she asked incredulously.

They are, certainly,said he.

He looked into the fire. He remembered howwhen he
was a lad of fifteenhis godmotherthe Squire's
wife--the only rich person with whom he had ever come
in contact--had pinned her faith to his success; had
prophesied a wondrous career for him. There had seemed
nothing at all out of keeping with such a conjectured
career in the storing up of these showy ornaments for
his wife and the wives of her descendants. They
gleamed somewhat ironically now. "Yet why?" he asked
himself. It was but a question of vanity throughout;
and if that were admitted into one side of the equation
it should be admitted into the other. His wife was a
d'Urberville: whom could they become better than her?

Suddenly he said with enthusiasm--


Tess, put them on--put them on!And he turned from
the fire to help her.


But as if by magic she had already donned them-necklace
ear-ringsbraceletsand all.

But the gown isn't right, Tess,said Clare. "It
ought to be a low one for a set of brilliants like
that."

Ought it?said Tess.

Yes,said he.

He suggested to her how to tuck in the upper edge of
her bodiceso as to make it roughly approximate to the
cut for evening wear; and when she had done thisand
the pendant to the necklace hung isolated amid the
whiteness of her throatas it was designed to dohe
stepped back to survey her.

My heavens,said Clarehow beautiful you are!

As everybody knowsfine feathers make fine birds; a
peasant girl but very moderately prepossessing to the
casual observer in her simple condition and attire
will bloom as an amazing beauty if clothed as a woman
of fashion with the aids that Art can render; while the
beauty of the midnight crush would often cut but a
sorry figure if placed inside the field-woman's wrapper
upon a monotonous acreage of turnips on a dull day. He
had never till now estimated the artistic excellence of
Tess's limbs and features.

If you were only to appear in a ball-room!he said.
But no--no, dearest; I think I love you best in the
wing-bonnet and cotton-frock--yes, better than in this,
well as you support these dignities.

Tess's sense of her striking appearance had given her a
flush of excitementwhich was yet not happiness.

I'll take them off,she saidin case Jonathan
should see me. They are not fit for me, are they?
They must be sold, I suppose?

Let them stay a few minutes longer. Sell them?
Never. It would be a breach of faith.

Influenced by a second thought she readily obeyed.
She had something to telland there might be help in
these. She sat down with the jewels upon her; and they
again indulged in conjectures as to where Jonathan
could possibly be with their baggage. The ale they had
poured out for his consumption when he came had gone
flat with long standing.

Shortly after this they began supperwhich was already
laid on a side-table. Ere they had finished there was
a jerk in the fire-smokethe rising skein of which
bulged out into the roomas if some giant had laid his
hand on the chimney-top for a moment. It had been
caused by the opening of the outer door. A heavy step
was now heard in the passageand Angel went out.

I couldn' make nobody hear at all by knocking,


apologized Jonathan Kailfor it was he at last; "and
as't was raining out I opened the door. I've brought
the thingssir."

I am very glad to see them. But you are very late.

Well, yes, sir.

There was something subdued in Jonathan Kail's tone
which had not been there in the dayand lines of
concern were ploughed upon his forehead in addition to
the lines of years. He continued---


We've all been gallied at the dairy at what might ha'
been a most terrible affliction since you and your
Mis'ess--so to name her now--left us this a'ternoon.
Perhaps you ha'nt forgot the cock's afternoon crow?

Dear me;---what------

Well, some says it do mane one thing, and some
another; but what's happened is that poor little Retty
Priddle hev tried to drown herself.

No! Really! Why, she bade us goodbye with the
rest----

Yes. Well, sir, when you and your Mis'ess--so to name
what she lawful is--when you two drove away, as I say,
Retty and Marian put on their bonnets and went out; and
as there is not much doing now, being New Year's Eve,
and folks mops and brooms from what's inside 'em,
nobody took much notice. They went on to Lew-Everard,
where they had summut to drink, and then on they vamped
to Dree-armed Cross, and there they seemed to have
parted, Retty striking across the water-meads as if for
home, and Marian going on to the next village, where
there's another public-house. Nothing more was zeed or
heard o' Retty till the waterman, on his way home,
noticed something by the Great Pool; 'twas her bonnet
and shawl packed up. In the water he found her. He
and another man brought her home, thinking a' was dead;
but she fetched round by degrees.

Angelsuddenly recollecting that Tess was overhearing
this gloomy talewent to shut the door between the
passage and the ante-room to the inner parlour where
she was; but his wifeflinging a shawl round herhad
come to the outer room and was listening to the man's
narrativeher eyes resting absently on the luggage and
the drops of rain glistening upon it.

And, more than this, there's Marian; she's been found
dead drunk by the withy-bed--a girl who hev never been
known to touch anything before except shilling ale;
though, to be sure, 'a was always a good trencherwoman,
as her face showed. It seems as if the maids
had all gone out o' their minds!

And Izz?asked Tess.

Izz is about house as usual; but 'a do say 'a can
guess how it happened; and she seems to be very low in
mind about it, poor maid, as well she mid be. And so


you see, sir, as all this happened just when we was
packing your few traps and your Mis'ess's night-rail
and dressing things into the cart, why, it belated me.

Yes. Well, Jonathan, will you get the trunks
upstairs, and drink a cup of ale, and hasten back as
soon as you can, in case you should be wanted?

Tess had gone back to the inner parlourand sat down
by the firelooking wistfully into it. She heard
Jonathan Kail's heavy footsteps up and down the stairs
till he had done placing the luggageand heard him
express his thanks for the ale her husband took out to
himand for the gratuity he received. Jonathan's
footsteps then died from the doorand his cart creaked
away.

Angel slid forward the massive oak bar which secured
the doorand coming in to where she sat over the
hearthpressed her cheeks between his hands from
behind. He expected her to jump up gaily and unpack
the toilet-gear that she had been so anxious aboutbut
as she did not rise he sat down with her in the
firelightthe candles on the supper-table being too
thin and glimmering to interfere with its glow.

I am so sorry you should have heard this sad story
about the girls,he said. "Stilldon't let it
depress you. Retty was naturally morbidyou know."

Without the least cause,said Tess. "While they who
have cause to behide itand pretend they are not."

This incident had turned the scale for her. They were
simple and innocent girls on whom the unhappiness of
unrequited love had fallen; they had deserved better at
the hands of Fate. She had deserved worse--yet she was
the chosen one. It was wicked of her to take all
without paying. She would pay to the uttermost
farthing; she would tellthere and then. This final
determination she came to when she looked into the
firehe holding her hand.

A steady glare from the now flameless embers painted
the sides and back of the fireplace with its colour
and the well-polished andironsand the old brass tongs
that would not meet. The underside of the mantel-shelf
was flushed with the high-coloured lightand the legs
of the table nearest the fire. Tess's face and neck
reflected the same warmthwhich each gem turned into
an Aldebaran or a Sirius--a constellation of white
redand green flashesthat interchanged their hues
with her every pulsation.

Do you remember what we said to each other this
morning about telling our faults?he asked abruptly
finding that she still remained immovable. "We spoke
lightly perhapsand you may well have done so. But
for me it was no light promise. I want to make a
confession to youLove."

Thisfrom himso unexpectedly appositehad the
effect upon her of a Providential interposition.


You have to confess something?she said quickly
and even with gladness and relief.

You did not expect it? Ah--you thought too highly of
me. Now listen. Put your head there, because I want
you to forgive me, and not to be indignant with me for
not telling you before, as perhaps I ought to have
done.

How strange it was! He seemed to be her double.
She did not speakand Clare went on---


I did not mention it because I was afraid of
endangering my chance of you, darling, the great prize
of my life--my Fellowship I call you. My brother's
Fellowship was won at his college, mine at Talbothays
Dairy. Well, I would not risk it. I was going to tell
you a month ago--at the time you agreed to be mine, but
I could not; I thought it might frighten you away from
me. I put it off; then I thought I would tell you
yesterday, to give you a chance at least of escaping
me. But I did not. And I did not this morning, when
you proposed our confessing our faults on the
landing--the sinner that I was! But I must, now I see
you sitting there so solemnly. I wonder if you will
forgive me?

O yes! I am sure that----

Well, I hope so. But wait a minute. You don't know.
To begin at the beginning. Though I imagine my poor
father fears that I am one of the eternally lost for my
doctrines, I am of course, a believer in good morals,
Tess, as much as you. I used to wish to be a teacher
of men, and it was a great disappointment to me when I
found I could not enter the Church. I admired
spotlessness, even though I could lay no claim to it,
and hated impurity, as I hope I do now. Whatever one
may think of plenary inspiration, one must heartily
subscribe to these words of Paul: 'Be thou an example-in
word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in
faith, in purity.' It is the only safeguard for us
poor human beings. 'INTEGER VITAE,' says a Roman poet,
who is strange company for St Paul---


The man of upright life, from frailties free,
Stands not in need of Moorish spear or bow

Well, a certain place is paved with good intentions,
and having felt all that so strongly, you will see what
a terrible remorse it bred in me when, in the midst of
my fine aims for other people, I myself fell.

He then told her of that time of his life to which
allusion has been made whentossed about by doubts and
difficulties in Londonlike a cork on the waveshe
plunged into eight-and-forty hours' dissipation with a
stranger.

Happily I awoke almost immediately to a sense of my
folly,he continued. "I would have no more to say to
herand I came home. I have never repeated the


offence. But I felt I should like to treat you with
perfect frankness and honourand I could not do so
without telling this. Do you forgive me?"

She pressed his hand tightly for an answer.

Then we will dismiss it at once and for ever!--too
painful as it is for the occasion--and talk of
something lighter.

O, Angel--I am almost glad--because now YOU can
forgive ME! I have not made my confession. I have a
confession, too--remember, I said so.

Ah, to be sure! Now then for it, wicked little one.

Perhaps, although you smile, it is as serious as
yours, or more so.

It can hardly be more serious, dearest.

It cannot--O no, it cannot!She jumped up joyfully
at the hope. "Noit cannot be more serious
certainly she cried, because 'tis just the same!
I will tell you now."

She sat down again.

Their hands were still joined. The ashes under the
grate were lit by the fire verticallylike a torrid
waste. Imagination might have beheld a Last Day
luridness in this red-coaled glowwhich fell on his
face and handand on herspeering into the loose hair
about her browand firing the delicate skin
underneath. A large shadow of her shape rose upon the
wall and ceiling. She bent forwardat which each
diamond on her neck gave a sinister wink like a toad's;
and pressing her forehead against his temple she
entered on her story of her acquaintance with Alec
d'Urberville and its resultsmurmuring the words
without flinchingand with her eyelids drooping down.

END OF PHASE THE FOURTH

Phase the Fifth: The Woman Pays

XXXV

Her narrative ended; even its re-assertions and
secondary explanations were done. Tess's voice
throughout had hardly risen higher than its opening
tone; there had been no exculpatory phrase of any kind
and she had not wept.

But the complexion even of external things seemed to
suffer transmutation as her announcement progressed.


The fire in the grate looked impish--demoniacally
funnyas if it did not care in the least about her
strait. The fender grinned idlyas if it too did not
care. The light from the water-bottle was merely
engaged in a chromatic problem. All material objects
around announced their irresponsibility with terrible
iteration. And yet nothing had changed since the
moments when he had been kissing her; or rather
nothing in the substance of things. But the essence of
things had changed.

When she ceased the auricular impressions from their
previous endearments seemed to hustle away into the
corner of their brainsrepeating themselves as echoes
from a time of supremely purblind foolishness.

Clare performed the irrelevant act of stirring the
fire; the intelligence had not even yet got to the
bottom of him. After stirring the embers he rose to his
feet; all the force of her disclosure had imparted
itself now. His face had withered. In the
strenuousness of his concentration he treadled fitfully
on the floor. He could notby any contrivancethink
closely enough; that was the meaning of his vague
movement. When he spoke it was in the most inadequate
commonplace voice of the many varied tones she had
heard from him.

Tess!

Yes, dearest.

Am I to believe this? From your manner I am to take
it as true. O you cannot be out of your mind! You
ought to be! Yet you are not. ... My wife, my
Tess--nothing in you warrants such a supposition as
that?

I am not out of my mind,she said.

And yet----He looked vacantly at herto resume
with dazed senses: "Why didn't you tell me before?
Ahyesyou would have told mein a way--but I hindered
youI remember!"

These and other of his words were nothing but the
perfunctory babble of the surface while the depths
remained paralyzed. He turned awayand bent over a
chair. Tess followed him to the middle of the room
where he wasand stood there staring at him with eyes
that did not weep. Presently she slid down upon her
knees beside his footand from this position she
crouched in a heap.

In the name of our love, forgive me!she whispered
with a dry mouth. "I have forgiven you for the same!"

Andas he did not answershe said again---


Forgive me as you are forgiven! I forgive YOU,
Angel.

You--yes, you do.


But you do not forgive me?

O Tess, forgiveness does not apply to the case! You
were one person; now you are another. My God--how can
forgiveness meet such a grotesque--prestidigitation as
that!

He pausedcontemplating this definition; then suddenly
broke into horrible laughter--as unnatural and ghastly
as a laugh in hell.

Don't--don't! It kills me quite, that!she shrieked.
O have mercy upon me--have mercy!

He did not answer; andsickly whiteshe jumped up.

Angel, Angel! what do you mean by that laugh?she
cried out. "Do you know what this is to me?"

He shook his head.

I have been hoping, longing, praying, to make you
happy! I have thought what joy it will be to do it,
what an unworthy wife I shall be if I do not! That's
what I have felt, Angel!

I know that.

I thought, Angel, that you loved me--me, my very self!
If it is I you do love, O how can it be that you look
and speak so? It frightens me! Having begun to love
you, I love you for ever--in all changes, in all
disgraces, because you are yourself. I ask no more.
Then how can you, O my own husband, stop loving me?

I repeat, the woman I have been loving is not you.

But who?

Another woman in your shape.

She perceived in his words the realization of her own
apprehensive foreboding in former times. He looked
upon her as a species of imposter; a guilty woman in
the guise of an innocent one. Terror was upon her
white face as she saw it; her cheek was flaccidand
her mouth had almost the aspect of a round little hole.
The horrible sense of his view of her so deadened her
that she staggered; and he stepped forwardthinking
she was going to fall.

Sit down, sit down,he said gently. "You are ill;
and it is natural that you should be."

She did sit downwithout knowing where she wasthat
strained look still upon her faceand her eyes such as
to make his flesh creep.

I don't belong to you any more, then; do I, Angel?
she asked helplessly. "It is not mebut another woman
like me that he lovedhe says."

The image raised caused her to take pity upon herself
as one who was ill-used. Her eyes filled as she


regarded her position further; she turned round and
burst into a flood of self-sympathetic tears.

Clare was relieved at this changefor the effect on
her of what had happened was beginning to be a trouble
to him only less than the woe of the disclosure itself.
He waited patientlyapatheticallytill the violence
of her grief had worn itself outand her rush of
weeping had lessened to a catching gasp at intervals.

Angel,she said suddenlyin her natural tonesthe
insanedry voice of terror having left her now.
Angel, am I too wicked for you and me to live
together?

I have not been able to think what we can do.

I shan't ask you to let me live with you, Angel,
because I have no right to! I shall not write to
mother and sisters to say we be married, as I said I
would do; and I shan't finish the good-hussif' I cut
out and meant to make while we were in lodgings.

Shan't you?

No, I shan't do anything, unless you order me to; and
if you go away from me I shall not follow 'ee; and if
you never speak to me any more I shall not ask why,
unless you tell me I may.

And if I order you to do anything?

I will obey you like your wretched slave, even if it
is to lie down and die.

You are very good. But it strikes me that there is a
want of harmony between your present mood of
self-sacrifice and your past mood of
self-preservation.

These were the first words of antagonism. To fling
elaborate sarcasms at Tesshoweverwas much like
flinging them at a dog or cat. The charms of their
subtlety passed by her unappreciatedand she only
received them as inimical sounds which meant that anger
ruled. She remained mutenot knowing that he was
smothering his affection for her. She hardly observed
that a tear descended slowly upon his cheeka tear so
large that it magnified the pores of the skin over
which it rolledlike the object lens of a microscope.
Meanwhile reillumination as to the terrible and total
change that her confession had wrought in his lifein
his universereturned to himand he tried desperately
to advance among the new conditions in which he stood.
Some consequent action was necessary; yet what?

Tess,he saidas gently as he could speakI cannot
stay--in this room--just now. I will walk out a little
way.

He quietly left the roomand the two glasses of wine
that he had poured out for their supper--one for her
one for him--remained on the table untasted. This was
what their AGAPE had come to. At teatwo or three


hours earlierthey hadin the freakishness of
affectiondrunk from one cup.

The closing of the door behind himgently as it had
been pulled toroused Tess from her stupor. He was
gone; she could not stay. Hastily flinging her cloak
around her she opened the door and followedputting
out the candles as if she were never coming back. The
rain was over and the night was now clear.

She was soon close at his heelsfor Clare walked
slowly and without purpose. His form beside her light
gray figure looked blacksinisterand forbiddingand
she felt as sarcasm the touch of the jewels of which
she had been momentarily so proud. Clare turned at
hearing her footstepsbut his recognition of her
presence seemed to make no difference to himand he
went on over the five yawning arches of the great
bridge in front of the house.

The cow and horse tracks in the road were full of
waterand rain having been enough to charge thembut
not enough to wash them away. Across these minute
pools the reflected stars flitted in a quick transit as
she passed; she would not have known they were shining
overhead if she had not seen them there--the vastest
things of the universe imaged in objects so mean.

The place to which they had travelled today was in the
same valley as Talbothaysbut some miles lower down
the river; and the surroundings being open she kept
easily in sight of him. Away from the house the road
wound through the meadsand along these she followed
Clare without any attempt to come up with him or to
attract himbut with dumb and vacant fidelity.

At lasthoweverher listless walk brought her up
alongside himand still he said nothing. The cruelty
of fooled honesty is often great after enlightenment
and it was mighty in Clare now. The outdoor air had
apparently taken away from him all tendency to act on
impulse; she knew that he saw her without
irradiation--in all her bareness; that Time was
chanting his satiric psalm at her then----

Beholdwhen thy face is made barehe that loved thee shall

hate;
Thy face shall be no more fair at the fall of thy fate
For thy life shall fall as a leaf and be shed as the rain;
And the veil of thine head shall be griefand the crown shall be

pain.

He was still intently thinkingand her companionship
had now insufficient power to break or divert the
strain of thought. What a weak thing her presence must
have become to him! She could not help addressing
Clare.

What have I done--what HAVE I done! I have not told
of anything that interferes with or belies my love for
you. You don't think I planned it, do you? It is in
your own mind what you are angry at, Angel; it is not


in me. O, it is not in me, and I am not that deceitful
woman you think me!

H'm--well. Not deceitful, my wife; but not the same.
No, not the same. But do not make me reproach you. I
have sworn that I will not; and I will do everything to
avoid it.

But she went on pleading in her distraction; and
perhaps said things that would have been better left to
silence.

Angel!--Angel! I was a child--a child when it
happened! I knew nothing of men.

You were more sinned against than sinning, that I admit.

Then will you not forgive me?

I do forgive you, but forgiveness is not all.

And love me?

To this question he did not answer.

O Angel--my mother says that it sometimes happens
so!--she knows several cases where they were worse than
I, and the husband has not minded it much--has got over
it at least. And yet the woman had not loved him as I
do you!

Don't, Tess; don't argue. Different societies,
different manners. You almost make me say you are an
unapprehending peasant woman, who have never been
initiated into the proportions of social things. You
don't know what you say.

I am only a peasant by position, not by nature!

She spoke with an impulse to angerbut it went as it came.

So much the worse for you. I think that parson who
unearthed your pedigree would have done better if he
had held his tongue. I cannot help associating your
decline as a family with this other fact--of your want
of firmness. Decrepit families imply decrepit wills,
decrepit conduct. Heaven, why did you give me a handle
for despising you more by informing me of your descent!
Here was I thinking you a new-sprung child of nature;
there were you, the belated seedling of an effete
aristocracy!

Lots of families are as bad as mine in that! Retty's
family were once large landowners, and so were Dairyman
Billett's. And the Debbyhouses, who now are carters,
were once the De Bayeux family. You find such as I
everywhere; 'tis a feature of our county, and I can't
help it.

So much the worse for the county.

She took these reproaches in their bulk simplynot in
their particulars; he did not love her as he had loved
her hithertoand to all else she was indifferent.


They wandered on again in silence. It was said
afterwards that a cottager of Wellbridgewho went out
late that night for a doctormet two lovers in the
pastureswalking very slowlywithout converseone
behind the otheras in a funeral processionand the
glimpse that he obtained of their faces seemed to
denote that they were anxious and sad. Returning later
he passed them again in the same fieldprogressing
just as slowlyand as regardless of the hour and of
the cheerless night as before. It was only on account
of his preoccupation with his own affairsand the
illness in his housethat he did not bear in mind the
curious incidentwhichhoweverhe recalled a long
while after.

During the interval of the cottager's going and coming
she had said to her husband---


I don't see how I can help being the cause of much
misery to you all your life. The river is down there.
I can put an end to myself in it. I am not afraid.

I don't wish to add murder to my other follies,he
said.

I will leave something to show that I did it
myself--on account of my shame. They will not blame
you then.

Don't speak so absurdly--I wish not to hear it. It is
nonsense to have such thoughts in this kind of case,
which is rather one for satirical laughter than for
tragedy. You don't in the least understand the quality
of the mishap. It would be viewed in the light of a
joke by nine-tenths of the world if it were known.
Please oblige me by returning to the house, and going
to bed.

I will,said she dutifully.

They had rambled round by a road which led to the
well-known ruins of the Cistercian abbey behind the
millthe latter havingin centuries pastbeen
attached to the monastic establishment. The mill still
worked onfood being a perennial necessity; the abbey
had perishedcreeds being transient. One continually
sees the ministration of the temporary outlasting the
ministration of the eternal. Their walk having been
circuitous they were still not far from the houseand
in obeying his direction she only had to reach the
large stone bridge across the main riverand follow
the road for a few yards. When she got back everything
remained as she had left itthe fire being still
burning. She did not stay downstairs for more than a
minutebut proceeded to her chamberwhither the
luggage had been taken. Here she sat down on the edge
of the bedlooking blankly aroundand presently began
to undress. In removing the light towards the bedstead
its rays fell upon the tester of white dimity;
something was hanging beneath itand she lifted the
candle to see what it was. A bough of mistletoe.
Angel had put it there; she knew that in an instant.
This was the explanation of that mysterious parcel


which it had been so difficult to pack and bring; whose
contents he would not explain to hersaying that time
would soon show her the purpose thereof. In his zest
and his gaiety he had hung it there. How foolish and
inopportune that mistletoe looked now.

Having nothing more to fearhaving scarce anything to
hopefor that he would relent there seemed no promise
whatevershe lay down dully. When sorrow ceases to be
speculative sleep sees her opportunity. Among so many
happier moods which forbid repose this was a mood which
welcomed itand in a few minutes the lonely Tess
forgot existencesurrounded by the aromatic stillness
of the chamber that had oncepossiblybeen the
bride-chamber of her own ancestry.

Later on that night Clare also retraced his steps to
the house. Entering softly to the sitting-room he
obtained a lightand with the manner of one who had
considered his course he spread his rugs upon the old
horse-hair sofa which stood thereand roughly shaped
it to a sleeping-couch. Before lying down he crept
shoeless upstairsand listened at the door of her
apartment. Her measured breathing told that she was
sleeping profoundly.

Thank God!murmured Clare; and yet he was conscious
of a pang of bitterness at the thought--approximately
truethough not wholly so--that having shifted the
burden of her life to his shoulders she was now
reposing without care.

He turned away to descend; thenirresolutefaced
round to her door again. In the act he caught sight of
one of the d'Urberville dameswhose portrait was
immediately over the entrance to Tess's bedchamber. In
the candlelight the painting was more than unpleasant.
Sinister design lurked in the woman's featuresa
concentrated purpose of revenge on the other sex--so it
seemed to him then. The Caroline bodice of the
portrait was low--precisely as Tess's had been when he
tucked it in to show the necklace; and again he
experienced the distressing sensation of a resemblance
between them.

The check was sufficient. He resumed his retreat and
descended.

His air remained calm and coldhis small compressed
mouth indexing his powers of self-control; his face
wearing still that terrible sterile expression which
had spread thereon since her disclosure. It was the
face of a man who was no longer passion's slaveyet
who found no advantage in his enfranchisement. He was
simply regarding the harrowing contingencies of human
experiencethe unexpectedness of things. Nothing so
pureso sweetso virginal as Tess had seemed possible
all the long while that he had adored herup to an
hour ago; but

The little lessand what worlds away!

He argued erroneously when he said to himself that her
heart was not indexed in the honest freshness of her


face; but Tess had no advocate to set him right. Could
it be possiblehe continuedthat eyes which as they
gazed never expressed any divergence from what the
tongue was tellingwere yet ever seeing another world
behind her ostensible onediscordant and contrasting?

He reclined on his couch in the sitting-roomand
extinguished the light. The night came inand took up
its place thereunconcerned and indifferent; the night
which had already swallowed up his happinessand was
now digesting it listlessly; and was ready to swallow
up the happiness of a thousand other people with as
little disturbance or change of mien.

XXXVI

Clare arose in the light of a dawn that was ashy and
furtiveas though associated with crime. The
fireplace confronted him with its extinct embers; the
spread supper-tablewhereon stood the two full
glasses of untasted winenow flat and filmy; her
vacated seat and his own; the other articles of
furniturewith their eternal look of not being able to
help ittheir intolerable inquiry what was to be done?
From above there was no sound; but in a few minutes
there came a knock at the door. He remembered that it
would be the neighbouring cottager's wifewho was to
minister to their wants while they remained here.

The presence of a third person in the house would be
extremely awkward just nowandbeing already dressed
he opened the window and informed her that they could
manage to shift for themselves that morning. She had a
milk-can in her handwhich he told her to leave at the
door. When the dame had gone away he searched in the
back quarters of the house for fueland speedily lit a
fire. There was plenty of eggsbutterbreadand so
on in the larderand Clare soon had breakfast laid
his experiences at the dairy having rendered him facile
in domestic preparations. The smoke of the kindled
wood rose from the chimney without like a lotus-headed
column; local people who were passing by saw itand
thought of the newly-married coupleand envied their
happiness.

Angel cast a final glance roundand then going to the
foot of the stairscalled in a conventional voice---


Breakfast is ready!

He opened the front doorand took a few steps in the
morning air. Whenafter a short spacehe came back
she was already in the sitting-room mechanically
readjusting the breakfast things. As she was fully
attiredand the interval since his calling her had
been but two or three minutesshe must have been
dressed or nearly so before he went to summon her. Her
hair was twisted up in a large round mass at the back
of her headand she had put on one of the new frocks-a
pale blue woollen garment with neck-frillings of
white. Her hands and face appeared to be coldand she


had possibly been sitting dressed in the bedroom a long
time without any fire. The marked civility of Clare's
tone in calling her seemed to have inspired herfor
the momentwith a new glimmer of hope. But it soon
died when she looked at him.

The pair werein truthbut the ashes of their former
fires. To the hot sorrow of the previous night had
succeeded heaviness; it seemed as if nothing could
kindle either of them to fervour of sensation any more.

He spoke gently to herand she replied with a like
undemonstrativeness. At last she came up to him
looking in his sharply-defined face as one who had no
consciousness that her own formed a visible object also.

Angel!she saidand pausedtouching him with her
fingers lightly as a breezeas though she could hardly
believe to be there in the flesh the man who was once
her lover. Her eyes were brighther pale cheek still
showed its wonted roundnessthough half-dried tears
had left glistening traces thereon; and the usually
ripe red mouth was almost as pale as her cheek.
Throbbingly alive as she was stillunder the stress of
her mental grief the life beat so brokenlythat a
little further pull upon it would cause real illness
dull her characteristic eyesand make her mouth thin.

She looked absolutely pure. Naturein her fantastic
trickeryhad set such a seal of maidenhood upon Tess's
countenance that he gazed at her with a stupefied air.

Tess! Say it is not true! No, it is not true!

It is true.

Every word?

Every word.

He looked at her imploringlyas if he would willingly
have taken a lie from her lipsknowing it to be one
and have made of itby some sort of sophistrya valid
denial. Howevershe only repeated---


It is true.

Is he living?Angel then asked.

The baby died.

But the man?

He is alive.

A last despair passed over Clare's face.

Is he in England?

Yes.

He took a few vague steps.

My position--is this,he said abruptly. "I thought-



any man would have thought--that by giving up
all ambition to win a wife with social standingwith
fortunewith knowledge of the worldI should secure
rustic innocence as surely as I should secure pink
cheeks; but----HoweverI am no man to reproach you
and I will not."

Tess felt his position so entirely that the remainder
had not been needed. Therein lay just the distress of
it; she saw that he had lost all round.

Angel--I should not have let it go on to marriage with
you if I had not known that, after all, there was a
last way out of it for you; though I hoped you would
never----

Her voice grew husky.

A last way?

I mean, to get rid of me. You CAN get rid of me.

How?

By divorcing me.

Good heavens--how can you be so simple! How can I
divorce you?

Can't you--now I have told you? I thought my
confession would give you grounds for that.

O Tess--you are too, too--childish--unformed--crude,
I suppose! I don't know what you are. You don't
understand the law--you don't understand!

What--you cannot?

Indeed I cannot.

A quick shame mixed with the misery upon his listener's
face.

I thought--I thought,she whispered. "Onow I see
how wicked I seem to you! Believe me--believe meon
my soulI never thought but that you could! I hoped
you would not; yet I believedwithout a doubtthat
you could cast me off if you were determinedand
didn't love me at--at--all!"

You were mistaken,he said.

O, then I ought to have done it, to have done it last
night! But I hadn't the courage. That's just like
me!

The courage to do what?

As she did not answer he took her by the hand.

What were you thinking of doing?he inquired.

Of putting an end to myself.


When?

She writhed under this inquisitorial manner of his.
Last night,she answered.

Where?

Under your mistletoe.

My good----! How?he asked sternly.

I'll tell you, if you won't be angry with me!she
saidshrinking. "It was with the cord of my box. But
I could not--do the last thing! I was afraid that it
might cause a scandal to your name."

The unexpected quality of this confessionwrung from
herand not volunteeredshook him perceptibly. But
he still held herandletting his glance fall from
her face downwardshe saidNow, listen to this.
You must not dare to think of such a horrible thing!
How could you! You will promise me as your husband to
attempt that no more.

I am ready to promise. I saw how wicked it was.

Wicked! The idea was unworthy of you beyond
description.

But, Angel,she pleadedenlarging her eyes in calm
unconcern upon himit was thought of entirely on your
account--to set you free without the scandal of the
divorce that I thought you would have to get. I should
never have dreamt of doing it on mine. However, to do
it with my own hand is too good for me, after all.
It is you, my ruined husband, who ought to strike the
blow. I think I should love you more, if that were
possible, if you could bring yourself to do it, since
there's no other way of escape for 'ee. I feel I am so
utterly worthless! So very greatly in the way!

Ssh!

Well, since you say no, I won't. I have no wish
opposed to yours.

He knew this to be true enough. Since the desperation
of the night her activities had dropped to zeroand
there was no further rashness to be feared.

Tess tried to busy herself again over the
breakfast-table with more or less successand they sat
down both on the same sideso that their glances did
not meet. There was at first something awkward in
hearing each other eat and drinkbut this could not be
escaped; moreoverthe amount of eating done was small
on both sides. Breakfast over he roseand telling her
the hour at which he might be expected to dinnerwent
off to the miller's in a mechanical pursuance of the
plan of studying that businesswhich had been his only
practical reason for coming here.

When he was gone Tess stood at the windowand
presently saw his form crossing the great stone bridge


which conducted to the mill premises. He sank behind
itcrossed the railway beyondand disappeared. Then
without a sighshe turned her attention to the room
and began clearing the table and setting it in order.

The charwoman soon came. Her presence was at first a
strain upon Tessbut afterwards an alleviation. At
half-past twelve she left her assistant alone in the
kitchenandreturning to the sitting-roomwaited for
the reappearance of Angel's form behind the bridge.

About one he showed himself. Her face flushed
although he was a quarter of a mile off. She ran to
the kitchen to get the dinner served by the time he
should enter. He went first to the room where they had
washed their hands together the day beforeand as he
entered the sitting-room the dish-covers rose from the
dishes as if by his own motion.

How punctual!he said.

Yes. I saw you coming over the bridge,said she.

The meal was passed in commonplace talk of what he had
been doing during the morning at the Abbey Millof the
methods of bolting and the old-fashioned machinery
which he feared would not enlighten him greatly on
modern improved methodssome of it seeming to have
been in use ever since the days it ground for the monks
in the adjoining conventual buildings--now a heap of
ruins. He left the house again in the course of an
hourcoming home at duskand occupying himself
through the evening with his papers. She feared she
was in the wayandwhen the old woman was gone
retired to the kitchenwhere she made herself busy as
well as she could for more than an hour.

Clare's shape appeared at the door. "You must not work
like this he said. You are not my servant; you are
my wife."

She raised her eyesand brightened somewhat. "I may
think myself that--indeed?" she murmuredin piteous
raillery. "You mean in name! WellI don't want to be
anything more."

You MAY think so, Tess! You are. What do you mean?

I don't know,she said hastilywith tears in her
accents. "I thought I--because I am not respectable
I mean. I told you I thought I was not respectable
enough long ago--and on that account I didn't want to
marry youonly--only you urged me!"

She broke into sobsand turned her back to him. It
would almost have won round any man but Angel Clare.
Within the remote depths of his constitutionso gentle
and affectionate as he was in generalthere lay hidden
a hard logical depositlike a vein of metal in a soft
loamwhich turned the edge of everything that
attempted to traverse it. It had blocked his acceptance
of the Church; it blocked his acceptance of Tess.
Moreoverhis affection itself was less fire than
radianceandwith regard to the other sexwhen he


ceased to believe he ceased to follow: contrasting in
this with many impressionable natureswho remain
sensuously infatuated with what they intellectually
despise. He waited till her sobbing ceased.

I wish half the women in England were as respectable
as you,he saidin an ebullition of bitterness
against womankind in general. "It isn't a question of
respectabilitybut one of principle!"

He spoke such things as these and more of a kindred
sort to herbeing still swayed by the antipathetic
wave which warps direct souls with such persistence
when once their vision finds itself mocked by
appearances. There wasit is trueunderneatha back
current of sympathy through which a woman of the world
might have conquered him. But Tess did not think of
this; she took everything as her desertsand hardly
opened her mouth. The firmness of her devotion to him
was indeed almost pitiful; quick-tempered as she
naturally wasnothing that he could say made her
unseemly; she sought not her own; was not provoked;
thought no evil of his treatment of her. She might
just now have been Apostolic Charity herself returned
to a self-seeking modern world.

This eveningnightand morning were passed precisely
as the preceding ones had been passed. On oneand
only oneoccasion did she--the formerly free and
independent Tess--venture to make any advances. It
was on the third occasion of his starting after a meal
to go out to the flour-mill. As he was leaving the
table he said "Goodbye and she replied in the same
words, at the same time inclining her mouth in the way
of his. He did not avail himself of the invitation,
saying, as he turned hastily aside---


I shall be home punctually."

Tess shrank into herself as if she had been struck.
Often enough had he tried to reach those lips against
her consent--often had he said gaily that her mouth
and breath tasted of the butter and eggs and milk and
honey on which she mainly livedthat he drew
sustenance from themand other follies of that sort.
But he did not care for them now. He observed her
sudden shrinkingand said gently-


You know, I have to think of a course. It was
imperative that we should stay together a little while,
to avoid the scandal to you that would have resulted
from our immediate parting. But you must see it is
only for form's sake.

Yes,said Tess absently.

He went outand on his way to the mill stood still
and wished for a moment that he had responded yet more
kindlyand kissed her once at least.

Thus they lived through this despairing day or two; in
the same housetruly; but more widely apart than
before they were lovers. It was evident to her that he
wasas he had saidliving with paralyzed activities


in his endeavour to think of a plan of procedure. She
was awe-strikin to discover such determination under
such apparent flexibility. His consistency wasindeed
too cruel. She no longer expected forgiveness now.
More than once she thought of going away from him
during his absence at the mill; but she feared that
thisinstead of benefiting himmight be the means of
hampering and humiliating him yet more if it should
become known.

Meanwhile Clare was meditatingverily. His thought
had been unsuspended; he was becoming ill with
thinking; eaten out with thinkingwithered by
thinking; scourged out of all his former pulsating
flexuous domesticity. He walked about saying to
himselfWhat's to be done--what's to be done?and
by chance she overheard him. It caused her to break
the reserve about their future which had hitherto
prevailed.

I suppose--you are not going to live with me--long,
are you, Angel?she askedthe sunk corners of her
mouth betraying how purely mechanical were the means by
which she retained that expression of chastened calm
upon her face.

I cannothe saidwithout despising myself, and what
is worse, perhaps, despising you. I mean, of course,
cannot live with you in the ordinary sense. At
present, whatever I feel, I do not despise you. And,
let me speak plainly, or you may not see all my
difficulties. How can we live together while that man
lives?--he being your husband in nature, and not I.
If he were dead it might be different.... Besides, that's
not all the difficulty; it lies in another
consideration--one bearing upon the future of other
people than ourselves. Think of years to come, and
children being born to us, and this past matter getting
known--for it must get known. There is not an
uttermost part of the earth but somebody comes from it
or goes to it from elsewhere. Well, think of wretches
of our flesh and blood growing up under a taunt which
they will gradually get to feel the full force of with
their expanding years. What an awakening for them!
What a prospect! Can you honestly say 'Remain' after
contemplating this contingency? Don't you think we had
better endure the ills we have than fly to others?

Her eyelidsweighted with troublecontinued drooping
as before.

I cannot say 'Remain,'she answeredI cannot; I had
not thought so far.

