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Tess of 
the D'urbervilles 

Garden City, New York 

Printed in the United States of America 

Explanatory Note 
to the First Edition 

THE main portion of the following story appeared with slight 
modifications in the Graphic newspaper; other chapters, more 
especially addressed to adult readers, in the Fortnightly Review 
and the National Observer, as episodic sketches. My thanks are 
tendered to the editors and proprietors of those periodicals for 
enabling me now to piece the trunk and limbs of the novel to- 
gether and print it complete, as originally written two years ago. 
I will just add that the story is sent out in all sincerity of pur- 
pose, as an attempt to give artistic form to a true sequence of 
things; and in respect of the book's opinions and sentiments, I 
would ask any too genteel reader, who cannot endure to have 
said what everybody nowadays thinks and feels, to remember a 
well-worn sentence of St. Jerome's: If an offence come out of 
the truth, better is it that the offence come than that the truth 
be concealed. 


November, 1891 


THIS NOVEL being one wherein the great campaign of the heroine 
begins after an event in her experience which has usually been 
treated as fatal to her part of protagonist, or at least as the virtual 
ending of her enterprises and hopes, it was quite contrary to 
avowed conventions that the public should welcome the book 
and agree with me in holding that there was something more to 
be said in fiction than had been said about the shaded side of a 
well-known catastrophe. But the responsive spirit in which Tess 
of the D'Urbervilles has been received by the readers of England 
and America would seem to prove that the plan of laying down 
a story on the lines of tacit opinion, instead of making it to square 
with the merely vocal formulae of society, is not altogether a 
wrong one, even when exemplified in so unequal and partial an 
achievement as the present. For this responsiveness I cannot re- 
frain from expressing my thanks; and my regret is that, in a world 
where one so often hungers in vain for friendship, where even 
not to be wilfully misunderstood is felt as a kindness, I shall 
never meet in person these appreciative readers, male and fe- 
male, and shake them by the hand. 

I include amongst them the reviewers by far the majority 
who have so generously welcomed the tale. Their words show 
that they, like the others, have only too largely repaired my de- 
fects of narration by their own imaginative intuition. 

Nevertheless, though the novel was intended to be neither 
didactic nor aggressive, but in the scenic parts to be representa- 
tive simply, and in the contemplative to be oftener charged with 
impressions than with convictions, there have been objectors 
both to the matter and to the rendering. 

The more austere of these maintain a conscientious difference 


of opinion concerning, among other things, subjects fit for art, 
and reveal an inability to associate the idea of the sub-title ad- 
jective with any but the artificial and derivative meaning which 
has resulted to it from the ordinances of civilization. They ig- 
nore the meaning of the word in nature, together with all aes- 
thetic claims upon it, not to mention the spiritual interpretation 
afforded by the finest side of their own Christianity. Others dis- 
sent on grounds which are intrinsically no more than an assertion 
that the novel embodies the views of life prevalent at the end of 
the nineteenth century, and not those of an earlier and simpler 
generation an assertion which I can only hope may be well 
founded. Let me repeat that a novel is an impression, not an ar- 
gument; and there the matter must rest; as one is reminded by 
a passage which occurs in the letters of Schiller to Goethe on 
judges of this class: "They are those who seek only their own 
ideas in a representation, and prize that which should be as 
higher than what is. The cause of the dispute, therefore, lies in 
the very first principles, and it would be utterly impossible to 
come to an understanding with them." And again: "As soon as I 
observe that any one, when judging of poetical representations, 
considers anything more important than the inner Necessity and 
Truth, I have done with him." 

In the introductory words to the first edition I suggested the 
possible advent of the genteel person who would not be able 
to endure something or other in these pages. That person duly 
appeared among the aforesaid objectors. In one case he felt upset 
that it was not possible for him to read the book through three 
times, owing to my not having made that critical effort which 
"alone can prove the salvation of such an one." In another, he 
objected to such vulgar articles as the Devil's pitchfork, a 
lodging-house carving-knife, and a shame-bought parasol ap- 
pearing in a respectable story. In another place he was a gentle- 
man who turned Christian for half an hour the better to express 
his grief that a disrespectful phrase about the Immortals should 
have been used; though the same innate gentility compelled him 
to excuse the author in words of pity that one cannot be too 
thankful for: "He does but give us of his best." I can assure this 
great critic that to exclaim illogically against the gods, singular or 
plural, is not such an original sin of mine as he seems to imagine. 


True, it may have some local originality; though if Shakespeare 
were an authority on history, which perhaps he is not, I could 
show that the sin was introduced into Wessex as early as the 
Heptarchy itself. Says Glo'ster in Lear, otherwise Ina, king of 
that country: 

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; 
They kill us for their sport. 

The remaining two or three manipulators of Tess were of the 
predetermined sort whom most writers and readers would gladly 
forget; professed literary boxers, who put on their convictions for 
the occasion; modern "Hammers of Heretics"; sworn Discourag- 
ers, ever on the watch to prevent the tentative half -success from 
becoming the whole success later on; who pervert plain mean- 
ings and grow personal under the name of practising the great 
historical method. However, they may have causes to advance, 
privileges to guard, traditions to keep going; some of which a 
mere tale-teller, who writes down how the things of the world 
strike him, without any ulterior intentions whatever, has over- 
looked and may by pure inadvertence have run foul of when in 
the least aggressive mood. Perhaps some passing perception, the 
outcome of a dream hour, would, if generally acted on, cause 
such an assailant considerable inconvenience with respect to po- 
sition, interests, family, servant, ox, ass, neighbour, or neighbour's 
wife. He therefore valiantly hides his personality behind a pub- 
lisher's shutters and cries "Shame!" So densely is the world 
thronged that any shifting of positions, even the best-warranted 
advance, galls somebody's kibe. Such shiftings often begin in 
sentiment, and such sentiment sometimes begins in a novel. 

July, 1892 

The foregoing remarks were written during the early career 
of this story, when a spirited public and private criticism of its 
points was still fresh to the feelings. The pages are allowed to 
stand for what they are worth, as something once said; but prob- 
ably they would not have been written now. Even in the short 
time which has elapsed since the book was first published, some 


of the critics who provoked the reply have "gone down into si- 
lence," as if to remind one of the infinite unimportance of both 
their say and mine. 

January, 1895 

The present edition of this novel contains a few pages that 
have never appeared hi any previous edition. When the detached 
episodes were collected, as stated in the preface of 1891, these 
pages were overlooked, though they were in the original manu- 
script. They occur in Chapter 10. 

Respecting the sub-title, to which allusion was made above, I 
may add that it was appended at the last moment, after reading 
the final proofs, as being the estimate left in a candid mind of the 
heroine's character an estimate that nobody would be likely to 
dispute. It was disputed more than anything else in the book. 
Melius fuerat non scribere. But there it stands. 

The novel was first published complete, in three volumes, in 
November, 1891. 

March, 10,12 



The Maiden, 1-11 i 

Maiden No More, 12-15 68 

The Rally, 16-24 93 

The Consequence, 25-34 1 4 1 


The Woman Pays, 35-44 210 


The Convert, 45-52 282 

Fulfilment, 53-59 340 



The Maiden 

ON an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was 
walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in 
the adjoining Vale of Blakemore, or Blackmoor. The pair of legs 
that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait 
which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line. He oc- 
casionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, 
though he was not thinking of anything in particular. An empty 
egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, 
a 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 grey mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune. 

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

"Good night, Sir John," said the parson. 

The pedestrian, after another pace or two, halted and turned 

"Now, sir, begging your pardon; we met last market-day on 
this road about this time, and I zaid '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 

The parson rode a step or two nearer. 


"It was only my whim," he said; and, after a moment's hesita- 
tion: "It was on account of a discovery I made some little time 
ago, whilst I was hunting up pedigrees for the new county 
history. I am Parson Tringham, the antiquary, of Stagfoot Lane. 
Don't you really know, Durbeyfield, that you are the lineal repre- 
sentative of the ancient and knightly family of the d'Urbervilles, 
who derive their descent from Sir Pagan d'Urberville, that re- 
nowned knight who came from Normandy with William the 
Conqueror, as 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 Nor- 
mandy 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 parson, decisively smacking his leg 
with his switch, "there'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 

The clergyman explained that, as far as he was aware, it had 
quite died out of knowledge and could hardly be said to be 
known at all. His own investigations had begun on a day in the 
preceding spring when, having been engaged in tracing the vi- 
cissitudes of the d'Urberville family, he had observed Durbey- 
field's name on his waggon and 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. "However, our 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'Urber- 
villes were one flesh all the time. Twas said that my gr't-grandfer 
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 
your family consisted of numerous branches. In this county there 
was a seat of yours at Kingsbere, and another at Sherton, and 
another at Millpond, and another at Lullstead, and another at 

"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 Durbeyfield 
after a pause. 

"Oh nothing, nothing; except chasten yourself with the 
thought of Tiow 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 

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

When he was gone, Durbeyfield walked a few steps in a pro- 
found reverie and then sat down upon the grassy bank by the 
roadside, depositing 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 latter, on 
seeing him, held up his hand, and 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 you, then, John 
Durbeyfield, to 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 wf. . . . 
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 announcement Durbey- 
field, declining from his sitting position, luxuriously stretched 
himself out upon the bank among the daisies. 

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

"Sir John d'Urberville that's who I am," continued the pros- 
trate man. "That is, if knights were baronets which they be. 'Tis 
recorded in history all about me. Dost know of such a place, lad, 
as Kmgsbere-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." 



"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 bot- 
tom 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 attitude Durbeyfield put his 
hand in his pocket and produced a shilling, one of the chroni- 
cally few that he possessed. 

"Here's for your labour, lad." 

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

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

"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 basket, and 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 car- 
riage, and maybe I'll drive round and inspect the club." 

The lad departed, and Durbeyfield lay waiting on the grass 
and daisies in the evening sun. Not a soul passed that way for a 
long while, and 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, aforesaid, an 
engirdled and secluded region, for the most part untrodden as 


yet by tourist or landscape-painter, though 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 narrow, 
tortuous, and miry ways. 

This fertile and sheltered tract of country, in 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 Hill, Bulbarrow, Nettlecombe-Tout, Dogbury, High 
Stoy, and Bubb Down. The traveller from the coast, who, after 
plodding northward for a score of miles over calcareous downs 
and corn-lands, suddenly reaches the verge of one of these 
escarpments is surprised and delighted to behold, extended like 
a map beneath him, a country differing absolutely from that 
which he has passed through. Behind him the hills are open, the 
sun blazes down upon fields so large as to give an unenclosed 
character to the landscape, the lanes are white, the hedges low 
and plashed, the atmosphere colourless. Here, in the valley, 
the world seems to be constructed upon a smaller and more del- 
icate scale; the fields are mere paddocks, so reduced that from 
this height their hedgerows appear a network of dark green 
threads overspreading the paler green of the grass. The atmos- 
phere beneath is languorous, and is so tinged with azure that 
what artists call the middle distance partakes also of that hue, 
while 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 trees, mantling minor hills and 
dales within the major. Such is the Vale of Blackmoor. 

The district is of historic, no less than of topographical, interest. 
The vale was known in former times as the Forest of White Hart, 
from a curious legend of King Henry Ill's reign, in which the 
killing by a certain Thomas de la Lynd of a beautiful white hart 
which the King had run down and spared was made the occasion 
of a heavy fine. In those days, and till comparatively recent 
times, the country was densely wooded. Even now, traces of its 
earlier condition are to be found in the old oak copses and irregu- 
lar belts of timber that yet survive upon its slopes and the hollow- 
trunked trees that shade so many of its pastures. 

The forests have departed, but some old customs of their 


shades remain. Many, however, linger only in a metamorphosed 
or disguised form. The May Day dance, for instance, was to be 
discerned on the afternoon under notice in the guise of the club- 
revel, or "club-walking," as it was there called. 

It was an interesting event to the younger inhabitants of Mar- 
lott, though its real interest was not observed by the participa- 
tors 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 were, though expiring, less uncommon; but either 
the natural shyness of the softer sex or a sarcastic attitude on the 
part of male relatives had denuded such women's clubs as re- 
mained (if any other did) of this their glory and consummation. 
The club of Marlott alone lived to uphold the local Cerealia. It 
had walked for hundreds of years, if not as benefit-club, as votive 
sisterhood of some sort; and it walked still. 

The banded ones were all dressed in white gowns a gay sur- 
vival from Old Style days, when 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; 
for, though the whole troop wore white garments, no 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 cadav- 
erous tint and to a Georgian style. 

In addition to the distinction of a white frock, every woman 
and girl carried in her right hand a peeled willow wand and in 
her left a bunch of white flowers. The peeling of the former and 
the selection of the latter had been an operation of personal care. 

There were a few middle-aged and even elderly women in the 
train, their silver-wiry hair and wrinkled faces, scourged by time 
and trouble, having almost a grotesque, certainly a pathetic, ap- 
pearance in such a jaunty situation. In a true view, perhaps, there 
was more to be gathered and told of each anxious and experi- 
enced one, to whom the years were drawing nigh when she 
should say, "I 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 formed, indeed, the majority of the band, and 
their heads of luxuriant hair reflected in the sunshine every 
tone of gold and black and brown. Some had beautiful eyes, 
others a beautiful nose, others a beautiful mouth and figure: few, 
if any, had all. A difficulty of arranging their lips in this crude 
exposure to public scrutiny, an inability to balance their heads 
and to dissociate self-consciousness from their features, was ap- 
parent in them and showed that they were genuine country-girls, 
unaccustomed to many eyes. 

And as each and all of them were warmed without by the sun, 
so each had a private little sun for her soul to bask in; some 
dream, some affection, some hobby, at least some remote and 
distant hope which, though perhaps starving to nothing, still lived 
on, as hopes will. Thus they were all cheerful, and many of them 

They came round by The Pure Drop Inn, and were turning 
out of the high road to pass through a wicket-gate into the mead- 
ows when one of the women said, The Lord-a-Lord! Why, Tess 
Durbeyfield, if there isn't thy father riding hwome in a carriagel" 

A young member of the band turned her head at the ex- 
clamation. She was a fine and handsome girl not handsomer 
than some others, possibly 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 Drop, driven by a frizzle- 
headed brawny damsel with her gown-sleeves rolled above her 
elbows. This was the cheerful servant of that establishment, 
who, in her part of factotum, turned groom and ostler at times. 
Durbeyfield, leaning back, and with his eyes closed luxuriously, 
was waving his hand above his head and singing in a slow rec- 
itative: Tve-got-a-gr't-family-vault-at-Kingsbere and knighted- 

The clubbists tittered, except 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 hastily, "and he has got a lift 
home because our own horse has to rest to-day." 

"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 cried, and the colour upon her cheeks 
spread over her face and neck. In a moment her eyes grew moist 
and her glance dropped to the ground. Perceiving that they 
had really pained her, they said no more, and order again pre- 
vailed. Tess's pride would not allow her to turn her head again, to 
learn what her father's meaning was, if 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 had recovered her equanimity and 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 extent, despite the village school: the characteris- 
tic intonation of that dialect for this district being the voicing 
approximately rendered by the syllable UR, probably 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 shape, and her lower lip had a way 
of thrusting the middle of her top one upward when they closed 
together after a word. 

Phases of her childhood lurked in her aspect still. As she 
walked along to-day, for all her bouncing, handsome womanli- 
ness, you could sometimes see her twelfth year in her cheeks or 
her ninth sparkling from her eyes; and even her fifth would flit 
over the curves of her mouth now and then. 

Yet few knew, and still fewer considered this. A small minority, 
mainly strangers, would look long at her in casually passing by, 
and grow momentarily fascinated by her freshness, and wonder 
if they would ever see her again; but to almost everybody she 
was a fine and picturesque country-girl, and no more. 

Nothing was seen or heard further of Durbeyfield in his trium- 
phal chariot under the conduct of the ostleress, and the club hav- 
ing entered the allotted space, dancing began. As there were no 
men in the company, the girls danced at first with each other, 
but when the hour for the close of labour drew on, the masculine 
inhabitants of the village, together with other idlers and pedes- 
trians, gathered round the spot and appeared inclined to nego- 
tiate for a partner. 

Among these on-lookers were three young men of a superior 


class, carrying small knapsacks strapped to their shoulders and 
stout sticks in their hands. Their general likeness to each other 
and their consecutive ages would almost have suggested that 
they might be what in fact they were, brothers. The eldest wore 
the white tie, high waistcoat, and thin-brimmed hat of the reg- 
ulation 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 uncribbed, uncab- 
ined aspect in his eyes and attire, implying 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 Blackmoor, their course being south-westerly from the 
town of Shaston on the north-east. 

They leant over the gate by the highway and 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 moment, but the spectacle of a bevy of girls dancing 
without male partners seemed to amuse the third and make him 
in no hurry to move on. He unstrapped his knapsack, put it, 
with his stick, on the hedge-bank, and 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 
along, or it will be dark before we get to Stourcastle, and there's 
no place we can sleep at nearer than that; besides, we must get 
through another chapter of A Counterblast to Agnosticism before 
we turn in, now 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 following, and the youngest 
entered the field. 

"This is a thousand pities," he said gallantly to two or three 
of the girls nearest him as soon as there was a pause in the dance. 
"Where are your partners, my dears?" 


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

"Certainly. But what's one among so manyl" 

"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 man, thus invited, glanced them over and at- 
tempted some discrimination; but, as the group were all so new 
to him, he could not very well exercise it. He took almost the 
first that came to hand, which was not the speaker, as she had 
expected; nor did it happen to be Tess Durbeyfield. Pedigree, 
ancestral skeletons, monumental record, the d'Urberville linea- 
ments, did not help Tess in her life's battle as yet, even 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 girl, whatever it was, has 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 men, who had not 
hastened to enter the gate while no intruder was in the way, 
now dropped in quickly, and soon the couples became leavened 
with rustic youth to a marked extent, till at length the plainest 
woman in the club was no longer compelled to foot it on the mas- 
culine side of the figure. 

The church clock struck, when 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 
Durbeyfield, whose own large orbs wore, to tell the truth, the 
faintest aspect of reproach that he had not chosen her. He, too, 
was sorry then that, owing to her backwardness, he 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 westward, and had soon passed the hollow and mounted 
the next rise. He had not yet overtaken his brothers, but he 
paused to get breath, and 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 them, except, perhaps, one. 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 was, he 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 modest, so expressive, she 
had looked so soft in her thin white gown that he felt he had 
acted stupidly. 

However, it could not be helped, and, turning and bending 
himself to a rapid walk, he dismissed the subject from his mind. 

As for Tess Durbeyfield, she did not so easily dislodge the inci- 
dent from her consideration. She had no spirit to dance again 
for a long time, though 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 

She remained with her comrades till dusk and participated 
with a certain zest in the dancing; though, being heart-whole as 
yet, she enjoyed treading a measure purely for its own sake; little 
divining when she saw "the soft torments, the bitter sweets, the 
pleasing pains, and the agreeable distresses" of those girls who 
had been wooed and won what 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 later, but the incident of her fa- 
ther's odd appearance and manner returned upon the girl's mind 
to make her anxious, and 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 off, other 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 house, occasioned by the violent rocking of a 
cradle upon a stone floor, to which movement a feminine voice 


kept time by singing, in a vigorous gallopade, the favourite ditty 
of "The Spotted Cow": 

I saw her lie do'-own in yon'-der green gro'-ove; 
Come, love!' and Til tell' you where!' 

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

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

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

The interior, in spite of the melody, struck upon the girl's 
senses with an unspeakable dreariness. From the holiday gaieties 
of the field the white gowns, the nosegays, the willow wands, 
the whirling movements on the green, the flash of gentle senti- 
ment towards the stranger to the yellow melancholy of this one- 
candled spectacle, what a step! Besides the jar of contrast, there 
came to her a chill self-reproach that she had not returned 
sooner, to help her mother in these domesticities, instead of in- 
dulging herself out-of-doors. 

There stood her mother amid the group of children, as Tess 
had left her, hanging over the Monday washing-tub, which had 
now, as always, lingered 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 usual, Mrs. Durbeyfield was balanced on one foot beside 
the tub, the 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 children, 
on that flagstone floor, that they were worn nearly flat, in 
consequence of which a huge jerk accompanied each swing of 
the cot, flinging the baby from side to side like a weaver's shut- 
tle, as Mrs. Durbeyfield, excited by her song, trod the rocker with 
all the spring that was left in her after a long day's seething in 
the suds. 


Nick-knock, nick-knock, went the cradle; the candle-flame 
stretched itself tall and began jigging up and down; the water 
dribbled from the matron's elbows, and the song galloped on to 
the end of the verse, Mrs. Durbeyfield regarding her daughter 
the while. Even now, when 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 some- 
thing of the freshness, and 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 gift, and therefore 
unknightly, unhistorical. 

Til 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; indeed, Joan seldom up- 
braided her thereon at any time, feeling but slightly the lack of 
Tess's assistance whilst her instinctive plan for relieving her- 
self of her labours lay in postponing them. To-night, however, 
she was even in a blither mood than usual. There was a dream- 
iness, a preoccupation, an exaltation, in the maternal look 
which the girl could not understand. 

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

"Since I've been away?" Tess asked. 


"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 'scutcheons, and 
the Lord knows what all. In Saint Charles's days we was made 
Knights o' the Royal Oak, our real name being d'Urbervillel . . . 
Don't that make your bosom plim? 'Twas on this account that 
your father rode home in the vlee; not because he'd been drink- 
ing, as people supposed." 

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

"Oh 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 to-day in Shaston. It is not consump- 
tion at all, it seems. It is fat round his heart, 'a says. There, it is 
like this." Joan Durbeyfield, as she spoke, curved a sodden 
thumb and forefinger to the shape of the letter C and 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 months or ten days.' " 

Tess looked alarmed. Her father possibly to go behind the 
eternal cloud so soon, notwithstanding 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 up- 
lifting 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 
to-morrow with that load of beehives, which must be delivered, 
family or no. He'll have to start shortly after twelve to-night as 
the distance is so long." 

"Get up his strength!" said Tess impetuously, the tears welling 
to her eyes. "Oh, my God! Go to a public-house to get up his 
strength! And you as well agreed as he, Mother!" 

Her rebuke and her mood seemed to fill the whole room and 
to impart a cowed look to the furniture, and candle, and chil- 
dren playing about, and to her mother's face. 


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

Jll go." 

"Oh no, Tess. You see, it would be no use." 

Tess did not expostulate. She knew what her mother's ob- 
jection meant. Mrs. Durbeyfield's jacket and bonnet were al- 
ready hanging slyly upon a chair by her side, in readiness for 
this contemplated jaunt, the reason for which the matron de- 
plored more than its necessity. 

"And take the Compleat Fortune-Teller to the outhouse," Joan 
continued, rapidly wiping her hands and donning the garments. 

The Compleat Fortune-Teller was an old thick volume, which 
lay on a table at her elbow, so worn by pocketing that the margins 
had reached the edge of the type. Tess took it up, and her mother 

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's, to sit 
there for an hour or two by his side and dismiss all thought and 
care of the children during the interval, made her happy. A sort 
of halo, an occidental glow, came over life then. Troubles and 
other realities took on themselves a metaphysical impalpability, 
sinking to mere mental phenomena for serene contemplation, 
and no longer stood as pressing concretions which chafed body 
and soul. The youngsters, not immediately within sight, seemed 
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 hi the same spot dur- 
ing his wooing, shutting her eyes to his defects of character and 
regarding him only in his ideal presentation as lover. 

Tess, being left alone with the younger children, went first to 
the outhouse with the fortune-telling book and stuffed it into the 
thatch. A curious fetishistic fear of this grimy volume on the part 
of her mother prevented her ever allowing it to stay in the 
house all night, and hither it was brought back whenever it had 
been consulted. Between the mother, with her fast-perishing 
lumber of superstitions, folk-lore, dialect, and orally transmitted 
ballads, and the daughter, with 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 

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 it, but did not divine that it solely concerned herself. 
Dismissing this, however, she busied herself with sprinkling the 
linen dried during the day-time, in company with her nine-year- 
old brother Abraham and her sister Eliza-Louisa of twelve and a 
half, called "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 Abra- 
ham 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 later, and neither father nor mother reappeared. Tess 
looked out of the door and took a mental journey through Mar- 
lott. The village was shutting its eyes. Candles and lamps were 
being put out everywhere: she could inwardly behold the extin- 
guisher and the extended hand. 

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

"Abraham," she said to her little brother, "do 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 seat and opened the door, 
and the night swallowed him up. Half an hour passed yet again; 
neither man, woman, nor child returned. Abraham, like his par- 
ents, seemed to have been limed and caught by the ensnaring 

"I must go myself," she said. 

Liza-Lu then went to bed, and Tess, locking them all in, started 
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 value, 
and when one-handed clocks sufficiently subdivided the day. 

ROLLIVER'S Inn, the single alehouse at this end of the long and 
broken village, could only boast of an off-licence; hence, as no- 
body could legally drink on the premises, the amount of overt 
accommodation for consumers was strictly limited to a little 
board about six inches wide and two yards long, fixed to the 
garden palings by pieces of wire, so as to form a ledge. On this 
board thirsty strangers deposited their cups as they stood in the 
road and drank, and threw the dregs on the dusty ground to the 
pattern of Polynesia, and wished they could have a restful seat 

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 upstairs, the window of which was thickly 
curtained with a great woollen shawl lately discarded by the 
landlady, Mrs. Rolliver, were gathered on this evening nearly a 
dozen persons, all seeking beatitude; all old inhabitants of the 
nearer end of Marlott and frequenters of this retreat. Not only 
did the distance to The Pure Drop, the fully licenced tavern at 
the further part of the dispersed village, render its accommoda- 
tion practically unavailable for dwellers at this end, but the far 
more serious question, the quality of the liquor, confirmed 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 

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 draw- 
ers; another rested on the oak-carved "cwoffer"; two on the wash- 
stand; another on the stool; and thus all were, somehow, seated 
at their ease. The stage of mental comfort to which they had ar- 
rived at this hour was one wherein their souls expanded beyond 
their skins and 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 han- 
dles of the chest of drawers were as golden knockers; and the 
carved bedposts seemed to have some kinship with the magnifi- 
cent pillars of Solomon's temple. 

Mrs. Durbeyfield, having quickly walked hitherward after part- 
ing from Tess, opened the front door, crossed the downstairs 
room, which was in deep gloom, and 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 process, and 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 footsteps, as glibly as a child repeating the catechism, 
while she peered over the stairs. "Oh, 'tis you, Mrs. 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 conclave, and turned to where her husband 
sat. He was humming absently to himself in a low tone: "I be 
as good as some folks here and there! I've got a great family vault 
at Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill and finer skillentons than any man in 

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

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

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

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


"Ah, that's the secret," said Joan Durbeyfield sagely. "How- 
ever, 'tis well to be kin to a coach even if you don't ride in en." 
She dropped her public voice and 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 Trantridge, on the edge o' The 
Chase, of the name of d'Urberville." 

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

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

"There is a lady of the name, now you mention it," said Durbey- 
field. "Pa'son Tringham didn't think of that. But she's nothing be- 
side we a junior branch of us, no doubt, hailing long since King 
Norman's day." 

While this question was being discussed neither of the pair 
noticed, in their preoccupation, that little Abraham had crept 
into the room and was awaiting an opportunity of asking them 
to return. 

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

"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 

"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." 


"I tried her fate in the Fortune-Teller, and it brought out that 
very thing! . . . You should ha' seen how pretty she looked to- 
day; her skin is as sumple as a duchess'." 

"What says the maid herself to going?" 

"I've not asked her. She don't know there is any such lady rela- 
tion 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 private, sufficient 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 had, and that Tess, their pretty eldest 
daughter, had fine prospects in store. 

"Tess is a fine figure o' fun, as I said to myself to-day 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 meaning, and there was no reply. 

The conversation became inclusive, and presently other foot- 
steps were heard crossing the room below. 

"Being a few private friends asked in to-night 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 rec- 
ognized that the new-comer 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 seats, hastily finish their 
ale, and descend the stairs behind her, Mrs. Rolliver's caution 
following their footsteps. 