Tess's feminine hope--shall we confess it?--had been so
obstinately recuperative as to revive in her
surreptitious visions of a domiciliary intimacy
continued long enough to break down his coldness even
against his judgement. Though unsophisticated in the
usual senseshe was not incomplete; and it would have
denoted deficiency of womanhood if she had not
instinctively known what an argument lies in
propinquity. Nothing else would serve hershe knew
if this failed. It was wrong to hope in what was of


the nature of strategyshe said to herself: yet that
sort of hope she could not extinguish. His last
representation had now been madeand it wasas she
saida new view. She had truly never thought so far
as thatand his lucid picture of possible offspring
who would scorn her was one that brought deadly
convictions to an honest heart which was humanitarian
to its centre. Sheer experience had already taught her
thatin some circumstancesthere was one thing better
than to lead a good lifeand that was to be saved from
leading any life whatever. Like all who have been
previsioned by sufferingshe couldin the words of

M. Sully-Prudhommehear a penal sentence in the fiat
You shall be born,particularly if addressed to
potential issue of hers.
Yet such is the vulpine slyness of Dame Naturethat
till nowTess had been hoodwinked by her love for
Clare into forgetting it might result in vitalizations
that would inflict upon others what she had bewailed as
misfortune to herself.

She therefore could not withstand his argument. But
with the self-combating proclivity of the
supersensitivean answer thereto arose in Clare's own
mindand he almost feared it. It was based on her
exceptional physical nature; and she might have used it
promisingly. She might have added besides: "On an
Australian upland or Texan plainwho is to know or
care about my misfortunesor to reproach me or you?"
Yetlike the majority of womenshe accepted the
momentary presentment as if it were the inevitable.
And she may have been right. The intuitive heart of
woman knoweth not only its own bitternessbut its
husband'sand even if these assumed reproaches were
not likely to be addressed to him or to his by
strangersthey might have reached his ears from his
own fastidious brain.

It was the third day of the estrangement. Some might
risk the odd paradox that with more animalism he would
have been the nobler man. We do not say it. Yet
Clare's love was doubtless ethereal to a fault
imaginative to impracticability. With these natures
corporal presence is something less appealing than
corporal absence; the latter creating an ideal presence
that conveniently drops the defects of the real. She
found that her personality did not plead her cause so
forcibly as she had anticipated. The figurative phrase
was true: she was another woman than the one who had
excited his desire.

I have thought over what you say,she remarked to
himmoving her forefinger over the tableclothher
other handwhich bore the ring that mocked them both
supporting her forehead. "It is quite true all of it;
it must be. You must go away from me."

But what can you do?'

I can go home.

Clare had not thought of that.


Are you sure?he inquired.

Quite sure. We ought to part, and we may as well get
it past and done. You once said that I was apt to win
men against their better judgement; and if I am
constantly before your eyes I may cause you to change
your plans in opposition to your reason and wish; and
afterwards your repentance and my sorrow will be
terrible.

And you would like to go home?he asked.

I want to leave you, and go home.

Then it shall be so.

Though she did not look up at himshe started. There
was a difference between the proposition and the
covenant which she had felt only too quickly.

I feared it would come to this,she murmuredher
countenance meekly fixed. "I don't complainAngel
I--I think it best. What you said has quite convinced
me. Yesthough nobody else should reproach me if we
should stay togetheryet somewhenyears henceyou
might get angry with me for any ordinary matterand
knowing what you do of my bygones you yourself might be
tempted to say wordsand they might be overheard
perhaps by my own children. Owhat only hurts me now
would torture and kill me then! I will go--tomorrow."

And I shall not stay here. Though I didn't like to
initiate it, I have seen that it was advisable we
should part--at least for a while, till I can better
see the shape that things have taken, and can write to
you.

Tess stole a glance at her husband. He was paleeven
tremulous; butas beforeshe was appalled by the
determination revealed in the depths of this gentle
being she had married--the will to subdue the grosser
to the subtler emotionthe substance to the
conceptionthe flesh to the spirit. Propensities
tendencieshabitswere as dead leaves upon the
tyrannous wind of his imaginative ascendency.

He may have observed her lookfor he explained-


I think of people more kindly when I am away from
them; adding cynicallyGod knows; perhaps we will
shake down together some day, for weariness; thousands
have done it!

That day he began to pack upand she went upstairs and
began to pack also. Both knew that it was in their two
minds that they might part the next morning for ever
despite the gloss of assuaging conjectures thrown over
their processing because they were of the sort to whom
any parting which has an air of finality is a torture.
He knewand she knewthatthough the fascination
which each had exercised over the other--on her part
independently of accomplishments--would probably in
the first days of their separation be even more potent
than evertime must attenuate that effect; the


practical arguments against accepting her as a
housemate might pronounce themselves more strongly in
the boreal light of a remoter view. Moreoverwhen two
people are once parted--have abandoned a common
domicile and a common environment--new growths
insensibly bud upward to fill each vacated place;
unforeseen accidents hinder intentionsand old plans
are forgotten.

XXXVII

Midnight came and passed silentlyfor there was
nothing to announce it in the Valley of the Froom.

Not long after one o'clock there was a slight creak in
the darkened farmhouse once the mansion of the
d'Urbervilles. Tesswho used the upper chamberheard
it and awoke. It had come from the corner step of the
staircasewhichas usualwas loosely nailed. She
saw the door of her bedroom openand the figure of her
husband crossed the stream of moonlight with a
curiously careful tread. He was in his shirt and
trousers onlyand her first flush of joy died when she
perceived that his eyes were fixed in an unnatural
stare on vacancy. When he reached the middle of the
room he stood still and murmured in tones of
indescribable sadness-


Dead! dead! dead!

Under the influence of any strongly-disturbing force
Clare would occasionally walk in his sleepand even
perform strange featssuch as he had done on the night
of their return from market just before their marriage
when he re-enacted in his bedroom his combat with the
man who had insulted her. Tess saw that continued
mental distress had wrought him into that
somnambulistic state now.

Her loyal confidence in him lay so deep down in her
heartthatawake or asleephe inspired her with no
sort of personal fear. If he had entered with a pistol
in his hand he would scarcely have disturbed her trust
in his protectiveness.

Clare came closeand bent over her. "Deaddead
dead!" he murmured.

After fixedly regarding her for some moments with the
same gaze of unmeasurable woe he bent lowerenclosed
her in his armsand rolled her in the sheet as in a
shroud. Then lifting her from the bed with as much
respect as one would show to a dead bodyhe carried
her across the roommurmuring---


My poor, poor Tess--my dearest, darling Tess! So
sweet, so good, so true!

The words of endearmentwithheld so severely in his
waking hourswere inexpressibly sweet to her forlorn
and hungry heart. If it had been to save her weary


life she would notby moving or strugglinghave put
an end to the position she found herself in. Thus she
lay in absolute stillnessscarcely venturing to
breatheandwondering what he was going to do with
hersuffered herself to be borne out upon the landing.

My wife--dead, dead!he said.

He paused in his labours for a moment to lean with her
against the banister. Was he going to throw her down?
Self-solicitude was near extinction in herand in the
knowledge that he had planned to depart on the morrow
possibly for alwaysshe lay in his arms in this
precarious position with a sense rather of luxury than
of terror. If they could only fall togetherand both
be dashed to pieceshow fithow desirable.

Howeverhe did not let her fallbut took advantage of
the support of the handrail to imprint a kiss upon her
lips--lips in the daytime scorned. Then he clasped
her with a renewed firmness of holdand descended the
staircase. The creak of the loose stair did not awaken
himand they reached the ground-floor safely. Freeing
one of his hands from his grasp of her for a momenthe
slid back the door-bar and passed outslightly
striking his stockinged toe against the edge of the
door. But this he seemed not to mindandhaving room
for extension in the open airhe lifted her against
his shoulderso that he could carry her with easethe
absence of clothes taking much from his burden. Thus
he bore her off the premises in the direction of the
river a few yards distant.

His ultimate intentionif he had anyshe had not yet
divined; and she found herself conjecturing on the
matter as a third person might have done. So easefully
had she delivered her whole being up to him that it
pleased her to think he was regarding her as his
absolute possessionto dispose of as he should choose.
It was consolingunder the hovering terror of
tomorrow's separationto feel that he really
recognized her now as his wife Tessand did not cast
her offeven if in that recognition he went so far as
to arrogate to himself the right of harming her.

Ah! now she knew what he was dreaming of--that Sunday
morning when he had borne her along through the water
with the other dairymaidswho had loved him nearly as
much as sheif that were possiblewhich Tess could
hardly admit. Clare did not cross the bridge with her
but proceeding several paces on the same side towards
the adjoining millat length stood still on the brink
of the river.

Its watersin creeping down these miles of meadowland
frequently dividedserpentining in purposeless curves
looping themselves around little islands that had no
namereturning and re-embodying themselves as a broad
main stream further on. Opposite the spot to which he
had brought her was such a general confluenceand the
river was proportionately voluminous and deep. Across
it was a narrow foot-bridge; but now the autumn flood
had washed the handrail awayleaving the bare plank
onlywhichlying a few inches above the speeding


currentformed a giddy pathway for even steady heads;
and Tess had noticed from the window of the house in
the daytime young men walking across upon it as a feat
in balancing. Her husband had possibly observed the
same performance; anyhowhe now mounted the plank
andsliding one foot forwardadvanced along it.

Was he going to drown her? Probably he was. The spot
was lonelythe river deep and wide enough to make such
a purpose easy of accomplishment. He might drown her
if he would; it would be better than parting tomorrow
to lead severed lives.

The swift stream raced and gyrated under themtossing
distortingand splitting the moon's reflected face.
Spots of froth travelled pastand intercepted weeds
waved behind the piles. If they could both fall
together into the current nowtheir arms would be so
tightly clasped together that they could not be saved;
they would go out of the world almost painlesslyand
there would be no more reproach to heror to him for
marrying her. His last half-hour with her would have
been a loving onewhile if they lived till he awoke
his daytime aversion would returnand this hour would
remain to be contemplated only as a transient dream.

The impulse stirred in heryet she dared not indulge
itto make a movement that would have precipitated
them both into the gulf. How she valued her own life
had been proved; but his--she had no right to tamper
with it. He reached the other side with her in safety.

Here they were within a plantation which formed the
Abbey groundsand taking a new hold of her he went
onward a few steps till they reached the ruined choir
of the Abbey-church. Against the north wall was the
empty stone coffin of an abbotin which every tourist
with a turn for grim humour was accustomed to stretch
himself. In this Clare carefully laid Tess. Having
kissed her lips a second time he breathed deeplyas if
a greatly desired end were attained. Clare then lay
down on the ground alongsidewhen he immediately fell
into the deep dead slumber of exhaustionand remained
motionless as a log. The spurt of mental excitement
which had produced the effort was now over.

Tess sat up in the coffin. The nightthough dry and
mild for the seasonwas more than sufficiently cold to
make it dangerous for him to remain here longin his
half-clothed state. If he were left to himself he
would in all probability stay there till the morning
and be chilled to certain death. She had heard of such
deaths after sleep-walking. But how could she dare to
awaken himand let him know what he had been doing
when it would mortify him to discover his folly in
respect of her? Tesshoweverstepping out of her
stone confineshook him slightlybut was unable to
arouse him without being violent. It was indispensable
to do somethingfor she was beginning to shiverthe
sheet being but a poor protection. Her excitement had
in a measure kept her warm during the few minutes'
adventure; but that beatific interval was over.

It suddenly occurred to her to try persuasion; and


accordingly she whispered in his earwith as much
firmness and decision as she could summon---


Let us walk on, darling,at the same time taking him
suggestively by the arm. To her reliefhe
unresistingly acquiesced; her words had apparently
thrown him back into his dreamwhich thenceforward
seemed to enter on a new phasewherein he fancied she
had risen as a spiritand was leading him to Heaven.
Thus she conducted him by the arm to the stone bridge
in front of their residencecrossing which they stood
at the manor-house door. Tess's feet were quite bare
and the stones hurt herand chilled her to the bone;
but Clare was in his woollen stockingsand appeared to
feel no discomfort.

There was no further difficulty. She induced him to
lie down on his own sofa bedand covered him up
warmlylighting a temporary fire of woodto dry any
dampness out of him. The noise of these attentions she
thought might awaken himand secretly wished that they
might. But the exhaustion of his mind and body was
such that he remained undisturbed.

As soon as they met the next morning Tess divined that
Angel knew little or nothing of how far she had been
concerned in the night's excursionthoughas regarded
himselfhe may have been aware that he had not lain
still. In truthhe had awakened that morning from a
sleep deep as annihilation; and during those first few
moments in which the brainlike a Samson shaking
himselfis trying its strengthhe had some dim notion
of an unusual nocturnal proceeding. But the realities
of his situation soon displaced conjecture on the other
subject.

He waited in expectancy to discern some mental
pointing; he knew that if any intention of his
concluded over-nightdid not vanish in the light of
morningit stood on a basis approximating to one of
pure reasoneven if initiated by impulse of feeling;
that it was so farthereforeto be trusted. He thus
beheld in the pale morning light the resolve to
separate from her; not as a hot and indignant instinct
but denuded of the passionateness which had made it
scorch and burn; standing in its bones; nothing but a
skeletonbut none the less there. Clare no longer
hesitated.

At breakfastand while they were packing the few
remaining articleshe showed his weariness from the
night's effort so unmistakeably that Tess was on the
point of revealing all that had happened; but the
reflection that it would anger himgrieve him
stultify himto know that he had instinctively
manifested a fondness for her of which his common-sense
did not approve; that his inclination had compromised
his dignity when reason sleptagain deterred her. It
was too much like laughing at a man when sober for his
erratic deeds during intoxication.

It just crossed her mindtoothat he might have a
faint recollection of his tender vagaryand was


disinclined to allude to it from a conviction that she
would take amatory advantage of the opportunity it gave
her of appealing to him anew not to go.

He had ordered by letter a vehicle from the nearest
townand soon after breakfast it arrived. She saw in
it the beginning of the end--the temporary endat
leastfor the revelation of his tenderness by the
incident of the night raised dreams of a possible
future with him. The luggage was put on the topand
the man drove them offthe miller and the old
waiting-woman expressing some surprise at their
precipitate departurewhich Clare attributed to his
discovery that the mill-work was not of the modern kind
which he wished to investigatea statement that was
true so far as it went. Beyond this there was nothing
in the manner of their leaving to suggest a FIASCOor
that they were not going together to visit friends.

Their route lay near the dairy from which they had
started with such solemn joy in each other a few days
backand as Clare wished to wind up his business with
Mr CrickTess could hardly avoid paying Mrs Crick a
call at the same timeunless she would excite
suspicion of their unhappy state.

To make the call as unobtrusive as possible they left
the carriage by the wicket leading down from the high
road to the dairy-houseand descended the track on
footside by side. The withy-bed had been cutand
they could see over the stumps the spot to which Clare
had followed her when he pressed her to be his wife; to
the left the enclosure in which she had been fascinated
by his harp; and far away behind the cowstalls the mead
which had been the scene of their first embrace. The
gold of the summer picture was now graythe colours
meanthe rich soil mudand the river cold.

Over the barton-gate the dairyman saw themand came
forwardthrowing into his face the kind of jocularity
deemed appropriate in Talbothays and its vicinity on
the re-appearance of the newly-married. Then Mrs
Crick emerged from the houseand several others of
their old acquaintancethough Marian and Retty did not
seem to be there.

Tess valiantly bore their sly attacks and friendly
humourswhich affected her far otherwise than they
supposed. In the tacit agreement of husband and wife
to keep their estrangement a secret they behaved as
would have been ordinary. And thenalthough she would
rather there had been no word spoken on the subject
Tess had to hear in detail the story of Marian and
Retty. The later had gone home to her father's and
Marian had left to look for employment elsewhere.
They feared she would come to no good.

To dissipate the sadness of this recital Tess went and
bade all her favourite cows goodbyetouching each of
them with her handand as she and Clare stood side by
side at leavingas if united body and soulthere
would have been something peculiarly sorry in their
aspect to one who should have seen it truly; two limbs
of one lifeas they outwardly werehis arm touching


hersher skirts touching himfacing one wayas
against all the dairy facing the otherspeaking in
their adieux as "we"and yet sundered like the poles.
Perhaps something unusually stiff and embarrassed in
their attitudesome awkwardness in acting up to their
profession of unitydifferent from the natural shyness
of young couplesmay have been apparentfor when they
were gone Mrs Crick said to her husband----


How onnatural the brightness of her eyes did seem, and
how they stood like waxen images and talked as if they
were in a dream! Didn't it strike 'ee that 'twas so?
Tess had always sommat strange in her, and she's not
now quite like the proud young bride of a well-be-doing
man.


They re-entered the vehicleand were driven along the
roads towards Weatherbury and Stagfoot Lanetill they
reached the Lane innwhere Clare dismissed the fly and
man. They rested here a whileand entering the Vale
were next driven onward towards her home by a stranger
who did not know their relations. At a midway point
when Nuttlebury had been passedand where there were
cross-roadsClare stopped the conveyance and said to
Tess that if she meant to return to her mother's house
it was here that he would leave her. As they could not
talk with freedom in the driver's presence he asked her
to accompany him for a few steps on foot along one of
the branch roads; she assentedand directing the man
to wait a few minutes they strolled away.


Now, let us understand each other,he said gently.
There is no anger between us, though there is that
which I cannot endure at present. I will try to bring
myself to endure it. I will let you know where I go to
as soon as I know myself. And if I can bring myself to
bear it--if it is desirable, possible--I will come to
you. But until I come to you it will be better that
you should not try to come to me.


The severity of the decree seemed deadly to Tess; she
saw his view of her clearly enough; he could regard her
in no other light than that of one who had practised
gross deceit upon him. Yet could a woman who had done
even what she had done deserve all this? But she could
contest the point with him no further. She simply
repeated after him his own words.


Until you come to me I must not try to come to you?


Just so.


May I write to you?


O yes--if you are ill, or want anything at all.
I hope that will not be the case; so that it may happen
that I write first to you.


I agree to the conditions, Angel; because you know
best what my punishment ought to be; only--only--don't
make it more than I can bear!


That was all she said on the matter. If Tess had been
artfulhad she made a scenefaintedwept



hystericallyin that lonely lanenotwithstanding the
fury of fastidiousness with which he was possessedhe
would probably not have withstood her. But her mood of
long-suffering made his way easy for himand she
herself was his best advocate. Pridetooentered
into her submission--which perhaps was a symptom of
that reckless acquiescence in chance too apparent in
the whole d'Urberville family--and the many effective
chords which she could have stirred by an appeal were
left untouched.

The remainder of their discourse was on practical
matters only. He now handed her a packet containing a
fairly good sum of moneywhich he had obtained from
his bankers for the purpose. The brilliantsthe
interest in which seemed to be Tess's for her life only
(if he understood the wording of the will)he advised
her to let him send to a bank for safety; and to this
she readily agreed.

These things arranged he walked with Tess back to the
carriageand handed her in. The coachman was paid and
told where to drive her. Taking next his own bag and
umbrella--the sole articles he had brought with him
hitherwards--he bade her goodbye; and they parted there
and then.

The fly moved creepingly up a hilland Clare watched
it go with an unpremeditated hope that Tess would look
out of the window for one moment. But that she never
thought of doingwould not have ventured to dolying
in a half-dead faint inside. Thus he beheld her
recedeand in the anguish of his heart quoted a line
from a poetwith peculiar emendations of his own-


God's NOT in his heaven: all's WRONG with the world!

When Tess had passed over the crest of the hill he
turned to go his own wayand hardly knew that he loved
her still.

XXXVIII

As she drove on through Blackmoor Valeand the
landscape of her youth began to open around herTess
aroused herself from her stupor. Her first thought was
how would she be able to face her parents?

She reached a turnpike-gate which stood upon the
highway to the village. It was thrown open by a
strangernot by the old man who had kept it for many
yearsand to whom she had been known; he had probably
left on New Year's Daythe date when such changes were
made. Having received no intelligence lately from her
homeshe asked the turnpike-keeper for news.

Oh--nothing, miss,he answered. "Marlott is Marlott
still. Folks have died and that. John Durbeyfield
toohev had a daughter married this week to a
gentleman-farmer; not from John's own houseyou know;
they was married elsewhere; the gentleman being of that


high standing that John's own folk was not considered
well-be-doing enough to have any part in itthe
bridegroom seeming not to know how't have been
discovered that John is a old and ancient nobleman
himself by bloodwith family skillentons in their own
vaults to this daybut done out of his property in the
time o' the Romans. HoweverSir Johnas we call 'n
nowkept up the wedding-day as well as he couldand
stood treat to everybody in the parish; and John's wife
sung songs at The Pure Drop till past eleven o'clock."

Hearing thisTess felt so sick at heart that she could
not decide to go home publicly in the fly with her
luggage and belongings. She asked the turnpike-keeper
if she might deposit her things at his house for a
whileandon his offering no objectionshe dismissed
her carriageand went on to the village alone by a
back lane.

At sight of her father's chimney she asked herself how
she could possibly enter the house? Inside that
cottage her relations were calmly supposing her far
away on a wedding-tour with a comparatively rich man
who was to conduct her to bouncing prosperity; while
here she wasfriendlesscreeping up to the old door
quite by herselfwith no better place to go to in the
world.

She did not reach the house unobserved. Just by the
garden-hedge she was met by a girl who knew her--one
of the two or three with whom she had been intimate at
school. After making a few inquiries as to how Tess
came thereher friendunheeding her tragic look
interrupted with-


But where's thy gentleman, Tess?

Tess hastily explained that he had been called away on
businessandleaving her interlocutorclambered over
the garden-hedgeand thus made her way to the house.

As she went up the garden-path she heard her mother
singing by the back doorcoming in sight of which she
perceived Mrs Durbeyfield on the doorstep in the act of
wringing a sheet. Having performed this without
observing Tessshe went indoorsand her daughter
followed her.

The washing-tub stood in the same old place on the same
old quarter-hogsheadand her motherhaving thrown the
sheet asidewas about to plunge her arms in anew.

Why--Tess!--my chil'--I thought you was
married!--married really and truly this time--we sent
the cider----

Yes, mother; so I am.

Going to be?

No--I am married.

Married! Then where's thy husband?


Oh, he's gone away for a time.

Gone away! When was you married, then? The day you
said?

Yes, Tuesday, mother.

And now 'tis on'y Saturday, and he gone away?

Yes, he's gone.

What's the meaning o' that? 'Nation seize such
husbands as you seem to get, say I!

Mother!Tess went across to Joan Durbeyfieldlaid
her face upon the matron's bosomand burst into sobs.
I don't know how to tell 'ee, mother! You said to me,
and wrote to me, that I was not to tell him. But I did
tell him--I couldn't help it--and he went away!

O you little fool--you little fool!burst out Mrs
Durbeyfieldsplashing Tess and herself in her
agitation. "My good God! that ever I should ha' lived
to say itbut I say it againyou little fool!"

Tess was convulsed with weepingthe tension of so many
days having relaxed at last.

I know it--I know--I know!she gasped through her
sobs. "ButO my motherI could not help it! He was
so good--and I felt the wickedness of trying to blind
him as to what had happened! If--if--it were to be
done again--I should do the same. I could not--I dared
not--so sin--against him!"

But you sinned enough to marry him first!

Yes, yes; that's where my misery do lie! But I
thought he could get rid o' me by law if he were
determined not to overlook it. And O, if you knew--if
you could only half know how I loved him--how anxious I
was to have him--and how wrung I was between caring so
much for him and my wish to be fair to him!

Tess was so shaken that she could get no furtherand
sank a helpless thing into a chair.

Well, well; what's done can't be undone! I'm sure I
don't know why children o' my bringing forth should all
be bigger simpletons than other people's--not to know
better than to blab such a thing as that, when he
couldn't ha' found it out till too late!Here Mrs
Durbeyfield began shedding tears on her own account as
a mother to be pitied. "What your father will say I
don't know she continued; for he's been talking
about the wedding up at Rolliver's and The Pure Drop
every day sinceand about his family getting back to
their rightful position through you--poor silly
man!--and now you've made this mess of it! The
Lord-a-Lord!"

As if to bring matters to a focusTess's father was
heard approaching at that moment. He did nothowever
enter immediatelyand Mrs Durbeyfield said that she


would break the bad news to him herselfTess keeping
out of sight for the present. After her first burst of
disappointment Joan began to take the mishap as she had
taken Tess's original troubleas she would have taken
a wet holiday or failure in the potato-crop; as a thing
which had come upon them irrespective of desert or
folly; a chance external impingement to be borne with;
not a lesson.

Tess retreated upstairs and beheld casually that the
beds had been shiftedand new arrangements made. Her
old bed had been adapted for two younger children.
There was no place here for her now.

The room below being unceiled she could hear most of
what went on there. Presently her father entered
apparently carrying in a live hen. He was a
foot-haggler nowhaving been obliged to sell his
second horseand he travelled with his basket on his
arm. The hen had been carried about this morning as it
was often carriedto show people that he was in his
workthough it had lainwith its legs tiedunder the
table at Rolliver's for more than an hour.

We've just had up a story about----Durbeyfield
beganand thereupon related in detail to his wife a
discussion which had arisen at the inn about the
clergyoriginated by the fact of his daughter having
married into a clerical family. "They was formerly
styled 'sir'like my own ancestry he said, though
nowadays their true stylestrictly speakingis
'clerk' only." As Tess had wished that no great
publicity should be given to the eventhe had
mentioned no particulars. He hoped she would remove
that prohibition soon. He proposed that the couple
should take Tess's own named'Urbervilleas
uncorrupted. It was better than her husbands's. He
asked if any letter had come from her that day.

Then Mrs Durbeyfield informed him that no letter had
comebut Tess unfortunately had come herself.

When at length the collapse was explained to him a
sullen mortificationnot usual with Durbeyfield
overpowered the influence of the cheering glass.
Yet the intrinsic quality of the event moved his touchy
sensitiveness less than its conjectured effect upon the
minds of others.

To think, now, that this was to be the end o't!said
Sir John. "And I with a family vault under that there
church of Kingsbere as big as Squire Jollard's
ale-cellarand my folk lying there in sixes and
sevensas genuine county bones and marrow as any
recorded in history. And now to be sure what they
fellers at Rolliver's and The Pure Drop will say to me!
How they'll squint and glaneand say'This is yer
mighty match is it; this is yer getting back to the
true level of yer forefathers in King Norman's time!'
I feel this is too muchJoan; I shall put an end to
myselftitle and all--I can bear it no longer! ... But
she can make him keep her if he's married her?"

Why, yes. But she won't think o' doing that.


D'ye think he really have married her?--or is it like
the first----

Poor Tesswho had heard as far as thiscould not bear
to hear more. The perception that her word could be
doubted even herein her own parental houseset her
mind against the spot as nothing else could have done.
How unexpected were the attacks of destiny! And if her
father doubted her a littlewould not neighbours and
acquaintance doubt her much? Oshe could not live
long at home!

A few daysaccordinglywere all that she allowed
herself hereat the end of which time she received a
short note from Clareinforming her that he had gone
to the North of England to look at a farm. In her
craving for the lustre of her true position as his
wifeand to hide from her parents the vast extent of
the division between themshe made use of this letter
as her reason for again departingleaving them under
the impression that she was setting out to join him.
Still further to screen her husband from any imputation
on unkindness to hershe took twenty-five of the fifty
pounds Clare had given herand handed the sum over to
her motheras if the wife of a man like Angel Clare
could well afford itsaying that it was a slight
return for the trouble and humiliation she had brought
upon them in years past. With this assertion of her
dignity she bade them farewell; and after that there
were lively doing in the Durbeyfield household for some
time on the strength of Tess's bountyher mother
sayingandindeedbelievingthat the rupture which
had arisen between the young husband and wife had
adjusted itself under their strong feeling that they
could not live apart from each other.

XXXIX

It was three weeks after the marriage that Clare found
himself descending the hill which led to the well-known
parsonage of his father. With his downward course the
tower of the church rose into the evening sky in a
manner of inquiry as to why he had come; and no living
person in the twilighted town seemed to notice him
still less to expect him. He was arriving like a
ghostand the sound of his own footsteps was almost an
encumbrance to be got rid of.

The picture of life had changed for him. Before this
time he had known it but speculatively; now he thought
he knew it as a practical man; though perhaps he did
noteven yet. Nevertheless humanity stood before him
no longer in the pensive sweetness of Italian artbut
in the staring and ghastly attitudes of a Wiertz
Museumand with the leer of a study by Van Beers.

His conduct during these first weeks had been desultory
beyond description. After mechanically attempting to
pursue his agricultural plans as though nothing unusual
had happenedin the manner recommended by the great


and wise men of all ageshe concluded that very few of
those great and wise men had ever gone so far outside
themselves as to test the feasibility of their counsel.
This is the chief thing: be not perturbed,said the
Pagan moralist. That was just Clare's own opinion.
But he was perturbed. "Let not your heart be troubled
neither let it be afraid said the Nazarene. Clare
chimed in cordially; but his heart was troubled all the
same. How he would have liked to confront those two
great thinkers, and earnestly appeal to them as
fellow-man to fellow-men, and ask them to tell him
their method!

His mood transmuted itself into a dogged indifference
till at length he fancied he was looking on his own
existence with the passive interest of an outsider.

He was embittered by the conviction that all this
desolation had been brought about by the accident of
her being a d'Urberville. When he found that Tess came
of that exhausted ancient line, and was not of the new
tribes from below, as he had fondly dreamed, why had he
not stoically abandoned her, in fidelity to his
principles? This was what he had got by apostasy, and
his punishment was deserved.

Then he became weary and anxious, and his anxiety
increased. He wondered if he had treated her unfairly.
He ate without knowing that he ate, and drank without
tasting. As the hours dropped past, as the motive of
each act in the long series of bygone days presented
itself to his view, he perceived how intimately the
notion of having Tess as a dear possession was mixed up
with all his schemes and words and ways.

In going hither and thither he observed in the
outskirts of a small town a red-and-blue placard
setting forth the great advantages of the Empire of
Brazil as a field for the emigrating agriculturist.
Land was offered there on exceptionally advantageous
terms. Brazil somewhat attracted him as a new idea.
Tess could eventually join him there, and perhaps in
that country of contrasting scenes and notions and
habits the conventions would not be so operative which
made life with her seem impracticable to him here.
In brief he was strongly inclined to try Brazil,
especially as the season for going thither was just at
hand.

With this view he was returning to Emminster to
disclose his plan to his parents, and to make the best
explanation he could make of arriving without Tess,
short of revealing what had actually separated them.
As he reached the door the new moon shone upon his
face, just as the old one had done in the small hours
of that morning when he had carried his wife in his
arms across the river to the graveyard of the monks;
but his face was thinner now.

Clare had given his parents no warning of his visit,
and his arrival stirred the atmosphere of the Vicarage
as the dive of the kingfisher stirs a quiet pool. His
father and mother were both in the drawing-room, but
neither of his brothers was now at home. Angel


entered, and closed the door quietly behind him.

But--where's your wifedear Angel?" cried his mother.
How you surprise us!

She is at her mother's--temporarily. I have come home
rather in a hurry because I've decided to go to
Brazil.

Brazil! Why they are all Roman Catholics there
surely!

Are they? I hadn't thought of that.

But even the novelty and painfulness of his going to a
Papistical land could no displace for long Mr and Mrs
Clare's natural interest in their son's marriage.

We had your brief note three weeks ago announcing that
it had taken place,said Mrs Clareand your father
sent your godmother's gift to her, as you know. Of
course it was best that none of us should be present,
especially as you preferred to marry her from the
dairy, and not at her home, wherever that may be. It
would have embarrassed you, and given us no pleasure.
Your bothers felt that very strongly. Now it is done we
do not complain, particularly if she suits you for the
business you have chosen to follow instead of the
ministry of the Gospel. ... Yet I wish I could have
seen her first, Angel, or have known a little more
about her. We sent her no present of our own, not
knowing what would best give her pleasure, but you must
suppose it only delayed. Angel, there is no irritation
in my mind or your father's against you for this
marriage; but we have thought it much better to reserve
our liking for your wife till we could see her. And
now you have not brought her. It seems strange. What
had happened?

He replied that it had been thought best by them that
she should to go her parents' home for the present
whilst he came there.

I don't mind telling you, dear mother,he saidthat
I always meant to keep her away from this house till I
should feel she could some with credit to you. But
this idea of Brazil is quite a recent one. If I do go
it will be unadvisable for me to take her on this my
first journey. She will remain at her mother's till I
come back.

And I shall not see her before you start?

He was afraid they would not. His original plan had
beenas he had saidto refrain from bringing her
there for some little while--not to wound their
prejudices--feelings--in any way; and for other reasons
he had adhered to it. He would have to visit home in
the course of a yearif he went out at once; and it
would be possible for them to see her before he started
a second time--with her.

A hastily prepared supper was brought inand Clare
made further exposition of his plans. His mother's


disappointment at not seeing the bride still remained
with her. Clare's late enthusiasm for Tess had
infected her through her maternal sympathiestill she
had almost fancied that a good thing could come out of
Nazareth--a charming woman out of Talbothays Dairy.
She watched her son as he ate.

Cannot you describe her? I am sure she is very
pretty, Angel.

Of that there can be no question!he saidwith a
zest which covered its bitterness.

And that she is pure and virtuous goes without
question?

Pure and virtuous, of course, she is.

I can see her quite distinctly. You said the other
day that she was fine in figure; roundly built; had
deep red lips like Cupid's bow; dark eyelashes and
brows, an immense rope of hair like a ship's cable; and
large eyes violety-bluey-blackish.

I did, mother.

I quite see her. And living in such seclusion she
naturally had scarce ever seen any young man from the
world without till she saw you.

Scarcely.

You were her first love?

Of course.

There are worse wives than these simple, rosy-mouthed,
robust girls of the farm. Certainly I could have
wished--well, since my son is to be an agriculturist,
it is perhaps but proper that his wife should have been
accustomed to an outdoor life.

His father was less inquisitive; but when the time came
for the chapter from the Bible which was always read
before evening prayersthe Vicar observed to Mrs
Clare---


I think, since Angel has come, that it will be more
appropriate to read the thirty-first of Proverbs than
the chapter which we should have had in the usual
course of our reading?

Yes, certainly,said Mrs Clare. "The words of King
Lemuel" (she could cite chapter and verse as well as
her husband). "My dear sonyour father has decided to
read us the chapter in Proverbs in praise of a virtuous
wife. We shall not need to be reminded to apply the
words to the absent one. May Heaven shield her in all
her ways!"

A lump rose in Clare's throat. The portable lectern
was taken out from the corner and set in the middle of
the fireplacethe two old servants came inand
Angel's father began to read at the tenth verse of the


aforesaid chapter---


'Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far
above rubies. She riseth while it is yet night, and
giveth meat to her household. She girdeth her loins
with strength and strengtheneth her arms. She
perceiveth that her merchandise is good; her candle
goeth not out by night. She looketh well to the ways
of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband
also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done
virtuously, but thou excellest them all.'

When prayers were overhis mother said---


I could not help thinking how very aptly that chapter
your dear father read applied, in some of its
particulars, to the woman you have chosen. The perfect
woman, you see, was a working woman; not an idler; not
a fine lady; but one who used her hands and her head
and her heart for the good of others. 'Her children
arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he
praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but
she excelleth them all.' Well, I wish I could have
seen her, Angel. Since she is pure and chaste she
would have been refined enough for me.

Clare could bear this no longer. His eyes were full of
tearswhich seemed like drops of molten lead. He bade
a quick goodnight to these sincere and simple souls
whom he loved so well; who knew neither the worldthe
fleshnor the devil in their own hearts; only as
something vague and external to themselves. He went to
his own chamber.

His mother followed himand tapped at his door.
Clare opened it to discover her standing withoutwith
anxious eyes.

Angel,she askedis there something wrong that you
do away so soon? I am quite sure you are not
yourself.

I am not, quite, mother,said he.

About her? Now, my son, I know it that--I know it is
about her! Have you quarrelled in these three weeks?

We have not exactly quarrelled,he said. "But we
have had a difference----"

Angel--is she a young woman whose history will bear
investigation?

With a mother's instinct Mrs Clare had put her finger
on the kind of trouble that would cause such a disquiet
as seemed to agitate her son.

She is spotless!he replied; and felt that if it had
sent him to eternal hell there and then he would have
told that lie.

Then never mind the rest. After all, there are few
purer things in nature then an unsullied country maid.


Any crudeness of manner which may offend your more
educated sense at first, will, I am sure, disappear
under the influence or your companionship and tuition.
Such terrible sarcasm of blind magnanimity brought home
to Clare the secondary perception that he had utterly
wrecked his career by this marriagewhich had not been
among his early thoughts after the disclosure. True
on his own account he cared very little about his
career; but he had wished to make it at least a
respectable one on account of his parents and brothers.
And now as he looked into the candle its flame dumbly
expressed to him that it was made to shine on sensible
peopleand that it abhorred lighting the face of a
dupe and a failure.

When his agitation had cooled he would be at moments
incensed with his poor wife for causing a situation in
which he was obliged to practise deception on his
parents. He almost talked to her in his angeras if
she had been in the room. And then her cooing voice
plaintive in expostulationdisturbed the darknessthe
velvet touch of her lips passed over his browand he
could distinguish in the air the warmth of her breath.

This night the woman of his belittling deprecations was
thinking how great and good her husband was. But over
them both there hung a deeper shade than the shade
which Angel Clare perceivednamelythe shade of his
own limitations. With all his attempted independence of
judgement this advanced and well-meaning young mana
sample product of the last five-and-twenty yearswas
yet the slave to custom and conventionality when
surprised back into her early teachings. No prophet
had told himand he was not prophet enough to tell
himselfthat essentially this young wife of his was as
deserving of the praise of King Lemuel as any other
woman endowed with the same dislike of evilher moral
value having to be reckoned not by achievement but by
tendency. Moreoverthe figure near at hand suffers on
such occasionbecause it shows up its sorriness
without shade; while vague figures afar off are
honouredin that their distance makes artistic virtues
of their stains. In considering what Tess was nothe
overlooked what she wasand forgot that the defective
can be more than the entire.

At breakfast Brazil was the topicand all endeavoured
to take a hopeful view of Clare's proposed experiment
with that country's soilnotwithstanding the
discouraging reports of some farm-labourers who had
emigrated thither and returned home within the twelve
months. After breakfast Clare went into the little
town to wind up such trifling matters as he was
concerned with thereand to get from the local bank
all the money he possessed. On his way back he
encountered Miss Mercy Chant by the churchfrom whose
walls she seemed to be a sort of emanation. She was
carrying an armful of Bibles for her classand such
was her view of life that events which produced


heartache in others wrought beatific smiles upon
her--an enviable resultalthoughin the opinion of
Angelit was obtained by a curiously unnatural
sacrifice of humanity to mysticism.

She had learnt that he was about to leave Englandand
observed what an excellent and promising scheme it
seemed to be.

Yes; it is a likely scheme enough in a commercial
sense, no doubt,he replied. "Butmy dear Mercyit
snaps the continuity of existence. Perhaps a cloister
would be preferable."

A cloister! O, Angel Clare!

Well?

Why, you wicked man, a cloister implies a monk, and a
monk Roman Catholicism.

And Roman Catholicism sin, and sin damnation. Thou
are in a parlous state, Angel Clare.

I glory in my Protestantism!she said severely.

Then Clarethrown by sheer misery into one of the
demoniacal moods in which a man does despite to his
true principlescalled her close to himand
fiendishly whispered in her ear the most heterodox
ideas he could think of. His momentary laughter at the
horror which appeared on her fair face ceased when it
merged in pain and anxiety for his welfare.

Dear Mercy,he saidyou must forgive me. I think I
am going crazy!

She thought that he was; and thus the interview ended
and Clare re-entered the Vicarage. With the local
banker he deposited the jewels till happier days should
arise. He also paid into the bank thirty pounds--to be
sent to Tess in a few monthsas she might require; and
wrote to her at her parents' home in Blackmoor Vale to
inform her of what he had done. This amountwith the
sum he had already placed in her hands--about fifty
pounds--he hoped would be amply sufficient for her
wants just at presentparticularly as in an emergency
she had been directed to apply to his father.

He deemed it best not to put his parents into
communication with her by informing them of her
address; andbeing unaware of what had really happened
to estrange the twoneither his father nor his mother
suggested that he should do so. During the day he left
the parsonagefor what he had to complete he wished to
get done quickly.

As the last duty before leaving this part of England it
was necessary for him to call at the Wellbridge
farmhousein which he had spent with Tess the first
three days of their marriagethe trifle of rent having
to be paidthe key given up of the rooms they had
occupiedand two or three small articles fetched away
that they had left behind. It was under this roof that


the deepest shadow ever thrown upon his life had
stretched its gloom over him. Yet when he had unlocked
the door of the sitting-room and looked into itthe
memory which returned first upon him was that of their
happy arrival on a similar afternoonthe first fresh
sense of sharing a habitation conjointlythe first
meal togetherthe chatting by the fire with joined
hands.

The farmer and his wife were in the field at the moment
of his visitand Clare was in the rooms alone for some
time. Inwardly swollen with a renewal of sentiment that
he had not quite reckoned withhe went upstairs to her
chamberwhich had never been his. The bed was smooth
as she had made it with her own hands on the morning of
leaving. The mistletoe hung under the tester just as
he had placed it. Having been there three or four
weeks it was turning colourand the leaves and berries
were wrinkled. Angel took it down and crushed it into
the grate. Standing there he for the first time
doubted whether his course in this conjecture had been
a wisemuch less a generousone. But had he not been
cruelly blinded? In the incoherent multitude of his
emotions he knelt down at the bedside wet-eyed. "O
Tess! If you had only told me soonerI would have
forgiven you!" he mourned.

Hearing a footstep below he rose and went to the top of
the stairs. At the bottom of the flight he saw a woman
standingand on her turning up her face recognized the
paledark-eyed Izz Huett.

Mr Clare,she saidI've called to see you and Mrs
Clare, and to inquire if ye be well. I thought you
might be back here again.

This was a girl whose secret he had guessedbut who
had not yet guessed his; an honest girl who loved
him--one who would have made as goodor nearly as
gooda practical farmer's wife as Tess.

I am here alone,he said; "we are not living here
now." Explaining why he had comehe askedWhich way
are you going home, Izz?

I have no home at Talbothays Dairy now, sir,she
said.

Why is that?

Izz looked down.

It was so dismal there that I left! I am staying out
this way.She pointed in a contrary directionthe
direction in which he was journeying.

Well--are you going there now? I can take you if you
wish for a lift.Her olive complexion grew richer in
hue.

Thank 'ee, Mr Clare,she said.

He soon found the farmerand settled the account for
his rent and the few other items which had to be


considered by reason of the sudden abandonment of the
lodgings. On Clare's return to his horse and gig Izz
jumped up beside him.

I am going to leave England, Izz,he saidas they
drove on. "Going to Brazil."

And do Mrs Clare like the notion of such a journey?
she asked.

She is not going at present--say for a year or so.
I am going out to reconnoitre--to see what life there
is like.

They sped along eastward for some considerable
distanceIzz making no observation.

How are the others?he inquired. "How is Retty?"

She was in a sort of nervous state when I zid her
last; and so thin and hollow-cheeked that 'a do seem in
a decline. Nobody will ever fall in love wi' her any
more,said Izz absently.

And Marian?

Izz lowered her voice.

Marian drinks.

Indeed!

Yes. The dairyman has got rid of her.

And you!

I don't drink, and I bain't in a decline. But--I am
no great things at singing afore breakfast now!

How is that? Do you remember how neatly you used to
turn ''Twas down in Cupid's Gardens' and 'The Tailor's
Breeches' at morning milking?

Ah, yes! When you first came, sir, that was. Not
when you had been there a bit.

Why was that falling-off?

Her black eyes flashed up to his face for one moment by
way of answer.

Izz!--how weak of you--for such as I!he saidand
fell into reverie. "Then--suppose I had asked YOU to
marry me?"

If you had I should have said 'Yes', and you would
have married a woman who loved 'ee!

Really!

Down to the ground!she whispered vehemently. "O my
God! did you never guess it till now!" By-and-by they
reached a branch road to a village.


I must get down. I live out there,said Izz abruptly
never having spoken since her avowal.

Clare slowed the horse. He was incensed against his
fatebitterly disposed towards social ordinances; for
they had cooped him up in a cornerout of which there
was no legitimate pathway. Why not be revenged on
society by shaping his future domesticities loosely
instead of kissing the pedagogic rod of convention in
this ensnaring manner?

I am going to Brazil alone, Izz,said he. "I have
separated from my wife for personalnot voyaging
reason. I may never live with her again. I may not be
able to love you; but--will you go with me instead of
her?"

You truly wish me to go?

I do. I have been badly used enough to wish for
relief. And you at least love me disinterestedly.

Yes--I will go,said Izzafter a pause.

You will? You know what it means, Izz?

It means that I shall live with you for the time you
are over there--that's good enough for me.

Remember, you are not to trust me in morals now. But
I ought to remind you that it will be wrong-doing in
the eyes of civilization--Western civilization, that is
to say.

I don't mind that; no woman do when it comes to agonypoint,
and there's no other way!

Then don't get down, but sit where you are.

He drove past the cross-roadsone miletwo miles
without showing any signs of affection.

You love me very, very much, Izz?he suddenly asked.

I do--I have said I do! I loved you all the time we
was at the dairy together!

More than Tess?

She shook her head.

No,she murmurednot more than she.

How's that?

Because nobody could love 'ee more than Tess did! ...
She would have laid down her life for 'ee. I could do
no more.

Like the prophet on the top of PeorIzz Huett would
fain have spoken perversely at such a momentbut the
fascination exercised over her rougher nature by Tess's
character compelled her to grace.


Clare was silent; his heart had risen at these
straightforward words from such an unexpected
unimpeachable quarter. In his throat was something as
if a sob had solidified there. His ear repeatedSHE
WOULD HAVE LAID DOWN HER LIFE FOR 'EE. I COULD DO NO
MORE!

Forget our idle talk, Izz,he saidturning the
horse's head suddenly. "I don't know what I've been
saying! I will now drive you back to where your lane
branches off."

So much for honesty towards 'ee! O--how can I bear
it--how can I--how can I!

Izz Huett burst into wild tearsand beat her forehead
as she saw what she had done.

Do you regret that poor little act of justice to an
absent one? O, Izz, don't spoil it by regret!

She stilled herself by degrees.

Very well, sir. Perhaps I didn't know what I was
saying, either, wh--when I agreed to go! I wish--what
cannot be!

Because I have a loving wife already.

Yes, yes! You have!

They reached the corner of the lane which they had
passed half an hour earlierand she hopped down.

Izz--please, please forget my momentary levity!he
cried. "It was so ill-consideredso ill-advised!"

Forget it? Never, never! O, it was no levity to me!

He felt how richly he deserved the reproach that the
wounded cry conveyedandin a sorrow that was
inexpressibleleapt down and took her hand.

Well, but, Izz, we'll part friends, anyhow? You don't
know what I've had to bear!

She was a really generous girland allowed no further
bitterness to mar their adieux.

I forgive 'ee, sir!she said.

Now, Izz,he saidwhile she stood beside him there
forcing himself to the mentor's part he was far from
feeling; "I want you to tell Marian when you see her
that she is to be a good womanand not to give way to
folly. Promise thatand tell Retty that there are more
worthy men than I in the worldthat for my sake she is
to act wisely and well--remember the words--wisely and
well--for my sake. I send this message to them as a
dying man to the dying; for I shall never see them
again. And youIzzyyou have saved me by your honest
words about my wife from an incredible impulse towards
folly and treachery. Women may be badbut they are
not so bad as men in these things! On that one account


I can never forget you. Be always the good and sincere
girl you have hitherto been; and think of me as a
worthless loverbut a faithful friend. Promise."

She gave the promise.

Heaven bless and keep you, sir. Goodbye!

He drove on; but no sooner had Izz turned into the
laneand Clare was out of sightthan she flung
herself down on the bank in a fit of racking anguish;
and it was with a strained unnatural face that she
entered her mother's cottage late that night. Nobody
ever was told how Izz spent the dark hours that
intervened between Angel Clare's parting from her and
her arrival home.

Claretooafter bidding the girl farewellwas
wrought to aching thoughts and quivering lips. But his
sorrow was not for Izz. That evening he was within a
feather-weight's turn of abandoning his road to the
nearest stationand driving across that elevated
dorsal line of South Wessex which divided him from his
Tess's home. It was neither a contempt for her nature
nor the probable state of her heartwhich deterred
him.

No; it was a sense thatdespite her loveas
corroborated by Izz's admissionthe facts had not
changed. If he was right at firsthe was right now.
And the momentum of the course on which he had embarked
tended to keep him going in itunless diverted by a
strongermore sustained force than had played upon him
this afternoon. He could soon come back to her. He
took the train that night for Londonand five days
after shook hands in farewell of his brothers at the
port of embarkation.

From the foregoing events of the winter-time let us
press on to an October daymore than eight months
subsequent to the parting of Clare and Tess. We
discover the latter in changed conditions; instead of a
bride with boxes and trunks which others borewe see
her a lonely woman with a basket and a bundle in her
own porterageas at an earlier time when she was no
bride; instead of the ample means that were projected
by her husband for her comfort through this
probationary periodshe can produce only a flattened
purse.

After again leaving Marlotther homeshe had got
through the spring and summer without any great stress
upon her physical powersthe time being mainly spent
in rendering light irregular service at dairy-work near
Port-Bredy to the west of the Blackmoor Valleyequally
remote from her native place and from Talbothays. She
preferred this to living on his allowance. Mentally
she remained in utter stagnationa condition which the
mechanical occupation rather fostered than checked.


Her consciousness was at that other dairyat that
other seasonin the presence of the tender lover who
had confronted her there--he whothe moment she had
grasped him to keep for her ownhad disappeared like a
shape in a vision.

The dairy-work lasted only till the milk began to
lessenfor she had not met with a second regular
engagement as at Talbothaysbut had done duty as a
supernumerary only. Howeveras harvest was now
beginningshe had simply to remove from the pasture to
the stubble to find plenty of further occupationand
this continued till harvest was done.

Of the five-and-twenty pounds which had remained to her
of Clare's allowanceafter deducting the other half of
the fifty as a contribution to her parents for the
trouble and expense to which she had put themshe had
as yet spent but little. But there now followed an
unfortunate interval of wet weatherduring which she
was obliged to fall back upon her sovereigns.

She could not bear to let them go. Angel had put them
into her handhad obtained them bright and new from
his bank for her; his touch had consecrated them to
souvenirs of himself--they appeared to have had as yet
no other history than such as was created by his and
her own experiences--and to disperse them was like
giving away relics. But she had to do itand one by
one they left her hands.

She had been compelled to send her mother her address
from time to timebut she concealed her circumstances.
When her money had almost gone a letter from her mother
reached her. Joan stated that they were in dreadful
difficulty; the autumn rains had gone through the
thatch of the housewhich required entire renewal; but
this could not be done because the previous thatching
had never been paid for. New rafters and a new ceiling
upstairs also were requiredwhichwith the previous
billwould amount to a sum of twenty pounds. As her
husband was a man of meansand had doubtless returned
by this timecould she not send them the money?

Tess had thirty pounds coming to her almost immediately
from Angel's bankersandthe case being so
deplorableas soon as the sum was received she sent
the twenty as requested. Part of the remainder she was
obliged to expend in winter clothingleaving only a
nominal sum for the whole inclement season at hand.
When the last pound had gonea remark of Angel's that
whenever she required further resources she was to
apply to his fatherremained to be considered.

But the more Tess thought of the step the more
reluctant was she to take it. The same delicacy
pridefalse shamewhatever it may be calledon
Clare's accountwhich had led her to hide from her own
parents the prolongation of the estrangementhindered
her owning to his that she was in want after the fair
allowance he had left her. They probably despised her
already; how much more they would despise her in the
character of a mendicant! The consequence was that by
no effort could the parson's daughter-in-law bring


herself to let him know her state.

Her reluctance to communicate with her husband's
parents mightshe thoughtlessen with the lapse of
time; but with her own the reverse obtained. On her
leaving their house after the short visit subsequent to
her marriage they were under the impression that she
was ultimately going to join her husband; and from that
time to the present she had done nothing to disturb
their belief that she was awaiting his return in
comforthoping against hope that his journey to Brazil
would result in a short stay onlyafter which he would
come to fetch heror that he would write for her to
join him; in any case that they would soon present a
united front to their families and the world. This
hope she still fostered. To let her parents know that
she was a deserted wifedependentnow that she had
relieved their necessitieson her own hands for a
livingafter the ECLAT of a marriage which was to
nullify the collapse of the first attemptwould be too
much indeed.

The set of brilliants returned to her mind. Where
Clare had deposited them she did not knowand it
mattered littleif it were true that she could only
use and not sell them. Even were they absolutely hers
it would be passing mean to enrich herself by a legal
title to them which was not essentially hers at all.

Meanwhile her husband's days had been by no means free
from trial. At this moment he was lying ill of fever
in the clay lands near Curitiba in Brazilhaving been
drenched with thunder-storms and persecuted by other
hardshipsin common with all the English farmers and
farm-labourers whojust at this timewere deluded
into going thither by the promises of the Brazilian
Governmentand by the baseless assumption that those
frames whichploughing and sowing on English uplands
had resisted all the weathers to whose moods they had
been borncould resist equally well all the weathers
by which they were surprised on Brazilian plains.

To return. Thus it happened that when the last of
Tess's sovereigns had been spent she was unprovided
with others to take their placewhile on account of
the season she found it increasingly difficult to get
employment. Not being aware of the rarity of
intelligenceenergyhealthand willingness in any
sphere of lifeshe refrained from seeking an indoor
occupation; fearing townslarge housespeople of
means and social sophisticationand of manners other
than rural. From that direction of gentility Black
Care had come. Society might be better than she
supposed from her slight experience of it. But she had
no proof of thisand her instinct in the circumstances
was to avoid its purlieus.

The small dairies to the westbeyond Port-Bredyin
which she had served as supernumerary milkmaid during
the spring and summer required no further aid. Room
would probably have been made for her at Talbothays
if only out of sheer compassion; but comfortable as her
life had been there she could not go back. The
anti-climax would be too intolerable; and her return


might bring reproach upon her idolized husband. She
could not have borne their pityand their whispered
remarks to one another upon her strange situation;
though she would almost have faced a knowledge of her
circumstances by every individual thereso long as her
story had remained isolated in the mind of each. It
was the interchange of ideas about her that made her
sensitiveness wince. Tess could not account for this
distinction; she simply knew that she felt it.

She was now on her way to an upland farm in the centre
of the countyto which she had been recommended by a
wandering letter which had reached her from Marian.
Marian had somehow heard that Tess was separated from
her husband--probably through Izz Huett--and the
good-natured and now tippling girldeeming Tess in
troublehad hastened to notify to her former friend
that she herself had gone to this upland spot after
leaving the dairyand would like to see her there
where there was room for other handsif it was really
true that she worked again as of old.

With the shortening of the days all hope of obtaining
her husband's forgiveness began to leave her; and there
was something of the habitude of the wild animal in the
unreflecting instinct with which she rambled on-disconnecting
herself by littles from her eventful past
at every stepobliterating her identitygiving no
thought to accidents or contingencies which might make
a quick discovery of her whereabouts by others of
importance to her own happinessif not to theirs.

Among the difficulties of her lonely position not the
least was the attention she excited by her appearance
a certain bearing of distinctionwhich she had caught
from Clarebeing superadded to her natural
attractiveness. Whilst the clothes lasted which had
been prepared for her marriagethese casual glances of
interest caused her no inconveniencebut as soon as
she was compelled to don the wrapper of a fieldwoman
rude words were addressed to her more than once; but
nothing occurred to cause her bodily fear till a
particular November afternoon.

She had preferred the country west of the River Brit to
the upland farm for which she was now boundbecause
for one thingit was nearer to the home of her
husband's father; and to hover about that region
unrecognizedwith the notion that she might decide to
call at the Vicarage some daygave her pleasure. But
having once decided to try the higher and drier levels
she pressed back eastwardmarching afoot towards the
village of Chalk-Newtonwhere she meant to pass the
night.

The lane was long and unvariedandowing to the rapid
shortening of the daysdusk came upon her before she
was aware. She had reached the top of a hill down
which the lane stretched its serpentine length in
glimpseswhen she heard footsteps behind her back
and in a few moments she was overtaken by a man.
He stepped up alongside Tess and said-


Goodnight, my pretty maid: to which she civilly


replied.

The light still remaining in the sky lit up her face
though the landscape was nearly dark. The man turned
and stared hard at her.

Why, surely, it is the young wench who was at
Trantridge awhile--young Squire d'Urberville's friend?
I was there at that time, though I don't live there
now.

She recognized in him the well-to-do boor whom Angel
had knocked down at the inn for addressing her
coarsely. A spasm of anguish shot through herand she
returned him no answer.

Be honest enough to own it, and that what I said in
the town was true, though your fancy-man was so up
about it--hey, my sly one? You ought to beg my pardon
for that blow of his, considering.

Still no answer came from Tess. There seemed only one
escape for her hunted soul. She suddenly took to her
heels with the speed of the windandwithout looking
behind herran along the road till she came to a gate
which opened directly into a plantation. Into this she
plungedand did not pause till she was deep enough in
its shade to be safe against any possibility of
discovery.

Under foot the leaves were dryand the foliage of some
holly bushes which grew among the deciduous trees was
dense enough to keep off draughts. She scraped
together the dead leaves till she had formed them into
a large heapmaking a sort of nest in the middle.
Into this Tess crept.

Such sleep as she got was naturally fitful; she fancied
she heard strange noisesbut persuaded herself that
they were caused by the breeze. She thought of her
husband in some vague warm clime on the other side of
the globewhile she was here in the cold. Was there
another such a wretched being as she in the world?
Tess asked herself; andthinking of her wasted life
saidAll is vanity.She repeated the words
mechanicallytill she reflected that this was a most
inadequate thought for modern days. Solomon had
thought as far as that more than two thousand years
ago; she herselfthough not in the van of thinkers
had got much further. If all were only vanitywho
would mind it? All wasalasworse than
vanity--injusticepunishmentexactiondeath. The
wife of Angel Clare put her hand in her browand felt
its curveand the edges of her eye-sockets perceptible
under the soft skinand thought as she did so that a
time would come when that bone would be bare. "I wish
it were now she said.

In the midst of these whimsical fancies she heard a new
strange sound among the leaves. It might be the wind;
yet there was scarcely any wind. Sometimes it was a
palpitation, sometimes a flutter; sometimes it was a
sort of gasp or gurgle. Soon she was certain that the
noises came from wild creatures of some kind, the more


so when, originating in the boughs overhead, they were
followed by the fall of a heavy body upon the ground.
Had she been ensconced here under other and more
pleasant conditions she would have become alarmed; but,
outside humanity, she had at present no fear.

Day at length broke in the sky. When it had been day
aloft for some little while it became day in the wood.

Directly the assuring and prosaic light of the world's
active hours had grown strong she crept from under her
hillock of leaves, and looked around boldly. Then she
perceived what had been going on to disturb her. The
plantation wherein she had taken shelter ran down at
this spot into a peak, which ended it hitherward,
outside the hedge being arable ground. Under the trees
several pheasants lay about, their rich plumage dabbled
with blood; some were dead, some feebly twitching a
wing, some staring up at the sky, some pulsating
quickly, some contorted, some stretched out--all of
them writhing in agony, except the fortunate ones whose
tortures had ended during the night by the inability of
nature to bear more.

Tess guessed at once the meaning of this. The birds
had been driven down into this corner the day before by
some shooting-party; and while those that had dropped
dead under the shot, or had died before nightfall, had
been searched for and carried off, many badly wounded
birds had escaped and hidden themselves away, or risen
among the thick boughs, where they had maintained their
position till they grew weaker with loss of blood in
the night-time, when they had fallen one by one as she
had heard them.

She had occasionally caught glimpses of these men in
girlhood, looking over hedges, or peeping through
bushes, and pointing their guns, strangely accoutred,
a bloodthirsty light in their eyes. She had been told
that, rough and brutal as they seemed just then, they
were not like this all the year round, but were, in
fact, quite civil persons save during certain weeks of
autumn and winter, when, like the inhabitants of the
Malay Peninsula, they ran amuck, and made it their
purpose to destroy life--in this case harmless
feathered creatures, brought into being by artificial
means solely to gratify these propensities--at once so
unmannerly and so unchivalrous towards their weaker
fellows in Nature's teeming family.

With the impulse of a soul who could feel for kindred
sufferers as much as for herself, Tess's first thought
was to put the still living birds out of their torture,
and to this end with her own hands she broke the necks
of as many as she could find, leaving them to lie where
she had found them till the game-keepers should
come--as they probably would come--to look for them a
second time.

Poor darlings--to suppose myself the most miserable
being on earth in the sight o' such misery as yours!"
she exclaimedher tears running down as she killed the
birds tenderly. "And not a twinge of bodily pain about
me! I be not mangledand I be not bleedingand I


have two hands to feed and clothe me." She was ashamed
of herself for her gloom of the nightbased on nothing
more tangible than a sense of condemnation under an
arbitrary law of society which had no foundation in
Nature.

XLII

It was now broad dayand she started againemerging
cautiously upon the highway. But there was no need for
caution; not a soul was at handand Tess went onward
with fortitudeher recollection of the birds' silent
endurance of their night of agony impressing upon her
the relativity of sorrows and the tolerable nature of
her ownif she could once rise high enough to despise
opinion. But that she could not do so long as it was
held by Clare.

She reached Chalk-Newtonand breakfasted at an inn
where several young men were troublesomely
complimentary to her good looks. Somehow she felt
hopefulfor was it not possible that her husband also
might say these same things to her even yet? She was
bound to take care of herself on the chance of itand
keep off these casual lovers. To this end Tess
resolved to run no further risks from her appearance.
As soon as she got out of the village she entered a
thicket and took from her basket one of the oldest
field-gownswhich she had never put on even at the
dairy--never since she had worked among the stubble at
Marlott. She alsoby a felicitous thoughttook a
handkerchief from her bundle and tied it round her face
under her bonnetcovering her chin and half her cheeks
and templesas if she were suffering from toothache.
Then with her little scissorsby the aid of a pocket
looking-glassshe mercilessly nipped her eyebrows off
and thus insured against aggressive admiration she went
on her uneven way.

What a mommet of a maid!said the next man who met
her to a companion.

Tears came into her eyes for very pity of herself as
she heard him.

But I don't care!she said. "O no--I don't care!
I'll always be ugly nowbecause Angel is not hereand
I have nobody to take care of me. My husband that was
is gone awayand never will love me any more; but I
love him just the sameand hate all other menand
like to make 'em think scornfully of me!"

Thus Tess walks on; a figure which is part of the
landscape; a fieldwoman pure and simplein winter
guise; a gray serge capea red woollen cravata stuff
skirt covered by a whitey-brown rough wrapperand
buff-leather gloves. Every thread of that old attire
has become faded and thin under the stroke of
raindropsthe burn of sunbeamsand the stress of
winds. There is no sign of young passion in her
now---



The maiden's mouth is cold
. . . . . . . .
Fold over simple fold
Binding her head.


Inside this exteriorover which the eye might have
roved as over a thing scarcely percipientalmost
inorganicthere was the record of a pulsing life which
had learnt too wellfor its yearsof the dust and
ashes of thingsof the cruelty of lust and the
fragility of love.

Next day the weather was badbut she trudged onthe
honestydirectnessand impartiality of elemental
enmity disconcerting her but little. Her object being
a winter's occupation and a winter's homethere was no
time to lose. Her experience of short hirings had been
such that she was determined to accept no more.

Thus she went forward from farm to farm in the
direction of the place whence Marian had written to
herwhich she determined to make use of as a last
shift onlyits rumoured stringencies being the reverse
of tempting. First she inquired for the lighter kinds
of employmentandas acceptance in any variety of
these grew hopelessapplied next for the less light
tillbeginning with the dairy and poultry tendance
that she liked bestshe ended with the heavy and
course pursuits which she liked least--work on arable
land: work of such roughnessindeedas she would
never have deliberately voluteered for.

Towards the second evening she reached the irregular
chalk table-land or plateaubosomed with semi-globular
tumuli--as if Cybele the Many-breasted were supinely
extended there--which stretched between the valley of
her birth and the valley of her love.

Here the air was dry and coldand the long cart-roads
were blown white and dusty within a few hours after
rain. There were few treesor nonethose that would
have grown in the hedges being mercilessly plashed down
with the quickset by the tenant-farmersthe natural
enemies of treebushand brake. In the middle
distance ahead of her she could see the summits of
Bulbarrow and of Nettlecombe Toutand they seemed
friendly. They had a low and unassuming aspect from
this uplandthough as approached on the other side
from Blackmoor in her childhood they were as lofty
bastions against the sky. Southerlyat many miles'
distanceand over the hills and ridges coastwardshe
could discern a surface like polished steel: it was the
English Channel at a point far out towards France.

Before herin a slight depressionwere the remains of
a village. She hadin factreached Flintcomb-Ash
the place of Marian's sojourn. There seemed to be no
help for it; hither she was doomed to come. The
stubborn soil around her showed plainly enough that the
kind of labour in demand here was of the roughest kind;
but it was time to rest from searchingand she


resolved to stayparticularly as it began to rain.
At the entrance to the village was a cottage whose gable
jutted into the roadand before applying for a lodging
she stood under its shelterand watched the evening
close in.

Who would think I was Mrs Angel Clare!she said.

The wall felt warm to her back and shouldersand she
found that immediately within the gable was the cottage
fireplacethe heat of which came through the bricks.
She warmed her hands upon themand also put her
cheek--red and moist with the drizzle--against their
comforting surface. The wall seemed to be the only
friend she had. She had so little wish to leave it
that she could have stayed there all night.

Tess could hear the occupants of the cottage--gathered
together after their day's labour--talking to each
other withinand the rattle of their supper-plates was
also audible. But in the village-street she had seen
no soul as yet. The solitude was at last broken by the
approach of one feminine figurewhothough the
evening was coldwore the print gown and the
tilt-bonnet of summer time. Tess instinctively thought
it might be Marianand when she came near enough to be
distinguishable in the gloom surely enough it was she.
Marian was even stouter and redder in the face than
formerlyand decidedly shabbier in attire. At any
previous period of her existence Tess would hardly have
cared to renew the acquaintance in such conditions; but
her loneliness was excessiveand she responded readily
to Marian's greeting.

Marian was quite respectful in her inquiriesbut
seemed much moved by the fact that Tess should still
continue in no better condition than at first; though
she had dimly heard of the separation.

Tess--Mrs Clare--the dear wife of dear he! And is it
really so bad as this, my child? Why is your cwomely
face tied up in such a way? Anybody been beating 'ee?
Not HE?

No, no, no! I merely did it not to be clipsed or
colled, Marian.

She pulled off in disgust a bandage which could suggest
such wild thoughts.

And you've got no collar on(Tess had been accustomed
to wear a little white collar at the dairy).

I know it, Marian.

You've lost it travelling.

I've not lost it. The truth is, I don't care anything
about my looks; and so I didn't put it on.

And you don't wear your wedding-ring?

Yes, I do; but not in public. I wear it round my neck
on a ribbon. I don't wish people to think who I am by


marriage, or that I am married at all; it would be so
awkward while I lead my present life.

Marian paused.

But you BE a gentleman's wife; and it seems hardly
fair that you should live like this!

O yes it is, quite fair; though I am very unhappy.

Well, well. HE married you--and you can be unhappy!

Wives are unhappy sometimes; from no fault of their
husbands--from their own.

You've no faults, deary; that I'm sure of. And he's
none. So it must be something outside ye both.

Marian, dear Marian, will you do me a good turn
without asking questions? My husband has gone abroad,
and somehow I have overrun my allowance, so that I have
to fall back upon my old work for a time. Do not call
me Mrs Clare, but Tess, as before. Do they want a hand
here?

O yes; they'll take one always, because few care to
come. Tis a starve-acre place. Corn and swedes are
all they grow. Though I be here myselfI feel 'tis a
pity for such as you to come."

But you used to be as good a dairywoman as I.

Yes; but I've got out o' that since I took to drink.
Lord, that's the only comfort I've got now! If you
engage, you'll be set swede-hacking. That's what I be
doing; but you won't like it.

O--anything! Will you speak for me?

You will do better by speaking for yourself.

Very well. Now, Marian, remember--nothing about HIM,
if I get the place. I don't wish to bring his name
down to the dirt.

Marianwho was really a trustworthy girl though of
coarser grain than Tesspromised anything she asked.

This is pay-night,she saidand if you were to come
with me you would know at once. I be real sorry that
you are not happy; but 'tis because he's away, I know.
You couldn't be unhappy if he were here, even if he
gie'd ye no money--even if used you like a drudge.

That's true; I could not!

They walked on togetherand soon reached the
farmhousewhich was almost sublime in its dreariness.
There was not a tree within sight; there was notat
this seasona green pasture--nothing but fallow and
turnips everywhere; in large fields divided by hedges
plashed to unrelieved levels.

Tess waited outside the door of the farmhouse till the


group of workfolk had received their wagesand then
Marian introduced her. The farmer himselfit
appearedwas not at homebut his wifewho
represented him this eveningmade no objection to
hiring Tesson her agreeing to remain till Old
Lady-Day. Female field-labour was seldom offered now
and its cheapness made it profitable for tasks which
women could perform as readily as men.

Having signed the agreementthere was nothing more for
Tess to do at present than to get a lodgingand she
found one in the house at whose gable-wall she had
warmed herself. It was a poor subsistence that she had
ensuredbut it would afford a shelter for the winter
at any rate.

That night she wrote to inform her parents of her new
addressin case a letter should arrive at Marlott from
her husband. But she did not tell them of the
sorriness of her situation: it might have brought
reproach upon him.

XLIII

There was no exaggeration in Marian's definition of
Flintcomb-Ash farm as a starve-acre place. The single
fat thing on the soil was Marian herself; and she was
an importation. Of the three classes of villagethe
village cared for by its lordthe village cared for by
itselfand the village uncared for either by itself or
by its lord (in other wordsthe village of a resident
squires's tenantrythe village of free or
copy-holdersand the absentee-owner's villagefarmed
with the land) this placeFlintcomb-Ashwas the
third.

But Tess set to work. Patiencethat blending of moral
courage with physical timiditywas now no longer a
minor feature in Mrs Angel Clare; and it sustained her.

The swede-field in which she and her companion were set
hacking was a stretch of a hundred odd acresin one
patchon the highest ground of the farmrising above
stony lanchets or lynchets--the outcrop of siliceous
veins in the chalk formationcomposed of myriads of
loose white flints in bulbouscuspedand phallic
shapes. The upper half of each turnip had been eaten
off by the live-stockand it was the business of the
two women to grub up the lower or earthy half of the
root with a hooked fork called a hackerthat it might
be eaten also. Every leaf of the vegetable having
already been consumedthe whole field was in colour a
desolate drab; it was a complexion without featuresas
if a facefrom chin to browshould be only an expanse
of skin. The sky worein another colourthe same
likeness; a white vacuity of countenance with the
lineaments gone. So these two upper and nether visages
confronted each other all day longthe white face
looking down on the brown faceand the brown face
looking up at the white facewithout anything standing
between them but the two girls crawling over the


surface of the former like flies.

Nobody came near themand their movements showed a
mechanical regularity; their forms standing enshrouded
in Hessian "wroppers"--sleeved brown pinaforestied
behind to the bottomto keep their gowns from blowing
about--scant skirts revealing boots that reached high
up the anklesand yellow sheepskin gloves with
gauntlets. The pensive character which the curtained
hood lent to their bent heads would have reminded the
observer of some early Italian conception of the two
Marys.

They worked on hour after hourunconscious of the
forlorn aspect they bore in the landscapenot thinking
of the justice or injustice of their lot. Even in such
a position as theirs it was possible to exist in a
dream. In the afternoon the rain came on againand
Marian said that they need not work any more. But if
they did not work they would not be paid; so they
worked on. It was so high a situationthis field
that the rain had no occasion to fallbut raced along
horizontally upon the yelling windsticking into them
like glass splinters till they were wet through. Tess
had not known till now what was really meant by that.
There are degrees of dampnessand a very little is
called being wet through in common talk. But to stand
working slowly in a fieldand feel the creep of
rain-waterfirst in legs and shouldersthen on hips
and headthen at backfrontand sidesand yet to
work on till the leaden light diminishes and marks that
the sun is downdemands a distinct modicum of
stoicismeven of valour.

Yet they did not feel the wetness so much as might be
supposed. They were both youngand they were talking
of the time when they lived and loved together at
Talbothays Dairythat happy green tract of land where
summer had been liberal in her gifts; in substance to
allemotionally to these. Tess would fain not have
conversed with Marian of the man who was legallyif
not actuallyher husband; but the irresistible
fascination of the subject betrayed her into
reciprocating Marian's remarks. And thusas has been
saidthough the damp curtains of their bonnets flapped
smartly into their facesand their wrappers clung
about them to wearisomenessthey lived all this
afternoon in memories of greensunnyromantic
Talbothays.

You can see a gleam of a hill within a few miles o'
Froom Valley from here when 'tis fine,said Marian.

Ah! Can you?said Tessawake to the new value of
this locality.

So the two forces were at work here as everywherethe
inherent will to enjoyand the circumstantial will
against enjoyment. Marian's will had a method of
assisting itself by taking from her pocket as the
afternoon wore on a pint bottle corked with white rag
from which she invited Tess to drink. Tess's
unassisted power of dreaminghoweverbeing enough for
her sublimation at presentshe declined except the


merest sipand then Marian took a pull from the
spirits.

I've got used to it,she saidand can't leave it
off now. 'Tis my only comfort----You see I lost him:
you didn't; and you can do without it perhaps.

Tess thought her loss as great as Marian'sbut upheld
by the dignity of being Angel's wifein the letter at
leastshe accepted Marian's differentiation.

Amid this scene Tess slaved in the morning frosts and
in the afternoon rains. When it was not swede-grubbing
it was swede-trimmingin which process they sliced off
the earth and the fibres with a bill-hook before
storing the roots for future use. At this occupation
they could shelter themselves by a thatched hurdle if
it rained; but if it was frosty even their thick
leather gloves could not prevent the frozen masses they
handled from biting their fingers. Still Tess hoped.
She had a conviction that sooner or later the
magnanimity which she persisted in reckoning as a chief
ingredient of Clare's character would lead him to
rejoin her.

Marianprimed to a humorous moodwould discover the
queer-shaped flints aforesaidand shriek with
laughterTess remaining severely obtuse. They often
looked across the country to where the Var or Froom was
know to stretcheven though they might not be able to
see it; andfixing their eyes on the cloaking gray
mistimagined the old times they had spent out there.

Ah,said Marianhow I should like another or two of
our old set to come here! Then we could bring up
Talbothays every day here afield, and talk of he, and
of what nice times we had there, and o' the old things
we used to know, and make it all come back a'most, in
seeming!Marian's eyes softenedand her voice grew
vague as the visions returned. "I'll write to Izz
Huett she said. She's biding at home doing nothing
nowI knowand I'll tell her we be hereand ask her
to come; and perhaps Retty is well enough now."

Tess had nothing to say against the proposaland the
next she heard of this plan for importing old
Talbothays' joys was two or three days laterwhen
Marian informed her that Izz had replied to her
inquiryand had promised to come if she could.

There had not been such a winter for years. It came on
in stealthy and measured glideslike the moves of a
chess-player. One morning the few lonely trees and
the thorns of the hedgerows appeared as if they had put
off a vegetable for an animal integument. Every twig
was covered with a white nap as of fur grown from the
rind during the nightgiving it four times its usual
stoutness; the whole bush or tree forming a staring
sketch in white lines on the mournful gray of the sky
and horizon. Cobwebs revealed their presence on sheds
and walls where none had ever been observed till
brought out into visibility by the crystallizing
atmospherehanging like loops of white worsted from
salient points of the out-housespostsand gates.