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

They went home together, Tess holding one arm of her father, 
and Mrs. Durbeyfield the other. He had, in truth, drunk 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 or genuflexions; but the weakness of Sir John's con- 
stitution made mountains of his petty sins in this kind. On reach- 
ing the fresh air, he was sufficiently unsteady to incline the row 
of three at one moment as if they were marching to London and 
at another as if they were marching to Bath which produced a 
comical effect, frequent enough in families on nocturnal home- 
goings, and, like most comical effects, not quite so comic after all. 
The two women valiantly disguised these forced excursions and 
countermarches as well as they could from Durbeyfield, their 
cause, and from Abraham, and from themselves; and so they ap- 
proached by degrees their own door, the head of the family 


bursting suddenly into his former refrain as he drew near, as if 
to fortify his soul at sight of the smallness of his present resi- 
dence: "I've got a fam ily vault at KingsbereP 

"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 than they, that's 
true. Thank God, I was never of no family and have nothing to be 
ashamed of in that wayl" 

"Don't you be so sure o' that. From your 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 to-morrow 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 bed, and 
two o'clock next morning was the latest hour for starting with 
the beehives if they were to be delivered to the retailers hi Cas- 
terbridge before the Saturday market began, the way thither ly- 
ing by bad roads over a distance of between twenty and thirty 
miles, and 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 daughter, whose 
great eyes had opened the moment her mother's hand touched 
the door. 

Tess sat up in bed, lost 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 if we put 
off taking 'em till next week's market, the call for 'em will be past 
and they'll be thrown on our hands." 

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

"Oh 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 I think I could go if Abraham could go with 
me to kip me company." 

Her mother at length agreed to this arrangement. Little Abra- 
ham was aroused from his deep sleep in a corner of the same 
apartment and made to put on his clothes while still mentally in 
the other world. Meanwhile Tess had hastily dressed herself; and 
the twain, lighting a lantern, went out to the stable. The rickety 
little waggon was already laden, and the girl led out the horse, 
Prince, only a degree less rickety than the vehicle. 

The poor creature looked wonderingly round at the night, at 
the lantern, at their two figures, as if he could not believe that 
at that hour, when every living thing was intended to be in shel- 
ter and at rest, he was called upon to go out and labour. They 
put a stock of candle-ends into the lantern, hung the latter to the 
off-side of the load, and directed the horse onward, walking at 
his shoulder at first during the uphill parts of the way in order 
not to overload an animal of so little vigour. To cheer them- 
selves as well as they could, they made an artificial morning with 
the lantern, some bread and butter, and their own conversation, 
the real morning being far from come. Abraham, as 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 spring- 
ing 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 thatch, they reached higher 
ground. Still higher, on their left, the elevation called Bulbarrow, 
or Bealbarrow, well nigh the highest in South Wessex, swelled 
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 waggon, and Abraham grew reflective. 

"TessI" he said in a preparatory tone after 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 Tess, lifting 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 still and lapsed into a pondering 
silence. Abraham talked on, rather for the pleasure of utterance 
than for audition, so that his sister's abstraction was of no ac- 
count. He leant back against the hives and with upturned face 
made observations on the stars, whose cold pulses were beating 
amid the black hollows above, in serene dissociation from these 
two wisps of human life. He asked how far away those twinklers 
were and 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 gentleman, would she have 
money enough to buy a spy-glass so large that it would draw the 
stars as near to her as Nettlecombe-Tout? 

The renewed subject, which seemed to have impregnated the 
whole family, filled Tess with impatience. 

"Never mind that nowl" she exclaimed. 

"Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?" 


"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!" 


"Is it like that really, Tess?" said Abraham, turning to her, 
much impressed on 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 this journey; and 
Mother wouldn't have been always washing and never getting 

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

"Oh, Aby, don't don't talk of that any morel" 


Left to his reflections, Abraham soon grew drowsy. Tess was 
not skilful in the management of a horse, but she thought that 
she could take upon herself the entire conduct of the load for 
the present and allow Abraham to go to sleep if he wished to 
do so. She made him a sort of nest in front of the hives, in such 
a manner that he could not fall, and, taking the reins into her 
own hands, jogged on as before. 

Prince required but slight attention, lacking energy for super- 
fluous movements of any sort. With no longer a companion to 
distract her, Tess fell more deeply into reverie than ever, her back 
leaning against the hives. The mute procession past her shoulders 
of trees and hedges became attached to fantastic scenes outside 
reality, and the occasional heave of the wind became the sigh 
of some immense sad soul, conterminous with the universe in 
space and with history in time. 

Then, examining the mesh of events in her own life, she 
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 gri- 
macing personage, laughing at her poverty and her shrouded 
knightly ancestry. Everything grew more and more extravagant, 
and she no longer knew how time passed. A sudden jerk shook 
her in her seat, and Tess awoke from the sleep into which she, 
too, had fallen. 

They were a long way further on than when she had lost con- 
sciousness, and the waggon had stopped. A hollow groan, unlike 
anything she had ever heard in her life, came from the front, fol- 
lowed by a shout of "Hoi therel" 

The lantern hanging at her waggon had gone out, but 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 down and discovered the dread- 
ful truth. The groan had proceeded from her father's poor horse, 
Prince. The morning mail-cart, with its two noiseless wheels, 
speeding along these lanes like an arrow, as it always did, had 
driven into her slow and unlighted equipage. The pointed shaft 
of the cart had entered the breast of the unhappy Prince like a 
sword, and from the wound his life's blood was spouting in a 
stream and falling with a hiss into the road. 

In her despair Tess sprang forward and put her hand upon 
the hole, with 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 her, and began drag- 
ging and unharnessing the hot form of Prince. But he was already 
dead, and, seeing that nothing more could be done immediately, 
the mail-cart man returned to his own animal, which was unin- 

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

He mounted and sped on his way while Tess stood and waited. 
The atmosphere turned pale, the birds shook themselves in the 
hedges, arose, and twittered; the lane showed all its white fea- 
tures, and Tess showed hers, still whiter. The huge pool of blood 
in front of her was already assuming the iridescence of coagula- 
tion; and when the sun rose, a hundred prismatic hues were re- 
flected from it. Prince lay alongside, still and stark; his eyes half 
open, the 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 cried, gazing at the spec- 
tacle. "No excuse for me none. What will Mother and Father 
live on now? Aby, Aby!" She shook the child, who had slept 
soundly through the whole disaster. "We can't go on with our 
load Prince is killed!" 

When Abraham realized all, the 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 end- 
less. At length a sound and an approaching object proved to them 
that the driver of the mail-cart had been as good as his word. A 
farmer's man from near Stourcastle came up, leading a strong 
cob. He was harnessed to the waggon of beehives in the place of 
Prince, and 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 hauled, and with his hoofs in the 
air and his shoes shining in the setting sunlight, he retraced 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 loss, 
though 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 mis- 
fortune a less terrifying one to them than it would have been to 
a striving family, though in the present case it meant ruin and in 
the other it would only have meant inconvenience. In the Dur- 
beyfield 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 carcass because of his 
decrepitude, Durbeyfield rose to the occasion. 

"No," said he stoically, "I 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 
it, the children following in funeral train. Abraham and Liza-Lu 
sobbed, Hope and Modesty discharged their griefs in loud blares 
which echoed from the walls; and when Prince was tumbled in, 
they gathered round the grave. The breadwinner had been taken 
away from them; what would they do? 

"Is he gone to heaven?" asked Abraham between the sobs. 

Then Durbeyfield began to shovel in the earth, and the chil- 
dren cried anew. All except Tess. Her face was dry and pale, as 
though she regarded herself in the light of a murderess. 

THE haggling business, which had mainly depended on the horse, 
became disorganized forthwith. Distress, if not penury, loomed 
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 re- 
quirement; and, having been unaccustomed to the regular toil 
of the day-labourer, he was not particularly persistent when they 
did so coincide. 

Tess, meanwhile, as the one who had dragged her parents 
into this quagmire, was 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 Ion 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." 

Tou 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 ma- 
ternal wish; but she could not understand why her mother should 
find such satisfaction in contemplating an enterprise of, to her, 
such doubtful profit. Her mother might have made inquiries and 
have discovered that this Mrs. d'Urberville was a lady of un- 
equalled 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 go, she will 

"I don't like my children going and making themselves be- 


holden to strange kin," murmured he. "I'm the head of the noblest 
branch o' the family, and I ought to live up to it." 

His reasons for staying away were worse to Tess than her own 
objection to going. "Well, as I killed the horse, Mother," she said 
mournfully, "I suppose I ought to do something. I don't mind go- 
ing and seeing her, but 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 said, Tess!" 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 Shas- 
ton, and there took advantage of a van which twice in the week 
ran from Shaston eastward to Chaseborough, passing near Trant- 
ridge, the parish in which the vague and mysterious Mrs. d'Ur- 
berville 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 
born and in which her life had unfolded. The Vale of Blackmoor 
was to her the world, and its inhabitants the races thereof. From 
the gates and stiles of Marlott she had looked down its length 
in the wondering days of infancy, and 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, villages, faint 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 place, only 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 rela- 
tives' faces; but for what lay beyond, her judgement was depend- 
ent on the teaching of the village school, where she had held a 
leading place at the time of her leaving, a year or two before this 

In those early days she had been much loved by others of her 
own sex and age, and 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 pina- 
fore, of a finely reticulated pattern, worn over a stuff frock that 
had lost its original colour for a nondescript tertiary marching 
on upon long stalky legs, in tight stockings which had little 


ladder-like holes at the knees, torn by kneeling in the roads and 
banks in search of vegetable and mineral treasures; her then- 
earth-coloured hair hanging like pothooks; the arms of the two 
outside girls resting round the waist of Tess; her arms on the shoul- 
ders of the two supporters. 

As Tess grew older, and began to see how matters stood, she 
felt quite a Malthusian towards her mother for thoughtlessly giv- 
ing her so many little sisters and brothers when 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 addi- 
tional one, and that not the eldest, to her own long family of 
waiters on Providence. 

However, Tess became humanely beneficent towards the small 
ones, and to help them as much as possible she used, as soon as 
she left school, to lend a hand at haymaking or harvesting on 
neighbouring farms; or, by preference, at milking or butter- 
making processes, which 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 burdens, and 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 Durbey- 
fields were putting their fairest side outward. 

She alighted from the van at Trantridge Cross and ascended 
on foot a hill in the direction of the district known as The Chase, 
on the borders of which, as she had been informed, Mrs. d'Urber- 
ville's seat, The Slopes, would be found. It was not a manorial 
home in the ordinary sense, with fields and pastures and a grum- 
bling farmer, out of whom the owner had to squeeze an income 
for himself and his family by hook or by crook. It was more, far 
more; a country-house built for enjoyment pure and simple, with 
not an acre of troublesome land attached to it beyond what was 
required for residential purposes, and for a little fancy farm kept 
in hand by the owner and tended by a bailiff. 

The crimson brick lodge came first in sight, up to its eaves hi 
dense evergreens. Tess thought this was the mansion itself till, 
passing through the side wicket with some trepidation, and on- 
ward to a point at which the drive took a turn, the 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-land, one of the few remaining wood- 
lands in England of undoubted primeval date, wherein Druidi- 
cal mistletoe was still found on aged oaks and where enormous 
yew-trees, not planted by the hand of man, grew as they had 
grown when they were pollarded for bows. All this sylvan an- 
tiquity, however, though visible from The Slopes, was outside 
the immediate boundaries of the estate. 

Everything on this snug property was bright, thriving, 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 stables, partly screened by 
Austrian pines and evergreen oaks, and fitted with every late 
appliance, were as dignified as chapels of ease. On the extensive 
lawn stood an ornamental tent, its door being towards her. 

Simple Tess Durbeyfield stood at gaze, in a half-alarmed at- 
titude, on 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 said 
in 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'Urbervilles, as they at first called 
themselves who owned all this, were a somewhat unusual fam- 
ily 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 added, what he knew very well, that the Stoke-d'Urbervilles 
were no more d'Urbervilles of the true tree than 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 reno- 

When old Mr. Simon Stoke, latterly deceased, had made his 
fortune as an honest merchant (some said money-lender) in the 
North, he decided to settle as a county man in the South of Eng- 
land, out 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 past and 
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 -extinct, obscured, and ruined fam- 
ilies appertaining to the quarter of England in which he pro- 
posed to settle, he considered that dUrbermlle 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 this, and in con- 
structing his family tree on the new basis was duly reasonable 
in framing his intermarriages and aristocratic links, never insert- 
ing 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; indeed, the 
very possibility of such annexations was unknown to them; 
who supposed that, though to be well favoured might be the gift 
of fortune, a family name came by nature. 

Tess still stood hesitating like a bather about to make his 
plunge, hardly knowing whether to retreat or to persevere, when 
a figure came forth from the dark triangular door of the tent. 
It was that of a tall young man, smoking. 

He had an almost swarthy complexion, with full lips, badly 
moulded, though red and smooth, above which was a well- 
groomed black moustache with curled points, though his age 
could not be more than three- or four-and-twenty. Despite the 
touches of barbarism in his contours, there was a singular force 
in the gentleman's face and 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 

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 
face, the sublimation of all the d'Urberville lineaments, furrowed 
with incarnate memories representing in hieroglyphic the cen- 
turies of her family's and England's history. But she screwed her- 
self up to the work in hand, since she could not get out of it, and 
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. 
Alec, the only son of the lately deceased gentleman. "Cannot I 
answer your purpose? What is the business you wish to see her 

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


"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 that, notwithstanding her awe of him and her general 
discomfort at being here, her rosy lips curved towards a smile, 
much to the attraction of the swarthy Alexander. 

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

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

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

"Ho! Poor relations?" 



"No; d'Urbervilles." 

"Aye, aye; I mean d'Urbervilles." 

"Our names are worn away to Durbeyfield; but we have sev- 
eral 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- 

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

"I suppose I have," faltered Tess, looking 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 in- 
quiries, 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 

Tess wished to abridge her visit as much as possible; but the 
young man was pressing, and she consented to accompany him. 
He conducted her about the lawns, and flower-beds, and con- 
servatories; and thence to the fruit-garden and green-houses, 
where he asked her if she liked strawberries. 

"Yes," said Tess, "when they come." 

"They are already here." D'Urberville began gathering speci- 
mens of the fruit for her, handing them back to her as he stooped; 
and, presently, selecting a specially fine product of the "British 
Queen" variety, he stood up and held it by the stem to her mouth. 

"No nol" she said quickly, putting 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-pleased, half-reluctant state whatever d'Urber- 
ville offered her. When she could consume no more of the straw- 
berries, he filled her little basket with them; and then the two 
passed round to the rose-trees, whence he gathered blossoms 
and gave her to put in her bosom. She obeyed like one in a dream, 
and when she could affix no more, he himself tucked a bud or 
two into her hat and heaped her basket with others in the prodi- 
gality of his bounty. At last, looking at his watch, he said, "Now, 
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 111 see what grub I can find." 

Stoke-d'Urberville took her back to the lawn and into the tent, 
where he left her, soon reappearing with a basket of light lunch- 
eon, which he put before her himself. It was evidently the gentle- 
man's wish not to be disturbed in this pleasant tete-d-tete by the 

"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 tent, and Tess Durbeyfield 


did not divine, as she innocently looked down at the roses in 
her bosom, that there behind the blue narcotic haze was poten- 
tially 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 them- 
selves upon her. It was a luxuriance of aspect, a fullness of growth, 
which made her appear more of a woman than she really was. 
She had inherited the feature from her mother without the qual- 
ity it denoted. It had troubled her mind occasionally, till her com- 
panions 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 asked as 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 answered, her 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 'dlJrberville' 'Dur- 
beyfield' 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 drive, between the tall rhododendrons and coni- 
fers, before the lodge became visible, he inclined his face towards 
her as if but, no: he thought better of it and let her go. 

Thus the thing began. Had she perceived this meeting's im- 
port, she might have asked why she was doomed to be seen and 
coveted that day by the wrong man and not by some other man, 
the 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 kind, she was but 
a transient impression, half forgotten. 

In the ill-judged execution of the well-judged plan of things, 
the call seldom produces the comer, the man to love rarely coin- 
cides 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 irksome, outworn game. We may wonder 


whether at the acme and summit of the human progress these 
anachronisms will be corrected by a finer intuition, a closer inter- 
action of the social machinery than that which now jolts us round 
and along; but such completeness is not to be prophesied or 
even conceived as possible. Enough that in the present case, as in 
millions, it was not the two halves of a perfect whole that con- 
fronted each other at the perfect moment; a missing counterpart 
wandered independently about the earth waiting in crass obtuse- 
ness till the late time came. Out of which maladroit delay sprang 
anxieties, disappointments, shocks, catastrophes, and passing- 
strange destinies. 

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

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

TESS went down the hill to Trantridge Cross and 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 entered, though 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: "Why, you be quite a posy I And 
such roses in early June!" 

Then she became aware of the spectacle she presented to their 
surprised vision: roses at her breast; roses in her hat; roses and 
strawberries in her basket to the brim. She blushed and said con- 
fusedly that the flowers had been given to her. When the pas- 
sengers were not looking, she stealthily removed the more 
prominent blooms from her hat and placed them in the basket, 
where she covered them with her handkerchief. Then she fell to 
reflecting again, and in looking downwards a thorn of the rose re- 
maining in her breast accidentally pricked her chin. Like all the 
cottagers in Blackmoor Vale, Tess 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 Shaston, and there were sev- 
eral miles of pedestrian descent from that mountain-town into 
the vale to Marlott. Her mother had advised her to stay here for 
the night, at the house of a cottage-woman they knew, if she should 
feel too tired to come on; and this Tess did, not 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 approval 
and went on banteringly: "So you've brought 'em round!" 

"How do you know, Mother?" 

Tve had a letter." 

Tess then remembered that there would have been time for 

"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'L" 

"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 cozl" cried Joan to her 
husband. "Well, he spoke to his mother, of course, and 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 busi- 
ness 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 be- 

"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 person, and briefly informed Mrs. 
Durbeyfield that her daughter's services would be useful to that 
lady in the management of her poultry-farm, that a comfortable 
room would be provided for her if she could come, and 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 neighbour- 
hood. 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, 
saying, The gentleman's been here!" 

Her mother hastened to explain, smiles breaking from every 
inch of her person. Mrs. d'Urberville's son had called on horse- 
back, having been riding by chance in the direction of Marlott. 
He had wished to know, finally, in the name of his mother, if 
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 when, in her own 
esteem, she 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- 

"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 Abraham brightly from the window-bench; 
"and I seed it! and it did twinkle when he put his hand up to his 


mistarshers. Mother, why did our grand relation keep on putting 
his hand up to his mistarshers?" 

"Hark at that childr cried Mrs. Durbeyfield, with parenthetic 

"Perhaps to show his diamond ring," murmured Sir John 
dreamily from his chair. 

"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'll think it over," said Tess, leaving the room. 

"I don't quite like my children going away from home," said 
the haggler. "As the head of the family, the 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! Hell marry 
her, most likely, and make a lady of her; and then she'll be what 
her forefathers was." 

John Durbeyfield had more conceit than energy or health, and 
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. Tess, the 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 garden, and 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 

Her father coughed in his chair. 

"I don't know what to say!" answered the girl restlessly. "It is 
for you to decide. I lolled the old horse, and 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 children, who 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 horse, began to cry at Tess's reluctance and teased and re- 
proached her for hesitating. 


"less won't go-o-o and be made a la-a-dy of! No, she says she 
wo-o-on't!" they wailed, with square mouths. "And we shan't 
have a nice new horse and 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 indefinitely also weighed in the argu- 
ment. 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 

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 enough, after the visitor's remarks, to 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 
decision, and 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 kinl" 

Having at last taken her course, Tess was less restless and ab- 
stracted, going about her business with some self-assurance in the 
thought of acquiring another horse for her father by an occupa- 
tion which would not be onerous. She had hoped to be a teacher 
at the school, but the fates seemed to decide otherwise. Being 
mentally older than her mother, she did not regard Mrs. Durbey- 
field'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 mute, save for one prophetic bird who sings with a clear- 
voiced conviction that he at least knows the correct time of day, 
the rest preserving silence as if equally convinced that he is mis- 
taken. She remained upstairs packing till breakfast-time and then 
came down in her ordinary weekday clothes, her 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 hi a private tone, "at 
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 

And to please her parent the girl put herself quite in Joan's 
hands, saying serenely, "Do what you like with me, Mother." 

Mrs. Durbeyfield was only too delighted at this tractability. 
First she fetched a great basin and 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-walking, the airy fullness of which, supple- 
menting her enlarged coiffure, imparted to her developing figure 
an amplitude which belied her age and might cause her to be 
estimated as a woman when she was not much more than a 

"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 back, 
like a painter from his easel, and 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 time, Mrs. Durbeyfield hung 
a black cloak outside the casement, and so made a large reflector 
of the panes, as it is the wont of bedecking cottagers to do. After 
this she went downstairs to her husband, who was sitting in the 
lower room. 

"I'll tell 'ee what 'tis, Durbeyfield," said she exultingly; "hell 
never have the heart not to love her. But whatever you do, don't 
zay too much to Tess of his fancy for her and this chance she has 
got. She is such an odd maid that it mid zet her against him or 
against going there, even now. If all goes well, I shall certainly 
be for making some return to that pa'son at Stagfoot Lane for 
telling us dear, good man!" 

However, as the moment for the girl's setting out drew nigh, 
when the first excitement of the dressing had passed off, a 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'Urbervilles, and 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 Tess, flushing and turning quickly, "I'll hear no 
more o' that! Mother, how could you ever put such stuff into their 

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

"Good-bye, Father," said Tess with a lumpy throat. 

"Good-bye, my maid," said Sir John, raising his head from his 
breast as he suspended his nap, induced 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 quickly and went out. 

So the girls and their mother all walked together, a child on 
each side of Tess, holding her hand and looking at her medita- 
tively from time to time, as at one who was about to do great 
things; her mother just behind with the smallest; the group form- 
ing a picture of honest beauty flanked by innocence and backed 
by simple-souled vanity. They followed the way till they reached 
the beginning of the ascent, on 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 
them, sitting 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. "Yes, I see it yonder!" 

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

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 
summit, came round the bend of the road there, passed the 
luggage-cart, and halted beside Tess, who looked up as if in 
great surprise. 

Her mother perceived for the first time that the second vehicle 
was not a humble conveyance like the first, but a spick-and-span 
gig, or dog-cart, highly varnished and equipped. The driver 
was a young man of three- or four-and-twenty, with a cigar be- 
tween his teeth; wearing a dandy cap, drab jacket, breeches of 
the same hue, white neckcloth, stick-up collar, and brown driving- 
gloves in short, he was the handsome, horsey young buck who 


had visited Joan a week or two before to get her answer about 

Mrs. Durbeyfield clapped her hands like a child. Then she 
looked down, then 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 
still, undecided, beside this turn-out, whose owner was talking to 
her. Her seeming indecision was, in fact, more than indecision: it 
was misgiving. She would have preferred the humble cart. The 
young man dismounted and appeared to urge her to ascend. 
She turned her face down the hill to her relatives and regarded 
the little group. Something seemed to quicken her to a deter- 
mination; possibly the thought that she had killed Prince. She 
suddenly stepped up; he mounted beside her and immediately 
whipped on the horse. In a moment they had passed the slow 
cart with the box and disappeared behind the shoulder of the 

Directly Tess was out of sight, and the interest of the matter as 
a drama was at an end, the little ones' eyes filled with tears. The 
youngest child said, "I wish poor, poor Tess wasn't gone away 
to be a lady!" and, lowering the corners of his lips, burst out cry- 
ing. The new point of view was infectious, and the next child did 
likewise, and then the next, till the whole three of them wailed 

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. However, in bed 
that night she sighed, and her husband asked her what was the 

"Oh, I don't know exactly," she said. "I was thinking that per- 
haps 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 

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

Joan Durbeyfield always managed to find consolation some- 
where: "Well, as one of the genuine stock, she ought to make 


her way with 'en if 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." 

HAVING mounted beside her, Alec d'Urberville drove rapidly 
along the crest of the first hill, chatting compliments to Tess as 
they went, the cart with her box being left far behind. Rising still, 
an immense landscape stretched around them on every side; be- 
hind, the green valley of her birth, before, a grey country of 
which she knew nothing except from her first brief visit to Trant- 
ridge. 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 Durbey- 
field, courageous as she naturally was, had 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 

"You will go down slow, sir, I suppose?" she said with at- 
tempted unconcern. 

D'Urberville looked round upon her, nipped his cigar with the 
tips of his large white centre-teeth, and allowed his lips to smile 
slowly of themselves. 

"Why, Tess," he answered after 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 said, shaking his head, "there are two to be reckoned 
with. It is not me alone. Tib has to be considered, and she has 
a very queer temper." 


"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 

They were just beginning to descend; and it was evident that 
the horse, whether 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. 

Down, down, they sped, the wheels humming like a top, the 
dog-cart rocking right and left, its 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 ground, it seemed, for many yards; sometimes a stone was 
sent spinning over the hedge, and flinty sparks from the horse's 
hoofs outshone the daylight. The aspect of the straight road en- 
larged with their advance, the two banks dividing like a split- 
ting stick, one rushing past at each shoulder. 

The wind blew through Tess's white muslin to her very skin, 
and her washed hair flew out behind. She was determined to 
show no open fear, but 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 waist, and 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 out of danger." 

She had not considered what she had been doing; whether 
he were man or woman, stick or stone, in her involuntary hold 
on him. Recovering her reserve, she sat without replying, and 
thus they reached the summit of another declivity. 

"Now then, again!" said d'Urberville. 

**No, no!" said Tess. "Show more sense, do, please." 

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


He loosened rein, and away they went a second time. 
D'Urberville turned his face to her as they rocked, and said in 
playful raillery: "Now then, put your arms round my waist again, 
as you did before, my beauty." 

"Never!" said Tess independently, holding 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 111 stop on my honour, I will!" 

Tess, surprised beyond measure, slid farther back still on her 
seat, at which he urged the horse anew and rocked her the more. 

"Will nothing else do?" she cried at length in desperation, 
her 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 miser- 

He drew rein, and as they slowed he was on the point of im- 
printing the desired salute when, as if hardly yet aware of her 
own modesty, she dodged aside. His arms being occupied with 
the reins there was left him no power to prevent her manoeuvre. 

"Now, damn it 111 break both our necks!" swore her capri- 
ciously passionate companion. "So you can go from your word 
like that, you young witch, can you?" 

"Very well," said Tess, "I'll not move since you be so deter- 
mined! 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 implored, a 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 inexorable, and she sat still, and d'Urberville gave her 
the kiss of mastery. No sooner had he done so than she flushed 
with shame, took out her handkerchief, and wiped the spot on 
her cheek that had been touched by his lips. His ardour was 
nettled at the sight, for the act on her part had been uncon- 
sciously done. 

"You are mighty sensitive for a cottage-girl!" said the young 

Tess made no reply to this remark, of which, indeed, she did 


not quite comprehend the drift, unheeding the snub she had ad- 
ministered by her instinctive rub upon her cheek. She had, in 
fact, undone the kiss, as far as such a thing was physically pos- 
sible. With a dim sense that he was vexed she looked steadily 
ahead as they trotted on near Melbury Down and Wingreen, till 
she saw, to her consternation, that there was yet another descent 
to be undergone. 

"You shall be made sorry for that!" he resumed, his injured 
tone still remaining as he flourished the whip anew. "Unless, that 
is, you agree willingly to let me do it again, and no handkerchief." 

She sighed. "Very well, sir!" she said. "Oh let me get my hat!" 

At the moment of speaking her hat had blown off into the road, 
their present speed on the upland being by no means slow. 
D'Urberville pulled up and said he would get it for her, but 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 said, contemplating her over the back of the vehicle. "Now 
then, up again! What's the matter?" 

The hat was in place and tied, but Tess had not stepped for- 

"No, sir," she said, revealing the red and ivory of her mouth 
as her eye lit in defiant triumph; "not again, if 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 her and called her 
everything he could think of for the trick. Turning the horse sud- 
denly, he tried to drive back upon her and so hem her in between 
the gig and the hedge. But he could not do this short of injuring 

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself for using such wicked 
words!" cried Tess with spirit from the top of the hedge into 
which she had scrambled. "I don't like 'ee at all! I hate and de- 
test you! I'll go back to Mother, I 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. "Come, let there be 
peace. I'll never do it any more against your will. My life upon it 

Still Tess could not be induced to remount. She did not, how- 
ever, object to his keeping his gig alongside her; and in this man- 
ner, at a slow pace, they 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 un- 
dertake by his misdemeanour. She might in truth have safely 
trusted him now; but he had forfeited her confidence for the time, 
and she kept on the ground, progressing thoughtfully, as if won- 
dering whether it would be wiser to return home. Her resolve, 
however, had been taken, and it seemed vacillating even to child- 
ishness to abandon it now, unless for graver reasons. How could 
she face her parents, get back her box, and disconcert the whole 
scheme for the rehabilitation of her family on such sentimental 

A few minutes later the chimneys of The Slopes appeared in 
view, and in a snug nook to the right the poultry-farm and cot- 
tage of Tess's destination. 