After this season of congealed dampness came a spell of
dry frostwhen strange birds from behind the North
Pole began to arrive silently on the upland of
Flintcomb-Ash; gaunt spectral creatures with tragical
eyes--eyes which had witnessed scenes of cataclysmal
horror in inaccessible polar regions of a magnitude
such as no human being had ever conceivedin curdling
temperatures that no man could endure; which had beheld
the crash of icebergs and the slide of snow-hills by
the shooting light of the Aurora; been half blinded by
the whirl of colossal storms and terraqueous
distortions; and retained the expression of feature
that such scenes had engendered. These nameless birds
came quite near to Tess and Marianbut of all they had
seen which humanity would never seethey brought no
account. The traveller's ambition to tell was not
theirsandwith dumb impassivitythey dismissed
experiences which they did not value for the immediate
incidents of this homely upland--the trivial movements
of the two girls in disturbing the clods with their
hackers so as to uncover something or other that these
visitants relished as food.

Then one day a peculiar quality invaded the air of this
open country. There came a moisture which was not of
rainand a cold which was not of frost. It chilled
the eyeballs of the twainmade their brows ache
penetrated to their skeletonsaffecting the surface of
the body less than its core. They knew that it meant
snowand in the night the snow came. Tesswho
continued to live at the cottage with the warm gable
that cheered any lonely pedestrian who paused beside
itawoke in the nightand heard above the thatch
noises which seemed to signify that the roof had turned
itself into a gymnasium of all the winds. When she lit
her lamp to get up in the morning she found that the
snow had blown through a chink in the casementforming
a white cone of the finest powder against the inside
and had also come down the chimneyso that it lay
sole-deep upon the flooron which her shoes left
tracks when she moved about. Withoutthe storm drove
so fast as to create a snow-mist in the kitchen; but as
yet it was too dark out-of-doors to see anything.

Tess knew that it was impossible to go on with the
swedes; and by the time she had finished breakfast
beside the solitary little lampMarian arrived to tell
her that they were to join the rest of the women at
reed-drawing in the barn till the weather changed.
As soonthereforeas the uniform cloak of darkness
without began to turn to a disordered medley of grays
they blew out the lampwrapped themselves up in their
thickest pinnerstied their woollen cravats round
their necks and across their chestsand started for
the barn. The snow had followed the birds from the
polar basin as a white pillar of a cloudand
individual flakes could not be seen. The blast smelt
of icebergsarctic seaswhalesand white bears
carrying the snow so that it licked the land but did
not deepen on it. They trudged onwards with slanted
bodies through the flossy fieldskeeping as well as
they could in the shelter of hedgeswhichhowever
acted as strainers rather than screens. The air


afflicted to pallor with the hoary multitudes that
infested ittwisted and spun them eccentrically
suggesting an achromatic chaos of things. But both the
young women were fairly cheerful; such weather on a dry
upland is not in itself dispiriting.

Ha-ha! the cunning northern birds knew this was
coming,said Marian. "Depend upon'tthey keep just
in front o't all the way from the North Star. Your
husbandmy dearisI make no doubthaving scorching
weather all this time. Lordif he could only see his
pretty wife now! Not that this weather hurts your
beauty at all--in factit rather does it good."

You mustn't talk about him to me, Marian,said Tess
severely.

Well, but--surely you care for'n! Do you?

Instead of answeringTesswith tears in her eyes
impulsively faced in the direction in which she
imagined South America to lieandputting up her
lipsblew out a passionate kiss upon the snowy wind.

Well, well, I know you do. But 'pon my body, it is a
rum life for a married couple! There--I won't say
another word! Well, as for the weather, it won't hurt
us in the wheat-barn; but reed-drawing is fearful hard
work--worse than swede-hacking. I can stand it because
I'm stout; but you be slimmer than I. I can't think
why maister should have set 'ee at it.

They reached the wheat-barn and entered it. One end of
the long structure was full of corn; the middle was
where the reed-drawing was carried onand there had
already been placed in the reed-press the evening
before as many sheaves of wheat as would be sufficient
for the women to draw from during the day.

Why, here's Izz!said Marian.

Izz it wasand she came forward. She had walked all
the way from her mother's home on the previous
afternoonandnot deeming the distance so greathad
been belatedarrivinghoweverjust before the snow
beganand sleeping at the alehouse. The farmer had
agreed with her mother at market to take her on if she
came todayand she had been afraid to disappoint him
by delay.

In addition to TessMarianand Izzthere were two
women from a neighbouring village; two Amazonian
sisterswhom Tess with a start remembered as Dark Car
the Queen of Spades and her junior the Queen of
Diamonds--those who had tried to fight with her in the
midnight quarrel at Trantridge. They showed no
recognition of herand possibly had nonefor they had
been under the influence of liquor on that occasion
and were only temporary sojourners there as here. They
did all kinds of men's work of preferenceincluding
well-sinkinghedgingditchingand excavating
without any sense of fatigue. Noted reed-drawers were
they tooand looked round upon the other three with
some superciliousness.


Putting on their gloves all set to work in a row in
front of the pressan erection formed of two posts
connected by a cross-beamunder which the sheaves to
be drawn from were laid ears outwardthe beam being
pegged down by pins in the uprightsand lowered as the
sheaves diminished.

The day hardened in colourthe light coming in at the
barndoors upwards from the snow instead of downwards
from the sky. The girls pulled handful after handful
from the press; but by reason of the presence of the
strange womenwho were recounting scandalsMarian and
Izz could not at first talk of old times as they wished
to do. Presently they heard the muffled tread of a
horseand the farmer rode up to the barndoor. When he
had dismounted he came close to Tessand remained
looking musingly at the side of her face. She had not
turned at firstbut his fixed attitude led her to look
roundwhen she perceived that her employer was the
native of Trantridge from whom she had taken flight on
the high-road because of his allusion to her history.

He waited till she had carried the drawn bundles to the
pile outsidewhen he saidSo you be the young woman
who took my civility in such ill part? Be drowned if I
didn't think you might be as soon as I heard of your
being hired! Well, you thought you had got the better
of me the first time at the inn with your fancy-man,
and the second time on the road, when you bolted; but
now I think I've got the better you.He concluded
with a hard laugh.

Tessbetween the Amazons and the farmer like a bird
caught in a clap-netreturned no answercontinuing to
pull the straw. She could read character sufficiently
well to know by this time that she had nothing to fear
from her employer's gallantry; it was rather the
tyranny induced by his mortification at Clare's
treatment of him. Upon the whole she preferred that
sentiment in man and felt brave enough to endure it.

You thought I was in love with 'ee I suppose? Some
women are such fools, to take every look as serious
earnest. But there's nothing like a winter afield for
taking that nonsense out o' young wenches' heads; and
you've signed and agreed till Lady-Day. Now, are you
going to beg my pardon?

I think you ought to beg mine.

Very well--as you like. But we'll see which is master
here. Be they all the sheaves you've done today?

Yes, sir.

'Tis a very poor show. Just see what they've done
over there(pointing to the two stalwart women).
The rest, too, have done better than you.

They've all practised it before, and I have not. And
I thought it made no difference to you as it is task
work, and we are only paid for what we do.


Oh, but it does. I want the barn cleared.

I am going to work all the afternoon instead of
leaving at two as the others will do.

He looked sullenly at her and went away. Tess felt
that she could not have come to a much worse place; but
anything was better than gallantry. When two o'clock
arrived the professional reed-drawers tossed off the
last half-pint in their flagonput down their hooks
tied their last sheavesand went away. Marian and Izz
would have done likewisebut on hearing that Tess
meant to stayto make up by longer hours for her lack
of skillthey would not leave her. Looking out at the
snowwhich still fellMarian exclaimedNow, we've
got it all to ourselves.And so at last the
conversation turned to their old experiences at the
dairy; andof coursethe incidents of their affection
for Angel Clare.

Izz and Marian,said Mrs Angel Clarewith a dignity
which was extremely touchingseeing how very little of
a wife she was: "I can't join in talk with you nowas
I used to doabout Mr Clare; you will see that I
cannot; becausealthough he is gone away from me for
the presenthe is my husband."

Izz was by nature the sauciest and most caustic of all
the four girls who had loved Clare. "He was a very
splendid loverno doubt she said; but I don't think
he is a too fond husband to go away from you so soon."

He had to go--he was obliged to go, to see about the
land over there!pleaded Tess.

He might have tided 'ee over the winter.

Ah--that's owing to an accident--a misunderstanding;
and we won't argue it,Tess answeredwith tearfulness
in her words. "Perhaps there's a good deal to be said
for him! He did not go awaylike some husbands
without telling me; and I can always find out where he
is."

After this they continued for some long time in a
reverieas they went on seizing the ears of corn
drawing out the strawgathering it under their arms
and cutting off the ears with their bill-hooksnothing
sounding in the barn but the swish of the straw and the
crunch of the hook. Then Tess suddenly flaggedand
sank down upon the heap of wheat-ears at her feet.

I knew you wouldn't be able to stand it!cried
Marian. "It wants harder flesh than yours for this
work."

Just then the farmer entered. "Ohthat's how you get
on when I am away he said to her.

But it is my own loss she pleaded. Not yours."

I want it finished,he said doggedlyas he crossed
the barn and went out at the other door.


Don't 'ee mind him, there's a dear,said Marian.
I've worked here before. Now you go and lie down
there, and Izz and I will make up your number.

I don't like to let you do that. I'm taller than you,
too.

Howevershe was so overcome that she consented to lie
down awhileand reclined on a heap of pull-tails--the
refuse after the straight straw had been drawn--thrown
up at the further side of the barn. Her succumbing had
been as largely owning to agitation at the re-opening
the subject of her separation from her husband as to
the hard work. She lay in a state of percipience
without volitionand the rustle of the straw and the
cutting of the ears by the others had the weight of
bodily touches.

She could hear from her cornerin addition to these
noisesthe murmur of their voices. She felt certain
that they were continuing the subject already broached
but their voices were so low that she could not catch
the words. At last Tess grew more and more anxious to
know what they were sayingandpersuading herself
that she felt bettershe got up and resumed work.

Then Izz Huett broke down. She had walked more than a
dozen miles the previous eveninghad gone to bed at
midnightand had risen again at five o'clock. Marian
alonethanks to her bottle of liquor and her stoutness
of buildstood the strain upon back and arms without
suffering. Tess urged Izz to leave offagreeingas
she felt betterto finish the day without herand
make equal division of the number of sheaves.

Izz accepted the offer gratefullyand disappeared
through the great door into the snowy track to her
lodging. Marianas was the case every afternoon at
this time on account of the bottlebegan to feel in a
romantic vein.

I should not have thought it of him--never!she said
in a dreamy tone. "And I loved him so! I didn't mind
his having YOU. But this about Izz is too bad!"

Tessin her start at the wordsnarrowly missed
cutting off a finger with the bill-hook.

Is it about my husband?she stammered.

Well, yes. Izz said, 'Don't 'ee tell her'; but I am
sure I can't help it! It was what he wanted Izz to do.
He wanted her to go off to Brazil with him.

Tess's face faded as white as the scene withoutand
its curves straightened. "And did Izz refuse to go?"
she asked.

I don't know. Anyhow he changed his mind.

Pooh--then he didn't mean it! 'Twas just a man's
jest!

Yes he did; for he drove her a good-ways towards the


station.

He didn't take her!

They pulled on in silence till Tesswithout any
premonitory symptomsburst out crying.

There!said Marian. "Now I wish I hadn't told 'ee!"

No. It is a very good thing that you have done! I
have been living on in a thirtover, lackaday way, and
have not seen what it may lead to! I ought to have sent
him a letter oftener. He said I could not go to him,
but he didn't say I was not to write as often as I
liked. I won't dally like this any longer! I have
been very wrong and neglectful in leaving everything to
be done by him!

The dim light in the barn grew dimmerand they could
see to work no longer. When Tess had reached home that
eveningand had entered into the privacy of her little
white-washed chambershe began impetuously writing a
letter to Clare. But falling into doubt she could not
finish it. Afterwards she took the ring from the
ribbon on which she wore it next her heartand
retained it on her finger all nightas if to fortify
herself in the sensation that she was really the wife
of this elusive lover of herswho could propose that
Izz should go with him abroadso shortly after he had
left her. Knowing thathow could she write entreaties
to himor show that she cared for him any more?

XLIV

By the disclosure in the barn her thoughts were led
anew in the direction which they had taken more than
once of late--to the distant Emminster Vicarage. It
was through her husband's parents that she had been
charged to send a letter to Clare if she desired; and
to write to them direct if in difficulty. But that
sense of her having morally no claim upon him had
always led Tess to suspend her impulse to send these
notes; and to the family at the Vicaragethereforeas
to her own parents since her marriageshe was
virtually non-existent. This self-effacement in both
directions had been quite in consonance with her
independent character of desiring nothing by way of
favour or pity to which she was not entitled on a fair
consideration of her deserts. She had set herself to
stand or fall by her qualitiesand to waive such
merely technical claims upon a strange family as had
been established for her by the flimsy fact of a member
of that familyin a season of impulsewriting his
name in a church-book beside hers.

But now that she was stung to a fever by Izz's tale
there was a limit to her powers of renunciation. Why
had her husband not written to her? He had distinctly
implied that he would at least let her know of the
locality to which he had journeyed; but he had not sent
a line to notify his address. Was he really


indifferent? But was he ill? Was it for her to make
some advance? Surely she might summon the courage of
solicitudecall at the Vicarage for intelligenceand
express her grief at his silence. If Angel's father
were the good man she had heard him represented to be
he would be able to enter into her heart-starved
situation. Her social hardships she could conceal.

To leave the farm on a week-day was not in her power;
Sunday was the only possible opportunity.
Flintcomb-Ash being in the middle of the cretaceous
tableland over which no railway had climbed as yetit
would be necessary to walk. And the distance being
fifteen miles each way she would have to allow herself
a long day for the undertaking by rising early.

A fortnight laterwhen the snow had goneand had been
followed by a hard black frostshe took advantage of
the state of the roads to try the experiment. At four
o'clock that Sunday morning she came downstairs and
stepped out into the starlight. The weather was still
favourablethe ground ringing under her feet like an
anvil.

Marian and Izz were much interested in her excursion
knowing that the journey concerned her husband. Their
lodgings were in a cottage a little further along the
lanebut they came and assisted Tess in her departure
and argued that she should dress up in her very
prettiest guise to captivate the hearts of her
parents-in-law; though sheknowing of the austere and
Calvinistic tenets of old Mr Clarewas indifferent
and even doubtful. A year had now elapsed since her
sad marriagebut she had preserved sufficient
draperies from the wreck of her then full wardrobe to
clothe her very charmingly as a simple country girl
with no pretensions to recent fashion; a soft gray
woollen gownwith white crape quilling against the
pink skin of her face and neckand a black velvet
jacket and hat.

'Tis a thousand pities your husband can't see 'ee
now--you do look a real beauty!said Izz Huett
regarding Tess as she stood on the threshold between
the steely starlight without the yellow candlelight
within. Izz spoke with a magnanimous abandonment of
herself to the situation; she could not be--no woman
with a heart bigger than a hazel-nut could
be--antagonistic to Tess in her presencethe influence
which she exercised over those of her own sex being of
a warmth and strength quite unusualcuriously
overpowering the less worthy feminine feelings of spite
and rivalry.

With a final tug and touch hereand a slight brush
therethey let her go; and she was absorbed into the
pearly air of the fore-dawn. They heard her footsteps
tap along the hard road as she stepped out to her full
pace. Even Izz hoped she would winandthough
without any particular respect for her own virtuefelt
glad that she had been prevented wronging her friend
when momentarily tempted by Clare.

It was a year agoall but a daythat Clare had


married Tessand only a few days less than a year that
he had been absent from her. Stillto start on a
brisk walkand on such an errand as herson a dry
clear wintry morningthrough the rarefied air of these
chalky hogs'-backswas not depressing; and there is no
doubt that her dream at starting was to win the heart
of her mother-in-lawtell her whole history to that
ladyenlist her on her sideand so gain back the
truant.

In time she reached the edge of the vast escarpment
below which stretched the loamy Vale of Blackmoornow
lying misty and still in the dawn. Instead of the
colourless air of the uplands the atmosphere down there
was a deep blue. Instead of the great enclosures of a
hundred acres in which she was now accustomed to toil
there were little fields below her of less than
half-a-dozen acresso numerous that they looked from
this height like the meshes of a net. Here the
landscape was whitey-brown; down thereas in Froom
Valleyit was always green. Yet is was in that vale
that her sorrow had taken shapeand she did not love
it as formerly. Beauty to heras to all who have
feltlay not in the thingbut in what the thing
symbolized.

Keeping the Vale on her right she steered steadily
westward; passing above the Hintockscrossing at
right-angles the high-road from Sherton-Abbas to
Casterbridgeand skirting Dogbury Hill and High-Stoy
with the dell between them called "The Devil's
Kitchen". Still following the elevated way she reached
Cross-in-Handwhere the stone pillar stands desolate
and silentto mark the site of a miracleor murder
or both. Three miles further she cut across the
straight and deserted Roman road called Long-Ash Lane;
leaving which as soon as she reached it she dipped down
a hill by a transverse lane into the small town or
village of Eversheadbeing now about halfway over the
distance. She made a halt hereand breakfasted a
second timeheartily enough--not at the Sow-and-Acorn
for she avoided innsbut at a cottage by the church.

The second half of her journey was through a more
gentle countryby way of Benvill Lane. But as the
mileage lessened between her and the spot of her
pilgrimageso did Tess's confidence decreaseand her
enterprise loom out more formidably. She saw her
purpose in such staring linesand the landscape so
faintlythat she was sometimes in danger of losing her
way. Howeverabout noon she paused by a gate on the
edge of the basin in which Emminster and its Vicarage
lay.

The square towerbeneath which she knew that at that
moment the Vicar and his congregation were gathered
had a severe look in her eyes. She wished that she had
somehow contrived to come on a week-day. Such a good
man might be prejudiced against a woman who had chosen
Sundaynever realizing the necessities of her case.
But it was incumbent upon her to go on now. She took
off the thick boots in which she had walked thus far
put on her pretty thin ones of patent leatherand
stuffing the former into the hedge by the gatepost


where she might readily find them againdescended the
hill; the freshness of colour she had derived from the
keen air thinning away in spite of her as she drew near
the parsonage.

Tess hoped for some accident that might favour herbut
nothing favoured her. The scrubs on the Vicarage lawn
rustled uncomfortably in the frosty breeze; she could
not feel by any stretch of imaginationdressed to her
highest as she wasthat the house was the residence of
near relations; and yet nothing essentialin nature or
emotiondivided her from them: in painspleasures
thoughtsbirthdeathand after-deaththey were the
same.

She nerved herself by an effortentered the
swing-gateand rang the door-bell. The thing was
done; there could be no retreat. No; the thing was not
done. Nobody answered to her ringing. The effort had
be risen to and made again. She rang a second time
and the agitation of the actcoupled with her
weariness after the fifteen miles' walkled her
support herself while she waited by resting her hand on
her hipand her elbow against the wall of the porch.
The wind was so nipping that the ivy-leaves had become
wizened and grayeach tapping incessantly upon its
neighbour with a disquieting stir of her nerves. A
piece of blood-stained papercaught up from some
meat-buyer's dust-heapbeat up and down the road
without the gate; too flimsy to resttoo heavy to fly
away; and a few straws kept it company.

The second peal had been louderand still nobody came.
Then she walked out of the porchopened the gateand
passed through. And though she looked dubiously at the
house-front as if inclined to returnit was with a
breath of relied that she closed the gate. A feeling
haunted her that she might have been recognized (though
how she could not tell)and orders been given not to
admit her.

Tess went as far as the corner. She had done all she
could do; but determined not to escape present
trepidation at the expense of future distressshe
walked back again quite past the houselooking up at
all the windows.

Ah--the explanation was that they were all at church
every one. She remembered her husband saying that his
father always insisted upon the householdservants
includedgoing to morning-serviceandas a
consequenceeating cold food when they came home. It
wasthereforeonly necessary to wait till the service
was over. She would not make herself conspicuous by
waiting on the spotand she started to get past the
church into the lane. But as she reached the
churchyard-gate the people began pouring outand Tess
found herself in the midst of them.

The Emminster congregation looked at her as only a
congregation of small country-townsfolk walking home at
its leisure can look at a woman out of the common whom
it perceives to be a stranger. She quickened her pace
and ascended the the road by which she had cometo


find a retreat between its hedges till the Vicar's
family should have lunchedand it might be convenient
for them to receive her. She soon distanced the
churchgoersexcept two youngish menwholinked
arm-in-armwere beating up behind her at a quick step.

As they drew nearer she could hear their voices engaged
in earnest discourseandwith the natural quickness
of a woman in her situationdid not fail to recognize
in those noises the quality of her husband's tones.
The pedestrians were his two brothers. Forgetting all
her plansTess's one dread was lest they should
overtake her nowin her disorganized conditionbefore
she was prepared to confront them; for though she felt
that they could not identify her she instinctively
dreaded their scrutiny. The more briskly they walked
the more briskly walked she. They were plainly bent
upon taking a short quick stroll before going indoors
to lunch or dinnerto restore warmth to limbs chilled
with sitting through a long service.

Only one person had preceded Tess up the hill--a
ladylike young womansomewhat interestingthough
perhapsa trifle GUINDEE and prudish. Tess had nearly
overtaken her when the speed of her brothers-in-law
brought them so nearly behind her back that she could
hear every word of their conversation. They said
nothinghoweverwhich particularly interested her
tillobserving the young lady still further in front
one of them remarkedThere is Mercy Chant. Let us
overtake her.

Tess knew the name. It was the woman who had been
destined for Angel's life-companion by his and her
parentsand whom he probably would have married but
for her intrusive self. She would have know as much
without previous information if she had waited a
momentfor one of the brothers proceeded to say:
Ah! poor Angel, poor Angel! I never see that nice girl
without more and more regretting his precipitancy in
throwing himself away upon a dairymaid, or whatever she
may be. It is a queer business, apparently. Whether
she has joined him yet or not I don't know; but she had
not done so some months ago when I heard from him.

I can't say. He never tells me anything nowadays.
His ill-considered marriage seems to have completed
that estrangement from me which was begun by his
extraordinary opinions.

Tess beat up the long hill still faster; but she could
not outwalk them without exciting notice. At last they
outsped her altogetherand passed her by. The young
lady still further ahead heard their footsteps and
turned. Then there was a greeting and a shaking of
handsand the three went on together.

They soon reached the summit of the hilland
evidently intending this point to be the limit of their
promenadeslackened pace and turned all three aside to
the gate whereat Tess had paused an hour before that
time to reconnoitre the town before descending into it.
During their discourse one of the clerical brothers
probed the hedge carefully with his umbrellaand


dragged something to light.

Here's a pair of old boots,he said. "Thrown away
I supposeby some tramp or other."

Some imposter who wished to come into the town
barefoot, perhaps, and so excite our sympathies,said
Miss Chant. "Yesit must have beenfor they are
excellent walking-boots--by no means worn out. What a
wicked thing to do! I'll carry them home for some poor
person."

Cuthbert Clarewho had been the one to find them
picked them up for her with the crook of his stick; and
Tess's boots were appropriated.

Shewho had heard thiswalked past under the screen
of her woollen veiltillpresently looking backshe
perceived that the church party had left the gate with
her boots and retreated down the hill.

Thereupon our heroine resumed her walk. Tears
blinding tearswere running down her face. She knew
that it was all sentimentall baseless impressibility
which had caused her to read the scene as her own
condemnation; nevertheless she could not get over it;
she could not contravene in her own defenceless person
all those untoward omens. It was impossible to think
of returning to the Vicarage. Angel's wife felt almost
as if she had been hounded up that hill like a scorned
thing by those--to her--superfine clerics. Innocently
as the slight had been inflictedit was somewhat
unfortunate that she had encountered the sons and not
the fatherwhodespite his narrownesswas far less
starched and ironed than theyand had to the full the
gift of charity. As she again though of her dusty
boots she almost pitied those habiliments for the
quizzing to which they had been subjectedand felt how
hopeless life was for their owner.

Ah!she saidstill sighing in pity of herselfTHEY
didn't know that I wore those over the roughest part of
the road to save these pretty ones HE bought for
me--no--they did not know it! And they didn't think
that HE chose the colour o' my pretty frock--no--how
could they? If they had known perhaps they would not
have cared, for they don't care much for him, poor
thing!

Then she grieved for the beloved man whose conventional
standard of judgement had caused her all these latter
sorrows; and she went her way without knowing that the
greatest misfortune of her life was this feminine loss
of courage at the last and critical moment through her
estimating her father-in-law by his sons. Her present
condition was precisely one which would have enlisted
the sympathies of old Mr and Mrs Clare. Their hearts
went out of them at a bound towards extreme caseswhen
the subtle mental troubles of the less desperate among
mankind failed to win their interest or regard. In
jumping at Publicans and Sinners they would forget that
a word might be said for the worries of Scribes and
Pharisees; and this defect or limitation might have
recommended their own daughter-in-law to them at this


moment as a fairly choice sort of lost person for their
love.

Thereupon she began to plod back along the road by
which she had come not altogether full of hopebut
full of a conviction that a crisis in her life was
approaching. No crisisapparentlyhad supervened;
and there was nothing left for her to do but to
continue upon that starve-acre farm till she could
again summon courage to face the Vicarage. She did
indeedtake sufficient interest in herself to throw up
her veil on this return journeyas if to let the world
see that she could at least exhibit a face such as
Mercy Chant could not show. But it was done with a
sorry shake of the head. "It is nothing--it is
nothing!" she said. "Nobody loves it; nobody sees it.
Who cares about the looks of a castaway like me!"

Her journey back was rather a meander than a march.
It had no sprightlinessno purpose; only a tendency.
Along the tedious length of Benvill Lane she began to
grow tiredand she leant upon gates and paused by
milestones.

She did not enter any house tillat the seventh or
eighth mileshe descended the steep long hill below
which lay the village or townlet of Eversheadwhere in
the morning she had breakfasted with such contrasting
expectations. The cottage by the churchin which she
again sat downwas almost the first at that end of the
villageand while the woman fetched her some milk from
the pantryTesslooking down the streetperceived
that the place seemed quite deserted.

The people are gone to afternoon service, I suppose?
she said.

No, my dear,said the old woman. "'Tis too soon for
that; the bells hain't strook out yet. They be all
gone to hear the preaching in yonder barn. A ranter
preaches there between the services--an excellent
fieryChristian manthey say. ButLordI don't go
to hear'n! What comes in the regular way over the
pulpit is hot enough for I."

Tess soon went onward into the villageher footsteps
echoing against the houses as though it were a place of
the dead. Nearing the central part her echoes were
intruded on by other sounds; and seeing the barn not
far off the roadshe guessed these to be the
utterances of the preacher.

His voice became so distinct in the still clear air
that she could soon catch his sentencesthough she was
on the closed side of the barn. The sermonas might
be expectedwas of the extremest antinomian type; on
justification by faithas expounded in the theology of
St Paul. This fixed idea of the rhapsodist was
delivered with animated enthusiasmin a manner
entirely declamatoryfor he had plainly no skill as a
dialectician. Although Tess had not heard the
beginning of the addressshe learnt what the text had
been from its constant iteration---



O FOOLISH GALATIANS, WHO HATH BEWITCHED YOU, THAT YE
SHOULD NOT OBEY THE TRUTH, BEFORE WHOSE EYES JESUS
CHRIST HATH BEEN EVIDENTLY SET FORTH, CRUCIFIED AMONG
YOU?

Tess was all the more interestedas she stood
listening behindin finding that the preacher's
doctrine was a vehement form of the view of Angel's
fatherand her interest intensified when the speaker
began to detail his own spiritual experiences of how he
had come by those views. He hadhe saidbeen the
greatest of sinners. He had scoffed; he had wantonly
associated with the reckless and the lewd. But a day
of awakening had comeandin a human senseit had
been brought about mainly by the influence of a certain
clergymanwhom he had at first grossly insulted; but
whose parting words had sunk into his heartand had
remained theretill by the grace of Heaven they had
worked this change in himand made him what they saw
him.

But more startling to Tess than the doctrine had been
the voicewhichimpossible as it seemedwas
precisely that of Alec d'Urberville. Her face fixed in
painful suspenseshe came round to the front of the
barnand passed before it. The low winter sun beamed
directly upon the great double-doored entrance on this
side; one of the doors being openso that the rays
stretched far in over the threshing-floor to the
preacher and his audienceall snugly sheltered from
the northern breeze. The listeners were entirely
villagersamong them being the man whom she had seen
carrying the red paint-pot on a former memorable
occasion. But her attention was given to the central
figurewho stood upon some sacks of cornfacing the
people and the door. The three o'clock sun shone full
upon himand the strange enervating conviction that
her seducer confronted herwhich had been gaining
ground in Tess ever since she had heard his words
distinctlywas at last established as a fact indeed.

END OF PHASE THE FIFTH

Phase the Sixth: The Convert

Till this moment she had never seen or heard from
d'Urberville since her departure from Trantridge.

The rencounter came at a heavy momentone of all
moments calculated to permit its impact with the least
emotional shock. But such was unreasoning memory that
though he stood there openly and palpably a converted
manwho was sorrowing for his past irregularitiesa
fear overcame herparalyzing her movement so that she


neither retreated nor advanced.

To think of what emanated from that countenance when
she saw it lastand to behold it now! ... There was
the same handsome unpleasantness of mienbut now he
wore neatly trimmedold-fashioned whiskersthe sable
moustache having disappeared; and his dress was
half-clericala modification which had changed his
expression sufficiently to abstract the dandyism from
his featuresand to hinder for a second her belief in
his identity.

To Tess's sense there wasjust at firsta ghastly
BIZARRERIEa grim incongruityin the march of these
solemn words of Scripture out of such a mouth. This
too familiar intonationless than four years earlier
had brought to her ears expressions of such divergent
purpose that her heart became quite sick at the irony
of the contrast.

It was less a reform than a transfiguration. The
former curves of sensuousness were now modulated to
lines of devotional passion. The lip-shapes that had
meant seductiveness were now made to express
supplication; the glow on the cheek that yesterday
could be translated as riotousness was evangelized
today into the splendour of pious rhetoric; animalism
had become fanaticism; Paganism Paulinism; the bold
rolling eye that had flashed upon her form in the old
time with such mastery now beamed with the rude energy
of a theolatry that was almost ferocious. Those black
angularities which his face had used to put on when his
wishes were thwarted now did duty in picturing the
incorrigible backslider who would insist upon turning
again to his wallowing in the mire.

The lineamentsas suchseemed to complain. They had
been diverted from their hereditary connotation to
signify impressions for which Nature did not intend
them. Strange that their very elevation was a
misapplicationthat to raise seemed to falsify.

Yet could it be so? She would admit the ungenerous
sentiment no longer. D'Urberville was not the first
wicked man who had turned away from his wickedness to
save his soul aliveand why should she deem it
unnatural in him? It was but the usage of thought
which had been jarred in her at hearing good new words
in bad old notes. The greater the sinner the greater
the saint; it was not necessary to dive far into
Christian history to discover that.

Such impressions as these moved her vaguelyand
without strict definiteness. As soon as the nerveless
pause of her surprise would allow her to stirher
impulse was to pass on out of his sight. He had
obviously not discerned her yet in her position against
the sun.

But the moment that she moved again he recognized her.
The effect upon her old lover was electricfar
stronger than the effect of his presence upon her.
His firethe tumultuous ring of his eloquenceseemed to
go out of him. His lip struggled and trembled under the


words that lay upon it; but deliver them it could not
as long as she faced him. His eyesafter their first
glance upon her facehung confusedly in every other
direction but hersbut came back in a desperate leap
every few seconds. This paralysis lastedhoweverbut
a short time; for Tess's energies returned with the
atrophy of hisand she walked as fast as she was able
past the barn and onward.

As soon as she could reflect it appalled herthis
change in their relative platforms. He who had wrought
her undoing was now on the side of the Spiritwhile
she remained unregenerate. Andas in the legendit
had resulted that her Cyprian image had suddenly
appeared upon his alterwhereby the fire of the priest
had been well nigh extinguished.

She went on without turning her head. Her back seemed
to be endowed with a sensitiveness to ocular
beams--even her clothing--so alive was she to a fancied
gaze which might be resting upon her from the outside
of that barn. All the way along to this point her
heart had been heavy with an inactive sorrow; now there
was a change in the quality of its trouble. That
hunger for affection too long withheld was for the time
displaced by an almost physical sense of an implacable
past which still engirdled her. It intensified her
consciousness of error to a practical despair; the
break of continuity between her earlier and present
existencewhich she had hoped forhad notafter all
taken place. Bygones would never be complete bygones
till she was a bygone herself.

Thus absorbed she recrossed the northern part of
Long-Ash Lane at right anglesand presently saw before
her the road ascending whitely to the upland along
whose margin the remainder of her journey lay. Its dry
pale surface stretched severely onwardunbroken by a
single figurevehicleor marksave some occasional
brown horse-droppings which dotted its cold aridity
here and there. While slowly breasting this ascent
Tess became conscious of footsteps behind herand
turning she saw approaching that well-known form--so
strangely accoutred as the Methodist--the one personage
in all the world she wished not to encounter alone on
this side of the grave.

There was not much timehoweverfor thought or
elusionand she yielded as calmly as she could to the
necessity of letting him overtake her. She saw that he
was excitedless by the speed of his walk than by the
feelings within him.

Tess!he said.

She slackened speed without looking round.

Tess!he repeated. "It is I--Alec d'Urberville."

She then looked back at himand he came up.

I see it is,she answered coldly.

Well--is that all? Yet I deserve no more! Of


course,he addedwith a slight laughthere is
something of the ridiculous to your eyes in seeing me
like this. But--I must put up with that. ... I heard
you had gone away, nobody knew where. Tess, you wonder
why I have followed you?

I do, rather; and I would that you had not, with all
my heart!

Yes--you may well say it,he returned grimlyas they
moved onward togethershe with unwilling tread. "But
don't mistake me; I beg this because you may have been
led to do so in noticing--if you did notice it--how
your sudden appearance unnerved me down there. It was
but a momentary faltering; and considering what you
have been to meit was natural enough. But will
helped me through it--though perhaps you think me a
humbug for saying it--and immediately afterwards I felt
that of all persons in the world whom it was my duty
and desire to save from the wrath to come--sneer if you
like--the woman whom I had so grievously wronged was
that person. I have come with that sole purpose in
view--nothing more."

There was the smallest vein of scorn in her words of
rejoinder: "Have you saved yourself? Charity begins at
homethey say."

I have done nothing!said he indifferently.
Heaven, as I have been telling my hearers, has done all.
No amount of contempt that you can pour upon me, Tess,
will equal what I have poured upon myself--the old Adam
of my former years! Well, it is a strange story;
believe it or not; but I can tell you the means by
which my conversion was brought about, and I hope you
will be interested enough at least to listen. Have you
ever heard the name of the parson of Emminster--you
must have done do?--old Mr Clare; one of the most
earnest of his school; one of the few intense men left
in the Church; not so intense as the extreme wind of
Christian believers with which I have thrown in my lot,
but quite an exception among the Established clergy,
the younger of whom are gradually attenuating the true
doctrines by their sophistries, till they are but the
shadow of what they were. I only differ from him on the
question of Church and State--the interpretation of
the text, 'Come out from among them and be ye separate,
saith the Lord'--that's all. He is one who, I firmly
believe, has been the humble means of saving more souls
in this country than any other man you can name. You
have heard of him?

I have,she said.

He came to Trantridge two or three years ago to preach
on behalf of some missionary society; and I, wretched
fellow that I was, insulted him when, in his
disinterestedness, he tried to reason with me and show
me the way. He did not resent my conduct, he simply
said that some day I should receive the first-fruits of
the Spirit--that those who came to scoff sometimes
remained to pray. There was a strange magic in his
words. They sank into my mind. But the loss of my
mother hit me most; and by degrees I was brought to see


daylight. Since then my one desire has been to hand on
the true view to others, and that is what I was trying
to do today; though it is only lately that I have
preached hereabout. The first months of my ministry
have been spent in the North of England among
strangers, where I preferred to make my earliest clumsy
attempts, so as to acquire courage before undergoing
that severest of all tests of one's sincerity,
addressing those who have known one, and have been
one's companions in the days of darkness. If you could
only know, Tess, the pleasure of having a good slap at
yourself, I am sure----

Don't go on with it!she cried passionatelyas she
turned away from him to a stile by the waysideon
which she bent herself. "I can't believe in such
sudden things! I feel indignant with you for talking
to me like thiswhen you know--when you know what harm
you've done me! Youand those like youtake your
fill of pleasure on earth by making the life of such as
me bitter and black with sorrow; and then it is a fine
thingwhen you have had enough of thatto think of
securing your pleasure in heaven by becoming converted!
Out upon such--I don't believe in you--I hate it!"

Tess,he insisted; "don't speak so! It came to me
like a jolly new idea! And you don't believe me? What
don't you believe?"

Your conversion. Your scheme of religion.

Why?

She dropped her voice. "Because a better man than you
does not believe in such."

What a woman's reason! Who is this better man?

I cannot tell you.

Well,he declareda resentment beneath his words
seeming ready to spring out at a moment's noticeGod
forbid that I should say I am a good man--and you know
I don't say any such thing. I am new to goodness,
truly; but newcomers see furthest sometimes.

Yes,she replied sadly. "But I cannot believe in
your conversion to a new spirit. Such flashes as you
feelAlecI fear don't last!"

Thus speaking she turned from the stile over which she
had been leaningand faced him; whereupon his eyes
falling casually upon the familiar countenance and
formremained contemplating her. The inferior man was
quiet in him now; but it was surely not extractednor
even entirely subdued.

Don't look at me like that!he said abruptly.

Tesswho had been quite unconscious of her action and
mieninstantly withdrew the large dark gaze of her
eyesstammering with a flushI beg your pardon!
And there was revived in her the wretched sentiment
which had often come to her beforethat in inhabiting


the fleshly tabernacle with which Nature had endowed
her she was somehow doing wrong.

No, no! Don't beg my pardon. But since you wear a
veil to hide your good looks, why don't you keep it
down?

She pulled down the veilsaying hastilyIt was
mostly to keep off the wind.

It may seem harsh of me to dictate like this,he went
on; "but it is better that I should not look too often
on you. It might be dangerous."

Ssh!said Tess.

Well, women's faces have had too much power over me
already for me not to fear them! An evangelist has
nothing to do with such as they; and it reminds me of
the old times that I would forget!

After this their conversation dwindled to a casual
remark now and then as they rambled onwardTess
inwardly wondering how far he was going with herand
not liking to send him back by positive mandate.
Frequently when they came to a gate or stile they found
painted thereon in red or blue letters some text of
Scriptureand she asked him if he knew who had been at
the pains to blazon these announcements. He told her
that the man was employed by himself and others who
were working with him in that districtto paint these
reminders that no means might be left untried which
might move the hearts of a wicked generation.

At length the road touched the spot called
Cross-in-Hand.Of all spots on the bleached and
desolate upland this was the most forlorn. It was so
far removed from the charm which is sought in landscape
by artists and view-lovers as to reach a new kind of
beautya negative beauty of tragic tone. The place
took its name from a stone pillar which stood therea
strange rude monolithfrom a stratum unknown in any
local quarryon which was roughly carved a human hand.
Differing accounts were given of its history and
purport. Some authorities stated that a devotional
cross had once formed the complete erection thereonof
which the present relic was but the stump; others that
the stone as it stood was entireand that it had been
fixed there to mark a boundary or place of meeting.
Anyhowwhatever the origin of the relicthere was and
is something sinisteror solemnaccording to moodin
the scene amid which it stands; something tending to
impress the most phlegmatic passer-by.

I think I must leave you now,he remarkedas they
drew near to this spot. "I have to preach at
Abbot's-Cernel at six this eveningand my way lies
across to the right from here. And you upset me
somewhat tooTessy--I cannotwill notsay why.
I must go away and get strength. ... How is it that you
speak so fluently now? Who has taught you such good
English?"

I have learnt things in my troubles,she said


evasively.

What troubles have you had?

She told him of the first one--the only one that
related to him.


D'Urberville was struck mute. "I knew nothing of this
till now!" he next murmured. "Why didn't you write to
me when you felt your trouble coming on?"


She did not reply; and he broke the silence by adding:
Well--you will see me again.


No,she answered. "Do not again come near me!"
I will think. But before we part come here.
He stepped up to the pillar. "This was once a Holy Cross.
Relics are not in my creed; but I fear you at moments--far
more than you need fear me at present; and to lessen my
fearput your hand upon that stone handand swear
that you will never tempt me--by your charms or ways."


Good God--how can you ask what is so unnecessary!
All that is furthest from my thought!


Yes--but swear it.


Tesshalf frightenedgave way to his importunity;
placed her hand upon the stone and swore.


I am sorry you are not a believer,he continued;
that some unbeliever should have got hold of you and
unsettled your mind. But no more now. At home at
least I can pray for you; and I will; and who knows
what may not happen? I'm off. Goodbye!


He turned to a hunting-gate in the hedgeand without
letting his eyes again rest upon her leapt overand
struck out across the down in the direction of
Abbot's-Cernel. As he walked his pace showed
perturbationand by-and-byas if instigated by a
former thoughthe drew from his pocket a small book
between the leaves of which was folded a letterworn
and soiledas from much re-reading. D'Urberville
opened the letter. It was dated several months before
this timeand was signed by Parson Clare.


The letter began by expressing the writer's unfeigned
joy at d'Urberville's conversionand thanked him for
his kindness in communicating with the parson on the
subject. It expressed Mr Clare's warm assurance of
forgiveness for d'Urberville's former conductand his
interest in the young man's plans for the future. He
Mr Clarewould much have liked to see d'Urberville in
the Church to whose ministry he had devoted so many
years of his own lifeand would have helped him to
enter a theological college to that end; but since his
correspondent had possibly not cared to do this on
account of the delay it would have entailedhe was not
the man to insist upon its paramount importance. Every
man must work as he could best workand in the method
towards which he felt impelled by the Spirit.


D'Urberville read and re-read this letterand seemed



to quiz himself cynically. He also read some passages
from memoranda as he walked till his face assumed a
calmand apparently the image of Tess no longer
troubled his mind.

She meanwhile had kept along the edge of the hill by
which lay her nearest way home. Within the distance of
a mile she met a solitary shepherd.

What is the meaning of that old stone I have passed?
she asked of him. "Was it ever a Holy Cross?"

Cross--no; 'twer not a cross! Tis a thing of
ill-omenMiss. It was put up in wuld times by the
relations of a malefactor who was tortured there by
nailing his hand to a post and afterwards hung. The
bones lie underneath. They say he sold his soul to the
deviland that he walks at times."

She felt the PETIT MORT at this unexpectedly gruesome
informationand left the solitary man behind her. It
was dusk when she drew near to Flintcomb-Ashand in
the lane at the entrance to the hamlet she approached a
girl and her lover without their observing her. They
were talking no secretsand the clear unconcerned
voice of the young womanin response to the warmer
accents of the manspread into the chilly air as the
one soothing thing within the dusky horizonfull of a
stagnant obscurity upon which nothing else intruded.
For a moment the voices cheered the heart of Tesstill
she reasoned that this interview had its originon one
side or the otherin the same attraction which had
been the prelude to her own tribulation. When she came
close the girl turned serenely and recognized herthe
young man walking off in embarrassment. The woman was
Izz Huettwhose interest in Tess's excursion
immediately superseded her own proceedings. Tess did
not explain very clearly its resultsand Izzwho was
a girl of tactbegan to speak of her own little
affaira phase of which Tess had just witnessed.

He is Amby Seedling, the chap who used to sometimes
come and help at Talbothays,she explained
indifferently. "He actually inquired and found out
that I had come hereand has followed me. He says
he's been in love wi' me these two years. But I've
hardly answered him."

XLVI

Several days had passed since her futile journeyand
Tess was afield. The dry winter wind still blewbut a
screen of thatched hurdles erected in the eye of the
blast kept its force away from her. On the sheltered
side was a turnip-slicing machinewhose bright blue
hue of new paint seemed almost vocal in the otherwise
subdued scene. Opposite its front was a long mound or
gravein which the roots had been preserved since
early winter. Tess was standing at the uncovered end
chopping off with a bill-hook the fibres and earth from
each rootand throwing it after the operation into the


slicer. A man was turning the handle of the machine
and from its trough came the newly-cut swedesthe
fresh smell of whose yellow chips was accompanied by
the sounds of the snuffling windthe smart swish of
the slicing-bladesand the choppings of the hook in
Tess's leather-gloved hand.

The wide acreage of blank agricultural brownness
apparent where the swedes had been pulledwas
beginning to be striped in wales of darker brown
gradually broadening to ribands. Along the edge of
each of these something crept upon ten legsmoving
without haste and without rest up and down the whole
length of the field; it was two horses and a manthe
plough going between themturning up the cleared
ground for a spring sowing.

For hours nothing relieved the joyless monotony of
things. Thenfar beyond the ploughing-teamsa black
speck was seen. It had come from the corner of a
fencewhere there was a gapand its tendency was up
the inclinetowards the swede-cutters. From the
proportions of a mere point it advanced to the shape of
a ninepinand was soon perceived to be a man in black
arriving from the direction of Flintcomb-Ash. The man
at the slicerhaving nothing else to do with his eyes
continually observed the comerbut Tesswho was
occupieddid not perceived him till her companion
directed her attention to his approach.

It was not her hard taskmasterFarmer Groby; it was
one in a semi-clerical costumewho now represented
what had once been the free-and-easy Alec d'Urberville.
Not being hot at his preaching there was less
enthusiasm about him nowand the presence of the
grinder seemed to embarrass him. A pale distress was
already on Tess's faceand she pulled her curtained
hood further over it.

D'Urberville came up and said quietly---


I want to speak to you, Tess.

You have refused my last request, not to come near
me!said she.

Yes, but I have a good reason.

Well, tell it.

It is more serious than you may think.

He glanced round to see if he were overheard. They
were at some distance from the man who turned the
slicerand the movement of the machinetoo
sufficiently prevented Alec's words reaching other
ears. D'Urberville placed himself so as to screen Tess
from the labourerturning his back to the latter.

It is this,he continuedwith capricious
compunction. "In thinking of your soul and mine when
we last metI neglected to inquire as to your worldly
condition. You were well dressedand I did not think
of it. But I see now that it is hard--harder than it


used to be when I--knew you--harder than you deserve.
Perhaps a good deal of it is owning to me!"

She did not answerand he watched her inquiringlyas
with bent headher face completely screened by the
hoodshe resumed her trimming of the swedes. By going
on with her work she felt better able to keep him
outside her emotions.

Tess,he addedwith a sigh of discontent--"yours
was the very worst case I ever was concerned in! I had
no idea of what had resulted till you told me. Scamp
that I was to foul that innocent life! The whole blame
was mine--the whole unconventional business of our time
at Trantridge. Youtoothe real blood of which I am
but the base imitationwhat a blind young thing you
were as to possibilities! I say in all earnestness
that it is a shame for parents to bring up their girls
in such dangerous ignorance of the gins and nets that
the wicked may set for themwhether their motive be a
good one or the result of simple indifference."

Tess still did no more than listenthrowing down one
globular root and taking up another with automatic
regularitythe pensive contour of the mere fieldwoman
alone marking her.

But it is not that I came to say,d'Urberville went
on. "My circumstances are these. I have lost my mother
since you were at Trantridgeand the place is my own.
But I intend to sell itand devote myself to
missionary work in Africa. A devil of a poor hand I
shall make at the tradeno doubt. Howeverwhat I want
to ask you iswill you put it in my power to do my
duty--to make the only reparation I can make for the
trick played you: that iswill you be my wifeand go
with me? ... I have already obtained this precious
document. It was my old mother's dying wish."

He drew a piece of parchment from his pocketwith a
slight fumbling of embarrassment.

What is it?said she.

A marriage licence.

O no, sir--no!she said quicklystarting back.

You will not? Why is that?

And as he asked the question a disappointment which was
not entirely the disappointment of thwarted duty
crossed d'Urberville's face. It was unmistakably a
symptom that something of his old passion for her had
been revived; duty and desire ran hand-in-hand.

Surely,he began againin more impetuous tonesand
then looked round at the labourer who turned the
slicer.

Tesstoofelt that the argument could not be ended
there. Informing the man that a gentleman had come to
see herwith whom she wished to walk a little wayshe
moved off with d'Urberville across the zebra-striped


field. When they reached the first newly-ploughed
section he held out his hand to help her over it; but
she stepped forward on the summits of the earth-rolls
as if she did not see him.

You will not marry me, Tess, and make me a
self-respecting man?he repeatedas soon as they were
over the furrows.

I cannot.

But why?

You know I have no affection for you.

But you would get to feel that in time, perhaps--as
soon as you really could forgive me?

Never!

Why so positive?

I love somebody else.

The words seemed to astonish him.

You do?he cried. "Somebody else? But has not a
sense of what is morally right and proper any weight
with you?"

No, no, no--don't say that!

Anyhow, then, your love for this other man may be only
a passing feeling which you will overcome----

No--no.

Yes, yes! Why not?

I cannot tell you.

You must in honour!

Well then ... I have married him.

Ah!he exclaimed; and he stopped dead and gazed at
her.

I did not wish to tell--I did not mean to!she
pleaded. "It is a secret hereor at any rate but dimly
known. So will youPLEASE will youkeep from
questioning me? You must remember that we are now
strangers."

Strangers--are we? Strangers!

For a moment a flash of his old irony marked his face;
but he determinedly chastened it down.

Is that man your husband?he asked mechanically
denoting by a sign the labourer who turned the machine.

That man!she said proudly. "I should think not!"


Who, then?

Do not ask what I do not wish to tell!she begged
and flashed her appeal to him from her upturned face
and lash-shadowed eyes.

D'Urberville was disturbed.

But I only asked for your sake!he retorted hotly.
Angels of heaven!--God forgive me for such an
expression--I came here, I swear, as I thought for your
good. Tess--don't look at me so--I cannot stand your
looks! There never were such eyes, surely, before
Christianity or since! There--I won't lose my head;
I dare not. I own that the sight of you had waked up my
love for you, which, I believed, was extinguished with
all such feelings. But I thought that our marriage
might be a sanctification for us both. 'The
unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the
unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband', I said
to myself. But my plan is dashed from me; and I must
bear the disappointment!

He moodily reflected with his eyes on the ground.

Married. Married! ... Well, that being so,he added
quite calmlytearing the licence slowly into halves
and putting them in his pocket; "that being prevented
I should like to do some good to you and your husband
whoever he may be. There are many questions that I am
tempted to askbut I will not do soof coursein
opposition to your wishes. Thoughif I could know your
husbandI might more easily benefit him and you.
Is he on this farm?"

No,she murmured. "He is far away."

Far away? From YOU? What sort of husband can he be?

O, do not speak against him! It was through you! He
found out----

Ah, is it so! ... That's sad, Tess!

Yes.

But to stay away from you--to leave you to work like
this!

He does not leave me to work!she criedspringing to
the defence of the absent one with all her fervour.
He don't know it! It is by my own arrangement.

Then, does he write?

I--I cannot tell you. There are things which are
private to ourselves.

Of course that means that he does not. You are a
deserted wife, my fair Tess----

In an impulse he turned suddenly to take her hand; the
buff-glove was on itand he seized only the rough
leather fingers which did not express the life or shape


of those within.

You must not--you must not!she cried fearfully
slipping her hand from the glove as from a pocketand
leaving it in his grasp. "Owill you go away--for the
sake of me and my husband--goin the name of your own
Christianity!"

Yes, yes; I will,he said abruptlyand thrusting the
glove back to her he turned to leave. Facing round
howeverhe saidTess, as God is my judge, I meant no
humbug in taking your hand!

A pattering of hoofs on the soil of the fieldwhich
they had not noticed in their preoccupationceased
close behind them; and a voice reached her ear:

What the devil are you doing away from your work at
this time o' day?

Farmer Groby had espied the two figures from the
distanceand had inquisitively ridden acrossto learn
what was their business in his field.

Don't speak like that to her!said d'Urbervillehis
face blackening with something that was not
Christianity.

Indeed, Mister! And what mid Methodist pa'sons have
to do with she?

Who is the fellow?asked d'Urbervilleturning to
Tess.

She went close up to him.

Go--I do beg you!she said.

What! And leave you to that tyrant? I can see in his
face what a churl he is.

He won't hurt me. HE'S not in love with me. I can
leave at Lady-Day.

Well, I have no right but to obey, I suppose.
But--well, goodbye!

Her defenderwhom she dreaded more than her assailant
having reluctantly disappearedthe farmer continued
his reprimandwhich Tess took with the greatest
coolnessthat sort of attack being independent of sex.
To have as a master this man of stonewho would have
cuffed her if he had daredwas almost a relief after
her former experiences. She silently walked back
towards the summit of the field that was the scene of
her labourso absorbed in the interview which had just
taken place that she was hardly aware that the nose of
Groby's horse almost touched her shoulders.

If so be you make an agreement to work for me till
Lady-Day, I'll see that you carry it out,he growled.
'Od rot the women--now 'tis one thing, and then 'tis
another. But I'll put up with it no longer!


Knowing very well that he did not harass the other
women of the farm as he harassed her out of spite for
the flooring he had once receivedshe did for one
moment picture what might have been the result if she
had been free to accept the offer just made her of
being the monied Alec's wife. It would have lifted her
completely out of subjectionnot only to her present
oppressive employerbut to a whole world who seemed to
despise her. "But nono!" she said breathlessly; "I
could not have married him now! He is so unpleasant to
me."

That very night she began an appealing letter to Clare
concealing from him her hardshipsand assuring him of
her undying affection. Any one who had been in a
position to read between the lines would have seen that
at the back of her great love was some monstrous
fear--almost a desperation--as to some secret
contingencies which were not disclosed. But again she
did not finish her effusion; he had asked Izz to go
with himand perhaps he did not care for her at all.
She put the letter in her boxand wondered if it would
ever reach Angel's hands.

After this her daily tasks were gone through heavily
enoughand brought on the day which was of great
import to agriculturists--the day of the Candlemas
Fair. It was at this fair that new engagements were
entered into for the twelve months following the
ensuing Lady-Dayand those of the farming population
who thought of changing their places duly attended at
the county-town where the fair was held. Nearly all
the labourers on Flintcomb-Ash farm intended flight
and early in the morning there was a general exodus in
the direction of the townwhich lay at a distance of
from ten to a dozen miles over hilly country. Though
Tess also meant to leave at the quarter-day she was one
of the few who did not go to the fairhaving a
vaguely-shaped hope that something would happen to
render another outdoor engagement unnecessary.

It was a peaceful February dayof wonderful softness
for the timeand one would almost have thought that
winter was over. She had hardly finished her dinner
when d'Urberville's figure darkened the window of the
cottage wherein she was a lodgerwhich she had all to
herself today.

Tess jumped upbut her visitor had knocked at the
doorand she could hardly in reason run away.
D'Urberville's knockhis walk up to the doorhad some
indescribable quality of difference from his air when
she last saw him. They seemed to be acts of which the
doer was ashamed. She thought that she would not open
the door; butas there was no sense in that either
she aroseand having lifted the latch stepped back
quickly. He came insaw herand flung himself down
into a chair before speaking.

Tess--I couldn't help it!he began desperatelyas he
wiped his heated facewhich had also a superimposed
flush of excitement. "I felt that I must call at least
to ask how you are. I assure you I had not been
thinking of you at all till I saw you that Sunday; now


I cannot get rid of your imagetry how I may! It is
hard that a good woman should do harm to a bad man; yet
so it is. If you would only pray for meTess!"

The suppressed discontent of his manner was almost
pitiableand yet Tess did not pity him.

How can I pray for you,she saidwhen I am
forbidden to believe that the great Power who moves the
world would alter His plans on my account?

You really think that?

Yes. I have been cured of the presumption of thinking
otherwise.

Cured? By whom?

By my husband, if I must tell.

Ah--your husband--your husband! How strange it seems!
I remember you hinted something of the sort the other
day. What do you really believe in these matters,
Tess?he asked. "You seem to have no
religion--perhaps owing to me."

But I have. Though I don't believe in anything
supernatural.

D'Urberville looked at her with misgiving.

Then do you think that the line I take is all wrong?

A good deal of it.

H'm--and yet I've felt so sure about it,he said
uneasily.

I believe in the SPIRIT of the Sermon on the Mount,
and so did my dear husband....But I don't believe-----

Here she gave her negations.

The fact is,said d'Urberville drilywhatever your
dear husband believed you accept, and whatever he
rejected you reject, without the least inquiry or
reasoning on your own part. That's just like you women.
Your mind is enslaved to his.

Ah, because he knew everything!said shewith a
triumphant simplicity of faith in Angel Clare that the
most perfect man could hardly have deservedmuch less
her husband.

Yes, but you should not take negative opinions
wholesale from another person like that. A pretty
fellow he must be to teach you such scepticism!

He never forced my judgement! He would never argue on
the subject with me! But I looked at it in this way;
what he believed, after inquiring deep into doctrines,
was much more likely to be right than what I might
believe, who hadn't looked into doctrines at all.


What used he to say? He must have said something?

She reflected; and with her acute memory for the letter
of Angel Clare's remarkseven when she did not
comprehend their spiritshe recalled a merciless
polemical syllogism that she had heard him use whenas
it occasionally happenedhe indulged in a species of
thinking aloud with her at his side. In delivering it
she gave also Clare's accent and manner with
reverential faithfulness.

Say that again,asked d'Urbervillewho had listened
with the greatest attention.

She repeated the argumentand d'Urberville
thoughtfully murmured the words after her.

Anything else?he presently asked.

He said at another time something like this; and she
gave anotherwhich might possibly have been paralleled
in many a work of the pedigree ranging from the
DICTIONNAIRE PHILOSOPHIQUE to Huxley's ESSAYS.

Ah--ha! How do you remember them?

I wanted to believe what he believed, though he didn't
wish me to; and I managed to coax him to tell me a few
of his thoughts. I can't say I quite understand that
one; but I know it is right.

H'm. Fancy your being able to teach me what you don't
know yourself!

He fell into thought. "And so I threw in my spiritual
lot with his she resumed. I didn't wish it to be
different. What's good enough for him is good enough
for me."

Does he know that you are as big an infidel as he?

No--I never told him--if I am an infidel.

Well--you are better off today that I am, Tess, after
all! You don't believe that you ought to preach my
doctrine, and, therefore, do no despite to your
conscience in abstaining. I do believe I ought to
preach it, but like the devils I believe and tremble,
for I suddenly leave off preaching it, and give way to
my passion for you.

How?

Why,he said aridly; "I have come all the way here to
see you today! But I started from home to go to
Casterbridge Fairwhere I have undertaken to preach
the Word from a waggon at half-past two this afternoon
and where all the brethren are expecting me this
minute. Here's the announcement."

He drew from his breast-pocket a poster whereon was
printed the dayhourand place of meetingat which
hed'Urbervillewould preach the Gospel as aforesaid.


But how can you get there?said Tesslooking at the
clock.

I cannot get there! I have come here.

What, you have really arranged to preach, and----

I have arranged to preach, and I shall not be
there--by reason of my burning desire to see a woman
whom I once despised!--No, by my word and truth, I
never despised you; if I had I should not love you now!
Why I did not despise you was on account of your being
unsmirched in spite of all; you withdrew yourself from
me so quickly and resolutely when you saw the
situation; you did not remain at my pleasure; so there
was one petticoat in the world for whom I had no
contempt, and you are she. But you may well despise me
now! I thought I worshipped on the mountains, but I
find I still serve in the groves! Ha! ha!

O Alec d'Urberville! what does this mean? What have I
done!

Done?he saidwith a soulless sneer in the word.
Nothing intentionally. But you have been the
means--the innocent means--of my backsliding, as they
call it. I ask myself, am I, indeed, one of those
'servants of corruption' who, 'after they have escaped
the pollutions of the world, are again entangled
therein and overcome'--whose latter end is worse than
their beginning?He laid his hand on her shoulder.
Tess, my girl, I was on the way to, at least, social
salvation till I saw you again!he said freakishly
shaking heras if she were a child. "And why then
have you tempted me? I was firm as a man could be till
I saw those eyes and that mouth again--surely there
never was such a maddening mouth since Eve's!" His
voice sankand a hot archness shot from his own black
eyes. "You temptressTess; you dear damned witch of
Babylon--I could not resist you as soon as I met you
again!"

I couldn't help your seeing me again!said Tess
recoiling.

I know it--I repeat that I do not blame you. But the
fact remains. When I saw you ill-used on the farm that
day I was nearly mad to think that I had no legal right
to protect you--that I could not have it; whilst he
who has it seemed to neglect you utterly!

Don't speak against him--he is absent!she cried in
much excitement. "Treat him honourably--he has never
wronged you! O leave his wife before any scandal
spreads that may do harm to his honest name!"

I will--I will,he saidlike a man awakening from a
luring dream. "I have broken my engagement to preach
to those poor drunken boobies at the fair--it is the
first time I have played such a practical joke. A
month ago I should have been horrified at such a
possibility. I'll go away--to swear--and--ahcan I!
to keep away." Thensuddenly: "One claspTessy--one!
Only for old friendship-----"


I am without defence. Alec! A good man's honour is in
my keeping--think--be ashamed!

Pooh! Well, yes--yes!

He clenched his lipsmortified with himself for his
weakness. His eyes were equally barren of worldly and
religious faith. The corpses of those old fitful
passions which had lain inanimate amid the lines of his
face ever since his reformation seemed to wake and come
together as in a resurrection. He went out
indeterminately.

Though d'Urberville had declared that this breach of
his engagement today was the simple backsliding of a
believerTess's wordsas echoed from Angel Clarehad
made a deep impression upon himand continued to do so
after he had left her. He moved on in silenceas if
his energies were benumbed by the hitherto undreamt-of
possibility that his position was untenable. Reason
had had nothing to do with his whimsical conversion
which was perhaps the mere freak of a careless man in
search of a new sensationand temporarily impressed by
his mother's death.

The drops of logic Tess had let fall into the sea of
his enthusiasm served to chill its effervescence to
stagnation. He said to himselfas he pondered again
and again over the crystallized phrases that she had
handed on to himThat clever fellow little thought
that, by telling her those things, he might be paving
my way back to her!

XLVII

It is the threshing of the last wheat-rick at
Flintcomb-Ash farm. The dawn of the March morning is
singularly inexpressiveand there is nothing to show
where the eastern horizon lies. Against the twilight
rises the trapezoidal top of the stackwhich has stood
forlornly here through the washing and bleaching of the
wintry weather.

When Izz Huett and Tess arrived at the scene of
operations only a rustling denoted that others had
preceded them; to whichas the light increasedthere
were presently added the silhouettes of two men on the
summit. They were busily "unhaling" the rickthat is
stripping off the thatch before beginning to throw down
the sheaves; and while this was in progress Izz and
Tesswith the other women-workersin their
whitey-brown pinnersstood waiting and shivering
Farmer Groby having insisted upon their being on the
spot thus early to get the job over if possible by the
end of the day. Close under the eaves of the stack
and as yet barely visiblewas the red tyrant that the
women had come to serve--a timber-framed construction
with straps and wheels appertaining--the
threshing-machine whichwhilst it was goingkept up a
despotic demand upon the endurance of their muscles and


nerves. A little way off there was another indistinct
figure; this one blackwith a sustained hiss that
spoke of strength very much in reserve. The long
chimney running up beside an ash-treeand the warmth
which radiated from the spotexplained without the
necessity of much daylight that here was the engine
which was to act as the PRIMUM MOBILE of this little
world. By the engine stood a dark motionless beinga
sooty and grimy embodiment of tallnessin a sort of
trancewith a heap of coals by his side: it was the
engineman. The isolation of his manner and colour lent
him the appearance of a creature from Tophetwho had
strayed into the pellucid smokelessness of this region
of yellow grain and pale soilwith which he had
nothing in commonto amaze and to discompose its
aborigines.

What he looked he felt. He was in the agricultural
worldbut not of it. He served fire and smoke; these
denizens of the fields served vegetationweather
frostand sun. He travelled with his engine from farm
to farmfrom county to countyfor as yet the steam
threshing-machine was itinerant in this part of Wessex.
He spoke in a strange northern accent; his thoughts
being turned inwards upon himselfhis eye on his iron
chargehardly perceiving the scenes around himand
caring for them not at all: holding only strictly
necessary intercourse with the nativesas if some
ancient doom compelled him to wander here against his
will in the service of his Plutonic master. The long
strap which ran from the driving-wheel of his engine to
the red thresher under the rick was the sole tie-line
between agriculture and him.

While they uncovered the sheaves he stood apathetic
beside his portable repository of forceround whose
hot blackness the morning air quivered. He had nothing
to do with preparatory labour. His fire was waiting
incandescenthis steam was at high pressurein a few
seconds he could make the long strap move at an
invisible velocity. Beyond its extent the environment
might be cornstrawor chaos; it was all the same to
him. If any of the autochthonous idlers asked him what
he called himselfhe replied shortlyan engineer.

The rick was unhaled by full daylight; the men then
took their placesthe women mountedand the work
began. Farmer Groby--oras they called himhe--had
arrived ere thisand by his orders Tess was placed on
the platform of the machineclose to the man who fed
ither business being to untie every sheaf of corn
handed on to her by Izz Huettwho stood nextbut on
the rick; so that the feeder could seize it and spread
it over the revolving drumwhich whisked out every
grain in one moment. They were soon in full progress
after a preparatory hitch or twowhich rejoiced the
hearts of those who hated machinery. The work sped on
till breakfast timewhen the thresher was stopped for
half an hour; and on starting again after the meal the
whole supplementary strength of the farm was thrown
into the labour of constructing the straw-rickwhich
began to grow beside the stack of corn. A hasty lunch
was eaten as they stoodwithout leaving their
positionsand then another couple of hours brought


them near to dinner-time; the inexorable wheel
continuing to spinand the penetrating hum of the
thresher to thrill to the very marrow all who were near
the revolving wire-cage.

The old men on the rising straw-rick talked of the past
days when they had been accustomed to thresh with
flails on the oaken barn-door; when everythingeven
to winnowingwas effected by hand-labourwhichto
their thinkingthough slowproduced better results.
Thosetooon the corn-rick talked a little; but the
perspiring ones at the machineincluding Tesscould
not lighten their duties by the exchange of many words.
It was the ceaselessness of the work which tried her so
severelyand began to make her wish that she had never
some to Flintcomb-Ash. The women on the
corn-rick--Marianwho was one of themin
particular--could stop to drink ale or cold tea from
the flagon now and thenor to exchange a few gossiping
remarks while they wiped their faces or cleared the
fragments of straw and husk from their clothing; but
for Tess there was no respite; foras the drum never
stoppedthe man who fed it could not stopand she
who had to supply the man with untied sheavescould
not stop eitherunless Marian changed places with her
which she sometimes did for half an hour in spite of
Groby's objections that she was too slow-handed for a
feeder.

For some probably economical reason it was usually a
woman who was chosen for this particular dutyand
Groby gave as his motive in selecting Tess that she was
one of those who best combined strength with quickness
in untyingand both with staying powerand this may
have been true. The hum of the thresherwhich
prevented speechincreased to a raving whenever the
supply of corn fell short of the regular quantity. As
Tess and the man who fed could never turn their heads
she did not know that just before the dinner-hour a
person had come silently into the field by the gate
and had been standing under a second rick watching the
sceneand Tess in particular. He was dressed in a
tweed suit of fashionable patternand he twirled a gay
walking-cane.

Who is that?said Izz Huett to Marian. She had at
first addressed the inquiry to Tessbut the latter
could not hear it.

Somebody's fancy-man, I s'pose,said Marian
laconically.

I'll lay a guinea he's after Tess.

O no. 'Tis a ranter pa'son who's been sniffing after
her lately; not a dandy like this.

Well--this is the same man.

The same man as the preacher? But he's quite
different!

He hev left off his black coat and white neckercher,
and hev cut off his whiskers; but he's the same man for


all that.

D'ye really think so? Then I'll tell her,said
Marian.

Don't. She'll see him soon enough, good-now.

Well. I don't think it at all right for him to join
his preaching to courting a married woman, even though
her husband mid be abroad, and she, in a sense, a
widow.

Oh--he can do her no harm,said Izz drily. "Her mind
can no more be heaved from that one place where it do
bide than a stooded waggon from the hole he's in. Lord
love 'eeneither court-payingnor preachingnor the
seven thunders themselvescan wean a woman when
'twould be better for her that she should be weaned."

Dinner-time cameand the whirling ceased; whereupon
Tess left her posther knees trembling so wretchedly
with the shaking of the machine that she could scarcely
walk.

You ought to het a quart o' drink into 'ee, as I've
done,said Marian. "You wouldn't look so white then.
Whysouls above usyour face is as if you'd been
hagrode!"

It occurred to the good-natured Marian thatas Tess
was so tiredher discovery of her visitor's presence
might have the bad effect of taking away her appetite;
and Marian was thinking of inducing Tess to descend by
a ladder on the further side of the stack when the
gentleman came forward and looked up.

Tess uttered a short little "Oh!" And a moment after
she saidquicklyI shall eat my dinner here--right
on the rick.

Sometimeswhen they were so far from their cottages
they all did this; but as there was rather a keen wind
going todayMarian and the rest descendedand sat
under the straw-stack. The newcomer wasindeedAlec
d'Urbervillethe late Evangelistdespite his changed
attire and aspect. It was obvious at a glance that the
original WELTLUST had come back; that he had restored
himselfas nearly as a man could do who had grown
three or four years olderto the old jauntyslapdash
guise under which Tess had first known her admirerand
cousin so-called. Having decided to remain where she
wasTess sat down among the bundlesout of sight of
the groundand began her meal; tillby-and-byshe
heard footsteps on the ladderand immediately after
Alec appeared upon the stack--now an oblong and level
platform of sheaves. He strode across themand sat
down opposite of her without a word.

Tess continued to eat her modest dinnera slice of
thick pancake which she had brought with her. The
other workfolk were by this time all gathered under the
rickwhere the loose straw formed a comfortable
retreat.


I am here again, as you see,said d'Urberville.

Why do you trouble me so!she criedreproach
flashing from her very finger-ends.

I trouble YOU? I think I may ask, why do you trouble
me?

Sure, I don't trouble you any-when!

You say you don't? But you do! You haunt me. Those
very eyes that you turned upon my with such a bitter
flash a moment ago, they come to me just as you showed
them then, in the night and in the day! Tess, ever
since you told me of that child of ours, it is just as
if my feelings, which have been flowing in a strong
puritanical stream, had suddenly found a way open in
the direction of you, and had all at once gushed
through. The religious channel is left dry forthwith;
and it is you who have done it!

She gazed in silence.

What--you have given up your preaching entirely?she
asked. She had gathered from Angel sufficient of the
incredulity of modern thought to despise flash
enthusiasm; butas a womanshe was somewhat appalled.

In affected severity d'Urberville continued-


Entirely. I have broken every engagement since that
afternoon I was to address the drunkards at
Casterbridge Fair. The deuce only knows what I am
thought of by the brethren. Ah-ha! The brethren! No
doubt they pray for me--weep for me; for they are kind
people in their way. But what do I care? How could I
go on with the thing when I had lost my faith in
it?--it would have been hypocrisy of the basest kind!
Among them I should have stood like Hymenaeus and
Alexander, who were delivered over to Satan that they
might learn not to blaspheme. What a grand revenge you
have taken! I saw you innocent, and I deceived you.
Four years after, you find me a Christian enthusiast;
you then work upon me, perhaps to my complete
perdition! But Tess, my coz, as I used to call you,
this is only my way of talking, and you must not look
so horribly concerned. Of course you have done nothing
except retain your pretty face and shapely figure.
I saw it on the rick before you saw me--that tight
pinafore-thing sets it off, and that wing-bonnet--you
field-girls should never wear those bonnets if you wish
to keep out of danger.He regarded her silently for a
few momentsand with a short cynical laugh resumed:
I believe that if the bachelor-apostle, whose deputy I
thought I was, had been tempted by such a pretty face,
he would have let go the plough for her sake as I do!

Tess attempted to expostulatebut at this juncture all
her fluency failed herand without heeding he added:

Well, this paradise that you supply is perhaps as good
as any other, after all. But to speak seriously.
Tess.D'Urberville rose and came nearerreclining
sideways amid the sheavesand resting upon his elbow.


Since I last saw you, I have been thinking of what you
said that HE said. I have come to the conclusion that
there does seem rather a want of common-sense in these
threadbare old propositions; how I could have been so
fired by poor Parson Clare's enthusiasm, and have gone
so madly to work, transcending even him, I cannot make
out! As for what you said last time, on the strength of
your wonderful husband's intelligence--whose name you
have never told me--about having what they call an
ethical system without any dogma, I don't see my way to
that at all.

Why, you can have the religion of loving-kindness and
purity at least, if you can't have--what do you call
it--dogma.

O no! I'm a different sort of fellow from that! If
there's nobody to say, 'Do this, and it will be a good
thing for you after you are dead; do that, and if will
be a bad thing for you,' I can't warm up. Hang it, I
am not going to feel responsible for my deeds and
passions if there's nobody to be responsible to; and if
I were you, my dear, I wouldn't either!

She tried to argueand tell him that he had mixed in
his dull brain two matterstheology and moralswhich
in the primitive days of mankind had been quite
distinct. But owing to Angel Clare's reticenceto her
absolute want of trainingand to her being a vessel of
emotions rather than reasonsshe could not get on.
Well, never mind,he resumed. "Here I ammy love
as in the old times!"

Not as then--never as then--'tis different!she
entreated. "And there was never warmth with me!
O why didn't you keep your faithif the loss of it has
brought you to speak to me like this!"

Because you've knocked it out of me; so the evil be
upon your sweet head! Your husband little thought how
his teaching would recoil upon him! Ha-ha--I'm awfully
glad you have made an apostate of me all the same!
Tess, I am more taken with you than ever, and I pity
you too. For all your closeness, I see you are in a
bad way--neglected by one who ought to cherish you.

She could not get her morsels of food down her throat;
her lips were dryand she was ready to choke. The
voices and laughs of the workfolk eating and drinking
under the rick came to her as if they were a quarter of
a mile off.

It is cruelty to me!she said. "How--how can you
treat me to this talkif you care ever so little for
me?"

True, true,he saidwincing a little. "I did not
come to reproach you for my deeds. I came Tessto say
that I don't like you to be working like thisand I
have come on purpose for you. You say you have a
husband who is not I. Wellperhaps you have; but I've
never seen himand you've not told me his name; and
altogether he seems rather a mythological personage.
Howevereven if you have oneI think I am nearer to


you than he is. Iat any ratetry to help you out of
troublebut he does notbless his invisible face!
The words of the stern prophet Hosea that I used to
read come back to me. Don't you know themTess?--'And
she shall follow after her loverbut she shall not
overtake him; and she shall seek himbut shall not
find him; then shall she sayI will go and return to
my first husband; for then was it better with me than
now!' ... Tessmy trap is waiting just under the hill
and--darling minenot his!--you know the rest."

Her face had been rising to a dull crimson fire while
he spoke; but she did not answer.

You have been the cause of my backsliding,he
continuedstretching his arm towards her waist; "you
should be willing to share itand leave that mule you
call husband for ever."

One of her leather gloveswhich she had taken off to
eat her skimmer-cakelay in her lapand without the
slightest warning she passionately swung the glove by
the gauntlet directly in his face. It was heavy and
thick as a warrior'sand it struck him flat on the
mouth. Fancy might have regarded the act as the
recrudescence of a trick in which her armed progenitors
were not unpractised. Alec fiercely started up from his
reclining position. A scarlet oozing appeared where
her blow had alightedand in a moment the blood began
dropping from his mouth upon the straw. But he soon
controlled himselfcalmly drew his handkerchief from
his pocketand mopped his bleeding lips.