THE community of fowls to which Tess had been appointed as 
supervisor, purveyor, nurse, surgeon, and friend made its head- 
quarters 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 ivy, its chimney being en- 
larged 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 air, as though the 
place had been built by themselves and 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 affec- 
tion, had cost so much of their forefathers' money, and had been 
in their possession for several generations before the d'Urbervilles 
came and built here was 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 Grand- 
father's time," they said. 

The rooms wherein dozens of infants had wailed at their nurs- 
ing now resounded with the tapping of nascent chicks. Distracted 
hens in coops occupied spots where formerly stood chairs sup- 
porting sedate agriculturists. The chimney-corner and once- 
blazing hearth was now filled with inverted beehives, in 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 
wall and could only be entered through a door. 

When Tess had occupied herself about an hour the next morn- 
ing in altering and improving the arrangements, according to 
her skilled ideas as the daughter of a professed poulterer, the 
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 per- 
ceiving that Tess did not quite understand, she explained, 
"Mis'ess is a old lady, and blind." 

"Blind!" said Tess. 

Almost before her misgiving at the news could find time to 
shape itself she took, under her companion's direction, two of the 
most beautiful of the Hamburghs in her arms and followed the 
maid-servant, who had likewise taken two, to the adjacent man- 
sion, which though ornate and imposing showed traces every- 
where on this side that some occupant of its chambers could bend 
to the love of dumb creatures feathers floating within view of 
the front and hen-coops standing on the grass. 

In a sitting-room on the ground-floor, ensconced in an arm- 
chair with her back to the light, was the owner and mistress of 
the estate, a white-haired woman of not more than sixty, or even 
less, wearing a large cap. She had the mobile face frequent in 
those whose sight has decayed by stages, has been laboriously 
striven after, and reluctantly let go, rather 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'Urberville, recognizing 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? Ah, this is Strut! But he is hardly so 
lively to-day, is he? He is alarmed at being handled by a stranger, 
I suppose. And Phena too yes, they are a little frightened. Aren't 
you, dears? But they will soon get used to you." 

While the old lady had been speaking Tess and the other 
maid, in obedience to her gestures, had placed the fowls severally 
in her lap, and she had felt them over from head to tail, examin- 
ing their beaks, their combs, the manes of the cocks, their wings, 
and 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 crops, and knew what they had 
eaten, and 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 yard, and the process was repeated till all the pet cocks 
and hens had been submitted to the old woman Hamburghs, 
Bantams, Cochins, Brahmas, Dorkings, and 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 confirmation, hi which Mrs. d'Urberville 
was the bishop, the fowls the young people presented, and her- 
self 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 un- 
dulations, "Can you whistle?" 

"Whistle, ma'am?" 

"Yes, whistle tunes." 

Tess could whistle like most other country-girls, though the 
accomplishment was one which she did not care to profess in 
genteel company. However, she 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 to-morrow, 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 

"Hel Poohl" 


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 termi- 
nated, and 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 affec- 
tion flowed between the blind woman and her son. But in that, 
too, she was mistaken. Mrs. d'Urberville was not the first mother 
compelled to love her offspring resentfully and to be bitterly 

In spite of the unpleasant initiation of the day before, Tess in- 
clined to the freedom and novelty of her new position in the 
morning when the sun shone, now that she was once installed 
there; and she was curious to test her powers in the unexpected 
direction asked of her, so 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 coop and seriously screwed up her mouth 
for the long-neglected practice. She found her former ability to 
have degenerated to the production of a hollow rush of wind 
through the lips, and no clear note at all. 

She remained fruitlessly blowing and blowing, wondering how 
she could have so grown out of the art which had come by nature, 
till she became aware of a movement among the ivy-boughs 
which cloaked the garden-wall no less than the cottage. Looking 
that way, she beheld a form springing from the coping to the plot. 
It was Alec d'Urberville, whom 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 he. "There 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 whoo- 
ing 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 herl As if attending to these curst cocks and hens here 
were not enough work for any girl. I would flatly refuse if I were 

"But she wants me particularly to do it and to be ready by 
to-morrow morning." 

"Does she? Well then 111 give you a lesson or two." 

"Oh no, you won't!" said Tess, withdrawing 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 word and whistled a line of "Take, 
O 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 last, to get rid 
of him, she did put up her lips as directed for producing a 
clear note; laughing distressfully, however, and then blushing 
with vexation that she had laughed. 

He encouraged her with "Try againl" 

Tess was quite serious, painfully 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 enlarged and 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 rSgime 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 dialogue and 


by jestingly calling her his cousin when they were alone removed 
much of her original shyness of him, without, however, implant- 
ing 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 her, owing to her un- 
avoidable dependence upon his mother and, through that lady's 
comparative helplessness, upon 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 art, for 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 mouth, put her lips near the 
bars, and piped away in easeful grace to the attentive listeners. 

Mrs. d'Urberville slept in a large four-post bedstead hung with 
heavy damask curtains, and the bullfinches occupied the same 
apartment, where they flitted about freely at certain hours and 
made little white spots on the furniture and upholstery. Once 
while Tess was at the window where the cages were ranged, giv- 
ing her lesson as usual, she thought she heard a rustling behind 
the bed. The old lady was not present, and, 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 listener, if such there were, must have dis- 
covered her suspicion of his presence. She searched the curtains 
every morning after that, but 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 idiosyncrasy, its 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 sav- 
ing money; and smock-frocked arithmeticians, leaning on their 


ploughs or hoes, would 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 lif etime. 

The chief pleasure of these philosophers lay in going every 
Saturday night when work was done to Chaseborough, a decayed 
market-town two or three miles distant; and, returning in the 
small hours of the next morning, to 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 forty, 
marriage was early here Tess at length consented to go. Her 
first experience of the journey afforded her more enjoyment than 
she had expected, the 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 
interesting, standing, moreover, on the momentary threshold of 
womanhood, her appearance drew down upon her some sly re- 
gards from loungers in the streets of Chaseborough; hence, 
though sometimes her journey to the town was made independ- 
ently, she always searched for her fellows at nightfall, to have the 
protection of their companionship homeward. 

This had gone on for a month or two when there came a 
Saturday in September on 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 
out, so that her comrades reached the town long before her. It 
was a fine September evening, just before sunset, when yellow 
lights struggle with blue shades in hair-like lines and the 
atmosphere itself forms a prospect without aid from more solid 
objects, except 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 place, by 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 

At first she could not find them, and 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 town- 
let, and 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 home- 

"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 
parts, where 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 storage, and from the 
open door there floated into the obscurity a mist of yellow 
radiance, which at first Tess thought to be illuminated smoke. But 
on drawing nearer she perceived that it was a cloud of dust, lit 
by candles within the outhouse, whose 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 say, the 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 floating, 
fusty debris of peat and hay, mixed with the perspirations and 
warmth of the dancers, and forming together a sort of vegeto- 
human pollen, the muted fiddles feebly pushed their notes in 
marked contrast to the spirit with which the measure was trodden 
out. They coughed as they danced, and 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 Priapus, and always failing. 

At intervals a couple would approach the doorway for air, 


and the haze no longer veiling their features, the demigods re- 
solved themselves into the homely personalities of her own next- 
door neighbours. Could Trantridge in two or three short hours 
have metamorphosed itself thus madlyl 

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 

"Now a'most directly. This is all but the last jig. 1 * 

She waited. The reel drew to a close, and some of the party 
were in the mind for starting. But others would not, and another 
dance was formed. This surely would end it, thought Tess. But it 
merged in yet another. She became restless and uneasy; yet, hav- 
ing waited so long, it was necessary to wait longer; on account of 
the fair the roads were dotted with roving characters of possibly 
ill intent; and though not fearful of measurable dangers, she 
feared the unknown. Had she been near Marlott, she would have 
had less dread. 

"Don't ye be nervous, my dear good soul," expostulated, be- 
tween his coughs, a young man with a wet face and his straw hat 
so far back upon his head that the brim encircled it like the 
nimbus of a saint. "What's yer hurry? To-morrow is Sunday, 
thank God, and we can sleep it off in church-time. Now, have a 
turn with me?" 

She did not abhor dancing, but 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 play- 
ing 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 pair, and by this time every couple had been suit- 
ably matched. It was then that the ecstasy and the dream began, 
in which emotion was the matter of the universe, and 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 fallen and lay in a mixed heap. The next couple, unable 
to check its progress, came toppling over the obstacle. An inner 
cloud of dust rose around the prostrate figures amid the general 
one of the room, in 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 un- 
happy partner of the man whose clumsiness had caused the 
mishap; she happened also to be his recently married wife, in 
which assortment there was nothing unusual at Trantridge as 
long as any affection remained between wedded couples; and, 
indeed, it was not uncustomary in their later lives, to avoid mak- 
ing odd lots of the single people between whom there might be 
a warm understanding. 

A loud laugh from behind Tess's back, in the shade of the 
garden, united with the titter within the room. She looked round 
and saw the red coal of a cigar: Alec d'Urberville was standing 
there alone. He beckoned to her, and 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 con- 
fided her trouble to him that she had been waiting ever since he 
saw her to have their company home, because 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 to-day; but 
come to The Flower-de-Luce/ and 111 hire a trap and drive you 
home with me." 

Tess, though flattered, had never quite got over her original 
mistrust of him, and despite their tardiness, she preferred to walk 
home with the work-folk. So she answered that she was much 
obliged to him, but would not trouble him. "I have said that I 
will wait for 'em, and 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 light, but some of 
them had perceived him, and his presence led to a slight pause 


and a consideration of how the time was flying. As soon as he 
had relit a cigar and walked away, the Trantridge people be- 
gan to collect themselves from amid those who had come in from 
other farms and prepared to leave in a body. Their bundles and 
baskets were gathered up, and half an hour later, when the clock- 
chime sounded a quarter past eleven, they were straggling along 
the lane which led up the hill towards their homes. 

It was a three-mile walk, along a dry white road, made whiter 
to-night by the light of the moon. 

Tess soon perceived as she walked in the flock, sometimes with 
this one, sometimes with that, that the fresh night air was pro- 
ducing staggerings and serpentine courses among the men who 
had partaken too freely; some of the more careless women also 
were wandering in their gait to wit, a dark virago, Car Darch, 
dubbed Queen of Spades, till lately a favourite of d'Urberville's; 
Nancy, her sister, nicknamed 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 eye, to themselves the case was different. 
They followed the road with a sensation that they were soaring 
along in a supporting medium, possessed of original and profound 
thoughts, themselves and surrounding nature forming an organ- 
ism of which all the parts harmoniously and joyously interpene- 
trated each other. They were as sublime as the moon and stars 
above them, and the moon and stars were as ardent as they. 

Tess, however, had undergone such painful experiences of this 
kind in her father's house that the discovery of their condition 
spoilt the pleasure she was beginning to feel in the moonlight 
journey. Yet she stuck to the party, for 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 groceries, her 
own draperies, and other purchases for the week. The basket 
being large and heavy, Car had placed it for convenience of 
porterage on the top of her head, where 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 land of rope could be seen descending to 
some distance below her waist, like 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 basket, and it glistened like a slimy snake in the 
cold still rays of the moon. 

" "Rs 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 hives, 
but treacle was what her soul desired, and 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 

By this time there had arisen a shout of laughter at the 
extraordinary appearance of Car's back, which irritated the dark 
queen into getting rid of the disfigurement by the first sudden 
means available, and independently of the help of the scoffers. 
She rushed excitedly into the field they were about to cross and, 
flinging herself flat on her back upon the grass, began 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 gate, to the posts, 
rested on their staves, in the weakness engendered by their con- 
vulsions at the spectacle of Car. Our heroine, who had hitherto 
held her peace, at 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 Tess, 
still 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 neck, shoulders, and arms to the moonshine, under 


which they looked as luminous and beautiful as some Praxitelean 
creation, in 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 known 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 head, 
particularly from the Queen of Diamonds, who, having stood 
in the relations to d'Urberville that Car had also been suspected 
of, united with the latter against the common enemy. Several 
other women also chimed in, with an animus which none of 
them would have been so fatuous as to show but for the rollick- 
ing evening they had passed. Thereupon, finding Tess unfairly 
browbeaten, the 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 ob- 
ject 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 field, and 
she was edging back to rush off alone when a horseman emerged 
almost silently from the corner of the hedge that screened the 
road, and 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, and in truth he 
did not require any. Having heard their voices while yet some 
way off, he had ridden creepingly forward and learnt enough 
to satisfy himself. 

Tess was standing apart from the rest, near 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 faint, so 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 them, she abandoned herself to her impulse, 


climbed the gate, put her toe upon his instep, and scrambled 
into the saddle behind him. The pair were speeding away into 
the distant grey by the time that the contentious revellers became 
aware of what had happened. 

The Queen of Spades forgot the stain on her bodice and 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 bride as she steadied 
herself on the arm of her fond husband. 

"Heu-heu-heul" laughed dark Car's mother, stroking her 
moustache as she explained laconically: "Out of the frying-pan 
into the firel" 

Then these children of the open air, whom even excess of 
alcohol could scarce injure permanently, betook themselves to 
the field-path; and as they went there moved onward with them, 
around the shadow of each one's head, a circle of opalized light, 
formed by the moon's rays upon the glistening sheet of dew. Each 
pedestrian could see no halo but his or her own, which never de- 
serted the head-shadow, whatever its vulgar unsteadiness might 
be; but adhered to it and persistently beautified it; till the erratic 
motions seemed an inherent part of the irradiation and the 
fumes of their breathing a component of the night's mist; and the 
spirit of the scene, and of the moonlight, and of Nature seemed 
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 rode, and felt no alarm on that score, though 
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. 

"Yesl" 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." Nevertheless, Alec did not object 
to that confession. He knew that anything was better than 
frigidity. "Why haven't you told me when I have made you 

"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 silent, and the horse ambled along for a considerable 
distance, till a faint luminous fog, which had hung in the hollows 
all the evening, became general and enveloped them. It seemed 
to hold the moonlight in suspension, rendering it more pervasive 
than in clear air. Whether on this account, or from absent- 
mindedness, or from sleepiness, she 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 week, had been on foot the whole of each day, 
and on this evening had in addition walked the three miles to 
Chaseborough, waited three hours for her neighbours without 
eating or drinking, her impatience to start them preventing 
either; she had then walked a mile of the way home and had 
undergone the excitement of the quarrel till, with the slow 
progress of their steed, it was now nearly one o'clock. Only once, 
however, was she overcome by actual drowsiness. In that moment 
of oblivion her head sank gently against him. 

D'Urberville stopped the horse, withdrew his feet from the 
stirrups, turned sideways on the saddle, and enclosed her waist 
with his arm to support her. 

This immediately put her on the defensive, and 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 road, 
the horse, though a powerful one, being fortunately the quietest 
he rode. 

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

She pondered suspiciously, till, thinking that this might after 
all be true, she relented and said quite humbly, "I beg your 
pardon, sir." 

"I won't pardon you unless you show some confidence in me. 
Good God!" he burst out. "What 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!" 

"111 leave you to-morrow, sir." 

"No, you will not leave me to-morrow! 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 objection, writhing un- 
easily on her seat, looked far ahead, and 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 de- 
sired, and 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 Chaseborough, even at this walking pace, 
and that they were no longer on hard road but in a mere track- 

"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 Tess between arch- 
ness and real dismay, and getting rid of his arm by pulling open 
his fingers one by one, though at the risk of slipping off herself. 
"Just when I've been putting such trust in you and obliging you 
to please you because I thought I had wronged you by that 
push! Please set me down and 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 down, I beg you. I 
don't mind where it is; only let me get down, sir, please!" 

"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, 111 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 terms and slid off on the near side, though 
not till he had stolen a cursory kiss. He sprang down on the other 

"I suppose I must hold the horse?" said she. 

"Oh no; it's not necessary," replied Alec, patting the panting 
creature. "He's had enough of it for to-night." 

He turned the horse's head into the bushes, hitched him on to 
a bough, and 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 her, but, returning, said, "By 
the by, Tess, your father has a new cob to-day. Somebody gave 
it to him." 

"Somebody? You!" 

D'Urberville nodded. 

"Oh how very good of you that is I" she exclaimed with a pain- 
ful 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 murmured, 
much moved. "I almost wish you had not yes, I almost wish 

"Why, dear?" 

"It hampers me so." 

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

Tm 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 that, beginning with one slow tear and 
then following with another, she wept outright. 

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

"Not very-a little." 

He touched her with his fingers, which 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 worn and put it round her tenderly. 
"That's it now you'll feel warmer," he continued. "Now, my 
pretty, rest 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 slope, till his movements were no louder 
than the hopping of a bird and finally died away. With the setting 
of the moon the pale light lessened, and 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 had, hi fact, ridden quite at random for over an 
hour, taking any turning that came to hand in order to prolong 
companionship with her and giving far more attention to Tess's 
moonlit person than to any wayside object. A little rest for the 
jaded animal being desirable, he 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 recognized, 
which settled the question of their whereabouts. D'Urberville 
thereupon turned back; but by this time the moon had quite gone 
down, and partly on account of the fog The Chase was wrapped 
in thick darkness, although morning was not far off. He was 
obliged to advance with outstretched hands to avoid contact 
with the boughs, and discovered that to hit the exact spot from 
which he had started was at first entirely beyond him. Roaming 
up and down, round and round, he at length heard a slight 
movement of the horse close at hand; and the sleeve of his over- 
coat unexpectedly caught his foot 


Tessr said d'UrberviHe. 

There was no answer. The obscurity was now so great that he 
could see absolutely nothing but a pale nebulousness at his feet, 
which 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 lower, till her breath warmed his face, and in a moment his 
cheek was in contact with hers. She was sleeping soundly, and 
upon her eyelashes there lingered tears. 

Darkness and silence ruled everywhere around. Above them 
rose the primeval yews and oaks of The Chase, in which were 
poised gentle roosting birds in their last nap; and about them 
stole the hopping rabbits and hares. But, might some say, where 
was Tess's guardian angel? Where was the providence of her 
simple faith? Perhaps, like that other god of whom the ironical 
Tishbite spoke, he was talking, or he was pursuing, or he was in a 
journey, or he was sleeping and not to be awaked. 

Why it was that upon this beautiful feminine tissue, sensitive 
as gossamer and practically blank as snow as yet, there should 
have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to re- 
ceive; why so often the coarse appropriates the finer thus, the 
wrong man the woman, the wrong woman the man, many thou- 
sand years of analytical philosophy have failed to explain to our 
sense of order. One may, indeed, admit 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 
divinities, it 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. 



Maiden No More 


THE basket was heavy and the bundle was large, but she lugged 
them along like a person who did not find her especial burden 
in material things. Occasionally she stopped to rest in a mechani- 
cal way by some gate or post, and then, giving the baggage an- 
other hitch upon her full round arm, went steadily on again. 

It was a Sunday morning in late October, about 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 daybreak, and the yellow luminosity upon the horizon be- 
hind 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 Blakemore Vale. Even the 
character and accent of the two peoples had shades of difference, 
despite the amalgamating effects of a roundabout railway; so 
that, though less than twenty miles from the place of her sojourn 
at Trantridge, her native village had seemed a far-away spot. 
The field-folk shut in there traded northward and westward, 
travelled, courted, and married northward and westward, 
thought 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 
with her so wildly on that day in June. Tess went up the 
remainder of its length without stopping and, on reaching the 
edge of the escarpment, gazed over the familiar green world 


beyond, now half veiled in mist. It was always beautiful from 
here; it was terribly beautiful to Tess to-day, for since her eyes 
last fell upon it she had learnt that the serpent hisses where the 
sweet birds sing, and 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 who, bowed by thought, stood still 
here and 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 up, she saw a two-wheeled vehicle, beside which 
walked a man, who held up his hand to attract her attention. 

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

"Why did you slip away by stealth like this?" said d'Urberville 
with upbraiding breathlessness; "on a Sunday morning, too, when 
people were all in bed! I only discovered it by accident, and 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 foot and encumber yourself with this heavy 
load! I have followed like a madman, simply to drive you the 
rest of the distance if 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 
baskets and let me help you on." 

She listlessly placed her basket and bundle within the dog-cart 
and stepped up, and they sat side by side. She had no fear of 
him now, and in the cause of her confidence her sorrow lay. 

D'Urberville mechanically lit a cigar, and the journey was con- 
tinued with broken unemotional conversation on the common- 
place objects by the wayside. He had quite forgotten his struggle 
to kiss her when, in the early summer, they had driven in the 
opposite direction along the same road. But she had not, and 
she sat now, like a puppet, replying to his remarks in monosyl- 
lables. 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 emotion, a 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 

"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." 

"That's what every woman says." 

"How can you dare to use such words!" she cried, turning 
impetuously upon him, her 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 said, laughing; "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 best, instead of in the 
bald, plain way you have lately affected, as if you couldn't get a 
ribbon more than you earn." 

Her lip lifted slightly, though there was little scorn, as a rule, 
in 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 what- 
ever 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 further, and 


they stopped just under the clump of trees. DTJrberville alighted 
and lifted her down bodily in his arms, afterwards placing her 
articles on the ground beside her. She bowed to him slightly, her 
eye just lingering in his; and then she turned to take the parcels 
for departure. 

Alec d'Urberville removed his cigar, bent 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 perfunctorily, half as if zest had not yet quite died 
out. Her eyes vaguely rested upon the remotest trees in the lane 
while the kiss was given, as though she were nearly unconscious 
of what he did. 

"Now the other side, for old acquaintance's sake." 

She turned her head in the same passive way, as one might 
turn at the request of a sketcher or hair-dresser, and he kissed 
the other side, his 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 mournfully, 
"Perhaps, 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 breath, as if the scene were getting 
rather oppressive to his heart, or to his conscience, or to his 

"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 

"Never, neverl I made up my mind as soon as I sawwhat I 
ought to have seen sooner; and I won't come." 

"Then good morning, my four months' cousin good-bye!" 


He leapt up lightly, arranged the reins, and was gone between 
the tall red-berried hedges. 

Tess did not look after him, but slowly wound along the 
crooked lane. It was still early, and though the sun's lower limb 
was just free of the hill, his rays, ungenial and peering, addressed 
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 walked, however, some footsteps approached behind 
her, the 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 sort and carried a tin pot of red paint in 
his hand. He asked in a business-like manner if he should take 
her basket, which she permitted him to do, walking 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 to-day 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 
waited, observing him. He set down her basket and the tin pot 
and, stirring the paint with the brush that was in it, began paint- 
ing large square letters on the middle board of the three com- 
posing the stile, placing a comma after each word, as if to give 
pause while that word was driven well home to the reader's 


2 PET. ii. 3. 

Against the peaceful landscape, the pale, decaying tints of the 
copses, the blue air of the horizon, and the lichened stile- 
boards, these 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 basket, and she 
mechanically resumed her walk beside him. 

"Do you believe what you paint?" she asked hi low tones. 

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

"But," said she tremulously, "suppose 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 in 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. "CrushingI KillingI" 

"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 wait, missy?" 

"No," said she; and taking her basket, Tess trudged on. A little 
way forward, she turned her head. The old grey wall began to 
advertise a similar fiery lettering to the first, with a strange and 
unwonted mien, as 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 half- 
way through 


Her cheerful friend saw her looking, stopped 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 to-day 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 walk, 


her 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 
chimney, the sight of which made her heart ache. The aspect of 
the interior, when she reached it, made her heart ache more. Her 
mother, who had just come downstairs, turned to greet her from 
the fireplace, where she was kindling barked-oak twigs under the 
breakfast kettle. The young children were still above, as was also 
her father, it being Sunday morning, when he felt justified in 
lying an additional half-hour. 

"Well! My dear Tess!" exclaimed her surprised mother, jump- 
ing 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 mother, put her face upon Joan's 
neck, and 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. Durbeyfield, ready to burst into tears 
of vexation. "After all the talk about you and him which has 
reached us here, who 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 all, as we 
thought, because we were his kin. But if he's not, it 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 fool- 
ish mother little knew her present feeling towards this man. 
Perhaps it was unusual in the circumstances, unlucky, unaccount- 
able; but there it was; and this, as she had said, was what made 
her detest herself. She had never wholly cared for him; she did 
not at all care for him now. She had dreaded him, winced before 
him, succumbed to adroit advantages he took of her helplessness; 
then, temporarily blinded by his ardent manners, had been stirred 
to confused surrender awhile, had suddenly despised and dis- 
liked him, and had run away. That was all. Hate him she did not 
quite; but he was dust and ashes to her, and 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!" 

"Oh, Mother, my Mother!" cried the agonized girl, turning 
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 way, and 
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 
murmured, wiping her eyes with her apron. "Well, we must make 
the best of it, I suppose. Tis nater, after all, and what do please 

THE event of Tess Durbeyfield's return from the manor of her 
bogus kinsfolk was rumoured abroad, if rumour be not too large 
a word for a space of a square mile. In the afternoon several 
young girls of Marlott, former schoolfellows and acquaintances 
of Tess, called to see her, arriving dressed in their best starched 
and ironed, as 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 cousin, Mr. d'Urberville, who had fallen in 
love with her, a gentleman not altogether local, whose reputation 


as a reckless gallant and heart-breaker was beginning to spread 
beyond the immediate boundaries of Trantridge, lent Tess's sup- 
posed position, by its fearsomeness, a far higher fascination than 
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." 

Tess, who was reaching up to get the tea-things from the 
corner-cupboard, did not hear these commentaries. If she had 
heard them, she might soon have set her friends right on the 
matter. But her mother heard, and Joan's simple vanity, having 
been denied the hope of a dashing marriage, fed itself as well 
as it could upon the sensation of a dashing flirtation. Upon the 
whole she felt gratified, even though such a limited and evanes- 
cent triumph should involve her daughter's reputation; it might 
end in marriage yet, and in the warmth of her responsiveness to 
their admiration she invited her visitors to stay to tea. 

Their chatter, their laughter, their good-humoured innuendoes, 
above all, their flashes and Bickerings of envy, revived Tess's 
spirits also; and as the evening wore on, she caught the infection 
of their excitement and grew almost gay. The marble hardness 
left her face; she moved with something of her old bounding step 
and flushed in all her young beauty. 

At moments, in spite of thought, she would reply to their 
inquiries with a manner of superiority, as if recognizing that her 
experiences in the field of courtship had, indeed, been slightly 
enviable. But so far was she from being, in 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 weak- 
ness; the ghastliness of her momentary pride would convict her 
and recall her to reserved lisdessness again. 

And the despondency of the next morning's dawn, when it 
was no longer Sunday, but Monday; and no best clothes; and 
the laughing visitors were gone; and she awoke alone in her old 
bed, the innocent younger children breathing softly around her. 
In place of the excitement of her return and the interest it had 
inspired, she saw before her a long and stony highway which 
she had to tread, without aid and with little sympathy. Her de- 
pression was then terrible, and 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 morn- 
ing. She liked to hear the chanting such as it was and the old 
Psalms and 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 
own, and to escape the gallantries of the young men, she set 
out before the chiming began and took a back seat under the 
gallery, close to the lumber, where only old men and women 
came and where the bier stood on end among the churchyard 

Parishioners dropped in by twos and threes, deposited them- 
selves in rows before her, rested three-quarters of a minute on 
their foreheads as if they were praying, though they were not; 
then sat up and 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 thought, how strange and god-like 
was a composer's power who from the grave could lead through 
sequences of emotion, which he alone had felt at first, a girl like 
her who had never heard of his name and 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 about, grew 
sick at heart, and 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 thatch, she watched winds, and snows, and 
rains, gorgeous sunsets, and 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 then, when out in the woods, that 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 other, leaving 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 
world, which, so terrible in the mass, is so unformidable, even 
pitiable, in 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 whimsi- 
cal 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 phenomenon, and what 
they seemed they were. The midnight airs and gusts, moaning 
amongst the tightly wrapped buds and bark of the winter twigs, 
were 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 childhood and could not comprehend as any other. 

But this encompassment of her own characterization, based 
on shreds of convention, peopled by phantoms and voices antip- 
athetic to her, was 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 
world, not she. Walking among the sleeping birds in the hedges, 
watching the skipping rabbits on a moonlit warren, or standing 
under a pheasant-laden bough, she 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. Feel- 
ing herself in antagonism, she was quite in accord. She had been 
made to break an accepted social law, but no law known to the 
environment in which she fancied herself such an anomaly. 