She too had sprung upbut she sank down again. "Now
punish me!" she saidturning up her eyes to him with
the hopeless defiance of the sparrow's gaze before its
captor twists its neck. "Whip mecrush me; you need
not mind those people under the rick! I shall not cry
out. Once victimalways victim--that's the law!"

O no, no, Tess,he said blandly. "I can make full
allowance for this. Yet you most unjustly forget one
thingthat I would have married you if you had not put
it out of my power to do so. Did I not ask you flatly
to be my wife--hey? Answer me."

You did.

And you cannot be. But remember one thing!His
voice hardened as his temper got the better of him with
the recollection of his sincerity in asking her and her
present ingratitudeand he stepped across to her side
and held her by the shouldersso that she shook under
his grasp. "Remembermy ladyI was your master once!
I will be your master again. If you are any man's wife
you are mine!"

The threshers now began to stir below.

So much for our quarrel,he saidletting her go.
Now I shall leave you, and shall come again for your
answer during the afternoon. You don't know me yet!
But I know you.


She had not spoken againremaining as if stunned.
D'Urberville retreated over the sheavesand descended
the ladderwhile the workers below rose and stretched
their armsand shook down the beer they had drunk.
Then the threshing-machine started afresh; and amid the
renewed rustle of the straw Tess resumed her position
by the buzzing drum as one in a dreamuntying sheaf
after sheaf in endless succession.

XLVIII

In the afternoon the farmer made it known that the rick
was to be finished that nightsince there was a moon
by which they could see to workand the man with the
engine was engaged for another farm on the morrow.
Hence the twanging and humming and rustling proceeded
with even less intermission than usual.

It was not till "nammet"-timeabout three o-clock
that Tess raised her eyes and gave a momentary glance
round. She felt but little surprise at seeing that
Alec d'Urberville had come backand was standing under
the hedge by the gate. He had seen her lift her eyes
and waved his hand urbanely to herwhile he blew her a
kiss. It meant that their quarrel was over. Tess
looked down againand carefully abstained from gazing
in that direction.

Thus the afternoon dragged on. The wheat-rick shrank
lowerand the straw-rick grew higherand the
corn-sacks were carted away. At six o'clock the
wheat-rick was about shoulder-high from the ground.
But the unthreshed sheaves remaining untouched seemed
countless stillnotwithstanding the enormous numbers
that had been gulped down by the insatiable swallower
fed by the man and Tessthrough whose two young hands
the greater part of them had passed. And the immense
stack of straw where in the morning there had been
nothingappeared as the FAECES of the same buzzing red
glutton. From the west sky a wrathful shine--all that
wild March could afford in the way of sunset--had burst
forth after the cloudy dayflooding the tired and
sticky faces of the threshersand dyeing them with a
coppery lightas also the flapping garments of the
womenwhich clung to them like dull flames.

A panting ache ran through the rick. The man who fed
was wearyand Tess could see that the red nape of his
neck was encrusted with dirt and husks. She still
stood at her posther flushed and perspiring face
coated with the corndustand her white bonnet
embrowned by it. She was the only woman whose place
was upon the machine so as to be shaken bodily by its
spinningand the decrease of the stack now separated
her from Marian and Izzand prevented their changing
duties with her as they had done. The incessant
quiveringin which every fibre of her frame
participatedhad thrown her into a stupefied reverie
in which her arms worked on independently of her
consciousness. She hardly knew where she wasand did
not hear Izz Huett tell her from below that her hair


was tumbling down.

By degrees the freshest among them began to grow
cadaverous and saucer-eyed. Whenever Tess lifted her
head she beheld always the great upgrown straw-stack
with the men in shirt-sleeves upon itagainst the gray
north sky; in front of it the long red elevator like a
Jacob's ladderon which a perpetual stream of threshed
straw ascendeda yellow river running uphilland
spouting out on the top of the rick.

She knew that Alec d'Urberville was still on the scene
observing her from some point or otherthough she
could not say where. There was an excuse for his
remainingfor when the threshed rick drew near its
final sheaves a little ratting was always doneand men
unconnected with the threshing sometimes dropped in for
that performance--sporting characters of all
descriptionsgents with terriers and facetious pipes
roughs with sticks and stones.

But there was another hour's work before the layer of
live rats at the base of the stack would be reached;
and as the evening light in the direction of the
Giant's Hill by Abbot's-Cernel dissolved awaythe
white-faced moon of the season arose from the horizon
that lay towards Middleton Abbey and Shottsford on the
other side. For the last hour or two Marian had felt
uneasy about Tesswhom she could not get near enough
to speak tothe other women having kept up their
strength by drinking aleand Tess having done without
it through traditionary dreadowing to its results at
her home in childhood. But Tess still kept going: if
she could not fill her part she would have to leave;
and this contingencywhich she would have regarded
with equanimity and even with relief a month or two
earlierhad become a terror since d'Urberville had
begun to hover round her.

The sheaf-pitchers and feeders had now worked the rick
so low that people on the ground could talk to them.
To Tess's surprise Farmer Groby came up on the machine
to herand said that if she desired to join her friend
he did not wish her to keep on any longerand would
send somebody else to take her place. The "friend" was
d'Urbervilleshe knewand also that this concession
had been granted in obedience to the request of that
friendor enemy. She shook her head and toiled on.

The time for the rat-catching arrived at lastand the
hunt began. The creatures had crept downwards with the
subsidence of the rick till they were all together at
the bottomand being now uncovered from their last
refuge they ran across the open ground in all
directionsa loud shriek from the by-this-time
half-tipsy Marian informing her companions that one of
the rats had invaded her person--a terror which the
rest of the women had guarded against by various
schemes of skirt-tucking and self-elevation. The rat
was at last dislodgedandamid the barking of dogs
masculine shoutsfeminine screamsoathsstampings
and confusion as of PandemoniumTess untied her last
sheaf; the drum slowedthe whizzing ceasedand she
stepped from the machine to the ground.


Her loverwho had only looked on at the rat-catching
was promptly at her side.

What--after all--my insulting slap, too!said she in
an underbreath. She was so utterly exhausted that she
had not strength to speak louder.

I should indeed be foolish to feel offended at
anything you say or do,he answeredin the seductive
voice of the Trantridge time. "How the little limbs
tremble! You are as weak as a bled calfyou know you
are; and yet you need have done nothing since I
arrived. How could you be so obstinate? HoweverI
have told the farmer that he has no right to employ
women at steam-threshing. It is not proper work for
them; and on all the better class of farms it has been
given upas he knows very well. I will walk with you
as far as your home."

O yes,she answered with a jaded gait. "Walk wi' me
if you will! I do bear in mind that you came to marry
me before you knew o' my state. Perhaps--perhaps you
are a little better and kinder than I have been
thinking you were. Whatever is meant by kindness I am
grateful for; whatever is meant in any other way I am
angered at. I cannot sense your meaning sometimes."

If I cannot legitimize our former relations at least I
can assist you. And I will do it with much more regard
for your feelings than I formerly showed. My religious
mania, or whatever it was, is over. But I retain a
little good nature; I hope I do. Now, Tess, by all
that's tender and strong between man and woman, trust
me! I have enough and more than enough to put you out
of anxiety, both for yourself and your parents and
sisters. I can make them all comfortable if you will
only show confidence in me.

Have you seen 'em lately?she quickly inquired.

Yes. They didn't know where you were. It was only by
chance that I found you here.

The cold moon looked aslant upon Tess's fagged face
between the twigs of the garden-hedge as she paused
outside the cottage which was her temporary home
d'Urberville pausing beside her.

Don't mention my little brothers and sisters--don't
make me break down quite!she said. "If you want to
help them--God knows they need it--do it without
telling me. But nono!" she cried. "I will take
nothing from youeither for them or for me!"

He did not accompany her furthersinceas she lived
with the householdall was public indoors. No sooner
had she herself enteredlaved herself in a
washing-tuband shared supper with the family than she
fell into thoughtand withdrawing to the table under
the wallby the light of her own little lamp wrote in
a passionate mood-


MY OWN HUSBAND--Let me call you so--I must--even if it


makes you angry to think of such an unworthy wife as I.
I must cry to you in my trouble--I have no one else! I
am so exposed to temptationAngel. I fear to say who
it isand I do not like to write about it at all. But
I cling to you in a way you cannot think! Can you not
come to me nowat oncebefore anything terrible
happens? OI know you cannotbecause you are so far
away! I think I must die if you do not come soonor
tell me to come to you. The punishment you have
measured out to me is deserved--I do know that--well
deserved--and you are right and just to be angry with
me. ButAngelpleasepleasenot to be just--only a
little kind to meeven if I do not deserve itand
come to me! If you would comeI could die in your
arms! I would be well content to do that if so be you
had forgiven me!

AngelI live entirely for you. I love you too much to
blame you for going awayand I know it was necessary
you should find a farm. Do not think I shall say a
word of sting or bitterness. Only come back to me. I
am desolate without youmy darlingOso desolate! I
do not mind having to work: but if you will send me one
little lineand sayI AM COMING SOON,I will bide
onAngel--Oso cheerfully!

It has been so much my religion ever since we were
married to be faithful to you in every thought and
lookthat even when a man speaks a compliment to me
before I am awareit seems wronging you. Have you
never felt one little bit of what you used to feel when
we were at the dairy? If you havehow can you keep
away from me? I am the same womenAngelas you fell
in love with; yesthe very same!--not the one you
disliked but never saw. What was the past to me as soon
as I met you? It was a dead thing altogether. I
became another womanfilled full of new life from you.
How could I be the early one? Why do you not see this?
Dearif you would only be a little more conceitedand
believe in yourself so far as to see that you were
strong enough to work this change in meyou would
perhaps be in a mind to come to meyour poor wife.

How silly I was in my happiness when I thought I could
trust you always to love me! I ought to have known
that such as that was not for poor me. But I am sick
at heartnot only for old timesbut for the present.
Think--think how it do hurt my heart not to see you
ever--ever! Ahif I could only make your dear heart
ache one little minute of each day as mine does every
day and all day longit might lead you to show pity to
your poor lonely one.

People still say that I am rather prettyAngel
(handsome is the word they usesince I wish to be
truthful). Perhaps I am what they say. But I do not
value my good looks; I only like to have them because
they belong to youmy dearand that there may be at
least one thing about me worth your having. So much
have I felt thisthat when I met with annoyance on
account of the same I tied up my face in a bandage as
long as people would believe in it. O AngelI tell
you all this not from vanity--you will certainly know I
do not--but only that you may come to me!


If you really cannot come to me will you let me come to
you? I amas I sayworriedpressed to do what I
will not do. It cannot be that I shall yield one inch
yet I am in terror as to what an accident might lead
toand I so defenceless on account of my first error.
I cannot say more about this--it makes me too
miserable. But if I break down by falling into some
fearful snaremy last state will be worse than my
first. O GodI cannot think of it! Let me come at
onceor at once come to me!

I would be contentaygladto live with you as your
servantif I may not as your wife; so that I could
only be near youand get glimpses of youand think of
you as mine.

The daylight has nothing to show mesince you are not
hereand I don't like to see the rooks and starlings
in the fieldbecause I grieve and grieve to miss you
who used to see them with me. I long for only one
thing in heaven or earth or under the earthto meet
youmy own dear! Come to me--come to meand save me
from what threatens me!--Your faithful heartbroken

TESS

XLIX

The appeal duly found its way to the breakfast-table of
the quiet Vicarage to the westwardin that valley
where the air is so soft and the soil so rich that the
effort of growth requires but superficial aid by
comparison with the tillage at Flintcomb-Ashand where
to Tess the human world seemed so different (though it
was much the same). It was purely for security that
she had been requested by Angel to send her
communications through his fatherwhom he kept pretty
well informed of his changing addresses in the country
he had gone to exploit for himself with a heavy heart.

Now,said old Mr Clare to his wifewhen he had read
the envelopeif Angel proposes leaving Rio for a
visit home at the end of next month, as he told us that
he hoped to do, I think this may hasten his plans; for
I believe it to be from his wife.He breathed deeply
at the thought of her; and the letter was redirected to
be promptly sent on to Angel.

Dear fellow, I hope he will get home safely,murmured
Mrs Clare. "To my dying day I shall feel that he had
been ill-used. You should have sent him to Cambridge in
spite of his want of faithand given him the same
chance as the other boys had. He would have grown out
of it under proper influenceand perhaps would have
taken Orders after all. Church or no Churchit would
have been fairer to him."

This was the only wail with which Mrs Clare ever
disturbed her husband's peace in respect to their sons.
And she did not vent this often; for she was as


considerate as she was devoutand knew that his mind
too was troubled by doubts as to his justice in this
matter. Only too often had she heard him lying awake
at nightstifling sighs for Angel with prayers. But
the uncompromising Evangelical did not even now hold
that he would have been justified in giving his sonan
unbelieverthe same academic advantages that he had
given to the two otherswhen it was possibleif not
probablethat those very advantages might have been
used to decry the doctrines which he had made it his
life's mission and desire to propagateand the mission
of his ordained sons likewise. To put with one hand a
pedestal under the feet of the two faithful onesand
with the other to exalt the unfaithful by the same
artificial meanshe deemed to be alike inconsistent
with his convictionshis positionand his hopes.
Neverthelesshe loved his misnamed Angeland in
secret mourned over this treatment of him as Abraham
might have mourned over the doomed Isaac while they
went up the hill together. His silent self-generated
regrets were far bitterer than the reproaches which his
wife rendered audible.

They blamed themselves for this unlucky marriage. If
Angel had never been destined for a farmer he would
never have been thrown with agricultural girls. They
did not distinctly know what had separated him and his
wifenor the date on which the separation had taken
place. At first they had supposed it must be something
of the nature of a serious aversion. But in his later
letters he occasionally alluded to the intention of
coming home to fetch her; from which expressions they
hoped the division might not owe its origin to anything
so hopelessly permanent as that. He had told them that
she was with her relativesand in their doubts they
had decided not to intrude into a situation which they
knew no way of bettering.

The eyes for which Tess's letter was intended were
gazing at this time on a limitless expanse of country
from the back of a mule which was bearing him from the
interior of the South-American Continent towards the
coast. His experiences of this strange land had been
sad. The severe illness from which he had suffered
shortly after his arrival had never wholly left him
and he had by degrees almost decided to relinquish his
hope of farming herethoughas long as the bare
possibility existed of his remaininghe kept this
change of view a secret from his parents.

The crowds of agricultural labourers who had come out
to the country in his wakedazzled by representations
of easy independencehad suffereddiedand wasted
away. He would see mothers from English farms trudging
along with their infants in their armswhen the child
would be stricken with fever and would die; the mother
would pause to dig a hole in the loose earth with her
bare handswould bury the babe therein with the same
natural grave-toolsshed one tearand again trudge
on.

Angel's original intention had not been emigration to
Brazil but a northern or eastern farm in his own
country. He had come to this place in a fit of


desperationthe Brazil movement among the English
agriculturists having by chance coincided with his
desire to escape from his past existence.

During this time of absence he had mentally aged a
dozen years. What arrested him now as of value in life
was less its beauty than its pathos. Having long
discredited the old systems of mysticismhe now began
to discredit the old appraisements of morality. He
thought they wanted readjusting. Who was the moral
man? Still more pertinentlywho was the moral woman?
The beauty or ugliness of a character lay not only in
its achievementsbut in its aims and impulses; its
true history laynot among things donebut among
things willed.

Howthenabout Tess?

Viewing her in these lightsa regret for his hasty
judgement began to oppress him. Did he reject her
eternallyor did he not? He could no longer say that
he would always reject herand not to say that was in
spirit to accept her now.

This growing fondness for her memory coincided in point
of time with her residence at Flintcomb-Ashbut it was
before she had felt herself at liberty to trouble him
with a word about her circumstances or her feelings.
He was greatly perplexed; and in his perplexity as to
her motives in withholding intelligence he did not
inquire. Thus her silence of docility was
misinterpreted. How much it really said if he had
understood!--that she adhered with literal exactness
to orders which he had given and forgotten; that
despite her natural fearlessness she asserted no
rightsadmitted his judgement to be in every respect
the true oneand bent her head dumbly thereto.

In the before-mentioned journey by mules through the
interior of the countryanother man rode beside him.
Angel's companion was also an Englishmanbent on the
same errandthough he came from another part of the
island. They were both in a state of mental
depressionand they spoke of home affairs. Confidence
begat confidence. With that curious tendency evinced
by menmore especially when in distant landsto
entrust to strangers details of their lives which they
would on no account mention to friendsAngel admitted
to this man as they rode along the sorrowful facts of
his marriage. The stranger had sojourned in many more
lands and among many more peoples than Angel; to his
cosmopolitan mind such deviations from the social norm
so immense to domesticitywere no more than are the
irregularities of vale and mountain-chain to the whole
terrestrial curve. He viewed the matter in quite a
different light from Angel; thought that what Tess had
been was of no importance beside what she would beand
plainly told Clare that he was wrong in coming away
from her.

The next day they were drenched in a thunder-storm.
Angel's companion was struck down with feverand died
by the week's end. Clare waited a few hours to bury
himand then went on his way.


The cursory remarks of the large-minded strangerof
whom he knew absolutely nothing beyond a commonplace
namewere sublimed by his deathand influenced Clare
more than all the reasoned ethics of the philosophers.
His own parochialism made him ashamed by its contrast.
His inconsistencies rushed upon him in a flood. He had
persistently elevated Hellenic Paganism at the expense
of Christianity; yet in that civilization an illegal
surrender was not certain disesteem. Surely then he
might have regarded that abhorrence of the un-intact
statewhich he had inherited with the creed of
mysticismas at least open to correction when the
result was due to treachery. A remorse struck into
him. The words of Izz Huettnever quite stilled in
his memorycame back to him. He had asked Izz if she
loved himand she had replied in the affirmative. Did
she love him more than Tess did? Noshe had replied;
Tess would lay down her life for himand she herself
could do no more.

He thought of Tess as she had appeared on the day of
the wedding. How her eyes had lingered upon him; how
she had hung upon his words as if they were a god's!
And during the terrible evening over the hearthwhen
her simple soul uncovered itself to hishow pitiful
her face had looked by the rays of the firein her
inability to realize that his love and protection could
possibly be withdrawn.

Thus from being her critic he grew to be her advocate.
Cynical things he had uttered to himself about her; but
no man can be always a cynic and live; and he withdrew
them. The mistake of expressing them had arisen from
his allowing himself to be influenced by general
principles to the disregard of the particular instance.

But the reasoning is somewhat musty; lovers and
husbands have gone over the ground before today.
Clare had been harsh towards her; there is no doubt of it.
Men are too often harsh with women they love or have
loved; women with men. And yet these harshnesses are
tenderness itself when compared with the universal
harshness out of which they grow; the harshness of the
position towards the temperamentof the means towards
the aimsof today towards yesterdayof hereafter
towards today.

The historic interest of her family--that masterful
line of d'Urbervilles--whom he had despised as a spent
forcetouched his sentiments now. Why had he not
known the difference between the political value and
the imaginative value of these things? In the latter
aspect her d'Urberville descent was a fact of great
dimensions; worthless to economicsit was a most
useful ingredient to the dreamerto the moralizer on
declines and falls. It was a fact that would soon be
forgotten--that bit of distinction in poor Tess's blood
and nameand oblivion would fall upon her hereditary
link with the marble monuments and leaded skeletons at
Kingsbere. So does Time ruthlessly destroy his own
romances. In recalling her face again and againhe
thought now that he could see therein a flash of the
dignity which must have graced her grand-dames; and the


vision sent that AURA through his veins which he had
formerly feltand which left behind it a sense of
sickness.

Despite her not inviolate pastwhat still abode in
such a woman as Tess outvalued the freshness of her
fellows. Was not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim
better than the vintage of Abi-ezer?

So spoke love renascentpreparing the way for Tess's
devoted outpouringwhich was then just being forwarded
to him by his father; though owing to his distance
inland it was to be a long time in reaching him.

Meanwhile the writer's expectation that Angel would
come in response to the entreaty was alternately great
and small. What lessened it was that the facts of her
life which had led to the parting had not
changed--could never change; and thatif her presence
had not attenuated themher absence could not.
Nevertheless she addressed her mind to the tender
question of what she could do to please him best if he
should arrive. Sighs were expended on the wish that
she had taken more notice of the tunes he played on his
harpthat she had inquired more curiously of him which
were his favourite ballads among those the countrygirls
sang. She indirectly inquired of Amby Seedling
who had followed Izz from Talbothaysand by chance
Amby remembered thatamongst the snatches of melody in
which they had indulged at the dairyman'sto induce
the cows to let down their milkClare had seemed to
like "Cupid's Gardens"I have parks, I have hounds
and "The break o' the day"; and had seemed not to care
for "The Tailor's Breeches" and "Such a beauty I did
grow"excellent ditties as they were.

To perfect the ballads was now her whimsical desire.
She practised them privately at odd momentsespecially
The break o' the day:

Arisearisearise!

And pick your love a posy

All o' the sweetest flowers

That in the garden grow.

The turtle doves and sma' birds

In every bough a-building

So early in the May-time

At the break o' the day!

It would have melted the heart of a stone to hear her
singing these dittieswhenever she worked apart from
the rest of the girls in this cold dry time; the tears
running down her cheeks all the while at the thought
that perhaps he would notafter allcome to hear her
and the simple silly words of the songs resounding in
painful mockery of the aching heart of the singer.

Tess was so wrapt up in this fanciful dream that she
seemed not to know how the season was advancing; that
the days had lengthenedthat Lady-Day was at handand
would soon be followed by Old Lady-Daythe end of her
term here.

But before the quarter-day had quite come something


happened which made Tess think of far different
matters. She was at her lodging as usual one evening
sitting in the downstairs room with the rest of the
familywhen somebody knocked at the door and inquired
for Tess. Through the doorway she saw against the
declining light a figure with the height of a woman and
the breadth of a childa tallthingirlish creature
whom she did not recognize in the twilight till the
girl said "Tess!"

What--is it 'Liza-Lu?asked Tessin startled
accents. Her sisterwhom a little over a year ago she
had left at home as a childhad sprung up by a sudden
shoot to a form of this presentationof which as yet
Lu seemed herself scarce able to understand the
meaning. Her thin legsvisible below her once long
frock now short by her growingand her uncomfortable
hands and armsrevealed her youth and inexperience.

Yes, I have been traipsing about all day, Tess,said
Luwith unemotional gravitya-trying to find 'ee;
and I'm very tired.

What is the matter at home?

Mother is took very bad, and the doctor says she's
dying, and as father is not very well neither, and says
'tis wrong for a man of such a high family as his to
slave and drave at common labouring work, we don't know
what to do.

Tess stood in reverie a long time before she thought of
asking 'Liza-Lu to come in and sit down. When she had
done soand 'Liza-Lu was having some teashe came to
a decision. It was imperative that she should go home.
Her agreement did not end till Old Lady-Daythe sixth
of Aprilbut as the interval thereto was not a long
one she resolved to run the risk of starting at once.

To go that night would be a gain of twelve-hours; but
her sister was too tired to undertake such a distance
till the morrow. Tess ran down to where Marian and Izz
livedinformed them of what had happenedand begged
them to make the best of her case to the farmer.
Returningshe got Lu a supperand after thathaving
tucked the younger into her own bedpacked up as many
of her belongings as would go into a withy basketand
starteddirecting Lu to follow her next morning.

She plunged into the chilly equinoctial darkness as the
clock struck tenfor her fifteen miles' walk under the
steely stars. In lone districts night is a protection
rather than a danger to a noiseless pedestrianand
knowing this Tess pursued the nearest course along
by-lanes that she would almost have feared in the
day-time; but marauders were wanting nowand spectral
fears were driven out of her mind by thoughts of her
mother. Thus she proceeded mile after mileascending
and descending till she came to Bulbarrowand about


midnight looked from that height into the abyss of
chaotic shade which was all that revealed itself of the
vale on whose further side she was born. Having already
traversed about five miles on the upland she had now
some ten or eleven in the lowland before her journey
would be finished. The winding road downwards became
just visible to her under the wan starlight as she
followed itand soon she paced a soil so contrasting
with that above it that the difference was perceptible
to the tread and to the smell. It was the heavy clay
land of Blackmoor Valeand a part of the Vale to which
turnpike-roads had never penetrated. Superstitions
linger longest on these heavy soils. Having once been
forestat this shadowy time it seemed to assert
something of its old characterthe far and the near
being blendedand every tree and tall hedge making the
most of its presence. The harts that had been hunted
herethe witches that had been pricked and duckedthe
green-spangled fairies that "whickered" at you as you
passed;--the place teemed with beliefs in them still
and they formed an impish multitude now.

At Nuttlebury she passed the village innwhose sign
creaked in response to the greeting of her footsteps
which not a human soul heard but herself. Under the
thatched roofs her mind's eye beheld relaxed tendons
and flaccid musclesspread out in the darkness beneath
coverlets made of little purple patchwork squaresand
undergoing a bracing process at the hands of sleep for
renewed labour on the morrowas soon as a hint of pink
nebulosity appeared on Hambledon Hill.

At three she turned the last corner of the maze of
lanes she had threadedand entered Marlottpassing
the field in which as a club-girlshe had first seen
Angel Clarewhen he had not danced with her; the sense
of disappointment remained with her yet. In the
direction of her mother's house she saw a light.
It came from the bedroom windowand a branch waved in
front of it and made it wink at her. As soon as she
could discern the outline of the house--newly thatched
with her money--it had all its old effect upon Tess's
imagination. Part of her body and life it ever seemed
to be; the slope of its dormersthe finish of its
gablesthe broken courses of brick which topped the
chimneyall had something in common with her personal
character. A stupefaction had come into these
featuresto her regard; it meant the illness of her
mother.

She opened the door so softly as to disturb nobody; the
lower room was vacantbut the neighbour who was
sitting up with her mother came to the top of the
stairsand whispered that Mrs Durbeyfield was no
betterthough she was sleeping just then. Tess
prepared herself a breakfastand then took her place
as nurse in her mother's chamber.

In the morningwhen she contemplated the children
they had all a curiously elongated look; although she
had been away little more than a year their growth was
astounding; and the necessity of applying herself heart
and soul to their needs took her out of her own cares.


Her father's ill-health was the same indefinite kind
and he sat in his chair as usual. But the day after
her arrival he was unusually bright. He had a rational
scheme for livingand Tess asked him what it was.

I'm thinking of sending round to all the old
antiqueerians in this part of England,he said
asking them to subscribe to a fund to maintain me.
I'm sure they'd see it as a romantical, artistical, and
proper thing to do. They spend lots o' money in
keeping up old ruins, and finding the bones o' things,
and such like; and living remains must be more
interesting to 'em still, if they only knowed of me.
Would that somebody would go round and tell 'em what
there is living among 'em, and they thinking nothing of
him! If Pa'son Tringham, who discovered me, had lived,
he'd ha' done it, I'm sure.

Tess postponed her arguments on this high project till
she had grappled with pressing matters in handwhich
seemed little improved by her remittances. When indoor
necessities had been eased she turned her attention to
external things. It was now the season for planting
and sowing; many gardens and allotments of the
villagers had already received their spring tillage;
but the garden and the allotment of the Durbeyfields
were behindhand. She foundto her dismaythat this
was owing to their having eaten all the seed
potatoes----that last lapse of the improvident.
At the earliest moment she obtained what others she could
procureand in a few days her father was well enough
to see to the gardenunder Tess's persuasive efforts:
while she herself undertook the allotment-plot which
they rented in a field a couple of hundred yards out of
the village.

She liked doing it after the confinement of the sick
chamberwhere she was not now required by reason of
her mother's improvement. Violent motion relieved
thought. The plot of ground was in a highdryopen
enclosurewhere there were forty or fifty such pieces
and where labour was at its briskest when the hired
labour of the day had ended. Digging began usually at
six o'clockand extended indefinitely into the dusk or
moonlight. Just now heaps of dead weeds and refuse were
burning on many of the plotsthe dry weather favouring
their combustion.

One fine day Tess and 'Liza-Lu worked on here with
their neighbours till the last rays of the sun smote
flat upon the white pegs that divided the plots. As
soon as twilight succeeded to sunset the flare of the
couch-grass and cabbage-stalk fires began to light up
the allotments fitfullytheir outlines appearing and
disappearing under the dense smoke as wafted by the
wind. When a fire glowedbanks of smokeblown level
along the groundwould themselves become illuminated
to an opaque lustrescreening the workpeople from one
another; and meaning of the "pillar of a cloud"which
was a wall by day and a light by nightcould be
understood.

As evening thickened some of the gardening men and
women gave over for the nightbut the greater number


remained to get their planting doneTess being among
themthough she sent her sister home. It was on one
of the couch-burning plots that she laboured with her
forkits four shining prongs resounding against the
stones and dry clods in little clicks. Sometimes she
was completely involved in the smoke of her fire; then
it would leave her figure freeirradiated by the
brassy glare from the heap. She was oddly dressed
tonightand presented a somewhat staring aspecther
attire being a gown bleached by many washingswith a
short black jacket over itthe effect of the whole
being that of a wedding and funeral guest in one. The
women further back wore white apronswhichwith their
pale faceswere all that could be seen of them in the
gloomexcept when at moments they caught a flash from
the flames.

Westwardthe wiry boughs of the bare thorn hedge which
formed the boundary of the field rose against the pale
opalescence of the lower sky. AboveJupiter hung like
a full-blown jonquilso bright as almost to throw a
shade. A few small nondescript stars were appearing
elsewhere. In the distance a dog barkedand wheels
occasionally rattled along the dry road.

Still the prongs continued to click assiduouslyfor it
was not late; and though the air was fresh and keen
there was a whisper of spring in it that cheered the
workers on. Something in the placethe hoursthe
crackling firesthe fantastic mysteries of light and
shademade others as well as Tess enjoy being there.
Nightfallwhich in the frost of winter comes as a
fiend and in the warmth of summer as a lovercame as a
tranquillizer on this March day.

Nobody looked at his or her companions. The eyes of
all were on the soil as its turned surface was revealed
by the fires. Hence as Tess stirred the clods and sang
her foolish little songs with scarce now a hope that
Clare would ever hear themshe did not for a long time
notice the person who worked nearest to her--a man in a
long smockfrock whoshe foundwas forking the same
plot as herselfand whom she supposed her father had
sent there to advance the work. She became more
conscious of him when the direction of his digging
brought him closer. Sometimes the smoke divided them;
then it swervedand the two were visible to each other
but divided from all the rest.

Tess did not speak to her fellow-workernor did he
speak to her. Nor did she think of him further than to
recollect that he had not been there when it was broad
daylightand that she did not know him as any one of
the Marlott labourerswhich was no wonderher
absences having been so long and frequent of late
years. By-and-by he dug so close to her that the
fire-beams were reflected as distinctly from the steel
prongs of his fork as from her own. On going up to the
fire to throw a pitch of dead weeds upon itshe found
that he did the same on the other side. The fire flared
upand she beheld the face of d'Urberville.

The unexpectedness of his presencethe grotesqueness
of his appearance in a gathered smockfrocksuch as was


now worn only by the most old-fashioned of the
labourershad a ghastly comicality that chilled her as
to its bearing. D'Urberville emitted a low long laugh.

If I were inclined to joke I should say, How much this
seems like Paradise!he remarked whimsicallylooking
at her with an inclined head.

What do you say?she weakly asked.

A jester might say this is just like Paradise. You
are Eve, and I am the old Other One come to tempt you
in the disguise of an inferior animal. I used to be
quite up in that scene of Milton's when I was
theological. Some of it goes---


Empressthe way is readyand not long

Beyond a row of myrtles....

... If thou accept

My conductI can bring thee thither soon."

Lead then,said Eve.

And so on. My dear TessI am only putting this to you
as a thing that you might have supposed or said quite
untrulybecause you think so badly of me."

I never said you were Satan, or thought it. I don't
think of you in that way at all. My thoughts of you
are quite cold, except when you affront me. What, did
you come digging here entirely because of me?

Entirely. To see you; nothing more. The smockfrock,
which I saw hanging for sale as I came along, was an
afterthought, that I mightn't be noticed. I come to
protest against your working like this.

But I like doing it--it is for my father.

Your engagement at the other place is ended?

Yes.

Where are you going to next? To join your dear
husband?

She could not bear the humiliating reminder.

O--I don't know!she said bitterly. "I have no
husband!"

It is quite true--in the sense you mean. But you have
a friend, and I have determined that you shall be
comfortable in suite of yourself. When you get down to
your house you will see what I have sent there for
you.

O, Alec, I wish you wouldn't give me anything at all!
I cannot take it from you! I don't like--it is not
right!

It IS right!he cried lightly. "I am not going to
see a woman whom I feel so tenderly for as I do for
youin trouble without trying to help her."


But I am very well off! I am only in trouble
about--about--not about living at all!

She turnedand desperately resumed her diggingtears
dripping upon the fork-handle and upon the clods.

About the children--your brothers and sisters,
he resumed. "I've been thinking of them."

Tess's heart quivered--he was touching her in a weak
place. He had divined her chief anxiety. Since
returning home her soul had gone out to those children
with an affection that was passionate.

If your mother does not recover, somebody ought to do
something for them; since your father will not be able
to do much, I suppose?

He can with my assistance. He must!

And with mine.

No, sir!How damned foolish this is!burst out
d'Urberville. "Whyhe thinks we are the same family;
and will be quite satisfied!"

He don't. I've undeceived him.

The more fool you!

D'Urberville in anger retreated from her to the hedge
where he pulled off the long smockfrock which had
disguised him; and rolling it up and pushing it into
the couch-firewent away.

Tess could not get on with her digging after this; she
felt restless; she wondered if he had gone back to her
father's house; and taking the fork in her hand
proceeded homewards.

Some twenty yards from the house she was met by one of
her sisters.

O, Tessy--what do you think! 'Liza-Lu is a-crying,
and there's a lot of folk in the house, and mother is a
good deal better, but they think father is dead!

The child realized the grandeur of the news; but not as
yet its sadness; and stood looking at Tess with
round-eyed importancetillbeholding the effect
produced upon hershe said-


What, Tess, shan't we talk to father never no more?

But father was only a little bit ill!exclaimed Tess
distractedly.

'Liza-Lu came up.

He dropped down just now, and the doctor who was there
for mother said there was no chance for him, because
his heart was growed in.

Yes; the Durbeyfield couple had changed places; the


dying one was out of dangerand the indisposed one was
dead. The news meant even more than it sounded. Her
father's life had a value apart from his personal
achievementsor perhaps it would not have had much.
It was the last of the three lives for whose duration
the house and premises were held under a lease; and it
had long been coveted by the tenant-farmer for his
regular labourerswho were stinted in cottage
accommodation. Moreoverlivierswere disapproved of
in villages almost as much as little freeholders
because of their independence of mannerand when a
lease determined it was never renewed.

Thus the Durbeyfieldsonce d'Urbervillessaw
descending upon them the destiny whichno doubtwhen
they were among the Olympians of the countythey had
caused to descend many a timeand severely enough
upon the heads of such landless ones as they themselves
were not. So do flux and reflux--the rhythm of
change--alternate and persist in everything under the
sky.

At length it was the eve of Old Lady-Dayand the
agricultural world was in a fever of mobility such as
only occurs at that particular date of the year. It is
a day of fulfilment; agreements for outdoor service
during the ensuing yearentered into at Candlemasare
to be now carried out. The labourers--or "work-folk"
as they used to call themselves immemorially till the
other word was introduced from without--who wish to
remain no longer in old places are removing to the new
farms.

These annual migrations from farm to farm were on the
increase here. When Tess's mother was a child the
majority of the field-folk about Marlott had remained
all their lives on one farmwhich had been the home
also of their fathers and grandfathers; but latterly
the desire for yearly removal had risen to a high
pitch. With the younger families it was a pleasant
excitement which might possibly be an advantage. The
Egypt of one family was the Land of Promise to the
family who saw it from a distancetill by residence
there it became it turn their Egypt also; and so they
changed and changed.

Howeverall the mutations so increasingly discernible
in village life did not originate entirely in the
agricultural unrest. A depopulation was also going on.
The village had formerly containedside by side with
the argicultural labourersan interesting and
better-informed classranking distinctly above the
former--the class to which Tess's father and mother had
belonged--and including the carpenterthe smiththe
shoemakerthe huckstertogether with nondescript
workers other than farm-labourers; a set of people who
owed a certain stability of aim and conduct to the fact
of their being lifeholders like Tess's fatheror
copyholdersor occasionallysmall freeholders. But


as the long holdings fell in they were seldom again let
to similar tenantsand were mostly pulled downif not
absolutely required by the farmer for his hands.
Cottagers who were not directly employed on the land
were looked upon with disfavourand the banishment of
some starved the trade of otherswho were thus obliged
to follow. These familieswho had formed the backbone
of the village life in the past who were the
depositaries of the village traditionshad to seek
refuge in the large centres; the processhumorously
designated by statisticians as "the tendency of the
rural population towards the large towns"being really
the tendency of water to flow uphill when forced by
machinery.

The cottage accommodation at Marlott having been in
this manner considerably curtailed by demolitions
every house which remained standing was required by the
agriculturist for his work-people. Ever since the
occurrence of the event which had cast such a shadow
over Tess's lifethe Durbeyfield family (whose descent
was not credited) had been tacitly looked on as one
which would have to go when their lease endedif only
in the interests of morality. It wasindeedquite
true that the household had not been shining examples
either of temperancesobernessor chastity. The
fatherand even the motherhad got drunk at times
the younger children seldom had gone to churchand the
eldest daughter had made queer unions. By some means
the village had to be kept pure. So on thisthe first
Lady-Day on which the Durbeyfields were expellablethe
housebeing roomywas required for a carter with a
large family; and Widow Joanher daughters Tess and
'Liza-Luthe boy Abraham and the younger childrenhad
to go elsewhere.

On the evening preceding their removal it was getting
dark betimes by reason of a drizzling rain which
blurred the sky. As it was the last night they would
spend in the village which had been their home and
birthplaceMrs Durbeyfield'Liza-Luand Abraham had
gone out to bid some friends goodbyeand Tess was
keeping house till they should return.

She was kneeling in the window-benchher face close to
the casementwhere an outer pane of rain-water was
sliding down the inner pane of glass. Her eyes rested
on the web of a spiderprobably starved long ago
which had been mistakenly placed in a corner where no
flies ever cameand shivered in the slight draught
through the casement. Tess was reflecting on the
position of the householdin which she perceived her
own evil influence. Had she not come home her mother
and the children might probably have been allowed to
stay on as weekly tenants. But she had been observed
almost immediately on her return by some people of
scrupulous character and great influence: they had seen
her idling in the churchyardrestoring as well as she
could with a little trowel a baby's obliterated grave.
By this means they had found that she was living here
again; her mother was scolded for "harbouring" her;
sharp retorts had ensued from Joanwho had
independently offered to leave at once; she had been
taken at her word; and here was the result.


I ought never to have come home,said Tess to
herselfbitterly.

She was so intent upon these thoughts that she hardly
at first took note of a man in a white mackintosh whom
she saw riding down the street. Possibly it was owing
to her face being near to the pane that he saw her so
quicklyand directed his horse so close to the
cottage-front that his hoofs were almost upon the
narrow border for plants growing under the wall. It
was not till he touched the window with his riding-crop
that she observed him. The rain had nearly ceasedand
she opened the casement in obedience to his gesture.

Didn't you see me?asked d'Urberville.

I was not attending,she said. "I heard youI
believethough I fancied it was a carriage and horses.
I was in a sort of dream."

Ah! you heard the d'Urberville Coach, perhaps.
You know the legend, I suppose?

No. My--somebody was going to tell it me once, but
didn't.

If you are a genuine d'Urberville I ought not to tell
you either, I suppose. As for me, I'm a sham one, so
it doesn't matter. It is rather dismal. It is that
this sound of a non-existent coach can only be heard
by one of d'Urberville blood, and it is held to be of
ill-omen to the one who hears it. It has to do with a
murder, committed by one of the family, centuries ago.

Now you have begun it, finish it.

Very well. One of the family is said to have abducted
some beautiful woman, who tried to escape from the
coach in which he was carrying her off, and in the
struggle he killed her--or she killed him--I forget
which. Such is one version of the tale.... I see that
your tubs and buckets are packed. Going away, aren't
you?

Yes, tomorrow--Old Lady Day.

I heard you were, but could hardly believe it; it
seems so sudden. Why is it?

Father's was the last life on the property, and when
that dropped we had no further right to stay. Though
we might, perhaps, have stayed as weekly tenants--if it
had not been for me.

What about you?

I am not a--proper woman.

D'Urberville's face flushed.

What a blasted shame! Miserable snobs! May their
dirty souls be burnt to cinders!he exclaimed in tones
of ironic resentment. "That's why you are goingis it?


Turned out?"

We are not turned out exactly; but as they said we
should have to go soon, it was best to go now everybody
was moving because there are better chances.

Where are you going to?

Kingsbere. We have taken rooms there. Mother is so
foolish about father's people that she will go there.

But your mother's family are not fit for lodgings, and
in a little hole of a town like that. Now why not come
to my garden-house at Trantridge? There are hardly
any poultry now, since my mother's death; but there's
the house, as you know it, and the garden. It can be
whitewashed in a day, and your mother can live there
quite comfortably; and I will put the children to a
good school. Really I ought to do something for you!

But we have already taken the rooms at Kingsbere!she
declared. "And we can wait there----"

Wait--what for? For that nice husband, no doubt. Now
look here, Tess, I know what men are, and, bearing in
mind the GROUNDS of your separation, I am quite
positive he will never make it up with you. Now,
though I have been your enemy, I am your friend, even
if you won't believe it. Come to this cottage of mine.
We'll get up a regular colony of fowls, and your mother
can attend to them excellently; and the children can go
to school.

Tess breathed more and more quicklyand at length she
said-


How do I know that you would do all this? Your views
may change--and then--we should be--my mother would
be--homeless again.

O no----no. I would guarantee you against such as
that in writing, if necessary. Think it over.

Tess shook her head. But d'Urberville persisted; she
had seldom seen him so determined; he would not take a
negative.

Please just tell your mother he said, in emphatic
tones. It is her business to judge--not yours. I
shall get the house swept out and whitened tomorrow
morningand fires lit; and it will be dry by the
eveningso that you can come straight there. Now
mindI shall expect you."

Tess again shook her head; her throat swelling with
complicated emotion. She could not look up at
d'Urberville.

I owe you something for the past, you know,he
resumed. "And you cured metooof that craze; so I
am glad----"

I would rather you had kept the craze, so that you had
kept the practice which went with it!


I am glad of this opportunity of repaying you a
little. Tomorrow I shall expect to hear your mother's
goods unloading.... Give me your hand on it now--dear,
beautiful Tess!

With the last sentence he had dropped his voice to a
murmurand put his hand in at the half-open casement.
With stormy eyes she pulled the stay-bar quicklyand
in doing socaught his arm between the casement and
the stone mullion.

Damnation--you are very cruel!he saidsnatching out
his arm. "Nono!--I know you didn't do it on purpose.
Well I shall expect youor your mother and children at
least."

I shall not come--I have plenty of money!she cried.

Where?

At my father-in-law's, if I ask for it.

IF you ask for it. But you won't, Tess; I know you;
you'll never ask for it--you'll starve first!

With these words he rode off. Just at the corner of
the street he met the man with the paint-potwho asked
him if he had deserted the brethren.

You go to the devil!said d'Urberville.

Tess remained where she was a long whiletill a sudden
rebellious sense of injustice caused the region of her
eyes to swell with the rush of hot tears thither. Her
husbandAngel Clare himselfhadlike othersdealt
out hard measure to hersurely he had! She had never
before admitted such a thought; but he had surely!
Never in her life--she could swear it from the bottom
of her soul--had she ever intended to do wrong; yet
these hard judgements had come. Whatever her sins
they were not sins of intentionbut of inadvertence
and why should she have been punished so persistently?

She passionately seized the first piece of paper that
came to handand scribbled the following lines:

O why have you treated me so monstrouslyAngel! I do
not deserve it. I have thought it all over carefully
and I can nevernever forgive you! You know that I
did not intend to wrong you--why have you so wronged
me? You are cruelcruel indeed! I will try to forget
you. It is all injustice I have received at your
hands! T

She watched till the postman passed byran out to him
with her epistleand then again took her listless
place inside the window-panes.

It was just as well to write like that as to write
tenderly. How could he give way to entreaty? The
facts had not changed: there was no new event to alter


his opinion.

It grew darkerthe fire-light shining over the room.
The two biggest of the younger children had gone out
with their mother; the four smallesttheir ages
ranging from three-and-a-half years to elevenall in
black frockswere gathered round the hearth babbling
their own little subjects. Tess at length joined them
without lighting a candle.

This is the last night that we shall sleep here,
dears, in the house where we were born,she said
quickly. "We ought to think of itoughtn't we?"

They all became silent; with the impressibility of
their age they were ready to burst into tears at the
picture of finality she had conjured upthough all the
day hitherto they had been rejoicing in the idea of a
new place. Tess changed the subject.

Sing to me, dears,she said.

What shall we sing?

Anything you know; I don't mind.

There was a momentary pause; it was brokenfirst
in one little tentative note; then a second voice
strengthened itand a third and a fourth chimed in
unisonwith words they had learnt at the
Sunday-school---


Here we suffer grief and pain
Here we meet to part again;
In Heaven we part no more.


The four sang on with the phlegmatic passivity of
persons who had long ago settled the questionand
there being no mistake about itfelt that further
thought was not required. With features strained hard
to enunciate the syllables they continued to regard the
centre of the flickering firethe notes of the
youngest straying over into the pauses of the rest.

Tess turned from themand went to the window again.
Darkness had now fallen withoutbut she put her face
to the pane as though to peer into the gloom. It was
really to hide her tears. If she could only believe
what the children were singing; if she were only sure
how different all would now be; how confidently she
would leave them to Providence and their future
kingdom! Butin default of thatit behoved her to do
something; to be their Providence; for to Tessas to
not a few millions of othersthere was ghastly satire
in the poet's lines---


Not in utter nakedness
But trailing clouds of glory do we come.


To her and her likebirth itself was an ordeal of
degrading personal compulsionwhose gratuitousness
nothing in the result seemed to justifyand at best
could only palliate.


In the shades of the wet road she soon discerned her
mother with tall 'Liza-Lu and Abraham. Mrs
Durbeyfield's pattens clicked up to the doorand Tess
opened it.

I see the tracks of a horse outside the window,said
Joan. "Hev somebody called?"

No,said Tess.

The children by the fire looked gravely at herand one
murmured---


Why, Tess, the gentleman a-horseback!

He didn't call,said Tess. "He spoke to me in
passing."

Who was the gentleman?asked the mother. "Your husband?"

No. He'll never, never come,answered Tess in stony
hopelessness.

Then who was it?

Oh, you needn't ask. You've seen him before, and so
have I.

Ah! What did he say?said Joan curiously.

I will tell you when we are settled in our lodging at
Kingsbere tomorrow--every word.

It was not her husbandshe had said. Yet a
consciousness that in a physical sense this man alone
was her husband seemed to weigh on her more and more.

During the small hours of the next morningwhile it
was still darkdwellers near the highways were
conscious of a disturbance of their night's rest by
rumbling noisesintermittently continuing till
daylight--noises as certain to recur in this particular
first week of the month as the voice of the cuckoo in
the third week of the same. They were the
preliminaries of the general removalthe passing of
the empty waggons and teams to fetch the goods of the
migrating families; for it was always by the vehicle of
the farmer who required his services that the hired man
was conveyed to his destination. That this might be
accomplished within the day was the explanation of the
reverberation occurring so soon after midnightthe aim
of the carters being to reach the door of the outgoing
households by six o'clockwhen the loading of their
movables at once began.

But to Tess and her mother's household no such anxious
farmer sent his team. They were only women; they were
not regular labourers; they were not particularly
required anywhere; hence they had to hire a waggon at


their own expenseand got nothing sent gratuitously.

It was a relief to Tesswhen she looked out of the
window that morningto find that though the weather
was windy and louringit did not rainand that the
waggon had come. A wet Lady-Day was a spectre which
removing families never forgot; damp furnituredamp
beddingdamp clothing accompanied itand left a train
of ills.

Her mother'Liza-Luand Abraham were also awakebut
the younger children were let sleep on. The four
breakfasted by the thin lightand the "house-ridding"
was taken in hand.

It proceeded with some cheerfulnessa friendly
neighbour or two assisting. When the large articles of
furniture had been packed in position a circular nest
was made of the beds and beddingin which Joan
Durbeyfield and the young children were to sit through
the journey. After loading there was a long delay
before the horses were broughtthese having been
unharnessed during the ridding; but at lengthabout
two o'clockthe whole was under waythe cooking-pot
swinging from the axle of the waggonMrs Durbeyfield
and family at the topthe matron having in her lapto
prevent injury to its worksthe head of the clock
whichat any exceptional lurch of the waggonstruck
oneor one-and-a-halfin hurt tones. Tess and the
next eldest girl walked alongside till they were out of
the village.

They had called on a few neighbours that morning and
the previous eveningand some came to see them off
all wishing them wellthoughin their secret hearts
hardly expecting welfare possible to such a family
harmless as the Durbeyfields were to all except
themselves. Soon the equipage began to ascend to
higher groundand the wind grew keener with the change
of level and soil.

The day being the sixth of Aprilthe Durbeyfield
waggon met many other waggons with families on the
summit of the loadwhich was built on a wellnigh
unvarying principleas peculiarprobablyto the
rural labourer as the hexagon to the bee. The
groundwork of the arrangement was the family dresser
whichwith its shining handlesand finger-marksand
domestic evidences thick upon itstood importantly in
frontover the tails of the shaft-horsesin its erect
and natural positionlike some Ark of the Covenant
that they were bound to carry reverently.

Some of the households were livelysome mournful; some
were stopping at the doors of wayside inns; wherein
due timethe Durbeyfield menagerie also drew up to
bait horses and refresh the travellers.

During the halt Tess's eyes fell upon a three-pint blue
mugwhich was ascending and descending through the air
to and from the feminine section of a household
sitting on the summit of a load that had also drawn up
at a little distance from the same inn. She followed
one of the mug's journeys upwardand perceived it to


be clasped by hands whose owner she well knew. Tess
went towards the waggon.


Marian and Izz!she cried to the girlsfor it was
theysitting with the moving family at whose house
they had lodged. "Are you house-ridding todaylike
everybody else?"


They werethey said. It had been too rough a life for
them at Flintcomb-Ashand they had come awayalmost
without noticeleaving Groby to prosecute them if he
chose. They told Tess their destinationand Tess told
them hers.


Marian leant over the loadand lowered her voice.
Do you know that the gentleman who follows 'ee--you'll
guess who I mean--came to ask for 'ee at Flintcomb
after you had gone? We didn't tell'n where you was,
knowing you wouldn't wish to see him.


Ah--but I did see him!Tess murmured. "He found me."


And do he know where you be going?


I think so.


Husband come back?


No.


She bade her acquaintance goodbye--for the respective
carters had now come out from the inn--and the two
waggons resumed their journey in opposite directions;
the vehicle whereon sat MarianIzzand the
ploughman's family with whom they had thrown in their
lotbeing brightly paintedand drawn by three
powerful horses with shining brass ornaments on their
harness; while the waggon on which Mrs Durbeyfield and
her family rode was a creaking erection that would
scarcely bear the weight of the superincumbent load;
one which had known no paint since it was madeand
drawn by two horses only. The contrast well marked the
difference between being fetched by a thriving farmer
and conveying oneself whither no hirer waited one's
coming.


The distance was great--too great for a day's
journey--and it was with the utmost difficulty that the
horses performed it. Though they had started so early
it was quite late in the afternoon when they turned the
flank of an eminence which formed part of the upland
called Greenhill. While the horses stood to stale and
breathe themselves Tess looked around. Under the hill
and just ahead of themwas the half-dead townlet of
their pilgrimageKingsberewhere lay those ancestors
of whom her father had spoken and sung to painfulness:
Kingsberethe spot of all spots in the world which
could be considered the d'Urbervilles' homesince they
had resided there for full five hundred years. A man
could be seen advancing from the outskirts towards
themand when he beheld the nature of their
waggon-load he quickened his steps.


You be the woman they call Mrs Durbeyfield, I reckon?



he said to Tess's motherwho had descended to walk the
remainder of the way.

She nodded. "Though widow of the late Sir John
d'Urbervillepoor noblemanif I cared for my rights;
and returning to the domain of his forefathers."

Oh? Well, I know nothing about that; but if you be
Mrs Durbeyfield, I am sent to tell 'ee that the rooms
you wanted be let. We didn't know that you was coming
till we got your letter this morning--when 'twas too
late. But no doubt you can get other lodgings
somewhere.

The man had noticed the face of Tesswhich had become
ash-pale at his intelligence. Her mother looked
hopelessly at fault. "What shall we do nowTess?" she
said bitterly. "Here's a welcome to your ancestors'
lands! Howeverlet's try further."

They moved on into the townand tried with all their
mightTess remaining with the waggon to take care of
the children whilst her mother and 'Liza-Lu made
inquiries. At the last return of Joan to the vehicle
an hour laterwhen her search for accommodation had
still been fruitlessthe driver of the waggon said the
goods must be unloadedas the horses were half-dead
and he was bound to return part of the way at least
that night.

Very well--unload it here,said Joan recklessly.
I'll get shelter somewhere.

The waggon had drawn up under the churchyard wallin a
spot screened from viewand the drivernothing loth
soon hauled down the poor heap of household goods.
This done she paid himreducing herself to almost her
last shilling therebyand he moved off and left them
only too glad to get out of further dealings with such
a family. It was a dry nightand he guessed that they
would come to no harm.

Tess gazed desperately at the pile of furniture. The
cold sunlight of this spring evening peered invidiously
upon the crocks and kettlesupon the bunches of dried
herbs shivering in the breezeupon the brass handles
of the dresserupon the wicker-cradle they had all
been rocked inand upon the well-rubbed clock-case
all of which gave out the reproachful gleam of indoor
articles abandoned to the vicissitudes of a roofless
exposure for which they were never made. Round about
were deparked hills and slopes--now cut up into little
paddocks--and the green foundations that showed where
the d'Urberville mansion once had stood; also an
outlying stretch of Egdon Heath that had always
belonged to the estate. Hard bythe aisle of the
church called the d'Urberville Aisle looked on
imperturbably.

Isn't your family vault your own freehold?said
Tess's motheras she returned from a reconnoitre of
the church and graveyard. "Whyof course 'tisand
that's where we will campgirlstill the place of
your ancestors finds us a roof! NowTess and 'Liza


and Abrahamyou help me. We'll make a nest for these
childrenand then we'll have another look round."

Tess listlessly lent a handand in a quarter of an
hour the old four-post bedstead was dissociated from
the heap of goodsand erected under the south wall of
the churchthe part of the building know as the
d'Urberville Aislebeneath which the huge vaults lay.
Over the tester of the bedstead was a beautiful
traceried windowof many lightsits date being the
fifteenth century. It was called the d'Urberville
Windowand in the upper part could be discerned
heraldic emblems like those on Durbeyfield's old seal
and spoon.

Joan drew the curtains round the bed so as to make an
excellent tent of itand put the smaller children
inside. "If it comes to the worst we can sleep there
toofor one night she said. But let us try further
onand get something for the dears to eat! OTess
what's the use of your playing at marrying gentlemen
if it leaves us like this!"

Accompanied by 'Liza-Lu and the boy she again ascended
the little lane which secluded the church from the
townlet. As soon as they got into the street they
beheld a man on horseback gazing up and down. "Ah-I'm
looking for you!" he saidriding up to them.
This is indeed a family gathering on the historic spot!

It was Alec d'Urberville. "Where is Tess?" he asked.

Personally Joan had no liking for Alec. She cursorily
signified the direction of the churchand went on
d'Urberville saying that he would see them againin
case they should be still unsuccessful in their search
for shelterof which he had just heard. When they had
gone d'Urberville rode to the innand shortly after
came out on foot.

In the interim Tessleft with the children inside the
bedsteadremained talking with them awhiletill
seeing that no more could be done to make them
comfortable just thenshe walked about the churchyard
now beginning to be embrowned by the shades of
nightfall. The door of the church was unfastenedand
she entered it for the first time in her life.

Within the window under which the bedstead stood were
the tombs of the familycovering in their dates
several centuries. They were canopiedalter-shaped
and plain; their carvings being defaced and broken;
their brasses torn from the matricesthe rivet-holes
remaining like martin-holes in a sandcliff. Of all the
reminders that she had ever received that her people
were socially extinct there was none so forcible as
this spoliation.

She drew near to a dark stone on which was inscribed:

OSTIUM SEPULCHRI ANTIQUAE FAMILIAE D'URBERVILLE

Tess did not read Church-Latin like a Cardinalbut she
knew that this was the door of her ancestral sepulchre


and that the tall knights of whom her father had
chanted in his cups lay inside.

She musingly turned to withdrawpassing near an
altertombthe oldest of them allon which was a
recumbent figure. In the dusk she had not noticed it
beforeand would hardly have noticed it now but for an
odd fancy that the effigy moved. As soon as she drew
close to it she discovered all in a moment that the
figure was a living person; and the shock to her sense
of not having been alone was so violent that she was
quite overcomeand sank down nigh to faintingnot
howevertill she had recognized Alec d'Urberville in
the form.

He leapt off the slab and supported her.

I saw you come in,he said smilingand got up there
not to interrupt your meditations. A family gathering,
is it not, with these old fellows under us here?
Listen.

He stamped with his heel heavily on the floor;
whereupon there arose a hollow echo from below.

That shook them a bit, I'll warrant!he continued.
And you thought I was the mere stone reproduction of
one of them. But no. The old order changeth. The
little finger of the sham d'Urberville can do more for
you than the whole dynasty of the real underneath....
Now command me. What shall I do?

Go away!she murmured.

I will--I'll look for your mother,said he blandly.
But in passing her he whispered: "Mind this; you'll be
civil yet!"

When he was gone she bent down upon the entrance to the
vaultsand said-


Why am I on the wrong side of this door!

In the meantime Marian and Izz Huett had journeyed
onward with the chattels of the ploughman in the
direction of their land of Canaan--the Egypt of some
other family who had left it only that morning. But
the girls did not for a long time think of where they
were going. Their talk was of Angel Clare and Tess
and Tess's persistent loverwhose connection with her
previous history they had partly heard and partly
guessed ere this.

'Tisn't as though she had never known him afore,said
Marian. "His having won her once makes all the
difference in the world. 'Twould be a thousand pities
if he were to tole her away again. Mr Clare can never
be anything to usIzz; and why should we grudge him to
herand not try to mend this quarrel? If he could
on'y know what straits she's put toand what's
hovering roundhe might come to take care of his own."


Could we let him know?

They thought of this all the way to their destination;
but the bustle of re-establishment in their new place
took up all their attention then. But when they were
settleda month laterthey heard of Clare's
approaching returnthough they had learnt nothing more
of Tess. Upon thatagitated anew by their attachment
to himyet honourably disposed to herMarian uncorked
the penny ink-bottle they sharedand a few lines were
concocted between the two girls.

HONOUR'D SIR--Look to your Wife if you do love her as
much as she do love you. For she is sore put to by an
Enemy in the shape of a Friend. Sirthere is one near
her who ought to be Away. A woman should not be try'd
beyond her Strengthand continual dropping will wear
away a Stone--aymore--a Diamond.
FROM TWO WELL-WISHERS

This was addressed to Angel Clare at the only place
they had ever heard him to be connected withEmminster
Vicarage; after which they continued in a mood of
emotional exaltation at their own generositywhich
made them sing in hysterical snatches and weep at the
same time.

END OF PHASE THE SIXTH

Phase the Seventh: Fulfilment

LIII

It was evening at Emminster Vicarage. The two
customary candles were burning under their green shades
in the Vicar's studybut he had not been sitting
there. Occasionally he came instirred the small fire
which sufficed for the increasing mildness of the
springand went out again; sometimes pausing at the
front doorgoing on to the drawing-roomthen
returning again to the front door.

It faced westwardand though gloom prevailed inside
there was still light enough without to see with
distinctness. Mrs Clarewho had been sitting in the
drawing-roomfollowed him hither.

Plenty of time yet,said the Vicar. "He doesn't
reach Chalk-Newton till sixeven if the train should
be punctualand ten miles of country-roadfive of
them in Crimmercrock Laneare not jogged over in a
hurry by our old horse."

But he has done it in an hour with us, my dear.


Years ago.


Thus they passed the minuteseach well knowing that
this was only waste of breaththe one essential being
simply to wait.


At length there was a slight noise in the laneand the
old pony-chaise appeared indeed outside the railings.
They saw alight therefrom a form which they affected to
recognizebut would actually have passed by in the
street without identifying had he not got out of their
carriage at the particular moment when a particular
person was due.


Mrs Clare rushed through the dark passage to the door
and her husband came more slowly after her.


The new arrivalwho was just about to entersaw their
anxious faces in the doorway and the gleam of the west
in their spectacles because they confronted the last
rays of day; but they could only see his shape against
the light.


O, my boy, my boy--home again at last!cried Mrs
Clarewho cared no more at that moment for the stains
of heterodoxy which has caused all this separation than
for the dust upon his clothes. What womanindeed
among the most faithful adherents of the truth
believes the promises and threats of the Word in the
sense in which she believes in her own childrenor
would not throw her theology to the wind if weighed
against their happiness? As soon as they reached the
room where the candles were lighted she looked at his
face.


O, it is not Angel--not my son--the Angel who went
away!she cried in all the irony of sorrowas she
turned herself aside.


His fathertoowas shocked to see himso reduced was
that figure from its former contours by worry and the
bad season that Clare had experiencedin the climate
to which he had so rashly hurried in his first aversion
to the mockery of events at home. You could see the
skeleton behind the manand almost the ghost behind
the skeleton. He matched Crivelli's dead CHRISTUS.
His sunken eye-pits were of morbid hueand the light
in his eyes had waned. The angular hollows and lines
of his aged ancestors had succeeded to their reign in
his face twenty years before their time.


I was ill over there, you know,he said. "I am all
right now."


As ifhoweverto falsify this assertionhis legs
seemed to give wayand he suddenly sat down to save
himself from falling. It was only a slight attack of
faintnessresulting from the tedious day's journey
and the excitement of arrival.


Has any letter come for me lately?he asked.
I received the last you sent on by the merest chance,
and after considerable delay through being inland;



or I might have come sooner.

It was from your wife, we supposed?

It was.

Only one other had recently come. They had not sent it
on to himknowing he would start for home so soon.

He hastily opened the letter producedand was much
disturbed to read in Tess's handwriting the sentiments
expressed in her last hurried scrawl to him.

O why have you treated me so monstrouslyAngel! I do
not deserve it. I have thought it all over carefully
and I can nevernever forgive you! You know that I
did not intend to wrong you--why have you so wronged
me? You are cruelcruel indeed! I will try to forget
you. It is all injustice I have received at your
hands. --T

It is quite true!said Angelthrowing down the
letter. "Perhaps she will never be reconciled to me!"

Don't, Angel, be so anxious about a mere child of the
soil!said his mother.

Child of the soil! Well, we all are children of the
soil. I wish she were so in the sense you mean; but
let me now explain to you what I have never explained
before, that her father is a descendant in the male
line of one of the oldest Norman houses, like a good
many others who lead obscure agricultural lives in our
villages, and are dubbed 'sons of the soil.'

He soon retired to bed; and the next morningfeeling
exceedingly unwellhe remained in his room pondering.
The circumstances amid which he had left Tess were such
that thoughwhile on the south of the Equator and just
in receipt of her loving epistleit had seemed the
easiest thing in the world to rush back into her arms
the moment he chose to forgive hernow that he had
arrived it was not so easy as it had seemed. She was
passionateand her present lettershowing that her
estimate of him had changed under his delay--too justly
changedhe sadly owned--made him ask himself if it
would be wise to confront her unannounced in the
presence of her parents. Supposing that her love had
indeed turned to dislike during the last weeks of
separationa sudden meeting might lead to bitter
words.

Clare therefore thought it would be best to prepare
Tess and her family by sending a line to Marlott
announcing his returnand his hope that she was still
living with them thereas he had arranged for her to
do when he left England. He despatched the inquiry
that very dayand before the week was out there came a
short reply from Mrs Durbeyfield which did not remove
his embarrassmentfor it bore no addressthough to
his surprise it was not written from Marlott.


SIR

J write these few lines to say that my Daughter is away
from me at presentand J am not sure when she will
returnbut J will let you know as Soon as she do.
J do not feel at liberty to tell you Where she is
temperly biding. J should say that me and my Family
have left Marlott for some Time.----

YoursJ. DURBEYFIELD

It was such a relief to Clare to learn that Tess was at
least apparently well that her mother's stiff reticence
as to her whereabouts did not long distress him. They
were all angry with himevidently. He would wait till
Mrs Durbeyfield could inform him of Tess's return
which her letter implied to be soon. He deserved no
more. His had been a love "which alters when it
alteration finds". He had undergone some strange
experiences in his absence; he had seen the virtual
Faustina in the literal Corneliaa spiritual Lucretia
in a corporeal Phryne; he had thought of the woman
taken and set in the midst as one deserving to be
stonedand of the wife of Uriah being made a queen;
and he had asked himself why he had not judged Tess
constructively rather than biographicallyby the will
rather than by the deed?

A day or two passed while he waited at his father's
house for the promised second note from Joan
Durbeyfieldand indirectly to recover a little more
strength. The strength showed signs of coming back
but there was no sign of Joan's letter. Then he hunted
up the old letter sent on to him in Brazilwhich Tess
had written from Flintcomb-Ashand re-read it. The
sentences touched him now as much as when he had first
perused them.

I must cry to you in my trouble--I have no one else....
I think I must die if you do not come soonor tell me
to come to you.... Pleasepleasenot to be just--only
a little kind to me! ... If you would comeI could die
in your arms! I would be well content to do that if so
be you had forgiven me! ... If you will send me one
little line and sayI AM COMING SOON,I will bide
onAngel--O so cheerfully! ... Think how it do hurt my
heart not to see you ever--ever! Ahif I could only
make your dear heart ache one little minute of each day
as mine does every day and all day long. It might lead
you to show pity to your poor lonely one....I would be
contentaygladto live with you as your servantif
I may not as your wife; so that I could only be near
youand get glimpses of youand think of you as mine.
... I long for only one thing in heaven or earth or
under the earthto meet youmy own dear! Come to
me--come to meand save me from what threatens me.

Clare determined that he would no longer believe in her
more recent and severer regard of him; but would go and
find her immediately. He asked his father if she had


applied for any money during his absence. His father
returned a negativeand then for the first time it
occurred to Angel that her pride had stood in her way
and that she had suffered privation. From his remarks
his parents now gathered the real reason of the
separation; and their Christianity was such that
reprobates being their especial carethe tenderness
towards Tess which her bloodher simplicityeven her
povertyhad not engenderedwas instantly excited by
her sin.

Whilst he was hastily packing together a few articles
for his journey he glanced over a poor plain missive
also lately come to hand--the one from Marian and Izz
Huettbeginning---


HONOUR'D SIR----Look to your Wife if you do love her
as much as she do love you,and signedFROM TWO
WELL-WISHERS.

In a quarter of an hour Clare was leaving the house
whence his mother watched his thin figure as it
disappeared into the street. He had declined to borrow
his father's old marewell knowing of its necessity to
the household. He went to the innwhere he hired a
trapand could hardly wait during the harnessing. In
a very few minutes after he was driving up the hill out
of the town whichthree or four months earlier in the
yearTess had descended with such hopes and ascended
with such shattered purposes.

Benvill Lane soon stretched before himits hedges and
trees purple with buds; but he was looking at other
thingsand only recalled himself to the scene
sufficiently to enable him to keep the way. In
something less than an hour-and-a-half he had skirted
the south of the King's Hintock estates and ascended to
the untoward solitude of Cross-in-Handthe unholy
stone whereon Tess had been compelled by Alec
d'Urbervillein his whim of reformationto swear the
strange oath that she would never wilfully tempt him
again. The pale and blasted nettle-stems of the
preceding year even now lingered nakedly in the banks
young green nettles of the present spring growing from
their roots.

Thence he went along the verge of the upland
overhanging the other Hintocksandturning to the
rightplunged into the bracing calcareous region of
Flintcomb-Ashthe address from which she had written
to him in one of the lettersand which he supposed to
be the place of sojourn referred to by her mother.
Hereof coursehe did not find her; and what added to
his depression was the discovery that no "Mrs Clare"
had ever been heard of by the cottagers or by the
farmer himselfthough Tess was remembered well enough
by her Christian name. His name she had obviously
never used during their separationand her dignified
sense of their total severance was shown not much less


by this abstention than by the hardships she had chosen
to undergo (of which he now learnt for the first time)
rather than apply to his father for more funds.

From this place they told him Tess Durbeyfield had
gonewithout due noticeto the home of her parents on
the other side of Blackmoorand it therefore became
necessary to find Mrs Durbeyfield. She had told him
she was not now at Marlottbut had been curiously
reticent as to her actual addressand the only course
was to go to Marlott and inquire for it. The farmer
who had been so churlish with Tess was quite
smooth-tongued to Clareand lent him a horse and man
to drive him towards Marlottthe gig he had arrived in
being sent back to Emminster; for the limit of a day's
journey with that horse was reached.

Clare would not accept the loan of the farmer's vehicle
for a further distance than to the outskirts of the
Valeandsending it back with the man who had driven
himhe put up at an innand next day entered on foot
the region wherein was the spot of his dear Tess's
birth. It was as yet too early in the year for much
colour to appear in the gardens and foliage; the
so-called spring was but winter overlaid with a thin
coat of greennessand it was of a parcel with his
expectations.

The house in which Tess had passed the years of her
childhood was now inhabited by another family who had
never known her. The new residents were in the garden
taking as much interest in their own doings as if the
homestead had never passed its primal time in
conjunction with the histories of othersbeside which
the histories of these were but as a tale told by an
idiot. They walked about the garden paths with
thoughts of their own concerns entirely uppermost
bringing their actions at every moment in jarring
collision with the dim ghosts behind themtalking as
though the time when Tess lived there were not one whit
intenser in story than now. Even the spring birds sang
over their heads as if they thought there was nobody
missing in particular.

On inquiry of these precious innocentsto whom even
the name of their predecessors was a failing memory
Clare learned that John Durbeyfield was dead; that his
widow and children had left Marlottdeclaring that
they were going to live at Kingsberebut instead of
doing so had gone on to another place they mentioned.
By this time Clare abhorred the house for ceasing to
contain Tessand hastened away from its hated presence
without once looking back.

His way was by the field in which he had first beheld
her at the dance. It was as bad as the house--even
worse. He passed on through the churchyardwhere
amongst the new headstoneshe saw one of a somewhat
superior design to the rest. The inscription ran thus:

In memory of John Durbeyfieldrightly d'Urbervilleof
the once powerful family of that Nameand Direct
Descendant through an illustrious Line from Sir Pagan


d'Urbervilleone of the Knights of the Conqueror. Died
March 10th18-


HOW ARE THE MIGHTY FALLEN.

Some manapparently the sextonhad observed Clare
standing thereand drew nigh. "Ahsirnow that's a
man who didn't want to lie herebut wished to be
carried to Kingsberewhere his ancestors be."


And why didn't they respect his wish?


Oh--no money. Bless your soul, sir, why--there,
I wouldn't wish to say it everywhere, but--even this
headstone, for all the flourish wrote upon en, is not
paid for.


Ah, who put it up?


The man told the name of a mason in the villageand
on leaving the churchyardClare called at the mason's
house. He found that the statement was trueand paid
the bill. This done he turned in the direction of the
migrants.


The distance was too long for a walkbut Clare felt
such a strong desire for isolation that at first he
would neither hire a conveyance nor go to a circuitous
line of railway by which he might eventually reach the
place. At Shastonhoweverhe found he must hire; but
the way was such that he did not enter Joan's place
till about seven o'clock in the eveninghaving
traversed a distance of over twenty miles since leaving
Marlott. The village being small he had little
difficulty in finding Mrs Durbeyfield's tenementwhich
was a house in a walled gardenremote from the main
roadwhere she had stowed away her clumsy old
furniture as best she could. It was plain that for
some reason or other she had not wished him to visit
herand he felt his call to be somewhat of an
intrusion. She came to the door herselfand the light
from the evening sky fell upon her face.


This was the first time that Clare had ever met her
but he was too preoccupied to observe more than that
she was still a handsome womanin the garb of a
respectable widow. He was obliged to explain that he
was Tess's husbandand his object in coming thereand
he did it awkwardly enough. "I want to see her at
once he added. You said you would write to me
againbut you have not done so."


Because she've not come home,said Joan.


Do you know if she is well?


I don't. But you ought to, sir,said she.


I admit it. Where is she staying?


From the beginning of the interview Joan had disclosed
her embarrassment by keeping her hand to the side of
her cheek.



I--don't know exactly where she is staying,she
answered. "She was--but----"

Where was she?

Well, she is not there now.

In her evasiveness she paused againand the younger
children had by this time crept to the doorwhere
pulling at his mother's skirtsthe youngest
murmured---


Is this the gentleman who is going to marry Tess?

He has married her,Joan whispered. "Go inside."

Clare saw her efforts for reticenceand asked---


Do you think Tess would wish me to try and find her?
If not, of course----

I don't think she would.

Are you sure?

I am sure she wouldn't.

He was turning away; and then he thought of Tess's
tender letter.

I am sure she would!he retorted passionately.
I know her better than you do.

That's very likely, sir; for I have never really known
her.

Please tell me her address, Mrs Durbeyfield, in
kindness to a lonely wretched man!Tess's mother again
restlessly swept her cheek with her vertical handand
seeing that he sufferedshe at last saidis a low
voice---


She is at Sandbourne.

Ah--where there? Sandbourne has become a large place,
they say.

I don't know more particularly than I have said--
Sandbourne. For myself, I was never there.

It was apparent that Joan spoke the truth in thisand
he pressed her no further.

Are you in want of anything?he said gently.

No, sir,she replied. "We are fairly well provided
for."

Without entering the house Clare turned away. There
was a station three miles aheadand paying off his
coachmanhe walked thither. The last train to
Sandbourne left shortly afterand it bore Clare on its
wheels.


At eleven o'clock that nighthaving secured a bed at
one of the hotels and telegraphed his address to his
father immediately on his arrivalhe walked out into
the streets of Sandbourne. It was too late to call on
or inquire for any oneand he reluctantly postponed
his purpose till the morning. But he could not retire
to rest just yet.

This fashionable watering-placewith its eastern and
its western stationsits piersits groves of pines
its promenadesand its covered gardenswasto Angel
Clarelike a fairy place suddenly created by the
stroke of a wandand allowed to get a little dusty.
An outlying eastern tract of the enormous Egdon Waste
was close at handyet on the very verge of that tawny
piece of antiquity such a glittering novelty as this
pleasure city had chosen to spring up. Within the
space of a mile from its outskirts every irregularity
of the soil was prehistoricevery channel an
undisturbed British trackway; not a sod having been
turned there since the days of the Caesars. Yet the
exotic had grown heresuddenly as the prophet's gourd;
and had drawn hither Tess.

By the midnight lamps he went up and down the winding
way of this new world in an old oneand could discern
between the trees and against the stars the lofty
roofschimneysgazebosand towers of the numerous
fanciful residences of which the place was composed.
It was a city of detached mansions; a Mediterranean
lounging-place on the English Channel; and as seen now
by night it seemed even more imposing than it was.

The sea was near at handbut not intrusive; it
murmuredand he thought it was the pines; the pines
murmured in precisely the same tonesand he thought
they were the sea.

Where could Tess possibly bea cottage-girlhis young
wifeamidst all this wealth and fashion? The more he
pondered the more was he puzzled. Were there any cows
to milk here? There certainly were no fields to till.
She was most probably engaged to do something in one of
these large houses; and he sauntered alonglooking at
the chamber-windows and their lights going out one by
one; and wondered which of them might be hers.