IT was a hazy sunrise in August. The denser nocturnal vapours, 
attacked by the warm beams, were dividing and shrinking into 
isolated fleeces within hollows and coverts, where they waited 
till they should be dried away to nothing. 

The sun, on account of the mist, had a curious sentient, per- 
sonal look, demanding the masculine pronoun for its adequate 


expression. His present aspect, coupled with the lack of all human 
forms in the scene, explained the old-time heliolatries in a mo- 
ment. One could feel that a saner religion had never prevailed 
under the sky. The luminary was a golden-haired, beaming, mild- 
eyed, god-like creature, gazing down in the vigour and intent- 
ness of youth upon an earth that was brimming with interest for 

His light, a little later, broke through chinks of cottage shutters, 
throwing stripes like red-hot pokers upon cupboards, chests of 
drawers, and 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 wood, which rose from the margin of a 
yellow corn-field hard by Marlott village. They, with two others 
below, formed the revolving Maltese cross of the reaping- 
machine, which had been brought to the field on the previous 
evening to be ready for operations this day. The paint with which 
they were smeared, intensified 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 groups, one of men and lads, the other of women, had 
come down the lane just at the hour when the shadows of the 
eastern hedge-top struck the west hedge midway, so 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 mov- 
ing concatenation of three horses and the aforesaid long rickety 
machine was visible over the gate, a driver sitting upon one of 
the hauling horses and an attendant on the seat of the imple- 
ment. Along one side of the field the whole wain went, the 
arms of the mechanical reaper revolving slowly till 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 stubble, then the bright arms, and then the 
whole machine. 


The narrow lane of stubble encompassing the field grew wider 
with each circuit, and the standing corn was reduced to a smaller 
area as the morning wore on. Rabbits, hares, snakes, rats, mice, 
retreated inwards as into a fastness, unaware of the ephemeral 
nature of their refuge and of the doom that awaited them later in 
the day, when, their covert shrinking to a more and more horrible 
narrowness, they were huddled together, friends and foes, till 
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 
heaps, each heap being of the quantity for a sheaf; and upon 
these the active binders in the rear laid their hands mainly 
women, but some of them men in print shirts, and trousers sup- 
ported round their waists by leather straps, rendering useless 
the two buttons behind, which twinkled and bristled with sun- 
beams at every movement of each wearer, as 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 binders, by reason of the charm which is acquired 
by woman when she becomes part and parcel of outdoor nature 
and 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 has somehow lost her own margin, imbibed the es- 
sence of her surrounding, and assimilated herself with it. 

The women or rather girls, for they were mostly young- 
wore drawn cotton bonnets with great flapping curtains to keep 
off the sun, and gloves to prevent their hands being wounded by 
the stubble. There was one wearing a pale pink jacket, another 
in a cream-coloured, tight-sleeved gown, another in a petticoat 
as red as the arms of the reaping-machine; and others, older, in 
the brown-rough "wropper," or over-all the old-established and 
most appropriate dress of the field-woman, which the young ones 
were abandoning. This morning the eye returns involuntarily to 
the girl in the pink cotton jacket, she 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 
binds, though 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 it, though 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 forward, gathering the corn with both hands against her 
knees and pushing her left gloved hand under the bundle to 
meet the right on the other side, holding the corn in an embrace 
like that of a lover. She brings the ends of the bond together and 
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 stubble and bleeds. 

At intervals she stands up to rest, and to retie her disarranged 
apron, or 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 tresses, which seem to clasp in a beseeching way 
anything they fall against. The cheeks are paler, the teeth more 
regular, the red lips thinner than is usual in a country-bred girl. 

It is Tess Durbeyfield, otherwise d'Urberville, somewhat 
changed the same, but not the same; at the present stage of 
her existence living as a stranger and an alien here, though 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 village, 
the busiest season of the year in the agricultural world having 
arrived, and 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's, the whole bevy of them drawing together like dancers 
in a quadrille at the completion of a sheaf by each, every one 
placing her sheaf on end against those of the rest, till a shock, or 
"stitch," as it was here called, of ten or a dozen was formed. 

They went to breakfast and came again, and the work pro- 
ceeded 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 hill, though 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 fourteen, rose above 
the stubbly convexity of the hill. 

The face of Tess flushed slightly, but still she did not pause. 


The eldest of the comers, a girl who wore a triangular shawl, 
its corner draggling on the stubble, carried in her arms what at 
first sight seemed to be a doll, but proved to be an infant in long 
clothes. Another brought some lunch. The harvesters ceased 
working, took their provisions, and sat down against one of the 
shocks. Here they fell to, the men plying a stone jar freely and 
passing round a cup. 

Tess Durbeyfield had been one of the last to suspend her la- 
bours. She sat down at the end of the shock, her 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 belt held 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 sister, and took 
the baby of her, who, glad to be relieved of the burden, went 
away to the next shock and joined the other children playing 
there. Tess, with a curiously stealthy yet courageous movement, 
and with a still-rising colour, unfastened her frock and began 
suckling the child. 

The men who sat nearest considerately turned their faces to- 
wards the other end of the field, some of them beginning to 
smoke; one, with absent-minded fondness, regretfully stroking 
the jar that would no longer yield a stream. All the women but 
Tess fell into animated talk and adjusted the disarranged knots 
of their hair. 

When the infant had taken its fill, the young mother sat it up- 
right in her lap and, 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 times, as 
if she could never leave off, the child crying at the vehemence 
of an onset which strangely combined passionateness with 

"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 church- 
yard," observed the woman in the red petticoat. 

"Shell 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 pities, indeed; it was impossible for even an 
enemy to feel otherwise on looking at Tess as she sat there, with 
her flower-like mouth and large tender eyes, neither black nor 
blue nor grey nor violet; rather all those shades together, and a 
hundred others, which 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 devise, common sense had 
illumined 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 consequences, time would close over them; they would all in 
a few years be as if they had never been, and 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 grief, 
nor sickened because of her pain. 

She might have seen that what had bowed her head so pro- 
foundlythe thought of the world's concern at her situation was 
founded on an illusion. She was not an existence, an experience, 
a passion, a structure of sensations, to 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 "Ah, she makes herself unhappy." If she 
tried to be cheerful, to dismiss all care, to take pleasure in the 
daylight, the flowers, the baby, she could only be this idea to 
them "Ah, she bears it very well." Moreover, alone in a desert 
island, would she have been wretched at what had happened to 
her? Not greatly. If she could have been but just created, to 


discover herself as a spouseless mother, with no experience of 
life except as the parent of a nameless child, would the position 
have caused her to despair? No, she would have taken it calmly 
and found pleasures therein. Most of the misery had been gener- 
ated by her conventional aspect, and not by her innate sen- 

Whatever Tess's reasoning, some spirit had induced her to 
dress herself up neatly as she had formerly done and come out 
into the fields, harvest-hands being greatly in demand just then. 
This was why she had borne herself with dignity and had looked 
people calmly in the face at times, even when holding the baby 
in her arms. 

The harvest-men rose from the shock of corn, and stretched 
their limbs, and extinguished their pipes. The horses, which had 
been unharnessed and fed, were again attached to the scarlet 
machine. Tess, having quickly eaten her own meal, beckoned to 
her eldest sister to come and take away the baby, fastened her 
dress, put on the buff gloves again, and 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 continued, Tess staying on till dusk with the body of har- 
vesters. Then they all rode home in one of the largest wag- 
gons, in the company of a broad tarnished moon that had risen 
from the ground to the eastwards, its face resembling the outworn 
gold-leaf halo of some worm-eaten Tuscan saint. Tess's female 
companions sang songs and 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 bal- 
lad about the maid who went to the merry green wood and 
came back in a changed state. There are counterpoises and com- 
pensations 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 herself, their lively spirits were conta- 
gious, and 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 probable, so 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. However, it soon 
grew clear that the hour of emancipation for that little prisoner 
of the flesh was to arrive earlier than her worst misgivings 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 done, burn she must, and there was an end of it. Like all 
village girls, she was well grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and 
had dutifully studied the histories of Aholah and Aholibah, and 
knew the inferences to be drawn therefrom. But when the same 
question arose with regard to the baby, it had a very different 
colour. Her darling was about to die, and no salvation. 

It was nearly bedtime, but 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 highest and his sensitiveness to the smudge which 
Tess had set upon that nobility most pronounced, for he had just 
returned from his weekly booze at Rolliver's Inn. No parson 
should come inside his door, he declared, prying into his affairs, 
just then, when, by her shame, it had become more necessary 
than ever to hide them. He locked the door and put the key in 
his pocket. 

The household went to bed, and distressed beyond measure, 
Tess retired also. She was continually waking as she lay, and in 
the middle of the night found that the baby was still worse. It 
was obviously dying quietly and painlessly, but none the less 

In her misery she rocked herself upon the bed. The clock struck 
the solemn hour of one, that hour when fancy stalks outside rea- 
son and 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 fork, like the 
one they used for heating the oven on baking days; to which 
picture she added many other quaint and curious details of tor- 
ment sometimes taught the young in this Christian country. The 
lurid presentiment so powerfully affected her imagination in the 


silence of the sleeping house that her nightgown became damp 
with perspiration and the bedstead shook with each throb of her 

The infant's breathing grew more difficult, and the mother's 
mental tension increased. It was useless to devour the little thing 
with kisses; she could stay in bed no longer, and 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 me, and 
welcome; but pity the child!" 

She leant against the chest of drawers and murmured inco- 
herent supplications for a long while, till she suddenly started up. 

"Ah! Perhaps baby can be saved! Perhaps it will be just the 

She spoke so brightly that it seemed as though her face might 
have shone in the gloom surrounding her. 

She lit a candle and went to a second and a third bed under 
the wall, where she awoke her young sisters and brothers, all of 
whom occupied the same room. Pulling out the washing-stand so 
that she could get behind it, she poured some water from a jug 
and made them kneel around, putting their hands together with 
fingers exactly vertical. While the children, scarcely awake, 
awe-stricken at her manner, their eyes growing larger and larger, 
remained in this position, she took the baby from her bed a 
child's child so immature as scarce to seem a sufficient person- 
ality to endow its producer with the maternal title. Tess then 
stood erect with the infant on her arm beside the basin; the next 
sister held the prayer-book open before her, as the clerk at church 
held it before the parson; and thus the girl set about baptizing her 

Her figure looked singularly tall and imposing as she stood in 
her long white nightgown, a thick cable of twisted dark hair hang- 
ing 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 wrists and 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 beauty, 
with a touch of dignity which was almost regal. The little ones 
kneeling round, their sleepy eyes blinking and red, awaited 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 chris- 
ten him, Tess?" 

The girl-mother replied in a grave affirmative. 

"What's his name going to be?" 

She had not thought of that, but a name suggested by a phrase 
in the Book of Genesis came into her head as she proceeded with 
the baptismal service, and now she pronounced it: "Sorrow, I 
baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of 
the Holy Ghost." 

She sprinkled the water, and 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 basin and fervently drew an 
immense cross upon the baby with her forefinger, continuing 
with the customary sentences as to his manfully fighting against 
sin, the world, and the devil, and being a faithful soldier and 
servant unto his life's end. She duly went on with the Lord's 
Prayer, the children lisping it after her in a thin, gnat-like wail 
till, at the conclusion, raising their voices to clerk's pitch, they 
again piped into the silence, "Amen!" 

Then their sister, with much augmented confidence in the 
efficacy of this sacrament, poured forth from the bottom of her 
heart the thanksgiving that follows, uttering it boldly and tri- 
umphantly in the stopped-diapason note which her voice ac- 
quired when her heart was in her speech and which will never 
be forgotten by those who knew her. The ecstasy of faith almost 
apotheosized her; it set upon her face a glowing irradiation and 
brought a red spot into the middle of each cheek; while the min- 
iature candle-flame inverted in her eye-pupils shone like a dia- 
mond. The children gazed up at her with more and more 
reverence and no longer had a will for questioning. She did not 
look like Sissy to them now, but as a being large, towering, and 
awful a divine personage with whom they had nothing in 

Poor Sorrow's campaign against sin, the world, and the devil 
was doomed to be of limited brilliancy luckily perhaps for him- 


self, considering his beginnings. In the blue of the morning that 
fragile soldier and servant breathed his last, and when the other 
children awoke, they cried bitterly and 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 daylight, indeed, 
she felt her terrors about his soul to have been somewhat exag- 
gerated; whether well founded or not, she had no uneasiness 
now, reasoning that if Providence would not ratify such an act 
of approximation, she for one did 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 creature, 
that bastard gift of shameless Nature, who respects not the social 
law; a waif to whom eternal Time had been a matter of days 
merely, who knew not that such things as years and centuries 
ever were: to whom the cottage interior was the universe, the 
week's weather climate, new-born babyhood human existence, 
and the instinct to suck human knowledge. 

Tess, who 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 parish, and 
he was a new-comer, and did not know her. She went to his house 
after dusk and stood by the gate, but 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. 

1 should like to ask you something, sir." 

He expressed his willingness to listen, and she told the story 
of the baby's illness and the extemporized ordinance. 

"And now, sir," 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 girl, the strange tenderness in her voice, 
combined 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 him, and the victory fell to the man. 

"My dear girl," he said, "it 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 illness, 
he had conscientiously gone to the house after nightfall to per- 
form the rite, and unaware that the refusal to admit him had 
come from Tess's father and not from Tess, he could not allow 
the plea of necessity for its irregular administration. 

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

"Another matter why?" asked Tess, rather 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." 

"Oh, sir!" She seized his hand as she spoke. 

He withdrew it, shaking his head. 

"Then I don't like you!" she burst out. "And 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 lay- 
man's power to tell, though not to excuse. Somewhat moved, 
he said in this case also: "It will be just the same." 

So the baby was carried in a small deal box, under an ancient 
woman's shawl, to the churchyard that night, and buried by 
lantern-light, at the cost of a shilling and a pint of beer to the 
sexton, in that shabby corner of God's allotment where He lets 
the nettles grow and where all unbaptized infants, notorious 
drunkards, suicides, and others of the conjecturally damned are 
laid. In spite of the untoward surroundings, however, Tess bravely 
made a little cross of two laths and a piece of string, and having 
bound it with flowers, she 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 Ascham, "we find out a short way 
by a long wandering." Not seldom that long wandering unfits us 
for further travel, and 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 

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 general, no 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 opin- 
ions 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 in her father's house during the winter months, 
plucking fowls, or cramming turkeys and geese, or making clothes 
for her sisters and brothers out of some finery which d'Urberville 
had given her and 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 rev- 
olution of the year; the disastrous night of her undoing at Trant- 
ridge 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 afternoon, when looking 
in the glass at her fairness, that there was yet another date, of 
greater importance to her than those: that of her own death, 
when all these charms would have disappeared; a day which lay 
sly and unseen among all the other days of the year, giving 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 Tay- 
lor'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 day, doomed to be her terminus in time 
through all the ages, she did not know the place in month, week, 
season, or year. 

Almost at a leap, Tess thus changed from simple girl to com- 
plex woman. Symbols of reflectiveness passed into her face and 
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 trouble, never generally 
known, was 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 her, even closer union with the rich d'Urber- 
villes. 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 life 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 it, 
and 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 round, and the 
stir of germination was almost audible in the buds; it moved 
her, as it moved the wild animals, and made her passionate to 
go. At last, one day in early May, a letter reached her from a 
former friend of her mother's, to whom she had addressed in- 
quiries long before a person whom she had never seen that a 
skilful milkmaid was required at a dairy-house many miles to the 
southward, and 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 enough, her radius of movement and repute 
having been so small. To persons of limited spheres, miles are 
as geographical degrees, parishes as counties, counties as prov- 
inces and kingdoms. 


On one point she was resolved: there should be no more d'Ur- 
berville air-castles in the dreams and deeds of her new life. She 
would be the dairymaid Tess, and nothing more. Her mother 
knew Tess's feeling on this point so well, though no words had 
passed between them on the subject, that 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 virtue of its lying near 
her forefathers' country (for they were not Blakemore men, 
though her mother was Blakemore to the bone). The dairy 
called Talbothays, for which she was bound, stood not remotely 
from some of the former estates of the d'Urbervilles, near the 
great family vaults of her granddames and their powerful hus- 
bands. She would be able to look at them, and think not only 
that d'Urberville, like Babylon, had fallen but 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 unexpended youth, 
surging up anew after its temporary check and bringing with it 
hope and the invincible instinct towards self-delight. 



The Rally 


ON a thyme-scented, bird-hatching morning in May, between 
two and three years after the return from Trantridge silent, re- 
constructive 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 
later, she started in a hired trap for the little town of Stourcastle, 
through which it was necessary to pass on her journey, now in 
a direction almost opposite to that of her first adventuring. On 
the curve of the nearest hill she looked back regretfully at Mar- 
lott and her father's house, although she had been so anxious to 
get away. 

Her kindred dwelling there would probably continue their 
daily lives as heretofore, with no great diminution of pleasure in 
their consciousness, although she would be far off and they de- 
prived of her smile. In a few days the children would engage in 
their games as merrily as ever without the sense of any gap left by 
her departure. This leaving of the younger children she had de- 
cided 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 pausing and onward to 
a junction of highways, where she could await a carrier's van that 
ran to the south-west: for the railways which engirdled this ul- 
terior tract of country had never yet struck across it. While wait- 
ing, however, there 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 him, ignoring that its motive was a mere tribute to her 
countenance. He was going to Weatherbury, and by accompany- 
ing 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 Weatherbury, after this long drive, further 
than to make a slight, nondescript meal at noon at a cottage to 
which the farmer recommended her. Thence she started on foot, 
basket in hand, to 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 scenery, which inquiry 
confirmed her in supposing to be trees marking the environs of 
Kingsbere, in the church of which parish the bones of her ances- 
torsher 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 her, and she was only a dairymaid." 

The journey over the intervening uplands and lowlands of Eg- 
don, when she reached them, was a more troublesome walk 
than she had anticipated, the distance being actually but a few 
miles. It was two hours, owing to sundry wrong turnings, ere she 
found herself on a summit commanding the long-sought-for vale, 
the Valley of the Great Dairies, the valley in which milk and butter 
grew to rankness, and were produced more profusely, if less 
delicately, than at her home the verdant plain so well watered 
by the river Var or Froom. 

It was intrinsically different from the Vale of Little Dairies, 
Blackmoor Vale, which save during her disastrous sojourn at 
Trantridge she had exclusively known till now. The world was 
drawn to a larger pattern here. The enclosures numbered fifty 
acres instead of ten, the farmsteads were more extended, the 
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 can- 
vas by Van Alsloot or Sallaert with burghers. The ripe hues of 


the red and dun kine absorbed the evening sunlight, which the 
white-coated animals returned to the eye in rays almost dazzling, 
even at the distant elevation on which she stood. 

The bird's-eye perspective before her was not so luxuriantly 
beautiful, perhaps, as that other one which she knew so well; yet 
it was more cheering. It lacked the intensely blue atmosphere 
of the rival vale and its heavy soils and scents; the new air was 
clear, bracing, ethereal. The river itself, which nourished the 
grass and cows of these renowned dairies, flowed not like the 
streams in Blackmoor. Those were slow, silent, often turbid; flow- 
ing 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 Evangelist, rapid as the shadow 
of a cloud, with pebbly shallows that prattled to the sky all day 
long. There the water-flower was the lily; the crow-foot here. 

Either the change in the quality of the air from heavy to light 
or the sense of being amid new scenes where there were no in- 
vidious eyes upon her sent up her spirits wonderfully. Her hopes 
mingled with the sunshine in an ideal photosphere which sur- 
rounded her as she bounded along against the soft south wind. 
She heard a pleasant voice in every breeze, and in every bird's 
note seemed to lurk a joy. 

Her face had latterly changed with changing states of mind, 
continually fluctuating between beauty and ordinariness, accord- 
ing 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 than 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 irresistible, universal, automatic tendency to find sweet 
pleasure somewhere, which pervades all life, from the meanest to 
the highest, had at length mastered Tess. Being even now only a 
young woman of twenty, one who mentally and sentimentally 
had not finished growing, it was impossible that any event should 
have left upon her an impression that was not in time capable of 

And thus her spirits and her thankfulness and her hopes rose 
higher and higher. She tried several ballads, but found them in- 
adequate; till, recollecting the psalter that her eyes had so often 
wandered over of a Sunday morning before she had eaten of the 


tree of knowledge, she 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 Lord, 
praise Him and magnify Him foreverl" 

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

And probably the half-unconscious rhapsody was a Fetishistic 
utterance in a Monotheistic setting; women whose chief com- 
panions are the forms and forces of outdoor Nature retain in 
their souls far more of the Pagan fantasy of their remote forefa- 
thers than of the systematized Religion taught their race at a later 
date. However, Tess 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 ini- 
tial performance as that of having started towards a means of in- 
dependent living was a part of the Durbeyfield temperament. 
Tess really wished to walk uprightly, while her father did nothing 
of the kind; but she resembled him in being content with immedi- 
ate and small achievements, and 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 was, it might be said, the energy of her mother's unex- 
pended family, as well as the natural energy of Tess's years, re- 
kindled after the experience which had so overwhelmed her for 
the time. Let the truth be told women do as a rule live through 
such humiliations, and regain their spirits, and 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 Durbeyfield, then, in good heart and full of zest for life, 
descended the Egdon slopes lower and lower towards the dairy 
of her pilgrimage. 

The marked difference, in the final particular, between 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 level, which 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 now, exhausted, 
aged, and attenuated, lay serpentining along through the midst 
of its former spoils. 

Not quite sure of her direction, Tess stood still upon the 
hemmed expanse of verdant flatness, like a fly on a billiard-table 
of indefinite length and of no more consequence to the surround- 
ings 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, 
which, after descending to the ground not far from her path, 
stood with neck erect, looking at her. 

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

From the furthest east to the furthest west the cries spread 
as if by contagion, accompanied 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'clock, when the dairymen set about 
getting in the cows. 

The red and white herd nearest at hand, which had been 
phlegmatically waiting for the call, now trooped towards the 
steading in the background, their great bags of milk swinging 
under diem as they walked. Tess followed slowly in their rear 
and entered the barton by the open gate through which they had 
entered before her. Long thatched sheds stretched round the 
enclosure, their slopes encrusted with vivid green moss, and 
their eaves supported by wooden posts rubbed to a glossy 
smoothness by the flanks of infinite cows and calves of bygone 
years, now passed to an oblivion almost inconceivable in its pro- 
fundity. Between the posts were ranged the milchers, each ex- 
hibiting herself at the present moment to a whimsical eye in the 
rear as a circle on two stalks, down the centre of which a switch 
moved pendulum-wise; while the sun, lowering itself behind this 
patient row, threw 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 fagades 
long ago, or the outline of Alexander, Caesar, and 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 yard, where many of such better behaved ones stood waiting 


now all prime milchers, such 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 sun- 
shine in dazzling brilliancy, and the polished brass knobs on 
their horns glittered with something of military display. Their 
large-veined udders hung ponderous as sandbags, the teats stick- 
ing out like the legs of a Gipsy's crock; and as each animal lin- 
gered for her turn to arrive the milk oozed forth and fell in drops 
to the ground. 

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 pattens, not on account of the 
weather, but to keep their shoes above the mulch of the barton. 
Each girl sat down on her three-legged stool, her face sideways, 
her right cheek resting against the cow, and looked musingly 
along the animal's flank at Tess as she approached. The male 
milkers, with hat-brims turned down, resting flat on their fore- 
heads and gazing on the ground, did 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 
others and whose jacket underneath had a presentable market- 
ing aspect the master-dairyman, of whom she was in quest, his 
double character as a working milker and butter-maker here dur- 
ing six days, and on the seventh as a man in shining broad-cloth 
in his family pew at church, being 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-time, 
but it happened that Mr. Crick was glad to get a new hand for 
the days were busy ones now and he received her warmly; in- 


quiring for her mother and the rest of the family (though this as 
a matter of form merely, for 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 aye, 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 used to live nigh here, but is dead 
and gone long ago, told me that a family of some such name as 
yours in Blackmoor Vale came originally from these parts, and 
that 'twere a old ancient race that had all but perished off the 
earth though the new generations didn't know it. But, Lord, I 
took no notice of the old woman's ramblings, not 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 cows 
going azew at this time o' year." 

She reassured him on that point, and he surveyed her up and 
down. She had been staying indoors a good deal, and her com- 
plexion 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 it, and her zest and willing- 
ness 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 sur- 
priseindeed, slight contempt of Dairyman Crick, to whose 
mind it had apparently never occurred that milk was good as a 

"Oh, if ye can swaller that, be it so," he said indifferently while 
one held 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 ones, like other folks. However, you'll 
find out that soon enough." 

When Tess had changed her bonnet for a hood, and was really 
on her stool under the cow, and the milk was squirting from her 
fists into the pail, she appeared to feel that she really had laid a 


new foundation for her future. The conviction bred serenity, her 
pulse slowed, and she was able to look about her. 

The milkers formed quite a little battalion of men and maids, 
the men operating on the hard-teated animals, the maids on the 
kindlier natures. It was a large dairy. There were nearly a hun- 
dred milchers under Crick's management, all 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 
hired, he would not entrust this half-dozen to their treatment, 
lest from indifference they should not milk them fully; nor to the 
maids, lest 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 is, dry 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 cessation of supply. 

After Tess had settled down to her cow there was for a time 
no talk in the barton, and not a sound interfered with the purr of 
the milk-jets into the numerous pails except a momentary ex- 
clamation to one or other of the beasts, requesting her to turn 
round or stand still. The only movements were those of the 
milkers' hands up and down and the swing of the cows' tails. Thus 
they all worked on, encompassed by the vast, flat mead which 
extended to either slope of the valley a level landscape com- 
pounded of old landscapes long forgotten and, no doubt, differ- 
ing in character very greatly from the landscape they composed 

To my thinking,* 7 said the dairyman, rising suddenly from a 
cow he had just finished off, snatching up his three-legged stool 
in one hand and the pail in the other, and moving on to the next 
hard yielder in his vicinity, "to my thinking, the cows don't gie 
down their milk to-day as usual. Upon my life, if Winker do begin 
keeping back like this, she'll not be worth going under by mid- 

"Tis because there's a new hand come among us," said Jona- 
than 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 
dubiously, as though even witchcraft might be limited by ana- 


tomical possibilities, "I 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 

"I don't!" interposed the milkmaid. "Why do they?" 

"Because there bain't so many of 'em," said the dairyman. 
"Howsomever, these gam'sters do certainly keep back their milk 
to-day. Folks, we must lift up a stave or two that's the only cure 

Songs were often resorted to in dairies hereabout as an entice- 
ment 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 tones, it is true, and with no great 
spontaneity; the result, according 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 him, one 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." 

Tess, who had given ear to this, thought the words were ad- 
dressed to the dairyman, but 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 animal, whom 
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 a old aged 
man over at Mellstock William Dewy by name one of the fam- 
ily that used to do a good deal of business as tranters over there 
Jonathan, do ye mind? I knowed the man by sight as well as 
I know my own brother, in a manner of speaking. Well, this man 
was a coming home along from a wedding, where he had been 
playing his fiddle, one fine moonlight night, and for shortness' 
sake he took a cut across Forty-acres, a field lying that way, where 
a bull was out to grass. The bull seed William and took after him, 
horns aground, begad; and though William runned his best and 
hadn't much drink in him ( considering 'twas a wedding, and the 
folks well off), he found he'd never reach the fence and get over 


in time to save himself. Well, as a last thought, he pulled out 
his fiddle as he runned, and struck up a jig, turning to the bull 
and backing towards the corner. The bull softened down and 
stood still, looking hard at William Dewy, who 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. Well, William 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 hours, and 
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 soon, and he said to himself, There's only this 
last tune between me and eternal welfare! Heaven save me, or 
I'm a done man.' Well, then he called to mind how he'd seen the 
cattle kneel o' Christmas eves in the dead o' night. It was not 
Christmas Eve then, but it came into his head to play a trick upon 
the bull. So he broke into the 'Tivity Hymn, just as at Christmas 
carol-singing, when, lo and behold, down went the bull on his 
bended knees, in his ignorance, just as if 'twere the true Tivity 
night and hour. As soon as his horned friend were down William 
turned, clinked off like a long-dog, and jumped safe over hedge 
before 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 times, but never such a fool as that bull looked when he 
found his pious feelings had been played upon, and 'twas not 
Christmas Eve. . . . Yes, William Dewy, that 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." 

Tt's a curious story; it carries us back to mediasval times, when 
faith was a living thingl" 

The remark, singular for a dairy-yard, was murmured by the 
voice behind the dun cow; but as nobody understood the ref- 
erence, no notice was taken, except 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 

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

Tess's attention was thus attracted to the dairyman's interlocu- 


tor, of whom she could see but the merest patch, owing 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 the cow long enough to have milked three, ut- 
tering a private ejaculation now and then, as if he could not get 

"Take it gentle, sir; take it gentle," said the dairyman. "Tis 
knack, not strength, that does it." 

"So I find," said the other, standing up at last and stretching 
his arms. "I think I have finished her, however, though 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 milk- 
ing, and his boots were clogged with the mulch of the yard; but 
this was all his local livery. Beneath it was something educated, 
reserved, subtle, sad, differing. 

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 whence, had danced with others but not 
with her, had slightingly left her, and gone on his way with his 

The flood of memories brought back by this revival of an inci- 
dent anterior to her troubles produced a momentary dismay lest, 
recognizing her also, he 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 thoughtful and had acquired a 
young man's shapely moustache and beard the latter of the pal- 
est straw colour where it began upon his cheeks and deepening 
to a warm brown farther from its root. Under his linen milking- 
pinner he wore a dark velveteen jacket, cord breeches and gaiters, 
and a starched white shirt. Without the milking-gear nobody 
could have guessed what he was. He might with equal proba- 
bility have been an eccentric landowner or a gentlemanly plough- 
man. That he was but a novice at dairy-work she had realized 


in a moment, from the time he had spent upon the milking of 
one cow. 

Meanwhile many of the milkmaids had said to one another of 
the new-comer, "How pretty she isl" with something of real 
generosity and admiration, though with a half-hope that the 
auditors would qualify the assertion which, strictly speaking, 
they might have done, prettiness being an inexact definition of 
what struck the eye in Tess. When the milking was finished for 
the evening, they straggled indoors, where Mrs. Crick, the dairy- 
man's wife who was too respectable to go out milking herself 
and wore a hot stuff gown in warm weather because the dairy- 
maids wore prints was giving an eye to the leads and things. 

Only two or three of the maids, Tess learnt, slept 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 story, and asked no questions about him, the 
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 women and, except one, rather older than herself. By 
bedtime Tess was thoroughly tired, and fell asleep immediately. 

But one of the girls, who occupied an adjoining bed, was more 
wakeful than Tess, and would insist upon relating to the latter 
various particulars of the homestead into which she had just en- 
tered. The girl's whispered words mingled with the shades, and 
to Tess's drowsy mind they seemed to be generated by the dark- 
ness 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 fanning 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 

"Oh I have heard of him," said her companion, now awake. 
"A very earnest clergyman, is he not?" 

"Yes; that he is the earnestest man in all Wessex, they say; 
the last of the old Low Church sort, they tell mefor 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 brethren, and gradually 
fell asleep again, the words of her informant coming to her along 
with the smell of the cheeses in the adjoining cheese-loft and the 
measured dripping of the whey from the wrings downstairs. 


ANGEL CLABE rises out of the past not altogether as a distinct 
figure, but as an appreciative voice, a long regard of fixed, ab- 
stracted eyes, and a mobility of mouth somewhat too small and 
delicately lined for a man's, though with an unexpectedly firm 
close of the lower lip now and then; enough to do away with any 
inference of indecision. Nevertheless, something nebulous, pre- 
occupied, vague, in his bearing and regard, marked him as one 
who probably had no very definite aim or concern about his ma- 
terial 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 father, a poor parson at the 
other end of the county, and had arrived at Talbothays Dairy 
as a six months' pupil after going the round of some other farms, 
his object being to acquire a practical skill in the various proc- 
esses of farming, with a view either to the Colonies or the tenure 
of a home-farm, as 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 elder, whose first wife had died and left him a 
daughter, married a second late in life. This lady had somewhat 
unexpectedly brought him three sons, so that between Angel, the 
youngest, and his father, the vicar, there seemed to be almost a 
missing generation. Of these boys the aforesaid Angel, the child 
of his old age, was the only son who had not taken a university 
degree, though he was the single one of them whose early prom- 
ise might have done full justice to an academical training. 

Some two or three years before Angel's appearance at the Mar- 
lott dance, on a day when he had left school and was pursuing 


his studies at home, a parcel came to the vicarage from the local 
bookseller's, directed to the Reverend James Clare. The vicar, 
having opened it and found it to contain a book, read 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 peremptorily, 
holding 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 Clare and should have been sent to him." 

Mr. Clare winced as if he had been struck. He went home, pale 
and dejected, and 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 son, 
with anxious thought upon his face, "I 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 in- 
stitution for whose history I have a deeper admiration; but I can- 
not honestly be ordained her minister, as my brothers are, while 
she refuses to liberate her mind from an untenable redemptive 

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 stultified, shocked, paralysed. And if Angel were not 
going to enter the Church, what was the use of sending him to 
Cambridge? The university as a step to anything but ordination 
seemed to this man of fixed ideas a preface without a volume. He 
was a man not merely religious, but devout; a firm believer not 
as the phrase is now elusively construed by theological thimble- 


riggers in the Church and out of it, but in the old and ardent sense 
of the Evangelical school: one who could 

Indeed opine 

That the Eternal and Divine 
Did, eighteen centuries ago 
In very truth. . . 

Angel's father tried argument, persuasion, entreaty. 

"No, Father, I cannot underwrite Article Four (leave alone 
the rest), taking it 'in the literal and grammatical sense/ as re- 
quired 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 fa- 
vourite Epistle to the Hebrews, 'the removing of those things that 
are shaken, as 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, 

Perhaps if Angel had persevered, he might have gone to Cam- 
bridge like his brothers. But the vicar's view of that seat of learn- 
ing as a stepping-stone to orders alone was quite a family 
tradition; and so rooted was the idea in his mind that persever- 
ance began to appear to the sensitive son akin to an intent to mis- 
appropriate a trust and wrong the pious heads of the household, 
who had been and were, as his father had hinted, compelled to 
exercise much thrift to carry out this uniform plan of education 
for the three young men. 

"I will do without Cambridge," said Angel at last. 1 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 studies, under- 
takings, and meditations; he began to evince considerable 
indifference to social forms and observances. The material distinc- 
tions 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 reso- 


lutions in its representatives. As a balance to these austerities, 
when he went to live in London to see what the world was like, 
and with a view to practising a profession or business there, he 
was carried off his head and nearly entrapped by a woman much 
older than himself, though luckily he escaped not greatly the 
worse for the experience. 

Early association with country solitudes had bred in him an 
unconquerable and almost unreasonable aversion to modern 
town life, and 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 start- 
ing on a thriving life as a colonial farmer, it occurred to Angel 
that this might be a lead in the right direction. Farming, either 
in the Colonies, America, or at home farming, at any rate, after 
becoming well qualified for the business by a careful apprentice- 
shipthat was a vocation which would probably afford an inde- 
pendence 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 kine and, as there were no houses near at hand in 
which he could get a comfortable lodging, a boarder at the 

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-loft and had been closed up for a long time till he arrived 
and selected it as his retreat. Here Clare had plenty of space, and 
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 curtain, behind which was his bed, the outer part being 
furnished as a homely sitting-room. 

At first he lived up above entirely, reading a good deal and 
strumming upon an old harp which he had bought at a sale, say- 
ing 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 hu- 
man nature by taking his meals downstairs in the general dining- 
titchen, with the dairyman and his wife and the maids and men, 
who all together formed a lively assembly; for though but few 
milking hands slept in the house, several joined the family at 
meals. The longer Clare resided here, the less objection had he 
to his company and the more did he like to share quarters with 
them in common. 


Much to his surprise, he took, indeed, a 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 first, it is true, when 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 ideas, the modes, 
the surroundings, appeared retrogressive and unmeaning. But 
with living on there, day after day, the acute sojourner became 
conscious of a new aspect in the spectacle. Without any objective 
change whatever, variety had taken the place of monotonous- 
ness. His host and his host's household, his men and his maids, 
as they became intimately known to Clare, began to differentiate 
themselves as in a chemical process. The thought of Pascal's was 
brought home to him: "A mesure quon a plus d 'esprit, on trouve 
qu'il y a plus dhommes originaux. Les gens du commun ne trou- 
vent pas de difference entre les hommes." The typical and un- 
varying Hodge ceased to exist. He had been disintegrated into 
a number of varied fellow-creaturesbeings of many minds, be- 
ings infinite in difference; some happy, many serene, a few de- 
pressed, one here and there bright even to genius, some stupid, 
others wanton, others austere; some mutely Miltonic, some po- 
tentially Cromwellian into men who had private views of each 
other, as he had of his friends; who could applaud or condemn 
each other, amuse 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 sake 
and for what it brought, apart from its bearing on his own pro- 
posed 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 in- 
clined him, without any eye to cramming for a profession, since 
the few farming handbooks which he deemed it desirable to 
master occupied him but little time. 

He grew away from old associations and saw something new 
in life and humanity. Secondarily, he made close acquaintance 
with phenomena which he had before known but darkly the sea- 
sons in their moods, morning and evening, night and noon, winds 


in their different tempers, trees, waters and mists, shades 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; and by 
Mrs. Crick's orders, who held that he was too genteel to mess at 
their table, it was Angel Clare's custom to sit in the yawning 
chimney-corner during the meal, his cup and saucer and plate 
being placed on a hinged flap at his elbow. The light from the 
long, wide, mullioned window opposite shone in upon his nook 
and, assisted by a secondary light of cold blue quality which 
shone down the chimney, enabled him to read there easily when- 
ever disposed to do so. Between Clare and the window was the 
table at which his companions sat, their munching profiles rising 
sharp against the panes; while to the side was the milk-house 
door, through which were visible the rectangular leads in rows, 
full to the brim with the morning's milk. At the further end the 
great churn could be seen revolving and 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 Clare, sitting abstractedly 
reading from some book, periodical, or piece of music just come 
by post, hardly noticed that she was present at table. She talked 
so little and the other maids talked so much that the babble did 
not strike him as possessing a new note, and he was ever in the 
habit of neglecting the particulars of an outward scene for the 
general impression. One day, however, when he had been con- 
ning one of his music-scores and by force of imagination was 
hearing the tune in his head, he lapsed into listlessness, and 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 boiling, and it seemed to jig to his in- 
ward tune; also at the two chimney-crooks dangling down from 
the cotterel, or cross-bar, plumed with soot, which quivered to 
the same melody; also at the half-empty kettle whining an ac- 
companiment. 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 her, seated with the others. 

She was not looking towards him. Indeed, owing to his long 
silence, his presence in the room was almost forgotten. 


'1 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 full, his eyes 
charged with serious inquiry, and his great knife and fork (break- 
fasts were breakfasts here) planted erect on the table, like the 
beginning of a gallows. 

"What really now? And is it so, maidy?" he said. 

"A very easy way to feel 'em go," continued Tess, "is 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 Tess and fixed it 
on his wife. 

"Now that's a rum thing, Christianer 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 her, including that of 
the dairyman's pupil, Tess flushed and, remarking evasively that 
it was only a fancy, resumed her breakfast. 

Clare continued to observe her. She soon finished her eating 
and, having a consciousness that Clare was regarding her, began 
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 fa- 
miliar, something which carried him back into a joyous and un- 
foreseeing past, before the necessity of taking thought had made 
the heavens grey. He concluded that he had beheld her before; 
where he could not tell. A casual encounter during some coun- 
try ramble it certainly had been, and 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 themselves, 
without fancy or choice. But certain cows will show a fondness 
for a particular pair of hands, sometimes carrying this predilec- 
tion so far as to refuse to stand at all except to their favourite, the 
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 interchange since, other- 
wise, in the event of a milkman or maid going away from the 
dairy, he was placed in a difficulty. The maids' private aims, how- 
ever, were the reverse of the dairyman's rule, the daily selection 
by each damsel of the eight or ten cows to which she had grown 
accustomed rendering the operation on their willing udders sur- 
prisingly easy and effortless. 

Tess, like her compeers, soon 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 years, she would have been glad to meet the 
milchers' views in this respect. Out of the whole ninety-five there 
were eight in particular Dumpling, Fancy, Lofty, Mist, Old 
Pretty, Young Pretty, Tidy, and Loud who, though the teats of 
one or two were as hard as carrots, gave down to her with a readi- 
ness that made her work on them a mere touch of the fingers. 
Knowing, however, the dairyman's wish, she endeavoured con- 
scientiously to take the animals just as they came, excepting 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 
matter, till she felt that their order could not be the result of ac- 
cident. 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 eyes, 
as she rested against the cow, full 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 her, so as to show the tips of her teeth, the 
lower h'p 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 afterwards, thinking that he, un- 
aware of her grave reasons for liking this seclusion, might have 
mistaken her meaning. She had spoken so earnestly to him, as if 
his presence were somehow a factor in her wish. Her misgiving 
was such that at dusk, when the milking was over, she walked in 
the garden alone, to continue her regrets that she had disclosed 
to him her discovery of his considerateness. 

It was a typical summer evening in June, the atmosphere being 
in such delicate equilibrium and so transmissive that inanimate 
objects seemed endowed with two or three senses, if not five. 
There was no distinction between the near and the far, and an 
auditor felt close to everything within the horizon. The sound- 
lessness 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. Dim, 
flattened, constrained by their confinement, they had never ap- 
pealed to her as now, when they wandered in the still air with a 
stark quality like that of nudity. To speak absolutely, both in- 
strument and execution were poor; but the relative is all, and as 
she listened Tess, like a fascinated bird, could not leave the spot. 
Far from leaving, she drew up towards the performer, keeping 
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 years, and 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 growth, gathering cuckoo-spittle 
on her skirts, cracking snails that were underfoot, staining her 
hands with thistle-milk and slug-slime, and rubbing off upon her 
naked arms sticky blights which, though snow-white on the apple- 
tree trunks, made madder stains on her skin; thus she drew quite 
near to Clare, still 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 star came now without any determination of hers; she undu- 
lated upon the thin notes of the second-hand harp, and their 


harmonies passed like breezes through her, bringing tears into 
her eyes. The floating pollen seemed to be his notes made visible, 
and the dampness of the garden the weeping of the garden's 
sensibility. Though near nightfall, the rank-smelling weed-flowers 
glowed as if they would not close for intentness, and 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 accident, dusk having closed in elsewhere. He con- 
cluded his plaintive melody, a very simple performance, de- 
manding no great skill; and she waited, thinking another might 
be begun. But, tired of playing, he had desultorily come round 
the fence, and was rambling up behind her. Tess, her cheeks on 
fire, moved away furtively, as if hardly moving at all. 

Angel, however, saw her light summer gown, and he spoke; 
his low tones reaching her, though 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 f ailing, and everything so green." 

"But you have your indoor fears eh?" 

"Well-yes, sir." 

"What of?" 

"I couldn't quite say." 

"The milk turning sour?" 


"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 
her, and 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 to-morrows 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, Tm coming! Be- 
ware 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 imag- 
inings. She was expressing in her own native phrases assisted 
a little by her Sixth Standard training feelings which might al- 
most 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 expression, by words in 
logy and ism, of sensations which men and women have vaguely 
grasped for centuries. 

Still, it was strange that they should have come to her while 
yet so young; more than strange; it was impressive, interesting, 
pathetic. Not guessing the cause, there was nothing to remind 
him that experience is as to intensity, and not as to duration. 
Tess's passing corporeal blight had been her mental harvest. 

Tess, on her part, could not understand why a man of clerical 
family and good education and above physical want should 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 Humiliation, 
have 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 because, like Peter the Great in a shipwright's yard, 
he was studying what he wanted to know. He did not milk cows 
because he was obliged to milk cows, but because he was learning 
how to be a rich and prosperous dairyman, landowner, agricul- 
turist, and breeder of cattle. He would become an American or 
Australian Abraham, commanding like a monarch his flocks and 
his herds, his spotted and his ring-straked, his men-servants and 
his maids. At times, nevertheless, it did seem unaccountable to 
her that a decidedly bookish, musical, thinking young man should 
have chosen deliberately to be a farmer, and not a clergyman, like 
his father and brothers. 

Thus, neither 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 moods without attempt- 
ing to pry into each other's history. 

Every day, every hour, brought to him one more little stroke 
of her nature, and to her one more of his. Tess was trying to lead 
a repressed life, but she little divined the strength of her own 

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 illuminations, 
of the distance between her own modest mental standpoint and 
the immeasurable, Andean altitude of his, she became quite de- 
jected, disheartened from all further effort on her own part 

He observed her dejection one day when he had casually men- 
tioned something to her about pastoral life in ancient Greece. 
She was gathering the buds called 'lords and ladies" from 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 said with a frail laugh 
of sadness, fitfully 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 know, 
what you have read and seen and thought, I feel what a nothing 
I ami 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 enthusiasm, "I should be only too glad, my dear Tess, 
to help you to anything in the way of history or any line of read- 
ing you would like to take up" 

"It is a lady again," interrupted she, holding out the bud she 
had peeled. 


"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 hi 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 thou- 
sands' 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 answered with a slight quaver in 
her voice. "But that's what books will not tell me." 

"Tess, fie for such bitterness!" Of course he spoke with a con- 
ventional sense of duty only, for that sort of wondering had not 
been unknown to himself in bygone days. And as he looked at the 
unpractised mouth and lips he 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 Clare, regarding for a 
moment the wave-like curl of her lashes as they drooped with 
her bent gaze on her soft cheek, lingeringly went away. When 
he was gone she stood awhile, thoughtfully peeling the last 
bud; and then, awakening from her reverie, flung it and all the 
crowd of floral nobility impatiently on the ground, in an ebulli- 
tion of displeasure with herself for her niaiserie, and with a quick- 
ening warmth in her heart of hearts. 

How stupid he must think herl In an access of hunger for 
his good opinion she bethought herself of what she had latterly 
endeavoured to forget, so unpleasant had been its issues the 
identity of her family with that of the knightly d'Urbervilles. Bar- 
ren attribute as it was, disastrous as its discovery had been in 
many ways to her, perhaps Mr. Clare, as a gentleman and a stu- 
dent of history, would respect her sufficiently to forget her child- 
ish 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 
Trantridge, but true d'Urberville to the bone. 

But, before venturing to make the revelation, dubious Tess 
indirectly sounded the dairyman as to its possible effect upon Mr. 
Clare, by asking the former if Mr. Clare had any great respect 
for old county families when they had lost all their money and 


"Mr. Clare," said the dairyman emphatically, "is 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 
Billetts 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 thou- 
sand 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. Oh 
no! He can't stomach old f amilies!" 

After hearing this caricature of Clare's opinions 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 as almost to have 
gone round the circle and become a new one. Besides, another 
dairy-girl was as good as she, it seemed, in that respect. She held 
her tongue about the d'Urberville vault and 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 sup- 
posed 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 ephem- 
eral 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 invisi- 
ble jets and breathings. 

Dairyman Crick's household of maids and men lived on com- 
fortably, 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 con- 
venances begin to cramp natural feeling and the stress of thread- 
bare 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 her, deeming his preoccupation to be 
no more than a philosopher's regard of an exceedingly novel, 
fresh, and interesting specimen of womankind. 

They met continually; they could not help it. They met daily 
in that strange and solemn interval, the twilight of the morning, 
in the violet or pink dawn; for it was necessary to rise early, so 
very early, here. Milking was done betimes; and before the milk- 
ing came the skimming, which began at a little past three. It usu- 
ally fell to the lot of some one or other of them to wake the rest, 
the first being aroused by an alarm-clock; and as Tess was the 
latest arrival, and they soon discovered that she could be de- 
pended upon not to sleep through the alarm as the others did, 
this task was thrust most frequently upon her. No sooner had 


the hour of three struck and whizzed than she left her room and 
ran to the dairyman's door; then up the ladder to Angel's, calling 
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 pillow and did not appear till a 
quarter of an hour later. 

The grey half-tones of daybreak are not the grey half-tones 
of the day's close, though the degree of their shade may be the 
same. In the twilight of the morning, light seems active, dark- 
ness passive; in the twilight of evening, it is the darkness which 
is active and crescent and 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-house, they seemed to themselves 
the first persons up of all the world. In these early days of her 
residence here Tess did not skim, but went out-of-doors at once 
after rising, where he was generally awaiting her. The spectral, 
half-compounded, aqueous light which pervaded the open mead 
impressed them with a feeling of isolation, as 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 
physique, an almost regnant power, possibly because he knew 
that at that preternatural time hardly any woman so well en- 
dowed 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 midsummer dawns. She was 
close at hand, and the rest were nowhere. 

The mixed, singular, luminous 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 Magda- 
len might be at his side. Whilst all the landscape was in neutral 
shade his companion's face, which was the focus of his eyes, 
rising above the mist stratum, seemed to have a sort of phospho- 
rescence upon it. She looked ghostly, as if she were merely a soul 
at large. In reality her face, without appearing to do so, had 
caught the cold gleam of day from the north-east; his own face, 
though he did not think of it, wore the same aspect to her. 

It was then, as has been said, that she impressed him most 
deeply. She was no longer the milkmaid, but a visionary es- 
sence of woman a whole sex condensed into one typical form. 
He called her Artemis, Demeter, and other fanciful names half 


teasingly, which she did not like because she did not understand 

"Call me Teas," she would say askance, and he did. 

Then it would grow lighter, and 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 came, with a great bold noise as of opening 
doors and shutters, out of the boughs of a plantation which they 
frequented at the side of the mead; or, if already on the spot, 
hardily maintained their standing in the water as the pair walked 
by, watching them by moving their heads round in a slow, hori- 
zontal, passionless wheel, like the turn of puppets by clockwork. 

They could then see the faint summer fogs in layers, woolly, 
level, and apparently no thicker than counterpanes, spread about 
the meadows in detached remnants of small extent. On the grey 
moisture of the grass were marks where the cows had lain through 
the night dark-green islands of dry herbage, the size of their 
carcasses, in the general sea of dew. From each island proceeded 
a serpentine trail, by which the cow had rambled away to feed 
after getting up, at the end of which trail they found her; the 
snoring puff from her nostrils, when she recognized them, mak- 
ing an intenser little fog of her own amid the prevailing one. 
Then they drove the animals back to the barton or sat down to 
milk them on the spot, as the case might require. 

Or perhaps the summer fog was more general, and the mead- 
ows lay like a white sea out of which the scattered trees rose like 
dangerous rocks. Birds would soar through it into the upper ra- 
diance, and hang on the wing sunning themselves, or alight on 
the wet rails subdividing the mead, which now shone like glass 
rods. Minute diamonds of moisture from the mist hung, too, upon 
Tess's eyelashes, and drops upon her hair like seed-pearls. When 
the day grew quite strong and commonplace these dried off her; 
moreover, Tess then lost her strange and ethereal beauty; her 
teeth, lips, and eyes scintillated in the sunbeams, and she was 
again the dazzlingly fair dairymaid only, who had to hold her 
own against the other women of the world. 

About this time they would hear Dairyman Crick's voice, lec- 
turing 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 progressed till, towards the end, Tess and Clare, 
in common with the rest, could hear the heavy breakfast table 
dragged out from the wall in the kitchen by Mrs. Crick, this being 
the invariable preliminary to each meal; the same horrible scrape 
accompanying its return journey when the table had been 


THERE was a great stir in the milk-house just after breakfast. 
The churn revolved as usual, but the butter would not come. 
Whenever this happened the dairy was paralysed. Squish-squash 
echoed the milk in the great cylinder, but never arose the sound 
they waited for. 

Dairyman Crick and his wife, the milkmaids Tess, Marian, Retty 
Priddle, Izz Huett, and the married ones from the cottages; also 
Mr. Clare, Jonathan Kail, old Deborah, and the rest stood 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 win- 
dow 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 times, if I have said once, 
that I don't believe in en; though he do cast folks' waters very 
true. But I shall have to go to 'n if he's alive. Oh yes, I shall have 
to go to 'n if this sort of thing continnys!" 

Even Mr. Clare began to feel tragical at the dairyman's 

"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 Jon- 
athan Kail. "But he's rotten as touchwood by now." 

"My grandfather used to go to Conjuror Mynterne out at Owls- 
combe, and a clever man a' were, so I've heard granfer say," 
continued Mr. Crick. "But there's no such genuine folk about 


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. Why, 
Crick that maid we had years ago, do ye mind, and how the 
butter didn't come then " 

"Ah yes, yesl 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 almanac, 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 'nl' And some way 
behind her mother walked Jack's young woman, crying bitterly 
into her handkerchief. 'Oh Lard, here's a timel' said Jack, looking 
out o' winder at 'em. 'Shell 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. Til claw his face for 'n, let 
me only catch him!' Well, she hunted about everywhere, bally- 
ragging 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 paused, and one or two words of comment came 
from the listeners. 

Dairyman Crick's stories often seemed to be ended when they 
were not really so, and 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. 'Oh LardI Stop the churn! Let me 
outl' 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 prom- 
ised to make it right wi' her. Tes 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 backs, and they looked round. 
Tess, pale-faced, had gone to the door. 

"How warm 'tis to-day!" she said, almost inaudibly. 

It was warm, and none of them connected her withdrawal with 
the reminiscences of the dairyman. He went forward and opened 
the door for her, saying with tender raillery, "Why, maidy" (he 
frequently, with 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. Crick, and 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 them 
and went out-of-doors, wandering along she knew not whither. 
She was wretched oh 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-voiced reed-sparrow greeted her from the 


bushes by the river, in a sad, machine-made tone, resembling 
that of a past friend whose friendship she had outworn. 

In these long June days the milkmaids and, indeed, most of 
the household went to bed at sunset or sooner, the morning work 
before milking being so early and heavy at a time of full pails. 
Tess usually accompanied her fellows upstairs. To-night, however, 
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 sun, which flushed their forms 
with its colour; she dozed again, but 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 group, in their nightgowns, barefooted, 
at the window, the last red rays of the west still warming then- 
faces and necks and the walls around them. All were watching 
somebody in the garden with deep interest, their three faces close 
together: a jovial and round one, a pale one with dark hair, and 
a fair one whose tresses were auburn. 

"Don't pushl You can see as well as I," said Retty, the auburn- 
haired and youngest girl, without removing her eyes from the 

" Tis no use for you to be in love with him any more than me, 
Retty Priddle," said jolly-faced Marian, the eldest, slyly. "His 
thoughts be of other cheeks than thine!" 

Retty Priddle still looked, and the others looked again. 

"There he is againl" cried Izz Huett, the 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 

"Oh, Izz Huettl" said Marian. 

A rosy spot came into the middle of Izz Huett's cheek. 

"Well, there was no harm in it," she declared with attempted 
coolness. "And if I be in love wi'en, so is Retty, too; and so be 
you, Marian, come to that." 

Marian's full face could not blush past its chronic pinkness. 


"II" she said. "What a talel Ah, there he is again! Dear eyes- 
dear face dear Mr. Clarer 

"There you've owned it!" 

"So have you so have we all," said Marian with the dry 
frankness of complete indifference to opinion. "It is silly to pre- 
tend 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 Hetty. 

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 Hetty quickly. 

"Because he likes Tess Durbeyfield best," said Marian, lower- 
ing her voice. "I have watched him every day and have found 
it out" 

There was a reflective silence. 

"But she don't care anything for 'n?" at length breathed Hetty. 

"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 
son, who'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 

One sighed, and another sighed, and Marian's plump figure 
sighed biggest of all. Somebody in bed hard by sighed too. Tears 
came into the eyes of Hetty Priddle, the pretty red-haired 
youngest the last bud of the Paridelles, so important in the 
county annals. They watched silently a little longer, their three 
faces still close together as before, and the triple hues of their 
hair mingling. But the unconscious Mr. Clare had gone indoors, 
and they saw him no more; and the shades beginning to deepen, 
they crept into their beds. In a few minutes they heard him 
ascend the ladder to his own room. Marian was soon snoring, 
but Izz did not drop into forgetfulness for a long time. Hetty 
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 formed, better educated, 
and, though the youngest except Retty, more woman than either, 
she 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 was, ought she to do this? 
There was, to be sure, hardly a ghost of a chance for either of 
them, in a serious sense; but there was, or had been, a chance of 
one or the other inspiring him with a passing fancy for her and 
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 asked, in a laughing 
way, what would be the use of his marrying a fine lady, and all 
the while ten thousand acres of colonial pasture to feed and 
cattle to rear and corn to reap. A farm-woman would be the only 
sensible kind of wife for him. But whether Mr. Clare had spoken 
seriously or not, why should she, who could never conscien- 
tiously allow any man to marry her now, and who had religiously 
determined that she never would be tempted to do so, draw off 
Mr. Clare's attention from other women for the brief happiness 
of sunning herself in his eyes while he remained at Talbothays? 