Conjecture was uselessand just after twelve o'clock
he entered and went to bed. Before putting out his
light he re-read Tess's impassioned letter. Sleep
howeverhe could not--so near heryet so far from
her--and he continually lifted the window-blind and
regarded the backs of the opposite housesand wondered
behind which of the sashes she reposed at that moment.

He might almost as well have sat up all night. In the
morning he arose at sevenand shortly after went out
taking the direction of the chief post-office. At the
door he met an intelligent postman coming out with


letters for the morning delivery.

Do you know the address of a Mrs Clare?asked Angel.
The postman shook his head.

Thenremembering that she would have been likely to
continue the use of her maiden nameClare said---


Of a Miss Durbeyfield?

Durbeyfield?

This also was strange to the postman addressed.

There's visitors coming and going every day, as you
know, sir,he said; "and without the name of the house
'tis impossible to find 'em."

One of his comrades hastening out at that momentthe
name was repeated to him.

I know no name of Durbeyfield; but there is the name
of d'Urberville at The Herons,said the second.

That's it!cried Clarepleased to think that she has
reverted to the real pronunciation. "What place is The
Herons?"

A stylish lodging-house. 'Tis all lodging-houses
here, bless 'ee.

Clare received directions how to find the houseand
hastened thitherarriving with the milkman. The
Heronsthough an ordinary villastood in its own
groundsand was certainly the last place in which one
would have expected to find lodgingsso private was
its appearance. If poor Tess was a servant hereas he
fearedshe would go to the back-door to that milkman
and he was inclined to go thither also. Howeverin
his doubts he turned to the frontand rang.

The hour being early the landlady herself opened the
door. Clare inquired for Teresa d'Urberville or
Durbeyfield.

Mrs d'Urberville?

Yes.

Tessthenpassed as a married womanand he felt
gladeven though she had not adopted his name.

Will you kindly tell her that a relative is anxious to
see her?

It is rather early. What name shall I give, sir?

Angel.

Mr Angel?

No; Angel. It is my Christian name. She'll
understand.


I'll see if she is awake.

He was shown into the front room--the dining-room--and
looked out through the spring curtains at the little
lawnand the rhododendrons and other shrubs upon it.
Obviously her position was by no means so bad as he had
fearedand it crossed his mind that she must somehow
have claimed and sold the jewels to attain it. He did
not blame her for one moment. Soon his sharpened ear
detected footsteps upon the stairsat which his heart
thumped so painfully that he could hardly stand firm.
Dear me! what will she think of me, so altered as I
am!he said to himself; and the door opened.

Tess appeared on the threshold--not at all as he had
expected to see her--bewilderingly otherwiseindeed.
Her great natural beauty wasif not heightened
rendered more obvious by her attire. She was loosely
wrapped in a cashmere dressing-gown of gray-white
embroidered in half-mourning tintsand she wore
slippers of the same hue. Her neck rose out of a frill
of downand her well-remembered cable of dark-brown
hair was partially coiled up in a mass at the back of
her head and partly hanging on her shoulder--the
evident result of haste.

He had held out his armsbut they had fallen again to
his side; for she had not come forwardremaining still
in the opening of the doorway. Mere yellow skeleton
that he was now he felt the contrast between themand
thought his appearance distasteful to her.

Tess!he said huskilycan you forgive me for going
away? Can't you--come to me? How do you get to
be--like this?

It is too late,said sheher voice sounding hard
through the roomher eyes shining unnaturally.

I did not think rightly of you--I did not see you as
you were!he continued to plead. "I have learnt to
sincedearest Tessy mine!"

Too late, too late!she saidwaving her hand in the
impatience of a person whose tortures cause every
instant to seem an hour. "Don't come close to me
Angel! No--you must not. Keep away."

But don't you love me, my dear wife, because I have
been so pulled down by illness? You are not so
fickle--I am come on purpose for you--my mother and
father will welcome you now!

Yes--O, yes, yes! But I say, I say it is too late.

She seemed to feel like a fugitive in a dreamwho
tries to move awaybut cannot. "Don't you know
all--don't you know it? Yet how do you come here if
you do not know?"

I inquired here and there, and I found the way.

I waited and waited for you,she went onher tones
suddenly resuming their old fluty pathos. "But you did


not come! And I wrote to youand you did not come!
He kept on saying you would never come any moreand
that I was a foolish woman. He was very kind to me
and to motherand to all of us after father's death.
He----"

I don't understand.

He has won me back to him.

Clare looked at her keenlythengathering her
meaningflagged like one plague-strickenand his
glance sank; it fell on her handswhichonce rosy
were now white and more delicate.

She continued---


He is upstairs. I hate him now, because he told me a
lie--that you would not come again; and you HAVE come!
These clothes are what he's put upon me: I didn't care
what he did wi' me! But--will you go away, Angel,
please, and never come any more?

They stood fixedtheir baffled hearts looking out of
their eyes with a joylessness pitiful to see. Both
seemed to implore something to shelter them from
reality.

Ah--it is my fault!said Clare.

But he could not get on. Speech was as inexpressive as
silence. But he had a vague consciousness of one
thingthough it was not clear to him till later; that
his original Tess had spiritually ceased to recognize
the body before him as hers--allowing it to driftlike
a corpse upon the currentin a direction dissociated
from its living will.

A few instants passedand he found that Tess was gone.
His face grew colder and more shrunken as he stood
concentrated on the momentand a minute or two after
he found himself in the streetwalking along he did
not know whither.

Mrs Brooksthe lady who was the householder at The
Heronsand owner of all the handsome furniturewas
not a person of an unusually curious turn of mind.
She was too deeply materializedpoor womanby her long
and enforced bondage to that arithmetical demon
Profit-and-Lossto retain much curiousity for its own
sakeand apart from possible lodgers' pockets.
Neverthelessthe visit of Angel Clare to her
well-paying tenantsMr and Mrs d'Urbervilleas she
deemed themwas sufficiently exceptional in point of
time and manner to reinvigorate the feminine proclivity
which had been stifled down as useless save in its
bearings to the letting trade.

Tess had spoken to her husband from the doorway


without entering the dining-roomand Mrs Brookswho
stood within the partly-closed door of her own
sitting-room at the back of the passagecould hear
fragments of the conversation--if conversation it could
be called--between those two wretched souls. She heard
Tess re-ascend the stairs to the first floorand the
departure of Clareand the closing of the front door
behind him. Then the door of the room above was shut
and Mrs Brooks knew that Tess had re-entered her
apartment. As the young lady was not fully dressed
Mrs Brooks knew that she would not emerge again for
some time.

She accordingly ascended the stairs softlyand stood
at the door of the front room--a drawing-room
connected with the room immediately behind it (which
was a bedroom) by folding-doors in the common manner.
This first floorcontaining Mrs Brooks's best
apartmentshad been taken by the week by the
d'Urbervilles. The back room was now in silence; but
from the drawing-room there came sounds.

All that she could at first distinguish of them was one
syllablecontinually repeated in a low note of
moaningas if it came from a soul bound to some
Ixionian wheel---


O--O--O!

Then a silencethen a heavy sighand again---


O--O--O!

The landlady looked through the keyhole. Only a small
space of the room inside was visiblebut within that
space came a corner of the breakfast tablewhich was
already spread for the mealand also a chair beside.
Over the seat of the chair Tess's face was bowedher
posture being a kneeling one in front of it; her hands
were clasped over her headthe skirts of her
dressing-gown and the embroidery of her night-gown
flowed upon the floor behind herand her stockingless
feetfrom which the slippers had fallenprotruded
upon the carpet. It was from her lips that came the
murmur of unspeakable despair.

Then a man's voice from the adjoining bedroom---


What's a matter?

She did not answerbut went onin a tone which was a
soliloquy rather than an exclamationand a dirge
rather than a soliloquy. Mrs Brooks could only catch a
portion:

And then my dear, dear husband came home to me ...
and I did not know it! ... And you had used your cruel
persuasion upon me ... you did not stop using
it--no--you did not stop! My little sisters and
brothers and my mother's needs--they were the things
you moved me by ... and you said my husband would never
come back--never; and you taunted me, and said what a
simpleton I was to expect him! ... And at last I
believed you and gave way! ... And then he came back!


Now he is gone. Gone a second time, and I have lost
him now for ever ... and he will not love me the
littlest bit ever any more--only hate me! ... O yes,
I have lost him now--again because of--you!In writhing
with her head on the chairshe turned her face towards
the doorand Mrs Brooks could see the pain upon it;
and that her lips were bleeding from the clench of her
teeth upon themand that the long lashes of her closed
eyes stuck in wet tags to her cheeks. She continued:
And he is dying--he looks as if he is dying! ... And
my sin will kill him and not kill me! ... O, you have
torn my life all to pieces ... made me be what I prayed
you in pity not to make me be again! ... My own true
husband will never, never--O God--I can't bear this!-I
cannot!

There were more and sharper words from the man; then a
sudden rustle; she had sprung to her feet. Mrs Brooks
thinking that the speaker was coming to rush out of the
doorhastily retreated down the stairs.

She need not have done sohoweverfor the door of the
sitting-room was not opened. But Mrs Brooks felt it
unsafe to watch on the landing againand entered her
own parlour below.

She could hear nothing through the flooralthough she
listened intentlyand thereupon went to the kitchen to
finish her interrupted breakfast. Coming up presently
to the front room on the ground floor she took up some
sewingwaiting for her lodgers to ring that she might
take away the breakfastwhich she meant to do herself
to discover what was the matter if possible. Overhead
as she satshe could now hear the floorboards slightly
creakas if some one were walking aboutand presently
the movement was explained by the rustle of garments
against the banistersthe opening and the closing of
the front doorand the form of Tess passing to the
gate on her way into the street. She was fully dressed
now in the walking costume of a well-to-do young lady
in which she had arrivedwith the sole addition that
over her hat and black feathers a veil was drawn.

Mrs Brooks had not been able to catch any word of
farewelltemporary or otherwisebetween her tenants
at the door above. They might have quarrelledor Mr
d'Urberville might still be asleepfor he was not an
early riser.

She went into the back room which was more especially
her own apartmentand continued her sewing there. The
lady lodger did not returnnor did the gentleman ring
his bell. Mrs Brooks pondered on the delayand on what
probable relation the visitor who had called so early
bore to the couple upstairs. In reflecting she leant
back in her chair.

As she did so her eyes glanced casually over the
ceiling till they were arrested by a spot in the middle
of its white surface which she had never noticed there
before. It was about the size of a wafer when she
first observed itbut it speedily grew as large as the
palm of her handand then she could perceive that it
was red. The oblong white ceilingwith this scarlet


blot in the midsthad the appearance of a gigantic ace
of hearts.

Mrs Brooks had strange qualms of misgiving. She got
upon the tableand touched the spot in the ceiling
with her fingers. It was dampand she fancied that it
was a blood stain.

Descending from the tableshe left the parlourand
went upstairsintending to enter the room overhead
which was the bedchamber at the back of the
drawing-room. Butnerveless woman as she had now
becomeshe could not bring herself to attempt the
handle. She listened. The dead silence within was
broken only by a regular beat.

Dripdripdrip.

Mrs Brooks hastened downstairsopened the front door
and ran into the street. A man she knewone of the
workmen employed at an adjoining villawas passing by
and she begged him to come in and go upstairs with her;
she feared something had happened to one of her
lodgers. The workman assentedand followed her to the
landing.

She opened the door of the drawing-roomand stood back
for him to pass inentering herself behind him. The
room was empty; the breakfast--a substantial repast of
coffeeeggsand a cold ham--lay spread upon the table
untouchedas when she had taken it upexcepting that
the carving-knife was missing. She asked the man to go
through the folding-doors into the adjoining room.

He opened the doorsentered a step or twoand came
back almost instantly with a rigid face. "My good God
the gentleman in bed is dead! I think he has been hurt
with a knife--a lot of blood had run down upon the
floor!"

The alarm was soon givenand the house which had
lately been so quiet resounded with the tramp of many
footstepsa surgeon among the rest. The wound was
smallbut the point of the blade had touched the heart
of the victimwho lay on his backpalefixeddead
as if he had scarcely moved after the infliction of the
blow. In a quarter of an hour the news that a
gentleman who was a temporary visitor to the town had
been stabbed in his bedspread through every street
and villa of the popular watering-place.

LVII

Meanwhile Angel Clare had walked automatically along
the way by which he had comeandentering his hotel
sat down over the breakfaststaring at nothingness.
He went on eating and drinking unconsciously till on a
sudden he demanded his bill; having paid which he took
his dressing-bag in his handthe only luggage he had
brought with himand went out.


At the moment of his departure a telegram was handed to
him--a few words from his motherstating that they
were glad to know his addressand informing him that
his brother Cuthbert had proposed to and been accepted
by Mercy Chant.

Clare crumpled up the paperand followed the route to
the station; reaching ithe found that there would be
no train leaving for an hour and more. He sat down to
waitand having waited a quarter of an hour felt that
he could wait there no longer. Broken in heart and
numbedhe had nothing to hurry for; but he wished to
get out of a town which had been the scene of such an
experienceand turned to walk to the first station
onwardand let the train pick him up there.

The highway that he followed was openand at a little
distance dipped into a valleyacross which it could be
seen running from edge to edge. He had traversed the
greater part of this depressionand was climbing the
western acclivitywhenpausing for breathhe
unconsciously looked back. Why he did so he could not
saybut something seemed to impel him to the act. The
tape-like surface of the road diminished in his rear as
far as he could seeand as he gazed a moving spot
intruded on the white vacuity of its perspective.

It was a human figure running. Clare waitedwith a
dim sense that somebody was trying to overtake him.

The form descending the incline was a woman'syet so
entirely was his mind blinded to the idea of his wife's
following him that even when she came nearer he did not
recognize her under the totally changed attire in which
he now beheld her. It was not till she was quite close
that he could believe her to be Tess.

I saw you--turn away from the station--just before I
got there--and I have been following you all this way!

She was so paleso breathlessso quivering in every
musclethat he did not ask her a single questionbut
seizing her handand pulling it within his armhe led
her along. To avoid meeting any possible wayfarers he
left the high roadand took a footpath under some
fir-trees. When they were deep among the moaning
boughs he stopped and looked at her inquiringly.

Angel,she saidas if waiting for thisdo you know
what I have been running after you for? To tell you
that I have killed him!A pitiful white smile lit her
face as she spoke.

What!said hethinking from the strangeness of her
manner that she was in some delirium.

I have done it--I don't know how,she continued.
Still, I owed it to you, and to myself, Angel. I
feared long ago, when I struck him on the mouth with my
glove, that I might do it some day for the trap he set
for me in my simple youth, and his wrong to you through
me. He has come between us and ruined us, and now he
can never do it any more. I never loved him at all,
Angel, as I loved you. You know it, don't you? You


believe it? You didn't come back to me, and I was
obliged to go back to him. Why did you go away--why
did you--when I loved you so? I can't think why you
did it. But I don't blame you; only, Angel, will you
forgive me my sin against you, now I have killed him?
I thought as I ran along that you would be sure to
forgive me now I have done that. It came to me as a
shining light that I should get you back that way. I
could not bear the loss of you any longer--you don't
know how entirely I was unable to bear your not loving
me! Say you do now, dear, dear husband; say you do,
now I have killed him!

I do love you, Tess--O, I do--it is all come back!
he saidtightening his arms round her with fervid
pressure. "But how do you mean--you have killed him?"

I mean that I have,she murmured in a reverie.

What, bodily? Is he dead?

Yes. He heard me crying about you, and he bitterly
taunted me; and called you by a foul name; and then I
did it. My heart could not bear it. He had nagged me
about you before. And then I dressed myself and came
away to find you.

By degrees he was inclined to believe that she had
faintly attemptedat leastwhat she said she had
done; and his horror at her impulse was mixed with
amazement at the strength of her affection for himself
and at the strangeness of its qualitywhich had
apparently extinguished her moral sense altogether.
Unable to realize the gravity of her conduct she seemed
at last content; and he looked at her as she lay upon
his shoulderweeping with happinessand wondered what
obscure strain in the d'Urberville blood had led to
this aberration--if it were an aberration. There
momentarily flashed through his mind that the family
tradition of the coach and murder might have arisen
because the d'Urbervilles had been known to do these
things. As well as his confused and excited ideas
could reasonhe supposed that in the moment of mad
grief of which she spoke her mind had lost its balance
and plunged her into this abyss.

It was very terrible if true; if a temporary
hallucinationsad. Butanyhowhere was this
deserted wife of histhis passionately-fond woman
clinging to him without a suspicion that he would be
anything to her but a protector. He saw that for him
to be otherwise was notin her mindwithin the region
of the possible. Tenderness was absolutely dominant in
Clare at last. He kissed her endlessly with his white
lipsand held her handand said-


I will not desert you! I will protect you by every
means in my power, dearest love, whatever you may have
done or not have done!

They then walked on under the treesTess turning her
head every now and then to look at him. Worn and
unhandsome as he had becomeit was plain that she did
not discern the least fault in his appearance. To her


he wasas of oldall that was perfectionpersonally
and mentally. He was still her Antinousher Apollo
even; his sickly face was beautiful as the morning to
her affectionate regard on this day no less than when
she first beheld him; for was it not the face of the
one man on earth who had loved her purelyand who had
believed in her as pure!

With an instinct as to possibilities he did not nowas
he had intendedmake for the first station beyond the
townbut plunged still farther under the firswhich
here abounded for miles. Each clasping the other round
the waist they promenaded over the dry bed of
fir-needlesthrown into a vague intoxicating
atmosphere at the consciousness of being together at
lastwith no living soul between them; ignoring that
there was a corpse. Thus they proceeded for several
miles till Tessarousing herselflooked about her
and saidtimidly---


Are we going anywhere in particular?

I don't know, dearest. Why?

I don't know.

Well, we might walk a few miles further, and when it
is evening find lodgings somewhere or other--in a
lonely cottage, perhaps. Can you walk well, Tessy?

O yes! I could walk for ever and ever with your arm
round me!

Upon the whole it seemed a good thing to do. Thereupon
they quickened their paceavoiding high roadsand
following obscure paths tending more or less northward.
But there was an unpractical vagueness in their
movements throughout the day; neither one of them
seemed to consider any question of effectual escape
disguiseor long concealment. Their every idea was
temporary and unforefendinglike the plans of two
children.

At mid-day they drew near to a roadside innand Tess
would have entered it with him to get something to eat
but he persuaded her to remain among the trees and
bushes of this half-woodlandhalf-moorland part of the
countrytill he should come back. Her clothes were of
recent fashion; even the ivory-handled parasol that she
carried was of a shape unknown in the retired spot to
which they had now wandered; and the cut of such
articles would have attracted attention in the settle
of a tavern. He soon returnedwith food enough for
half-a-dozen people and two bottles of wine--enough to
last them for a day or moreshould any emergency
arise.

They sat down upon some dead boughs and shared their
meal. Between one and two o'clock they packed up the
remainder and went on again.

I feel strong enough to walk any distance,said she.

I think we may as well steer in a general way towards


the interior of the country, where we can hide for a
time, and are less likely to be looked for than
anywhere near the coast,Clare remarked. "Later on
when they have forgotten uswe can make for some
port."

She made no reply to this beyond that of grasping him
more tightlyand straight inland they went. Though
the season was an English May the weather was serenely
brightand during the afternoon it was quite warm.
Through the latter miles of their walk their footpath
had taken them into the depths of the New Forestand
towards eveningturning the corner of a lanethey
perceived behind a brook and bridge a large board on
which was painted in white lettersThis desirable
Mansion to be Let Furnished; particulars following
with directions to apply to some London agents. Passing
through the gate they could see the housean old brick
building of regular design and large accommodation.

I know it,said Clare. "It is Bramshurst Court. You
can see that it is shut upand grass is growing on the
drive."

Some of the windows are open,said Tess.

Just to air the rooms, I suppose.

All these rooms empty, and we without a roof to our
heads!

You are getting tired, my Tess!he said. "We'll stop
soon." And kissing her sad mouth he again led her
onwards.

He was growing weary likewisefor they had wandered a
dozen or fifteen milesand it became necessary to
consider what they should do for rest. They looked
from afar at isolated cottages and little innsand
were inclined to approach one of the latterwhen their
hearts failed themand they sheered off. At length
their gait draggedand they stood still.

Could we sleep under the trees?she asked.

He thought the season insufficiently advanced.

I have been thinking of that empty mansion we passed,
he said. "Let us go back towards it again."

They retraced their stepsbut it was half an hour
before they stood without the entrance-gate as earlier.
He then requested her to stay where she waswhilst he
went to see who was within.

She sat down among the bushes within the gateand
Clare crept towards the house. His absence lasted some
considerable timeand when he returned Tess was wildly
anxiousnot for herselfbut for him. He had found
out from a boy that there was only an old woman in
charge as caretakerand she only came there on fine
daysfrom the hamlet nearto open and shut the
windows. She would come to shut them at sunset.
Now, we can get in through one of the lower windows,


and rest there,said he.

Under his escort she went tardily forward to the main
frontwhose shuttered windowslike sightless
eyeballsexcluded the possibility of watchers. The
door was reached a few steps furtherand one of the
windows beside it was open. Clare clambered inand
pulled Tess in after him.

Except the hall the rooms were all in darknessand
they ascended the staircase. Up here also the shutters
were tightly closedthe ventilation being
perfunctorily donefor this day at leastby opening
the hall-window in front and an upper window behind.
Clare unlatched the door of a large chamberfelt his
way across itand parted the shutters to the width of
two or three inches. A shaft of dazzling sunlight
glanced into the roomrevealing heavyold-fashioned
furniturecrimson damask hangingsand an enormous
four-post bedsteadalong the head of which were carved
running figuresapparently Atalanta's race.

Rest at last!said hesetting down his bag and the
parcel of viands.

They remained in great quietness till the caretaker
should have come to shut the windows: as a precaution
putting themselves in total darkness by barring the
shutters as beforelest the woman should open the door
of their chamber for any casual reason. Between six
and seven o'clock she camebut did not approach the
wing they were in. They heard her close the windows
fasten themlock the doorand go away. Then Clare
again stole a chink of light from the windowand they
shared another mealtill by-and-by they were enveloped
in the shades of night which they had no candle to
disperse.

LVIII

The night was strangely solemn and still. In the small
hours she whispered to him the whole story of how he
had walked in his sleep with her in his arms across the
Froom streamat the imminent risk of both their lives
and laid her down in the stone coffin at the ruined
abbey. He had never known of that till now.

Why didn't you tell me next day?he said. "It might
have prevented much misunderstanding and woe."

Don't think of what's past!said she. "I am not
going to think outside of now. Why should we! Who
knows what tomorrow has in store?"

But it apparently had no sorrow. The morning was wet
and foggyand Clarerightly informed that the
caretaker only opened the windows on fine days
ventured to creep out of their chamberand explore the
houseleaving Tess asleep. There was no food on the
premisesbut there was waterand he took advantage of
the fog to emerge from the mansionand fetch tea


breadand butter from a shop in a little place two
miles beyondas also a small tin kettle and spirit-lamp
that they might get fire without smoke. His re-entry
awoke her; and they breakfasted on what he had brought.


They were indisposed to stir abroadand the day
passedand the night followingand the nextand
next; tillalmost without their being awarefive days
had slipped by in absolute seclusionnot a sight or
sound of a human being disturbing their peacefulness
such as it was. The changes of the weather were their
only eventsthe birds of the New Forest their only
company. By tacit consent they hardly once spoke of
any incident of the past subsequent to their
wedding-day. The gloomy intervening time seemed to
sink into chaosover which the present and prior times
closed as if it never had been. Whenever he suggested
that they should leave their shelterand go forwards
towards Southampton or Londonshe showed a strange
unwillingness to move.


Why should we put an end to all that's sweet and
lovely!she deprecated. "What must come will come."
Andlooking through the shutter-chink: "All is trouble
outside there; inside here content."


He peeped out also. It was quite true; within was
affectionunionerror forgiven: outside was the
inexorable.


And--and,she saidpressing her cheek against his
I fear that what you think of me now may not last.
I do not wish to outlive your present feeling for me.
I would rather not. I would rather be dead and buried
when the time comes for you to despise me, so that it
may never be known to me that you despised me.


I cannot ever despise you.


I also hope that. But considering what my life had
been I cannot see why any man should, sooner or later,
be able to help despising me.... How wickedly mad I
was! Yet formerly I never could bear to hurt a fly or
a worm, and the sight of a bird in a cage used often to
make me cry.


They remained yet another day. In the night the dull
sky clearedand the result was that the old caretaker
at the cottage awoke early. The brilliant sunrise made
her unusually brisk; she decided to open the contiguous
mansion immediatelyand to air it thoroughly on such a
day. Thus it occurred thathaving arrived and opened
the lower rooms before six o'clockshe ascended to the
bedchambersand was about to turn the handle of the
one wherein they lay. At that moment she fancied she
could hear the breathing of persons within. Her
slippers and her antiquity had rendered her progress a
noiseless one so farand she made for instant retreat;
thendeeming that her hearing might have deceived her
she turned anew to the door and softly tried the
handle. The lock was out of orderbut a piece of
furniture had been moved forward on the insidewhich
prevented her opening the door more than an inch or
two. A stream of morning light through the



shutter-chink fell upon the faces of the pairwrapped
in profound slumberTess's lips being parted like a
half-opened flower near his cheek. The caretaker was so
struck with their innocent appearanceand with the
elegance of Tess's gown hanging across a chairher
silk stockings beside itthe pretty parasoland the
other habits in which she had arrived because she had
none elsethat her first indignation at the effrontery
of tramps and vagabonds gave way to a momentary
sentimentality over this genteel elopementas it
seemed. She closed the doorand withdrew as softly as
she had cometo go and consult with her neighbours on
the odd discovery.

Not more than a minute had elapsed after her withdrawal
when Tess wokeand then Clare. Both had a sense that
something had disturbed themthough they could not say
what; and the uneasy feeling which it engendered grew
stronger. As soon as he was dressed he narrowly
scanned the lawn through the two or three inches of
shutter-chink.

I think we will leave at once,said he. "It is a
fine day. And I cannot help fancying somebody is about
the house. At any ratethe woman will be sure to come
today."

She passively assentedand putting the room in order
they took up the few articles that belonged to them
and departed noiselessly. When they had got into the
Forest she turned to take a last look at the house.

Ah, happy house--goodbye!she said. "My life can
only be a question of a few weeks. Why should we not
have stayed there?"

Don't say it, Tess! We shall soon get out of this
district altogether. We'll continue our course as
we've begun it, and keep straight north. Nobody will
think of looking for us there. We shall be looked for
at the Wessex ports if we are sought at all. When we
are in the north we will get to a port and away.

Having thus persuaded her the plan was pursuedand
they kept a bee-line northward. Their long repose at
the manor-house lent them walking power now; and
towards mid-day they found that they were approaching
the steepled city of Melchesterwhich lay directly in
their way. He decided to rest her in a clump of trees
during the afternoonand push onward under cover of
darkness. At dusk Clare purchased food as usualand
their night march beganthe boundary between Upper and
Mid-Wessex being crossed about eight o'clock.

To walk across country without much regard to roads was
not new to Tessand she showed her old agility in the
performance. The intercepting cityancient
Melchesterthey were obliged to pass through in order
to take advantage of the town bridge for crossing a
large river that obstructed them. It was about
midnight when they went along the deserted streets
lighted fitfully by the few lampskeeping off the
pavement that it might not echo their footsteps. The
graceful pile of cathedral architecture rose dimly on


their left handbut it was lost upon them now. Once
out of the town they followed the turnpike-roadwhich
after a few miles plunged across an open plain.

Though the sky was dense with cloud a diffused light
from some fragment of a moon had hitherto helped them a
little. But the moon had now sunkthe clouds seemed to
settle almost on their headsand the night grew as
dark as a cave. Howeverthey found their way along
keeping as much on the turf as possible that their
tread might not resoundwhich it was easy to dothere
being no hedge or fence of any kind. All around was
open loneliness and black solitudeover which a stiff
breeze blew.

They had proceeded thus gropingly two or three miles
further when on a sudden Clare became conscious of some
vast erection close in his frontrising sheer from the
grass. They had almost struck themselves against it.

What monstrous place is this?said Angel.

It hums,said she. "Hearken!"

He listened. The windplaying upon the edifice
produced a booming tunelike the note of some gigantic
one-stringed harp. No other sound came from itand
lifting his hand and advancing a step or twoClare
felt the vertical surface of the structure. It seemed
to be of solid stonewithout joint or moulding.
Carrying his fingers onward he found that what he had
come in contact with was a colossal rectangular pillar;
by stretching out his left hand he could feel a similar
one adjoining. At an indefinite height overhead
something made the black sky blackerwhich had the
semblance of a vast architrave uniting the pillars
horizontally. They carefully entered beneath and
between; the surfaces echoed their soft rustle; but
they seemed to be still out of doors. The place was
roofless. Tess drew her breath fearfullyand Angel
perplexedsaid---


What can it be?

Feeling sideways they encountered another tower-like
pillarsquare and uncompromising as the first; beyond
it another and another. The place was all doors and
pillarssome connected above by continuous
architraves.

A very Temple of the Winds,he said.

The next pillar was isolated; others composed a
trilithon; others were prostratetheir flanks forming
a causeway wide enough for a carriage and it was soon
obvious that they made up a forest of monoliths grouped
upon the grassy expanse of the plain. The couple
advanced further into this pavilion of the night till
they stood in its midst.

It is Stonehenge!said Clare.

The heathen temple, you mean?


Yes. Older than the centuries; older than the
d'Urbervilles! Well, what shall we do, darling?
We may find shelter further on.

But Tessreally tired by this timeflung herself upon
an oblong slab that lay close at handand was
sheltered from the wind by a pillar. Owing to the
action of the sun during the preceding day the stone
was warm and dryin comforting contrast to the rough
and chill grass aroundwhich had damped her skirts and
shoes.

I don't want to go any further, Angel,she said
stretching out her hand for his. "Can't we bide here?"

I fear not. This spot is visible for miles by day,
although it does not seem so now.

One of my mother's people was a shepherd hereabouts,
now I think of it. And you used to say at Talbothays
that I was a heathen. So now I am at home.

He knelt down beside her outstretched formand put his
lips upon hers.

Sleepy are you, dear? I think you are lying on an
altar.

I like very much to be here,she murmured. "It is so
solemn and lonely--after my great happiness--with
nothing but the sky above my face. it seems as if
there were no folk in the world but we two; and I wish
there were not--except 'Liza-Lu."

Clare though she might as well rest here till it should
get a little lighterand he flung his overcoat upon
herand sat down by her side.

Angel, if anything happens to me, will you watch over
'Liza-Lu for my sake?she askedwhen they had
listened a long time to the wind among the pillars.

I will.

She is so good and simple and pure. O, Angel--I wish
you would marry her if you lose me, as you will do
shortly. O, if you would!

If I lose you I lose all! And she is my
sister-in-law.

That's nothing, dearest. People marry sister-laws
continually about Marlott; and 'Liza-Lu is so gentle
and sweet, and she is growing so beautiful. O, I could
share you with her willingly when we are spirits! If
you would train her and teach her, Angel, and bring her
up for your own self! ... She had all the best of me
without the bad of me; and if she were to become yours
it would almost seem as if death had not divided us....
Well, I have said it. I won't mention it again.

She ceasedand he fell into thought. In the far
north-east sky he could see between the pillars a level
streak of light. The uniform concavity of black cloud


was lifting bodily like the lid of a potletting in at
the earth's edge the coming dayagainst which the
towering monoliths and trilithons began to be blackly
defined.

Did they sacrifice to God here?asked she.

No,said he.

Who to?

I believe to the sun. That lofty stone set away by
itself is in the direction of the sun, which will
presently rise behind it.

This reminds me, dear,she said. "You remember you
never would interfere with any belief of mine before we
were married? But I knew your mind all the sameand I
thought as you thought--not from any reasons of my own
but because you thought so. Tell me nowAngeldo you
think we shall meet again after we are dead? I want to
know."

He kissed her to avoid a reply at such a time.

O, Angel--I fear that means no!said shewith a
suppressed sob. "And I wanted so to see you again-so
muchso much! What--not even you and IAngel
who love each other so well?"

Like a greater than himselfto the critical question
at the critical time he did not answer; and they were
again silent. In a minute or two her breathing became
more regularher clasp of his hand relaxedand she
fell asleep. The band of silver paleness along the
east horizon made even the distant parts of the Great
Plain appear dark and near; and the whole enormous
landscape bore that impress of reservetaciturnity
and hesitation which is usual just before day. The
eastward pillars and their architraves stood up blackly
against the lightand the great flame-shaped Sun-stone
beyond them; and the Stone of Sacrifice midway.
Presently the night wind died outand the quivering
little pools in the cup-like hollows of the stones lay
still. At the same time something seemed to move on
the verge of the dip eastward--a mere dot. It was the
head of a man approaching them from the hollow beyond
the Sun-stone. Clare wished they had gone onwardbut
in the circumstances decided to remain quiet. The
figure came straight towards the circle of pillars in
which they were.

He heard something behind himthe brush of feet.
Turninghe saw over the prostrate columns another
figure; then before he was awareanother was at hand
on the rightunder a trilithonand another on the
left. The dawn shone full on the front of the man
westwardand Clare could discern from this that he was
talland walked as if trained. They all closed in
with evident purpose. Her story then was true!
Springing to his feethe looked around for a weapon
loose stonemeans of escapeanything. By this time
the nearest man was upon him.


It is no use, sir,he said. "There are sixteen of us
on the Plainand the whole country is reared."

Let her finish her sleep!he implored in a whisper of
the men as they gathered round.

When they saw where she laywhich they had not done
till thenthey showed no objectionand stood watching
heras still as the pillars around. He went to the
stone and bent over herholding one poor little hand;
her breathing now was quick and smalllike that of a
lesser creature than a woman. All waited in the
growing lighttheir faces and hands as if they were
silveredthe remainder of their figures darkthe
stones glistening green-graythe Plain still a mass of
shade. Soon the light was strongand a ray shone upon
her unconscious formpeering under her eyelids and
waking her.

What is it, Angel?she saidstarting up. "Have they
come for me?"

Yes, dearest,he said. "They have come."

It is as it should be,she murmured. "AngelI am
almost glad--yesglad! This happiness could not have
lasted. It was too much. I have had enough; and now I
shall not live for you to despise me!"

She stood upshook herselfand went forwardneither
of the men having moved.

I am ready,she said quietly.

The city of Wintoncesterthat fine old cityaforetime
capital of Wessexlay amidst its convex and concave
downlands in all the brightness and warmth of a July
morning. The gabled bricktileand freestone houses
had almost dried off for the season their integument of
lichenthe streams in the meadows were lowand in the
sloping High Streetfrom the West Gateway to the
mediaeval crossand from the mediaeval cross to the
bridgethat leisurely dusting and sweeping was in
progress which usually ushers in an old-fashioned
market-day.

From the western gate aforesaid the highwayas every
Wintoncestrian knowsascends a long and regular
incline of the exact length of a measured mileleaving
the houses gradually behind. Up this road from the
precincts of the city two persons were walking rapidly
as if unconscious of the trying ascent--unconscious
through preoccupation and not through buoyancy. They
had emerged upon this road through a narrow barred
wicket in a high wall a little lower down. They seemed
anxious to get out of the sight of the houses and of
their kindand this road appeared to offer the
quickest means of doing so. Though they were young
they walked with bowed headswhich gait of grief the


sun's rays smiled on pitilessly.

One of the pair was Angel Clarethe other a tall
budding creature--half girlhalf woman--a
spiritualized image of Tessslighter than shebut
with the same beautiful eyes--Clare's sister-in-law
'Liza-Lu. Their pale faces seemed to have shrunk to
half their natural size. They moved on hand in hand
and never spoke a wordthe drooping of their heads
being that of Giotto's "Two Apostles".

When they had nearly reached the top of the great West
Hill the clocks in the town struck eight. Each gave a
start at the notesandwalking onward yet a few
stepsthey reached the first milestonestanding
whitely on the green margin of the grassand backed by
the downwhich here was open to the road. They
entered upon the turfandimpelled by a force that
seemed to overrule their willsuddenly stood still
turnedand waited in paralyzed suspense beside the
stone.

The prospect from this summit was almost unlimited.
In the valley beneath lay the city they had just left
its more prominent buildings showing as in an isometric
drawing--among them the broad cathedral towerwith
its Norman windows and immense length of aisle and
navethe spires of St Thomas'sthe pinnacled tower of
the Collegeandmore to the rightthe tower and
gables of the ancient hospicewhere to this day the
pilgrim may receive his dole of bread and ale. Behind
the city swept the rotund upland of St Catherine's
Hill; further offlandscape beyond landscapetill the
horizon was lost in the radiance of the sun hanging
above it.

Against these far stretches of country rosein front
of the other city edificesa large red-brick building
with level gray roofsand rows of short barred windows
bespeaking captivitythe whole contrasting greatly by
its formalism with the quaint irregularities of the
Gothic erections. It was somewhat disguised from the
road in passing it by yews and evergreen oaksbut it
was visible enough up here. The wicket from which the
pair had lately emerged was in the wall of this
structure. From the middle of the building an ugly
flat-topped octagonal tower ascended against the east
horizonand viewed from this spoton its shady side
and against the lightit seemed the one blot on the
city's beauty. Yet it was with this blotand not with
the beautythat the two gazers were concerned.

Upon the cornice of the tower a tall staff was fixed.
Their eyes were riveted on it. A few minutes after the
hour had struck something moved slowly up the staff
and extended itself upon the breeze. It was a black flag.

Justicewas doneand the President of the Immortals
in Aeschylean phrasehad ended his sport with Tess.
And the d'Urberville knights and dames slept on in
their tombs unknowing. The two speechless gazers bent
themselves down to the earthas if in prayerand
remained thus a long timeabsolutely motionless: the
flag continued to wave silently. As soon as they had


strength they arosejoined hands againand went on.