THEY came downstairs yawning next morning, but skimming and 
milking were proceeded with as usual, and they went indoors 
to breakfast. Dairyman Crick was discovered stamping about the 
house. He had received a letter, in which a customer had 
complained that the butter had a twang. 

"And begad, so 't have!" said the dairyman, who held in his 
left hand a wooden slice on which a lump of butter was stuck. 
"Yes taste for yourself I" 

Several of them gathered round him; and Mr. Clare tasted, 
Tess tasted, also the other indoor milkmaids, one or two of the 
milking-men, and last of all Mrs. Crick, who came out from the 
waiting breakfast table. There certainly was a twang. 

The dairyman, who had thrown himself into abstraction to 
better realize the taste and so divine the particular species of 


noxious weed to which it appertained, suddenly 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 mead, 
into which a few of the cows had been admitted of late, had in 
years gone by spoilt the butter in the same way. The dairyman 
had not recognized the taste at that time and thought the butter 

"We must overhaul that mead," he resumed; "this mustn't con- 

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 observa- 
tion, to find it seemed rather a hopeless attempt in the stretch of 
rich grass before them. However, they formed themselves into 
line, all assisting, owing to the importance of the search; the 
dairyman at the upper end with Mr. Clare, who had volunteered 
to help; then Tess, Marian, Izz Huett, and Retty; then BUI Lewell, 
Jonathan, and the married dairywomen Beck Knibbs, with her 
woolly black hair and rolling eyes; and flaxen Frances, consump- 
tive 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 field, returning a little further down in such a manner 
that when they should have finished, not a single inch of the pas- 
ture but would have fallen under the eye of some one of them. 
It was a most tedious business, not 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 did, they yet formed, bending, a curiously uniform row- 
automatic, noiseless; and an alien observer passing down the 
neighbouring lane might well have been excused for massing 
them as "Hodge." As they crept along, stooping low to discern 
the plant, a soft yellow gleam was reflected from the buttercups 
into their shaded faces, giving them an elfish, moonlit aspect, 
though the sun was pouring upon their backs in all the strength 
of noon. 

Angel Clare, who communistically stuck to his rule of taking 
part with the rest in everything, glanced up now and then. It 
was not, of course, by 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 before, the introductory style seemed a little super- 
fluous. But they got no further in speech just then. They crept 
and crept, the hem of her petticoat just touching his gaiter, and 
his elbow sometimes brushing hers. At last the dairyman, who 
came next, could 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 you, 
maidy Tess, you wasn't well a day or two ago this will make 
your head ache finelyl Don't do any more if you feel fainty; leave 
the rest to finish it." 

Dairyman Crick withdrew, and Tess dropped behind. Mr. 
Clare also stepped out of line and began privateering about for 
the weed. When she found him near her, her very tension at what 
she had heard the night before made her the first to speak. 

"Don't they look pretty?" she said. 


"Izzy Huett and Retty." 

Tess had moodily decided that either of these maidens would 
make a good farmer's wife, and that she ought to recommend 
them and 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!" 

"Oh 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 

"She is colouring up," continued Tess heroically. 


"Retty Priddle." 

"Oh! Why is that?" 

"Because you are looking at her." 

Self-sacrificing as her mood might be, Tess could not well go 
further and cry, "Marry one of them if you really do want a dairy- 


woman 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 herself, as formerly, to remain long in his com- 
pany, even if their juxtaposition were purely accidental. She gave 
the other three every chance. 

Tess was woman enough to realize from their avowals to her- 
self that Angel Clare had the honour of all the dairymaids in his 
keeping, and 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 deemed, rightly or wrongly, the self- 
controlling sense of duty shown by him, a quality which she had 
never expected to find in one of die opposite sex, and in the ab- 
sence of which more than one of the simple hearts who were his 
housemates might have gone weeping on her pilgrimage. 

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-folk, the cows, and the trees. Hot, steaming rains fell fre- 
quently, making the grass where the cows fed yet more rank and 
hindering the late hay-making 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 rapidly, the whole bevy having agreed to go together 
to Mellstock Church, which lay some three or four miles distant 
from the dairy-house. She had now been two months at Tal- 
bothays, and this was her first excursion. 

All the preceding afternoon and night heavy thunderstorms 
had hissed down upon the meads and washed some of the hay 
into the river; but this morning the sun shone out all the more 
brilliantly for the deluge, and the air was balmy and clear. 

The crooked lane leading from their own parish to Mellstock 
ran along the lowest levels in a portion of its length, and 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 dis- 
tance of some fifty yards. This would have been no serious hin- 


drance on a weekday; they would have clicked through it in their 
high pattens and boots quite unconcerned; but on this day of 
vanity, this 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 shoes 
and their pink, white, and lilac gowns, on 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 Marian from the top of the roadside-bank on which 
they had climbed and 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 Retty, pausing 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 road, and presently appeared Angel Clare, 
advancing 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-clothes, 
long wading boots, a cabbage-leaf inside his hat to keep his head 
cool, with a thistle-spud to finish him off. 

"He's not going to church," said Marian. 

"No I wish he was!" murmured Tess. 

Angel, in fact, rightly or wrongly (to adopt the safe phrase of 
evasive controversialists), preferred sermons in stones to ser- 
mons in churches and chapels on fine summer days. This morn- 
ing, moreover, he 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 distance, though 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 on with a dim idea of 
how he could help them one of them in particular. 

The rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed quartet looked so charming in 
their light summer attire, clinging to the roadside-bank like 
pigeons on a roof-slope, that he stopped a moment to regard 


them before coming close. Their gauzy skirts had brushed up 
from the grass innumerable flies and butterflies, which, unable 
to escape, remained caged in the transparent tissue as in an 
aviary. Angel's eye at last fell upon Tess, the hindmost of the 
four; she, being full of suppressed laughter at their dilemma, 
could not help meeting his glance radiantly. 

He came beneath them in the water, which did not rise over 
his long boots, and stood looking at the entrapped flies and but- 

"Are you trying to get to church?" he said to Marian, who was 
in front, including the next two in his remark, but avoiding Tess. 

"Yes, sir; and 'tis getting late; and my colour do come up 
so " 

"111 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 continued, "and put your arms round my 
shoulders, so. Now! Hold on. That's well done." 

Marian had lowered herself upon his arm and shoulder as 
directed, and Angel strode off with her, his slim figure, as viewed 
from behind, looking like the mere stem to the great nosegay sug- 
gested by hers. They disappeared round the curve of the road, 
and 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 murmured, and 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 embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; the first 
is now going to be mine." 

"Fie-it is Scripture, Izzl" 

"Yes," said Izz, "I've always a' ear at church for pretty verses." 

Angel Clare, to whom three-quarters of this performance was 
a commonplace act of kindness, now approached Izz. She quietly 
and dreamily lowered herself into his arms, and Angel methodi- 
cally marched off with her. When he was heard returning for the 
third time, Hetty's throbbing heart could be almost seen to shake 


her. He went up to the red-haired girl, and while he was seizing 
her he glanced at Tess. His lips could not have pronounced more 
plainly, "It 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 Retty, though by far the lightest weight, was the 
most troublesome of Clare's burdens. Marian had been like a 
sack of meal, a dead weight of plumpness under which he had 
literally staggered. Izz had ridden sensibly and calmly. Retty was 
a bunch of hysterics. 

However, he got through with the disquieted creature, de- 
posited her, and returned. Tess could see over the hedge the dis- 
tant three in a group, standing as he had placed them on the next 
rising ground. It was now her turn. She was embarrassed to dis- 
cover that excitement at the proximity of Mr. Clare's breath and 
eyes, which she had contemned in her companions, was inten- 
sified 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 

"I hope I am not too heavy?" she said timidly. 

"Oh 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?" 


"I did not expect such an event to-day." 

"Nor I. . . . The water came up so sudden." 

That the rise in the water was what she understood him to 
refer to, the state of her breathing belied. Clare stood still and 
inclined his face towards hers. 


"Oh, Tessyl" he exclaimed. 

The girl's cheeks burned to the breeze, and 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 yet, and suspension at this point was desir- 
able now. However, he walked slowly, to make the remainder of 
the distance as long as possible; but at last they came to the bend, 
and the rest of their progress was in full view of the other three. 
The dry land was reached, and he set her down. 

Her friends were looking with round, thoughtful eyes at her 
and him, and she could see that they had been talking of her. He 
hastily bade them farewell and splashed back along the stretch of 
submerged road. 

The four moved on together as before till 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 van- 
ished, 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 sentiment, and 
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 Clare, perhaps all the more passionately 
from knowing that the others had also lost their hearts to him. 
There is contagion hi this sentiment, especially among women. 
And yet that same hungry heart of hers compassionated her 
friends. Tess's honest nature had fought against this, but too 
feebly, and 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 marry- 
ing is in his mind at all; but if he were even to ask me I should 
refuse him, as 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 
oh, I wish I was dead!" 

The poor child, torn by a feeling which she hardly understood, 
turned 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 off, and they were confiding and warm. 

"I don't seem to care what I do now," said Marian, whose 
mood was tuned to its lowest bass. "I was going to marry a dairy- 
man at Stickleford, who's asked me twice; but my soul I would 
put an end to myself rather 'n be his wife now! Why don't ye 
speak, Izz?" 

"To confess, then," murmured Izz, "I made sure to-day 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 out, and the torture was almost more 
than they could endure. The differences which distinguished 
them as individuals were abstracted by this passion, and 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 sense, and she did not delude her- 
self with any vain conceits, or deny her love, or give herself airs, 
in the idea of outshining the others. The full recognition of the 
futility of their infatuation from a social point of view; its pur- 
poseless beginning; its self-bounded outlook; its lack of every- 
thing to justify its existence in the eye of civilization (while 
lacking nothing in the eye of Nature); the one fact that it did ex- 
ist, ecstasizing them to a kilHng joy all this imparted to them a 
resignation, a dignity, which a practical and sordid expectation 
of winning him as a husband would have destroyed. 

They tossed and turned on their little beds, and the cheese- 
wring dripped monotonously downstairs. 


"B' you awake, Tess?" whispered one, half an hour later. 

It was Izz Huett's voice. 

Tess replied in the affirmative, whereupon also Retty and 
Marian suddenly flung the bedclothes off them and sighed, "So 
be wel" 

"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 Tess, starting. "I have 
never heard o' thatl" 

"Oh 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 upon, there in the shade of the 
night. They pictured all the details of his being won round to 
consent, of the wedding preparations, of the bride's happiness, 
of her dress and veil, of her blissful home with him, when 
oblivion would have fallen upon themselves as far as he and then- 
love were concerned. Thus they talked and ached and 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 face, for 
love's own temporary sake nothing more. And the thorny crown 
of this sad conception was that she whom he really did prefer in 
a cursory way to the rest, she who knew herself to be more im- 
passioned in nature, cleverer, more beautiful than they, was in 
the eyes of propriety far less worthy of him than the homelier 
ones whom he ignored. 


AMID the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Froom Vale, 
at a season when the rush of juices could almost be heard below 
the hiss of fertilization, it 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 heads, and the Thermidorian 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 
place, so fresh in the spring and early summer, was stagnant and 
enervating now. Its heavy scents weighed upon them, and at mid- 
day the landscape seemed lying in a swoon. Ethiopic scorch- 
ings browned the upper slopes of the pastures, but there was still 
bright-green herbage here where the watercourses purled. And 
as Clare was oppressed by the outward heats, so 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-cart, as he sped home from market, 
licked up the pulverized surface of the highway, and were fol- 
lowed by white ribands of dust, as if they had set a thin powder- 
train 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 doors, 
and in the dairy-garden the blackbirds and thrushes crept about 
under the currant-bushes, rather in the manner of quadrupeds 
than of winged creatures. The flies in the kitchen were lazy, teas- 
ing, and familiar, crawling about in unwonted places, on the floor, 
into drawers, and over the backs of the milkmaids' hands. Conver- 
sations were concerning sunstroke, while butter-making, and still 
more butter-keeping, was a despair. 

They milked entirely in the meads for coolness and conven- 
ience, without 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 milk- 
ers 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 herd, behind the corner of a 
hedge, among them being Dumpling and Old Pretty, who loved 
Tess's hands above those of any other maid. When she rose from 
her stool under a finished cow, Angel Clare, who had been ob- 
serving her for some time, asked her if she would take the afore- 
said creatures next. She silently assented and, with her stool at 
arm's length and the pail against her knee, went round to where 
they stood. Soon the sound of Old Pretty's milk fizzing into the 
pail came through the hedge, and then Angel felt inclined to go 
round the corner also, to finish off a hard-yielding milcher who 


had strayed there, he being now as capable of this as the dairy- 
man himself. 

All the men and some of the women, when milking, dug 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 habit, her temple pressing the milcher's flank, 
her eyes fixed on the far end of the meadow with the quiet of 
one lost in meditation. She was milking Old Pretty thus, and the 
sun chancing to be on the milldng-side, it shone flat upon her 
pink-gowned form and her white curtain-bonnet, and upon her 
profile, rendering it keen as a cameo cut from the dun back- 
ground of the cow. 

She did not know that Clare had followed her round and that 
he sat under his cow, watching her. The stillness of her head and 
features was remarkable: she might have been in a trance, her 
eyes open, yet unseeing. Nothing in the picture moved but Old 
Pretty's tail and Tess's pink hands, the latter so gently as to be a 
rhythmic pulsation only, as if they were obeying a reflex stimulus, 
like a beating heart. 

How very lovable her face was to him. Yet there was nothing 
ethereal about it; all was real vitality, real warmth, real incarna- 
tion. And it was in her mouth that this culminated. Eyes almost 
as deep and speaking he had seen before, and cheeks perhaps 
as fair; brows as arched, a 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 distracting, infatuating, mad- 
dening. He had never before seen a woman's lips and teeth which 
forced upon his mind with such persistent iteration the old Eliza- 
bethan simile of roses filled with snow. Perfect, he, as a lover, 
might have called them off-hand. But no they were not perfect. 
And it was the touch of the imperfect upon the would-be per- 
fect that gave the sweetness, because it was that which gave the 

Clare had studied the curves of those lips so many times that 
he could reproduce them mentally with ease; and now, as they 
again confronted him, clothed with colour and life, they sent an 
aura over his flesh, a breeze through his nerves, which well nigh 
produced a qualm, and actually produced, by some mysterious 
physiological process, a 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 disappeared, and a close eye might easily have 
discerned that the rosiness of her face deepened and 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, reticences, pru- 
dences, fears, fell back like a defeated battalion. He jumped up 
from his seat and, leaving his pail to be kicked over if the milcher 
had such a mind, went quickly towards the desire of his eyes, 
and kneeling down beside her, clasped her in his arms. 

Tess was taken completely by surprise, and she yielded to his 
embrace with unreflecting inevitableness. Having seen that it was 
really her lover who had advanced, and no one else, her lips 
parted, and she sank upon him in her momentary joy with some- 
thing very like an ecstatic cry. 

He had been on the point of kissing that too-tempting mouth, 
but he checked himself, for tender conscience's 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 you, Tessy dearest, in all sincerity!" 

Old Pretty by this time had looked round, puzzled, and seeing 
two people crouching under her where by immemorial custom 
there should have been only one, lifted her hind leg crossly. 

"She is angry she doesn't know what we mean she'll kick over 
the milk!" exclaimed Tess, gently striving to free herself, her 
eyes concerned with the quadruped's actions, her heart more 
deeply concerned with herself and Clare. 

She slipped up from her seat, and they stood together, his arm 
still encircling her. Tess's eyes, fixed on distance, began to fill. 

"Why do you cry, my darling?" he said. 

"Oh 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 he, with 
a curious sigh of desperation, signifying 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 pre- 
sumed upon your defencelessness been too quick and unreflect- 
ingwill 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 which, had he known 
its quality, the dairyman would have despised, as 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. 



The Consequence 

CLABE, restless, went out into the dusk when evening drew on, 
she 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-paths, the house-fronts, 
the barton-walls, were warm as hearths and reflected the noon- 
tide temperature into the noctambulist's face. 

He sat on the east gate of the dairy-yard and knew not what 
to think of himself. Feeling had indeed smothered judgement that 

Since the sudden embrace three hours before, the twain had 
kept apart. She seemed stilled, almost alarmed, at what had oc- 
curred, while the novelty, unpremeditation, mastery of circum- 
stance, disquieted him palpitating, contemplative being that he 
was. He could hardly realize their true relations to each other as 
yet, and what their mutual bearing should be before third parties 

Angel had come as pupil to this dairy in the idea that his tem- 
porary existence here was to be the merest episode in his life, 
soon 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 without, and, apostrophizing it with Walt 

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual 

How curious you are to mel 


resolve upon a plan for plunging into that world anew. But, be- 
hold, the absorbing scene had been imported hither. What had 
been the engrossing world had dissolved into an uninteresting 
outer dumb-show; while here, in this apparently dim and un- 
impassioned place, novelty had volcanically started up as it had 
never, for him, started up elsewhere. 

Every window of the house being open, Clare could hear across 
the yard each trivial sound of the retiring household. That dairy- 
house, so humble, so insignificant, so 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 qual- 
ity whatever in the landscape; what was it now? The aged and 
lichened brick gables breathed forth, "Stay!" The windows 
smiled, the door coaxed and beckoned, the creeper blushed con- 
federacy. A personality within it was so far-reaching in her in- 
fluence as to spread into and make the bricks, mortar, and whole 
overhanging sky throb with a burning sensibility. Whose was this 
mighty personality? A milkmaid's. 

It was amazing, indeed, to 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 displacements, but as to their subjective experi- 
ences. The impressionable peasant leads a larger, fuller, more 
dramatic life than the pachydermatous king. Looking at it thus, 
he found that life was to be seen of the same magnitude here as 

Despite his heterodoxy, faults, and weaknesses, Clare 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 
which, to herself who endured or enjoyed it, possessed as great a 
dimension as the life of the mightiest to himself. Upon her sensa- 
tions the whole world depended to Tess; through her existence all 
her fellow-creatures existed, to 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 unsym- 
pathetic First Cause her all; her every and only chance. How, 
then, should he look upon her as of less consequence than him- 
self; 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 relations, to meet 
meant to fall into endearment; flesh and blood could not resist it; 
and having arrived at no conclusion as to the issue of such a 
tendency, he decided to hold aloof for the present from occupa- 
tions 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 ap- 
proach her. He was driven towards her by every heave of his 

He thought he would go and see his friends. It might be pos- 
sible to sound them upon this. In less than five months his term 
here would have ended, and after a few additional months spent 
upon other farms, he would be fully equipped in agricultural 
knowledge and in a position to start on his own account. Would 
not a farmer want a wife, and should a farmer's wife be a 
drawing-room wax-figure or a woman who understood farming? 
Notwithstanding the pleasing answer returned to him by the si- 
lence, 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. 

"Oh no," said Dairyman Crick. "Mr. Clare has gone hwome to 
Emminster to spend a few days wf his kinsfolk." 

For four impassioned ones around that table the sunshine of 
the morning went out at a stroke, and 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 else- 

"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; Hetty, with parted lips, gazing on the tablecloth, 


Marian with heat added to her redness, Tess throbbing and look- 
ing out at the meads. 

'Well, I can't mind the exact day without looking at my 
memorandum-book," replied Crick with the same intolerable un- 
concern. "And even that may be altered a bit. Hell bide to get a 
little practice in the calving out at the straw-yard, for 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 "pleas- 
ure girdled about with pain." After that the blackness of unutter- 
able night. 

At this moment of the morning Angel Clare was riding along 
a narrow lane ten miles distant from the breakfasters, in the di- 
rection of his father's vicarage at Emminster, carrying as well as 
he could a little basket, which contained some black-puddings 
and a bottle of mead sent by Mrs. Crick with her land respects to 
his parents. The white lane stretched before him and his eyes 
were upon it, but they were staring into next year, and 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 de- 
pend upon whether the germs of staunch comradeship underlay 
the temporary emotion or whether it were a sensuous joy in her 
form only, with no substratum of everlastingness. 

His father's hill-surrounded little town, the Tudor church- 
tower of red stone, the clump of trees near the vicarage, came at 
last into view beneath him, and he rode down towards the well- 
known gate. Casting a glance in the direction of the church be- 
fore entering his home, he beheld standing by the vestry-door a 
group of girls, of ages between twelve and sixteen, apparently 
awaiting the arrival of some other one, who in a moment became 
visible; a figure somewhat older than the school-girls, wearing a 
broad-brimmed hat and highly starched cambric morning-gown, 
with a couple of books in her hand. 

Clare knew her well. He could not be sure that she observed 
him; he hoped she did not, so 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 Chant, 
the 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 antmomianism and Bible-classes, and was plainly 
going to hold a class now. Clare's mind flew to the impassioned, 
summer-steeped heathens in the Var Vale, their 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 father, aiming, however, to arrive about the 
breakfast hour, before they should have gone out to their parish 
duties. He was a little late, and they had already sat down to the 
morning meal. The group at table jumped up to welcome him 
as soon as he entered. They were his father and mother, his 
brother the Reverend Felix curate at a town in the adjoining 
county, home for the inside of a fortnight and his other brother, 
the Reverend Cuthbert, the classical scholar and fellow and dean 
of his college, down from Cambridge for the long vacation. His 
mother appeared in a cap and silver spectacles, and his father 
looked what in fact he was an earnest, God-fearing man, some- 
what gaunt, in years about sixty-five, his pale face lined with 
thought and purpose. Over their heads hung the picture of 
Angel's sister, the eldest of the family, sixteen years his senior, 
who had married a missionary and gone out to Africa. 

Old Mr. Clare was a clergyman of a type which, within the 
last twenty years, has well nigh dropped out of contemporary 
life. A spiritual descendant in the direct line from Wycliff, Huss, 
Luther, Calvin; an Evangelical of the Evangelicals, a Conver- 
sionist, a man of apostolic simplicity in lif e and thought, he had 
in his raw youth made up his mind once for all on the deeper 
questions of existence and admitted no further reasoning on 
them thenceforward. He was regarded even by those of his own 
date and school of thinking as extreme; while, on the other hand, 
those totally opposed to him were unwillingly won to admira- 
tion for his thoroughness and 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. John, hated 
St. James as much as he dared, and regarded with mixed feelings 
Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. The New Testament was less a 
Christiad than a Pauliad to his intelligence less an argument 
than an intoxication. His creed of determinism was such that it 
almost amounted to a vice, and quite amounted on its negative 
side to a renunciative philosophy which had cousinship with 


that of Schopenhauer and Leopardi. He despised the Canons 
and Rubric, swore by the Articles, and deemed himself consist- 
ent through the whole category which in a way he might have 
been. One thing he certainly was sincere. 

To the aesthetic, sensuous, pagan pleasure in natural life and 
lush womanhood which his son Angel had lately been experienc- 
ing in Var Vale, his temper would have been antipathetic in a 
high degree had 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 father, in a moment of irritation, that it might have 
resulted far better for mankind if Greece had been the source of 
the religion of modern civilization, and 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 truth, much less a 
half-truth or a whole truth, in 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 long, 
and welcomed his son to-day with a smile which was as candidly 
sweet as a child's. 

Angel sat down, and 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 
divergence, and 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 things, a zenithal paradise, a 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 Life, felt 
only the great passionate pulse of existence, unwarped, uncon- 
torted, untrammelled by those creeds which futilely attempt to 
check what wisdom would be content to regulate. 

On their part they saw a great difference in him, a growing 
divergence from the Angel Clare of former times. It was chiefly 
a difference in his manner that they noticed just now, particularly 
his brothers. He was getting to behave like a farmer; he flung 
his legs about; the muscles of his face had grown more expres- 
sive; his eyes looked as much information as his tongue spoke, and 
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 culture, and a prude that he had be- 


come coarse. Such was the contagion of domiciliary fellowship 
with the Talbothays nymphs and swains. 

After breakfast he walked with his two brothers, non-evangeli- 
cal, well-educated, hall-marked young men, correct to their re- 
motest fibre; such unimpeachable models as are turned out yearly 
by the lathe of a systematic tuition. They were both somewhat 
short-sighted, and when it was the custom to wear a single eye- 
glass and string they wore a single eye-glass 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 Velasquez, they 
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 Visita- 
tions were the mainsprings of the world to the one; Cambridge 
to the other. Each brother candidly recognized that there were 
a few unimportant scores of millions of outsiders in civilized 
society, persons who were neither university men nor church- 
men; but they were to be tolerated rather than reckoned with 
and respected. 

They were both dutiful and attentive sons, and were regular 
in their visits to their parents. Felix, though an offshoot from a 
far more recent point in the devolution of theology than his 
father, was less self-sacrificing and disinterested. More tolerant 
than his father of a contradictory opinion, in its aspect as a 
danger to its holder, he was less ready than his father to pardon 
it as a slight to his own teaching. Cuthbert was, upon the whole, 
the more liberal-minded, though, with greater subtlety, he had 
not so much heart. 

As they walked along the hill-side Angel's former feeling re- 
vived in him that whatever their advantages by comparison 
with himself, neither saw nor set forth life as it really was lived. 
Perhaps, as with many men, their 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 cleri- 
cal 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 saying, among other things, to his youngest 
brother as 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, never- 

"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 think, Felix, that I am likely to drop my high 
thinking and my moral ideals?" 

"Well, I fancied, from the tone of your letters and our conversa- 
tionit may be fancy only that you were somehow losing intel- 
lectual grasp. Hasn't it struck you, Cuthbert?" 

"Now, Felix," said Angel drily, "we 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. 1 * 

They returned down the hill to dinner, which 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 un- 
selfish Mr. and Mrs. Clare; though the three sons were sufficiently 
in unison on this matter to wish that their parents would con- 
form a little to modern notions. 

The walk had made them hungry, Angel in particular, who 
was now an outdoor man, accustomed to the profuse dapes 
inemptae of the dairyman's somewhat coarsely laden table. But 
neither of the old people had arrived, and 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 parishioners, whom they somewhat incon- 
sistently tried to keep imprisoned in the flesh, their own appe- 
tites being quite forgotten. 

The family sat down to table, and a frugal meal of cold viands 


was deposited before them. Angel looked round for Mrs. Crick's 
black-puddings, which he had directed to be nicely grilled, as 
they did them at the dairy, and 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 not, when 
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 cheerfully, looking round for the mead. 

1 found the mead so extremely alcoholic," continued his 
mother, "that 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 

"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 
Angel, blushing. He felt that his parents were right in their prac- 
tice if wrong in their want of sentiment, and said no more. 


IT was not till the evening, after family prayers, that 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 carpet, studying the little nails in the 
heels of their walking boots. When the service was over, they 
went out of the room with their mother, and Mr. Clare and him- 
self 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 
that as he had not been put to the expense of sending Angel 
up to Cambridge, he 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-twenty, and 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 well, therefore, for him to marry? 

His father seemed to think this idea not unreasonable; and 
then Angel put the question: "What land 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. 
Clare the elder had 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 advantage, and certainly 
not more to your mother's mind and my own, than your friend 
Mercy, whom you used to show a certain interest in. It is true 
that my neighbour Chant's daughter has lately caught up the 
fashion of the younger clergy round about us for decorating the 
Communion-tablealtar, as I was shocked to hear her call it one 
day with flowers and other stuff on festival occasions. But her 
father, who is quite as opposed to such flummery as I, says that 
can be cured. It is a mere girlish outbreak, which I am sure will 
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 ac- 
complishments, 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 Angel, wishing to honour his father's feelings 
and to advance the cause of his heart at the same time, grew 
specious. He said that Fate or Providence had thrown in his way 
a woman who possessed every qualification to be the helpmate 
of an agriculturist, and 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-hearted, receptive, intelligent, 
graceful to a degree, chaste as a vestal, and in personal appear- 
ance exceptionally beautiful. 

"Is she of a family such as you would care to marry into a lady, 
in short?" asked his startled mother, who had come softly into 
the study during the conversation. 

"She is not what in common parlance is called a lady," said 
Angel unflinchingly, "for she is a cottager's daughter, as I am 
proud to say. But she is a lady, nevertheless in feeling and 

"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 have and shall have to do?" 

"Mercy is accomplished. And accomplishments have their 
charm," returned his mother, looking at him through her silver 

"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." 

"Oh, 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 milkmaids, because 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 
woman, Mr. and Mrs. Clare began to feel it as an advantage not 
to be overlooked that she at least was sound in her views, espe- 
cially 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 hurry, but that they would not object to see her. 

Angel therefore refrained from declaring more particulars now. 
He felt that, single-minded and self-sacrificing as his parents 
were, there yet existed certain latent prejudices of theirs, as 
middle-class people, which it would require some tact to over- 
come. For though legally at liberty to do as he chose and though 
their daughter-in-law's qualifications could make no practical 
difference to their lives, in the probability of her living far away 
from them, he wished for affection's sake not to wound their senti- 
ment in the most important decision of his life. 

He observed his own inconsistencies in dwelling upon acci- 
dents in Tess's life as if they were vital features. It was for herself 
that he loved Tess her soul, her heart, her substance not for 
her skill in the dairy, her aptness as his scholar, and 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 that in the lapse of ages, 
improved systems of moral and intellectual training would ap- 
preciably, perhaps considerably, elevate the involuntary and 
even the unconscious instincts of human nature; but up to the 
present day, culture, as far as he could see, might 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 women, which, having latterly been extended from 
the cultivated middle class into the rural community, had 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 stratum than between the good and bad, 
the wise and the foolish, of 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 north, 
whence one was to return to his college and the other to his 
curacy. Angel might have accompanied them, but preferred to 
rejoin his sweetheart at Talbothays. He would have been an awk- 
ward member of the party, for, though the most appreciative 
humanist, the most ideal religionist, even the best-versed Chris- 
tologist of the three, there 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 sandwiches, and his father accompanied 
him on his own mare a little way along the road. Having fairly 
well advanced his own affairs, Angel listened in a willing silence, 
as they jogged on together through the shady lanes, to his father's 
account of his parish difficulties and the coldness of brother 
clergymen whom he loved, because of his strict interpretations 
of the New Testament by the light of what they deemed a 
pernicious Calvinistic doctrine. 

Ternicious!" said Mr. Clare with genial scorn, and he pro- 
ceeded 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 instrument, not only amongst the poor, 
but amongst the rich and well-to-do; and he also candidly ad- 
mitted many failures. 

As an instance of the latter, he mentioned the case of a young 
upstart squire named d'Urberville, living some forty miles off in 
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?" 

"Oh 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 has 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 'ex- 
claim against their own succession/ as Hamlet puts it; but lyri- 
cally, dramatically, and even historically, I am tenderly attached 
to them." 

This distinction, though by no means a subtle one, was yet too 
subtle for Mr. Clare the elder, and 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 passions, though he had a blind mother, whose condi- 
tion should have made him know better. A knowledge of his 
career having come to the ears of Mr. Clare, when he was in that 
part of the country preaching missionary sermons, he boldly 
took occasion to speak to the delinquent on his spiritual state. 
Though he was a stranger occupying another's pulpit, he had 
felt this to be his duty, and took for his text the words from St. 
Luke: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee!" 
The young man much resented this directness of attack, and in 
the war of words which followed when they met he did not 
scruple publicly to insult Mr. Clare, without respect for his grey 

Angel flushed with distress. 

"Dear Father," he said sadly, "I wish you would not expose 
yourself to such gratuitous pain from scoundrels!" 

"Pain?" said his father, his rugged face shining in the ardour 
of self -abnegation. "The only pain to me was pain on his account, 
poor, foolish young man. Do you suppose his incensed words 
could give me any pain, or even his blows? 'Being reviled we 
bless; being persecuted we suffer it; being defamed we entreat; 
we are made as the filth of the world, and 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." 


"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 samel" said Angel fervently. "But 
I fear otherwise, from what you say." 

"We'll hope, nevertheless," said Mr. Clare. "And I continue to 
pray for him, though on this side of the grave we shall probably 
never meet again. But, after all, one of those poor words of mine 
may spring up in his heart as a good seed some day." 

Now, as always, Clare's father was sanguine as a child; and 
though the younger could not accept his parent's narrow dogma, 
he revered his practice and recognized the hero under the pietist. 
Perhaps he revered his father's practice even more now than ever, 
seeing that in the question of making Tessy his wife his 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. Indeed, despite his 
own heterodoxy, Angel often felt that he was nearer to his father 
on the human side than was either of his brethren. 


AN uphill and down-dale 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 Talbothays, whence he again 
looked into that green trough of sappiness and humidity, the 
valley of the Var or Froom. Immediately he began to descend 
from the upland to the fat alluvial soil below, the atmosphere 
grew heavier; the languid perfume of the summer fruits, the 
mists, the hay, the flowers, formed therein a vast pool of odour 
which at this hour seemed to make the animals, the very bees 
and butterflies, drowsy. Clare was now so familiar with the spot 
that he knew the individual cows by their names when, a long 
distance off, he 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 side, in a way that had been quite foreign to 
him in his student days; and much as he loved his parents, he 
could not help being aware that to come here, as now, after an 
experience of home-life, affected 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 pails, sodden and 
bleached by infinite scrubbings, hung 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 entered 
and went through the silent passages of the house to the back 
quarters, where 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 
too, their broad, limp surfaces hanging in the sun like half-closed 

He unbridled and fed his horse, and as he re-entered the 
house the clock struck three. Three was the afternoon skimming- 
hour; and with the stroke, Clare heard the creaking of the floor- 
boards above and then the touch of a descending foot on the 
stairs. It was Tess's, who in another moment came down before 
his eyes. 

She had not heard him enter and hardly realized his presence 
there. She was yawning, and 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 sleep, and 
her eyelids hung heavy over their pupils. The brim-fullness 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 heavi- 
ness, before the remainder of her face was well awake. With an 
oddly compounded look of gladness, shyness, and surprise, she 
exclaimed, "Oh, Mr. Clarel 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 whispered, putting his arm round 


her and his face to her flushed cheek. "Don't, for heaven's sake, 
'mister' me any more. I have hastened back so soon because of 

Tess's excitable heart beat against his by way of reply; and 
there they stood upon the red-brick floor of the entry, the sun 
slanting in by the window upon his back as he held her tightly 
to his breast, upon her inclining face, upon the blue veins of her 
temple, upon her naked arm, and her neck, and 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 him, 
but her eyes soon lifted, and his plumbed the deepness of the 
ever-varying pupils, with their radiating fibrils of blue, and black, 
and grey, and violet, while she regarded him as Eve at her second 
waking might have regarded Adam. 

"I've got to go a-sHmming," she pleaded, "and I have on'y old 
Deb to help me to-day. Mrs. Crick is gone to market with Mr. 
Crick, and Retty is not well, and the others are gone out some- 
where and won't be home till milking. 1 ' 

As they retreated to the milk-house Deborah Fyander ap- 
peared on the stairs. 

"I have come back, Deborah," said Mr. Clare, upwards. "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 position, but no particular 
outline. Every time she held the skimmer under the pump to 
cool it for the work, her hand trembled, the ardour of his affec- 
tion 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 side, and when she had done 
running her forefinger round the leads to cut off the cream-edge, 
he 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 nature, which I 
have been thinking of ever since that day last week in the meads. 
I shall soon want to marry, and, being a farmer, you see I shall 
require for my wife a woman who knows all about the manage- 
ment of farms. Will you be that woman, Tessy?" 


He put it in 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 proximity, the necessity of loving him; but she had not 
calculated upon this sudden corollary, which, indeed, Clare had 
put before her without quite meaning himself to do it so soon. 
With pain that was like the bitterness of dissolution, she mur- 
mured the words of her indispensable and sworn answer as an 
honourable woman. 

"Oh, Mr. Clare I cannot be your wife I cannot be!" 

The sound of her own decision seemed to break Tess's very 
heart, and she bowed her face in her grief. 

"But, Tess!" he said, amazed at her reply and holding her still 
more greedily close. "Do you say no? Surely you love me?" 

"Oh yes, yesl And I would rather be yours than anybody's 
in the world," returned the sweet and honest voice of the dis- 
tressed girl. "But I cannot marry youl" 

"Tess," he said, holding her at arm's length, "you are engaged 
to marry some one elsel" 

"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 subterfuge, she stammered, "Your father is a parson, 
and your mother wouldn't 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. 111 not allude to it again for a while." 

She again took up the shining skimmer, held it beneath the 
pump, and began anew. But she could not, as at other times, hit 
the exact under-surface of the cream with the delicate dexterity 
required, try as she might; sometimes she was cutting down into 
the milk, sometimes in the air. She could hardly see, her eyes hav- 
ing filled with two blurring tears drawn forth by a grief which, 


to this her best friend and dear advocate, she could never explain. 

"I can't skim I can't!" she said, turning 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? 1 ' 

"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 tie parish clergyman, whom she 
heard every week, seemed to be rather more vague than Clare's, 
who 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 grounds, even 
though she did not know whether her principles were High, Low, 
or Broad. He himself knew that, in reality, the confused beliefs 
which she held, apparently imbibed in childhood, were, if any- 
thing, Tractarian as to phraseology and Pantheistic as to essence. 
Confused or otherwise, to disturb them was his last desire: 

Leave thou thy sister, when she prays, 
Her early Heaven, her 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 visit, of his father's 
mode of life, of his zeal for his principles; she grew serener, and 
the undulations disappeared from her skimming; as she finished 
one lead after another he followed her and drew the plugs for 
letting down the milk. 

"I fancied you looked a little downcast when you came in," 
she ventured to observe, anxious to keep away from the sub- 
ject of herself. 

"Yes well, my father has been talking a good deal to me of 
his troubles and difficulties, and the subject always tends to de- 
press me. He is so zealous that he gets many snubs and buffet- 


ings 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 busi- 
ness to expostulate with a lax young cynic he met with some- 
where 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 dis- 
turbance. 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 so wear himself out now he is getting 
old, and would leave such pigs to their wallowing." 

Tess's look had grown hard and worn, and her ripe mouth 
tragical; but she no longer showed any tremulousness. Clare's 
revived thoughts of his father prevented his noticing her partic- 
ularly; and so they went on down the white row of liquid rec- 
tangles till they bV*l finished and drained them off, when the 
other maids returned and took their pails, and 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?" 

"Oh no no!" replied she with grave hopelessness, as one who 
had heard anew the turmoil of her own past in the allusion to 
Alec d'Urberville. "It can't bel" 

She went out towards the mead, joining the other milkmaids 
with a bound, as 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 mead, the 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 Nature and not from 
the abodes of Art. 


HER refusal, though unexpected, did 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 per- 
mitted him to make love to her he read as an additional assur- 
ance, not 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 paralyses 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 whypartly. 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 notl You have made me so restless that I can- 
not 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 attentively, conned 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 to walk with 
youl Honestly, Tess, do you love any other man?" 

"How can you ask?" she said with continued self-suppression. 

"I almost biow that you do not. But, then, why do you repulse 


1 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! 
Oh, 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 this, apprehending the grounds of her refusal 
to be her modest sense of incompetence in matters social and 
polite, he would say that she was wonderfully well informed 
and versatile which was certainly true, her natural quickness and 
her admiration for him having led her to pick up his vocabulary, 
his accent, and fragments of his knowledge, to a surprising ex- 
tent. After these tender contests and her victory she would go 
away by herself under the remotest cow if at milking-time, or 
into the sedge or into her room if at a leisure interval, and 
mourn silently, not a minute after an apparently phlegmatic 

The struggle was so fearful; her own heart was so strongly on 
the side of his two ardent hearts against one poor little con- 
sciencethat 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 unbiased 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 favourite but 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. Crick, as well as his wife, seemed latterly to have 
acquired a suspicion of mutual interest between these two; 
though they walked so circumspectly that suspicion was but of 
the faintest. Anyhow, the 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. Angel, who was filling the vats with his handfuls, sud- 
denly ceased and laid his hands flat upon hers. Her sleeves were 
rolled far above the elbow, and bending lower, he kissed the in- 
side vein of her soft arm. 

Although the early September weather was sultry, her arm, 
from her dabbling in the curds, was as cold and damp to his 
mouth as a new-gathered mushroom, and tasted of the whey. 
But she was such a sheaf of susceptibilities that her pulse was 
accelerated by the touch, her blood driven to her finger-ends, 
and the cool arms flushed hot. Then, as though her heart had 
said, Is coyness longer necessary? Truth is truth between man 
and woman, as between man and man," she lifted her eyes, and 
they beamed devotedly into his as her lip rose in a tender half- 

"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." 


She looked a sudden fear that her resistance might break down 
under her own desire. 

"Oh, Tessy!" he went on, "I 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 Talboth- 
ays. . . . And yet, dearest," he quickly added, observing how the 
remark had cut her, "I 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 quivered, 


and she was obliged to go away. Clare was so pained and per- 
plexed that he ran after and caught her in the passage. 

"Tell me, tell me!" he said, passionately clasping her, in for- 
getfulness of his curdy hands. "Do tell me that you won't belong 
to anybody but mel" 

"I will, I will tell you!" she exclaimed. "And I will give you a 
complete answer if you will let me go now. I will tell you my 
experiences all about myself ahT 

"Your experiences, dear; yes, certainly; any number." He ex- 
pressed assent in loving satire, looking into her face. "My Tess 
has, no doubt, almost as many experiences as that wild con- 
volvulus out there on the garden hedge that opened itself this 
morning for the first time. Tell me anything, but don't use that 
wretched expression any more about not being worthy of me." 

"I will try notl And 111 give you my reasons to-morrow next 

"Say on Sunday?" 

"Yes, on Sunday." 

At last she got away, and did not stop in her retreat till she 
was in the thicket of pollard willows at the lower side of the bar- 
ton, where she could be quite unseen. Here Tess flung herself 
down upon the rustling undergrowth of spear-grass, as upon a 
bed, and remained crouching in palpitating misery broken by 
momentary shoots of joy, which her fears about the ending could 
not altogether suppress. 

In reality, she was drifting into acquiescence. Every see-saw 
of her breath, every wave of her blood, every pulse singing in 
her ears, was a voice that joined with nature in revolt against her 
scrupulousness. Reckless, inconsiderate acceptance of him; to 
close with him at the altar, revealing nothing and chancing dis- 
covery; 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 that despite her 
many months of lonely self-chastisement, wrestlings, commun- 
ings, schemes to lead a future of austere isolation, love's counsel 
would prevail. 

The afternoon advanced, and 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 dairyman, thinking the cause to 


be love alone, would good-naturedly tease her; and that harass- 
ment could not be borne. 

Her lover must have guessed her overwrought state and in- 
vented some excuse for her non-appearance, for no inquiries were 
made or calls given. At half -past six the sun settled down upon 
the levels with the aspect of a great forge in the heavens, and 
presently a monstrous, pumpkin-like moon arose on the other 
hand. The pollard willows, tortured out of their natural shape by 
incessant choppings, became spiny-haired monsters as they stood 
up against it. She went in and upstairs without a light. 

It was now Wednesday. Thursday came, and Angel looked 
thoughtfully at her from a distance, but intruded in no way upon 
her. The indoor milkmaids, Marian and the rest, seemed to guess 
that something definite was afoot, for they did not force any re- 
marks upon her in the bed-chamber. Friday passed; Saturday. 
To-morrow 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 night, on 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! Oh, 
my heart oh oh oh!" 

"Now, who mid ye think I've heard news o' this morning?" said 
Dairyman Crick as he sat down to breakfast next day, with a rid- 
dling gaze round upon the munching men and maids. "Now, just 
who mid ye think?" 

One guessed, and another guessed. Mrs. Crick did not guess 
because 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- 

"Not Jack Dollop? A villain to think o' that!" said a milker. 

The name entered quickly into Tess Durbeyfield's conscious- 
ness, for it was the name of the lover who had wronged his 
sweetheart, and had afterwards been so roughly used by the 
young woman's mother in the butter-churn. 


"And has he married the valiant matron's daughter, as he prom- 
ised?" asked Angel Clare absently as he turned over the news- 
paper he was reading at the little table to which he was always 
banished by Mrs. Crick, hi 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! Serves him well beright But onlucldly 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. 

"Aye, aye," 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 Tess, the bread and 
butter choking her. 

"Be cust if I'd have done either o't," said Beck Rnibbs, a mar- 
ried 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 smile, for form's sake, from Tess. What was comedy 
to them was tragedy to her, and she could hardly bear their mirth. 
She soon rose from table and, with an impression that Clare 
would follow her, went along a little wriggling path, now step- 
ping to one side of the irrigating channels and now to the other, 


till she stood by the main stream of the Var. Men had been cutting 
the water-weeds higher up the river, and masses of them were 
floating past her moving islands of green crow-foot, whereon 
she might almost have ridden; long locks of which weed had 
lodged against the piles driven to keep the cows from crossing. 

Yes, there was the pain of it. This question of a woman telling 
her story the heaviest of crosses to herself seemed but amuse- 
ment to others. It was as if people should laugh at martyrdom. 

"Jessy!" came from behind her, and Clare sprang across the 
gully, alighting beside her feet. "My wife soon!" 

"No, no; I cannot. For your sake, oh, Mr. Clare; for your sake, 
I say no!" 


"Still I say no!" she repeated. 

Not expecting this, he had put his arm lightly round her waist 
the moment after speaking, beneath her hanging tail of hair. (The 
younger dairymaids, including 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 in- 
tention; but her determined negative deterred his scrupulous 
heart. Their condition of domiciliary comradeship put her, as 
the woman, to such disadvantage by its enforced intercourse that 
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 released her momentarily imprisoned waist 
and 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 mo- 
ment. But Angel said no more; his face was perplexed; he went 

Day after day they met somewhat less constantly than before, 
and thus two or three weeks went by. The end of September 
drew near, and she could see in his eye that he might ask her 

His plan of procedure was different now as though he had 
made up his mind that her negatives were, after all, only coyness 
and youth startled by the novelty of the proposal. The fitful 
evasiveness of her manner when the subject was under discus- 


sion countenanced the idea. So he played a more coaxing game; 
and while never going beyond words or attempting the renewal 
of caresses, he did his utmost orally. 

In this way Clare persistently wooed her in undertones like 
that of the purling milk at the cow's side, at skimmings, at 
butter-makings, at cheese-makings, among broody poultry, and 
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 conscien- 
tious wish for candour could hold out against it much longer. She 
loved him so passionately, and he was so god-like in her eyes; and 
being, though untrained, instinctively refined, her nature cried 
for his tutelary guidance. And thus, though Tess kept repeating 
to herself, "I 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 terrify- 
ing bliss, and 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 conditions, 
changes, charges, or revelations that her gloom lessened as she 
basked in it. The season meanwhile was drawing onward to the 
equinox, and though it was still fine, the 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 morn- 
ing between three and four. 

She had run up in her bed-gown to his door to call him as usual; 
then had gone back to dress and call the others; and in ten min- 
utes 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 spoke, and this won't do any longer. You 
must tell me what you mean or I shall have to leave this house. 
My door was ajar just now, and 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 
taskl" she pouted. "You need not call me flirt. 'Tis cruel and un- 
true. Wait till by and by. Please wait till by and byl I will really 


think seriously about it between now and then. Let me go down- 

She looked a little like what he said she was as, holding the 
candle sideways, she tried to smile away the seriousness of her 

"Call me Angel, then, and not Mr. Clare." 


"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 murmured, 
looking at her candle, a roguish curl coming upon her mouth, 
notwithstanding her suspense. 

Clare had resolved never to kiss her until he had obtained her 
promise; but somehow, as Tess stood there in her prettily tucked- 
up milking-gown, her hair carelessly heaped upon her head till 
there should be leisure to arrange it when skimming and milking 
were done, he broke his resolve and brought his lips to her cheek 
for one moment. She passed downstairs very quickly, never look- 
ing back at him or saying another word. The other maids were 
already down, and the subject was not pursued. Except Marian 
they all looked wistfully and suspiciously at the pair, in the sad 
yellow rays which the morning candles emitted in contrast with 
the first cold signals of the dawn without. 

When skimming was done which, as the milk diminished with 
the approach of autumn, was 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 her as 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 replied, pausing 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 began, "would make perhaps 
would make a properer wife than I. And perhaps they love you 
as well as I almost." 

"Oh, Tessyl" 


There were signs that it was an exquisite relief to her to hear 
the impatient exclamation, though she had resolved so intrep- 
idly to let generosity make one bid against herself. That was 
now done, and 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 as- 
sistants went down to the meads as usual, a long way from the 
dairy, where many of the cows were milked without being driven 
home. The supply was getting less as the animals advanced in 
calf, and 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 Crick, who was there with the rest, his wrapper 
gleaming miraculously white against a leaden evening sky, sud- 
denly 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 station if we don't mind. 
There's no time to-day 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 so, though it was none of his busi- 
ness, asking Tess to accompany him. The evening, though sun- 
less, had been warm and muggy for the season, and Tess had 
come out with her milking-hood only, naked-armed and jacket- 
less; 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 meads, which stretched away into grey miles, and 
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-trees, whose notched tips appeared like batde- 
mented towers crowning black-fronted castles of enchantment. 

They were so absorbed hi the sense of being close to each other 
that they did not begin talking for a long while, the 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 shells, 
and the blackberries hung in heavy clusters. Every now and then, 
Angel would fling the lash of his whip round one of these, pluck 
it off, and give it to his companion. 

The dull sky soon began to tell its meaning by sending down 
herald drops of rain, and 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 mir- 
rors of light they changed to lustreless sheets of lead, with a 
surface like a rasp. But that spectacle did not affect her preoccu- 
pation. Her countenance, a natural carnation slightly embrowned 
by the season, had deepened its tinge with the beating of the 
raindrops; and her hair, which the pressure of the cows' flanks 
had, as usual, caused to tumble down from its fastenings and 
stray beyond the curtain of her calico bonnet, was made clammy 
by the moisture till it hardly was better than seaweed. 

"I ought not to have come, I suppose," she murmured, look- 
ing at the sky. 

"I am sorry for the rain," said he. "But how glad I am to have 
you here!" 

Remote Egdon disappeared by degrees behind the liquid 
gauze. The evening grew darker, and 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 closer, and he wrapped round them 
both a large piece of sail-cloth, which 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 bet- 


ter. 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 road and 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." 

"Ill try." 

He said no more then. As they drove on, the fragment of an 
old manor-house of Caroline date rose against the sky, and was in 
due course passed and left behind. 

"That," he observed, to entertain her, "is an interesting old 
place one of the several seats which belonged to an ancient Nor- 
man family formerly of great influence in this county, the 
d'Urbervilles. I never pass one of their residences without think- 
ing of them. There is something very sad in the extinction of a 
family of renown, even if it was fierce, domineering, feudal re- 

"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 pres- 
ence, a spot where, by 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 day, touched the native existences, and quickly 
withdrew its feeler again, as if what it touched had been uncon- 

They reached the feeble light, which came from the smoky 
lamp of a little railway station; a poor enough terrestrial star, yet 
in one sense of more importance to Talbothays Dairy and man- 
kind than the celestial ones to which it stood in such humiliating 
contrast. The cans of new milk were unladen in the rain, Tess 
getting a little shelter from a neighbouring holly-tree. 

Then there was the hissing of a train, which drew up almost 
silently upon the wet rails, and the milk was rapidly swung can 
by can into the truck. The light of the engine flashed for a second 
upon Tess Durbeyfield's figure, motionless under the great holly- 
tree. No object could have looked more foreign to the gleaming 


cranks and wheels than this unsophisticated girl, with the round, 
bare arms, the rainy face and hair, the suspended attitude of a 
friendly leopard at pause, the print gown of no date or fashion, 
and the cotton bonnet drooping on her brow. 

She mounted again beside her lover, with a mute obedience 
characteristic of impassioned natures at times, and when they 
had wrapped themselves up over head and ears in the sail-cloth 
again, they 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 to-morrow, won't 
they?" she asked. "Strange people that we have never seen." 

"Yes I suppose they will. Though not as we sent it. When its 
strength has been lowered, so that it may not get up into their 

"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 to-night in the 
rain that it might reach 'em in time?" 

"We did not drive entirely on account of these precious Lon- 
doners; 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, per- 
mit 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. Oh yes yes!" 

"Then, if your heart does, why not your hand?" 

"My only reason was on account of you on account of a ques- 
tion. I have something to tell you " 

"But suppose it to be entirely for my happiness and my worldly 
convenience also?" 

"Oh 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 welll" 


"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 said, catching at his words as a 
help, lightly as they were spoken. "And I grew up there. And I 
was in the Sixth Standard when I left school, and they said I had 
great aptness and should make a good teacher, so it was settled 
that I should be one. But there was trouble in my family; Fa- 
ther was not very industrious, and 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 prin- 
ciple 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 corporeal paternity. 
But I am extremely interested in this news you can have no 
idea how interested I am! Are not you 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 fields belonged to Retty's 
people and perhaps others to Marian's, so that I don't value it 

"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 to 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 


her; she feared his blame for not telling him sooner; and her in- 
stinct of self-preservation was stronger than her candour. 

"Of course," continued the unwitting Clare, "I should have 
been glad to know you to be descended exclusively from the 
long-suffering, dumb, unrecorded rank and file of die 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 ex- 
traction 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 mush- 
room millionaires would jump at such a possession! By the by, 
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, 

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 forever and 

He clasped her close and kissed her. 


She had no sooner said it than she burst into a dry, hard sob- 
bing, so violent that it seemed to rend her. Tess was not a 
hysterical girl by any means, and 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 Tessyl" 

"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 oh, I sometimes wish I had never been 

"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 

"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 neck, and 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 soul, as Tess loved him. 

"There now do you believe?" she asked, flushed, and wiping 
her eyes. 

"Yes. I never really doubted never, never!" 

So they drove on through the gloom, forming one bundle in- 
side the sail-cloth, the horse going as he would, and the rain driv- 
ing against them. She had consented. She might as well have 
agreed at first. The "appetite for joy" which pervades all creation, 
that tremendous force which sways humanity to its purpose, as 
the tide sways the helpless weed, was not to be controlled by 
vague lucubrations over the social rubric. 

"I must write to my mother," she said. "You don't mind my do- 
ing 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 

"At the same place Marlott. On the further side of Blackmoor 

"Ah, then I have seen you before this summer " 

"Yes, at that dance on the green; but you would not dance with 
me. Oh, 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 day, and by the end of the week a response to her com- 
munication arrived in Joan Durbeyfield's wandering, last-century 

Dear Tess, 

J write these few lines Hoping they will find you well, as they leave 
me at Present, thank God for it. Dear Tess, we are all glad to Hear 
that you are going really to be married soon. But with respect to your 
question, Tess, J say between ourselves, quite private but very 
strong, that on no account do you say a word of your Bygone Trouble 
to him. J did not tell everything to your Father, he being so Proud 
on account of his Respectability, which, perhaps, your 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 Fool, specially 
as it is so long ago, and not your Fault at all. J shall answer the same 
if you ask me fifty times. Besides, you must bear in mind that, know- 
ing 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 Deed, 
having your Welfare in my Mind; and you most solemnly did prom- 
ise it going from this Door. J have not named either that Question or 
your coming marriage to your Father, as he would blab it everywhere, 
poor Simple Man. 

Dear Tess, keep up your Spirits, and we mean to send you a Hogs- 
head of Cyder for your Wedding, knowing there is not much in your 
parts, and thin Sour Stuff what there is. So no more at present, and 
with kind love to your Young Man. From you affectte. Mother, 


"Oh, 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 followed, whatever she 
might be in her reasons. Silence seemed, on the face of it, best 
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 action, Tess grew 


calmer. The responsibility was shifted, and her heart was lighter 
than it had been for weeks. The days of declining autumn 
which followed her assent, beginning with the month of October, 
formed a season through which she lived in spiritual altitudes 
more nearly approaching ecstasy than any other period of her 

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 guide, philosopher, and friend should know. She thought 
every line in the contour of his person the perfection of mascu- 
line beauty, his soul the soul of a saint, his intellect that of a seer. 
The wisdom of her love for him, as love, sustained her dignity; 
she seemed to be wearing a crown. The compassion of his love 
for her, as she saw it, made her lift up her heart to him in devo- 
tion. He would sometimes catch her large, worshipful eyes, that 
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 out, as one 
treads on a coal that is smouldering and dangerous. 

She had not known that men could be so disinterested, chival- 
rous, protective, in their love for women as he. Angel Clare was 
far from all that she thought him in this respect; absurdly far, 
indeed; but he was, in truth, more spiritual than animal; he had 
himself well in hand, and was singularly free from grossness. 
Though not cold-natured, he was rather bright than hot less 
Byronic than Shelleyan; could love desperately, but 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 matter, if clearly stated, would have been 
that the elusive quality in her sex which attracts men in general 
might be distasteful to so perfect a man after an avowal of love, 
since 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 she, in common with all the other 
dairy-folk, regarded it. Thus, during this October month of won- 
derful afternoons, they roved along the meads by creeping 
paths which followed the brinks of trickling tributary brooks, 
hopping across by little wooden bridges to the other side and 
back again. They were never out of the sound of some purling 
weir, whose buzz accompanied their own murmuring, while the 
beams of the sun, almost as horizontal as the mead itself, formed 
a pollen of radiance over the landscape. They saw tiny blue fogs 
in the shadows of trees and hedges, all the time that there was 
bright sunshine elsewhere. The sun was so near the ground and 
the sward so flat that the shadows of Clare and Tess would stretch 
a quarter of a mile ahead of them, like 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 meadows, or digging the little waterways clear 
for the winter irrigation, and mending their banks where trodden 
down by the cows. The shovelfuls of loam, black as jet, brought 
there by the river when it was as wide as the whole valley, were 
an essence of soils, pounded champaigns of the past, steeped, 
refined, and subtilized to extraordinary richness, out of which 
came all the fertility of the mead and of the cattle grazing there. 

Clare hardily kept his arm round her waist in sight of these 
watermen, with the air of a man who was accustomed to public 
dalliance, though actually as shy as she, who with lips parted and 
eyes askance on the labourers wore the look of a wary animal the 

''You are not ashamed of owning me as yours before them!" 
she said gladly. 

"Oh 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 ever 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 family 
and I am reserving it for a grand effect when we are married and 
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 going, will you not?" 

She could answer no more than a bare affirmative, so 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 waves and surged up to her eyes. 
She put her hand in his, and thus they went on, to a place where 
the reflected sun glared up from the river, under a bridge, with a 
molten-metallic glow that dazzled their eyes, though the sun it- 
self was hidden by the bridge. They stood still, whereupon little 
furred and feathered heads popped up from the smooth surface 
of the water; but, finding that the disturbing presences had 
paused, and not passed by, they 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 eyes, where it rested like crystals, 
and on his brows and hair. 

They walked later on Sundays, when it was quite dark. Some 
of the dairy-people, who were also out-of-doors on the first 
Sunday evening after their engagement, heard her impulsive 
speeches, ecstasized to fragments, though they were too far off to 
hear the words discoursed; noted the spasmodic catch in her re- 
marks, broken into syllables by the leapings of her heart, as she 
walked leaning on his arm; her contented pauses, the 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 has not 
quite alighted. 

Her affection for him was now the breath and lif e of Tess's be- 
ing; it enveloped her as a photosphere, irradiated her into forget- 
fulness of her past sorrows, keeping back the gloomy spectres 
that would persist in their attempts to touch her doubt, fear, 
moodiness, care, shame. She knew that they were waiting like 
wolves just outside the circumscribing light, but she had long 
spells of power to keep them in hungry subjection there. 

A spiritual forgetfulness coexisted with an intellectual remem- 
brance. She walked in brightness, but she knew that in the back- 
ground those shapes of darkness were always spread. They might 
be receding or they might be approaching, one or the other, a 
little every day. 


One evening Tess and Clare were obliged to sit indoors keep- 
ing house, all the other occupants of the domicile being away. 
As they talked she looked thoughtfully up at him and 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 homage and the 
fullness of her own joy thereat. 

Clare, deeming the whole basis of her excitement to be that 
which was only the smaller part of it, said, "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 
years, and 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? Oh, why didn't you, why didn't you!" she said, impetu- 
ously clasping her hands. 

Angel began to comfort and reassure her, thinking to himself, 
truly enough, what a creature of moods she was, and 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 be- 
hind her who was tormented thus, but a girl of simple life, not 
yet one-and-twenty, who 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 room, over- 
turning 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 pleas- 
antly and 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 said good-humouredly as he spread a cushion for her 
on the stool and seated himself in the settle beside her. "I wanted 
to ask you something, and just then you ran away." 

"Yes, perhaps I am capricious," she murmured. She suddenly 
approached him and put a hand upon each of his arms. "No, 
Angel, I am not really so by nature, I mean!" The more particu- 
larly to assure him that she was not, she 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. 

"Well, you love me and have agreed to marry me, and 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 answered, "to talk quite practically, wouldn't 
it be best not to marry till after all that? Though I can't bear the 
thought 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 said, becoming grave. "I have so many things to think 
of first." 


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 Crick, Mrs. Crick, and two of the milk- 

Tess sprang like an elastic ball from his side to her feet, while 
her face flushed and her eyes shone in the firelight. 

"I knew how it would be if I sat so close to him!" she cried with 
vexation. "I said to myself, They are sure to come and catch us!' 
But I wasn't really sitting on his knee, though 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 wife, with the stolid 
mien of a man who understood nothing of the emotions relating 
to matrimony, "Now, Christianer, that shows that folks should 
never fancy other folks be supposing things when they bain't. 
Oh no, I should never ha' thought a word of where she was a sit- 
ting to if she hadn't told me not I." 

"We are going to be married soon," said Clare with improvised 

"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 supper, when she reached her bedroom, they were all 
present. A light was burning, and each damsel was sitting up 
whitely in her bed, awaiting Tess, the whole like a row of aveng- 
ing 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 ex- 
pected to have. Their condition was objective, contemplative. 

"He's going to marry herl" murmured Retty, never taking eyes 
off Tess. "How her face do show it!" 

"You be going to marry him?" asked Marian. 

"Yes," said Tess. 


"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 girls, one after another, 
crept out of their beds and came and stood barefooted round 
Tess. Retty put her hands upon Tess's shoulders, as if to realize 
her friend's corporeality after such a miracle, and the other two 
laid their arms round her waist, all looking into her face. 

"How it do seem! Almost more than I can think of!" said Izz 

Marian kissed Tess. "Yes," she murmured as she withdrew her 


"Was that because of love for her or because other lips have 
touched there by now?" continued Izz dryly to Marian. 

"I wasn't thinking o' that," said Marian simply. "I was on'y feel- 
ing 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 

They hung about her in their white nightgowns before reply- 
ing, as 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. 


"You are all better than I." 

"We better than you?" said the girls in a low, slow whisper. 
"No, no, dear Tess!" 

"You are!" she contradicted impetuously. And suddenly tear- 
ing away from their clinging arms, she burst into a hysterical fit 
of tears, bowing herself on the chest of drawers and repeating 
incessantly, "Oh 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! Oh! Oh!" 

They went up to her and clasped her round, but still her sobs 
tore her. 

"Get some water," said Marian. "She's upset by us, poor thing, 
poor thing!" 

They gently led her back to the side of her bed, where they 
kissed her warmly. 

"You are best for'n," said Marian. "More ladylike, and a better 
scholar than we, especially since he has taught 'ee so much. But 
even you ought to be proud. You be proud, I'm sure!" 

"Yes, I am," she said. "And I am ashamed at so breaking down!" 

When they were all in bed and the light was out, Marian whis- 
pered 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 

They were not aware that, at these words, salt, stinging tears 
trickled down upon Tess's pillow anew, and how she resolved, 
with a bursting heart, to tell all her history to Angel Clare, de- 
spite her mother's command to let him for whom she lived and 
breathed despise her if he would, and her mother regard her as 
a fool, rather than preserve a silence which might be deemed a 
treachery to him, and which somehow seemed a wrong to these. 

THIS penitential mood kept her from naming the wedding-day. 
The beginning of November found its date still in abeyance, 
though 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 awhile, and 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 sun, a 
glistening ripple of gossamer webs was visible to their eyes under 
the luminary, like the track of moonlight on the sea. Gnats, know- 
ing nothing of their brief glorification, wandered across the 
shimmer of this pathway, irradiated as if they bore fire within 
them, then passed out of its line, and 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 night, when 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 vale, to 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 lone. 
Batches of the animals were sent away daily to this lying-in hos- 
pital, where they lived on straw till their calves were born, after 
which event, and as soon as the calf could walk, mother and off- 


spring were driven back to the dairy. In the interval which 
elapsed before the calves were sold, there was, of course, little 
milking to be done, but 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 levels, where they stood still and 
listened. The water was now high in the streams, squirting 
through the weirs and tinkling under culverts; the smallest gullies 
were all full; there was no taking short cuts anywhere, and foot- 
passengers were compelled to follow the permanent ways. From 
the whole extent of the invisible vale came a multitudinous in- 
tonation; it forced upon their fancy that a great city lay below 
them, and 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 to-day, dear, about his not wanting 
much assistance during the winter months?" 


"The cows are going dry rapidly." 

"Yes. Six or 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? Oh, 
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 ask- 
ing 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 

"Well, it is convenient you have admitted that." He put his 
finger upon her cheek. "Ah!" he said. 


"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 dairy meant 
to go to some strange place, not a dairy; for milkmaids were not 
in request now carving-time was coming on; to go to some arable 
farm where no divine being like Angel Clare was. She hated the 
thought, and 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 forever." 

"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 summer-timer 

"I always shall." 

"Oh, I know you will!" she cried with a sudden fervour of faith 
in him. "Angel, I will fix the day when I will become yours for 

Thus at last it was arranged between them, during that dark 
walk home, amid the myriads of liquid voices on the right and 

When they reached the dairy, Mr. and Mrs. Crick were 
promptly told with injunctions to secrecy; for each of the lovers 
was desirous that the marriage should be kept as private as pos- 
sible. The dairyman, though he had thought of dismissing her 
soon, now 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 end, and said that directly she set eyes on Tess she divined 
that she was to be the chosen one of somebody who was no com- 
mon 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, with- 
out 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 phenom- 
ena than with their fellow-creatures; and she accordingly drifted 
into that passive responsiveness to all things her lover suggested, 
characteristic of the frame of mind. 

But she wrote anew to her mother, ostensibly to notify the 
wedding-day; really to again implore her advice. It was a gentle- 
man who had chosen her, which perhaps her mother had not 
sufficiently considered. A post-nuptial explanation, which might 
be accepted with a light heart by a rougher man, might not be 
received with the same feeling by him. But this communication 
brought no reply from Mrs. Durbeyfield. 

Despite Angel Clare's plausible representations to himself and 
to Tess of the practical need for their immediate marriage, there 
was in truth an element of precipitancy in the step, as became 
apparent at a later date. He loved her dearly, though perhaps 
rather ideally and fancifully than with the impassioned thorough- 
ness of her feeling for him. He had entertained no notion, when 
doomed as he had thought to an unintellectual bucolic hie, that 
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 clearly, and 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 

"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 one, so far as it went. His influence over 
her had been so marked that she had caught his manner and hab- 
its, his 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 settlement, Eng- 
lish or colonial; and as no opinion of theirs was to be allowed to 


change his intention, he 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 

Next, he 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 procedure, and a hand in the operations 
for a few days whenever he should choose to come. Clare paid 
a visit to the place, some few miles distant, one day at this time 
to inquire particulars, and returned to Talbothays in the eve- 
ning. 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 cas- 
ual fact that lodgings were to be obtained in that very farmhouse, 
which before its mutilation had been the mansion of a branch of 
the d'Urberville family. This was always how Clare settled prac- 
tical questions; by a sentiment which had nothing to do with 
them. They decided to go immediately after the wedding, and 
remain for a fortnight instead 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 day, the incredible day, on which she was to become his, 
loomed large in the near future. The thirty-first of December, 
New Year's Eve, was the date. His wife, she said to herself. Could 
it ever be? Their two selves together, nothing 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 1 this morning." 


"It should ha' been the first time of asking to-day," she an- 
swered, looking quietly at Tess. "You meant to be married New 
Year's Eve, deary?" 

The other returned a quick affirmative. 

1 "Called home" local phrase for publication of banns. 


"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 forgottenl If so, there must be a week's 
postponement, and 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. Crick, and 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 notwithstanding, who had well nigh feared that somebody 
would stand up and forbid the banns on the ground of her his- 
tory. How events were favouring herl 

"I don't quite feel easy," she said to herself. "All this good for- 
tune 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 

But everything went smoothly. She wondered whether he 
would like her to be married in her present best white frock or 
if she ought to buy a new one. The question was set at rest by 
his forethought, disclosed by the arrival of some large packages 
addressed to her. Inside them she found a whole stock of cloth- 
ing, from bonnet to shoes, including a perfect morning costume, 
such as would well suit the simple wedding they planned. He 
entered the house shortly after the arrival of the packages and 
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 murmured, her cheek upon 
her shoulder. "Even to the gloves and handkerchief I My own love 
how good, how 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 upstairs and take her time and see if it all fitted; and, if 
not, to get the village sempstress to make a few alterations. 

She did return upstairs and 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 child, so 
blithely and so archly, her foot on the cradle, which she rocked 
to the tune. Suppose this robe should betray her by changing 
colour, as her robe had betrayed Queen Guinevere. Since she 
had been at the dairy she had not once thought of the lines till 


ANGEL felt that he would like to spend a day with her before the 
wedding, somewhere away from the dairy, as a last jaunt in her 
company while they were yet mere lover and mistress; a ro- 
mantic day, in circumstances that would never be repeated; 
with that other and greater day beaming close ahead of them. 
During the preceding week, therefore, he suggested making a 
few purchases in the nearest town, and they started together. 

Clare's life at the dairy had been that of a recluse in respect to 
the world of his own class. For months he had never gone near a 
town, and requiring no vehicle, had never kept one, hiring 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 part- 
ners in one concern. It was Christmas Eve, with its loads of holly 
and mistletoe, and 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 
up, and 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 guests, who were continually going in and out. As the door 
opened and shut each time for the passage of these, the 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 surprise, and she fancied he was a Trantridge 
man, though 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 he negatived the remainder of the definition forthwith. 

Clare had just returned from the stable-yard and, confronting 
the man on the threshold, heard the words and saw the shrinking 
of Tess. The insult to her stung him to the quick, and before he 
had considered anything at all, he struck the man on the chin 
with the full force of his fist, sending him staggering backwards 
into the passage. 

The man recovered himself and seemed inclined to come on, 
and Clare, stepping outside the door, put himself in a posture of 
defence. But his opponent began to think better of the matter. 
He looked anew at Tess as he passed her, and said to Clare, "I 
beg pardon, sir; 'twas a complete mistake. I thought she was an- 
other woman, forty miles from here." 

Clare, f eeling then that he had been too hasty and that he was, 
moreover, to blame for leaving her standing in an inn-passage, 
did what he usually did in such cases: gave the man five shillings 
to plaster the blow; and thus they parted, bidding each other a 
pacific good night. As soon as Clare had taken the reins from 
the ostler and the young couple had driven off, the 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 feel- 
ingsnot 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- 

"No I only meant if it should have to be put off." 

What she meant was not very clear, and he directed her to dis- 
miss such fancies from her mind, which she obediently did as 
well as she could. But she was grave, very grave, all 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 landing, and Clare as- 
cended to his attic. Tess sat up, getting on with some little req- 
uisites lest the few remaining days should not afford sufficient 
time. While she sat she heard a noise in Angel's room overhead, a 
sound of thumping and struggling. Everybody else in the house 
was asleep, and in her anxiety lest Clare should be ill she ran up 
and knocked at his door and asked him what was the matter. 

"Oh, nothing, dear," he said from within. 1 am so sorry I dis- 
turbed 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 portmanteau, which I pulled out to-day 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 in- 
decision. 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 ago, put it into an envelope, and directed it to 
Clare. Then, lest the flesh should again be weak, she crept up- 
stairs without any shoes and slipped the note under his door. 

Her night was a broken one, as it well might be, and she lis- 
tened for the first faint noise overhead. It came, as usual; he de- 
scended, as usual. She descended. He met her at the bottom of 
the stairs and kissed her. Surely it was as warmly as everl 

He looked a little disturbed and worn, she 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 passed, and 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 was, just as she was, and smiled at her disquiet as at a 
foolish nightmare? Had he really received her note? She glanced 
into his room and could see nothing of it. It might be that he for- 
gave 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 same, and thus New 
Year's Eve broke the wedding-day. 

The lovers did not rise at milking-time, having through the 
whole of this last week of their sojourn at the dairy been accorded 
something of the position of guests, Tess 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 whitened, and the brick hearth 
reddened, and 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 here. This renovated 
aspect of what was the focus indeed of the room on a dull winter 
morning threw a smiling demeanour over the whole apartment. 

"I was determined to do summat in honour o't," said the dairy- 
man. "And as you wouldn't hear of my gieing a rattling good 
randy wi' fiddles and bass-viols complete, as we should ha' done 
in old times, this 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 ceremony even had any been asked, but as 
a fact nobody was invited from Marlott. As for Angel's family, he 
had written and duly informed them of the time and 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 
all, seeming to be indignant with him; while his father and mother 
had written a rather sad letter, deploring his precipitancy in rush- 
ing into marriage, but making the best of the matter by saying 
that though a dairywoman was the last daughter-in-law they 
could have expected, their son had arrived at an age at 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 erelong. To produce Tess, fresh from the 
dairy, as a d'Urberville and a lady, he 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 read- 
ing with him, he could take her on a visit to his parents and im- 
part the knowledge while triumphantly producing her as worthy 
of such an ancient line. It was a pretty lover's dream, if no more. 
Perhaps Tess's lineage had more value for himself than for any- 
body in the world besides. 

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 finished, and hastened upstairs. It had 
occurred to her to look once more into the queer gaunt room 
which had been Clare's den, or rather eyrie, for so long, and climb- 
ing the ladder, she stood at the open door of the apartment, 
regarding and pondering. She stooped to the threshold of the 
doorway, where she had pushed in the note two or three days 
earlier in such excitement. The carpet reached close to the sill, 
and under the edge of the carpet she discerned the faint white 
margin of the envelope containing her letter to him, which he 
obviously had never seen, owing 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 up, just as it had left her hands. The mountain had 
not yet been removed. She could not let him read it now, the 
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 dress, the 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 to-day 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 tune.* 

"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 reflec- 
tion. She was whirled onward through the next couple of critical 
hours by the mastering tide of her devotion to him, which closed 
up further meditation. Her one desire, so long resisted, to make 
herself his, to call him her lord, her own then, if necessary, to 
die had at last lifted her up from her plodding reflective path- 
way. In dressing, she moved about in a mental cloud of many- 
coloured idealities, which eclipsed all sinister contingencies by 
its brightness. 

The church was a long way off, and they were obliged to drive, 
particularly as it was winter. A closed carriage was ordered from 
a roadside inn, a vehicle which had been kept there ever since 
the old days of post-chaise travelling. It had stout wheel-spokes 
and heavy felloes, a great curved bed, immense straps and 
springs, and a pole like a battering-ram. The postilion was a 
venerable "boy" of sixty a martyr to rheumatic gout, the result 
of excessive exposure in youth, counteracted by strong liquors 
who had stood at inn-doors doing nothing for the whole five-and- 
twenty years that had elapsed since he had no longer been re- 
quired to ride professionally, as 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 Arms, Casterbridge. 

Inside this cumbrous and creaking structure, and behind this 
decayed conductor, the partie carre 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 groomsman, but their 
silence after his gentle hint to that effect by letter had signified 
that they did not care to come. They disapproved of the marriage 
and could not be expected to countenance it. Perhaps it was as 
well that they could not be present. They were not worldly young 


fellows, but fraternizing with dairy-folk would have struck un- 
pleasantly upon their biased niceness, apart from their views 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 tak- 
ing to the church. She knew that Angel was close to her; all the 
rest was a luminous mist. She was a sort of celestial person, who 
owed her being to poetry one of those classical divinities Clare 
was accustomed to talk to her about when they took their walks 

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 service, while they were 
kneeling together, she unconsciously inclined herself towards 
him, so that her shoulder touched his arm; she had been fright- 
ened by a passing thought, and the movement had been auto- 
matic, to assure herself that he was really there and 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 devo- 
tion, its single-mindedness, its meekness; what long suffering it 
guaranteed, what honesty, what endurance, what good faith. 

As they came out of church the ringers swung the bells off their 
rests, and 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 a circle of sound, and it matched the highly charged mental 
atmosphere in which she was living. 

This condition of mind, wherein she felt glorified by an irradia- 
tion not her own, like the angel whom St. John saw in the sun, 
lasted till the sound of the church-bells had died away and the 
emotions of the wedding-service had calmed down. Her eyes 
could dwell upon details more clearly now, and Mr. and Mrs. 
Crick having directed their own gig to be sent for them, to leave 
the carriage to the young couple, she observed the build and 


character of that conveyance for the first time. Sitting in silence, 
she regarded it long. 

"I fancy you seem oppressed, Tossy," said Clare. 

"Yes," she answered, putting 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 be 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 mem- 
bers of the family see or hear the old coach whenever But 111 
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 Clare, indeed, but 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 up- 
right souls as culpable reticence? She knew not what was ex- 
pected of women in such cases, and she had no counsellor. 

However, when 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 God, but 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 des- 
perate for human conditions too rank, too wild, too deadly. 

"Oh, my love, my love, why do I love you sol" she whispered 


there alone. "For she you love is not my real self, but one in my 
image, the one I might have been!" 

Afternoon came, and 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 Mill, at 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 out, 
the dairyman and his wife following to the door. Tess saw her 
three chamber-mates in a row against the wall, pensively inclin- 
ing their heads. She had much questioned if they would appear 
at the parting moment, but there they were, stoical and staunch 
to the last. She knew why the delicate Retty looked so fragile, 
and Izz so tragically sorrowful, and Marian so blank; and she for- 
got her own dogging shadow for a moment in contemplating 

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 stood, saying "Good-bye" 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 glance, as 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 wife and ex- 
pressed 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 
house, within a few yards of them, and his notes thrilled their 
ears through, dwindling away like echoes down a valley of rocks. 

"Oh?" said Mrs. Crick. "An afternoon crowl" 

Two men were standing by the yard-gate, holding it open. 

"That's bad," one murmured to the other, not thinking that the 
words could be heard by the group at the door-wicket. 

The cock crew again straight towards Clare. 

"Welll" said the dairyman. 


"I don't like to hear him!'* said Tess to her husband. "Tell the 
man to drive on. Good-bye, good-byel" 

The cock crew again. 

"Hoosh! Just you be off, sir, or I'll twist your neck!" said the 
dairyman with some irritation, turning to the bird and driving 
him away. And to his wife as they went indoors: "Now, to think 
o' that just to-day! 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!" 


THEY drove by the level road along the valley to a distance of a 
few miles and, reaching Wellbridge, turned away from the vil- 
lage to the left and over the great Elizabethan bridge which 
gives the place half its name. Immediately behind it stood the 
house wherein they had engaged lodgings, whose exterior fea- 
tures are so well known to all travellers through the Froom Val- 
ley; once portion of a fine manorial residence and the property 
and seat of a d'Urberville, but since its partial demolition a 

"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 that though they had only engaged a 
couple of rooms, the farmer had taken advantage of their pro- 
posed presence during the coming days to pay a New Year's visit 
to some friends, leaving a woman from a neighbouring cottage 
to minister to their few wants. The absoluteness of possession 
pleased them, and 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 de- 
pressed his bride. When the carriage was gone, they ascended 
the stairs to wash their hands, the 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 up and perceived two life-size portraits on panels 
built into the masonry. As all visitors to the mansion are aware, 
these paintings represent women of middle age, of a date some 
two hundred years ago, whose lineaments once seen can never be 
forgotten. The long, pointed features, narrow eye, and smirk of 
the one, so suggestive of merciless treachery; the bill-hook nose, 
large teeth, and bold eye of the other, suggesting arrogance to 
the point of ferocity, haunt the beholder afterwards in his 

"Whose portraits are those?" asked Clare of the charwoman. 

"I have been told by old folk that they were ladies of the d'Ur- 
berville family, the ancient lords of this manor," she said. "Ow- 
ing to their being builded into the wall, they can't be moved 

The unpleasantness of the matter was that in addition to their 
effect upon Tess, her fine features were unquestionably traceable 
in these exaggerated forms. He said nothing of this, however, 
and regretting that he had gone out of his way to choose the 
house for their bridal time, went 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 she very prettily, and 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 excess and 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 skirt, where it made a spot 
like a paint-mark set upon her. They went into the ancient par- 
lour to tea, and here they shared their first common meal alone. 
Such was their childishness, or rather his, that he found it inter- 
esting to use the same bread-and-butter plate as herself and 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 construc- 
tion 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 
not unless I were a woman myself. What I am in worldly estate, 
she is. What I become, she must become. What I cannot be, she 
cannot be. And shall I ever neglect her, or hurt her, or even for- 
get to consider her? God forbid such a crimel" 

They sat on over the tea-table, waiting for then: luggage, which 
the dairyman had promised to send before it grew dark. But eve- 
ning began to close in, and the luggage did not arrive, and 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 
resurrection, and whirled about unwillingly and tapped against 
the shutters. It soon began to rain. 

"That cock knew the weather was going to change," said 

The woman who had attended upon them had gone home 
for the night, but 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 flames and at the grease guttering down the sides. "I won- 
der where that luggage is. We haven't even a brush and comb." 

"I don't know," she answered, absent-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 did, and the words had no serious intent; 
but she was surcharged with emotion and 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 he, sorry. "You are worried at not hav- 
ing your things, I know. I cannot think why old Jonathan has 
not come with them. Why, it is seven o'clock? Ah, there he isl" 

A knock had come to the door, and there being nobody else 
to answer it, Clare 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 messenger, who had 
arrived at Talbothays from Emminster Vicarage immediately af- 


ter the departure of the married couple and had followed them 
hither, being 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 canvas, sealed in red wax with his father's 
seal, and directed in his father's hand to "Mrs. Angel Clare." 

It is a little wedding-present for you, Tess," said he, handing 
it to her. "How thoughtful they are!" 

Tess looked a little flustered as she took it. 

1 think I would rather have you open it, dearest," said she, 
turning 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 leather, 
on the top of which lay a note and a key. 

The note was for Clare, in the following words: 

My dear son, 

Possibly you have forgotten that on the death of your godmother, 
Mrs. Pitney, when you were a lad, she vain, land woman that she 
was left to me a portion of the contents of her jewel-case in trust 
for your wife, if you should ever have one, as a mark of her affection 
for you and whomsoever you should choose. This trust I have ful- 
filled, and the diamonds have been locked up at my banker's ever 
since. Though I feel it to be a somewhat incongruous act in the cir- 
cumstances, I am, as you will see, bound to hand over the articles to 
the woman to whom the use of them for her lifetime will now rightly 
belong, and they are therefore promptly sent. They become, I believe, 
heirlooms, strictly speaking, according to the terms of your godmother's 
will. The precise words of the clause that refers to this matter are 

"I do remember," said Clare; "but I had quite forgotten." 

Unlocking the case, they found it to contain a necklace, with 
pendant, bracelets, and ear-rings, and also some other small 

Tess seemed afraid to touch them at first, but her eyes spar- 
kled 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 how when he was a 
lad of fifteen his godmother, the squire's wife the only rich per- 
son 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 con- 
jectured 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 ques- 
tion 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 

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-rings, bracelets, and 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 bod- 
ice, so as to make it roughly approximate to the cut for evening 
wear; and when she had done this, and the pendant to the neck- 
lace hung isolated amid the whiteness of her throat, as it was 
designed to do, he stepped back to survey her. 

"My heavens," said Clare, "how beautiful you are!" 

As everybody knows, fine 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 ren- 
der; 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 cot- 
ton frock yes, better than in this, well as you support these 

Tess's sense of her striking appearance had given her a flush of 
excitement, which was yet not happiness. 

"Ill take them off," she said, "in 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 tell, and 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 supper, which was already laid 
on a side-table. Ere they had finished, there was a jerk in the 
fire-smoke, the rising skein of which bulged out into the room, 
as if some giant had laid his hand on the chimney-top for a mo- 
ment. It had been caused by the opening of the outer door. A 
heavy step was now heard in the passage, and Angel went out. 

"I couldn' make nobody hear at all by knocking," apologized 
Jonathan Kail, for it was he at last; "and as't was raining out I 
opened the door. I've brought the things, sir." 

"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 day, and 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 good-bye 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 Mar- 
ian 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' Retry 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." 

Angel, suddenly recollecting that Tess was overhearing this 
gloomy tale, went to shut the door between the passage and the 
ante-room to the inner parlour, where she was; but his wife, fling- 
ing a shawl round her, had come to the outer room and was lis- 
tening to the man's narrative, her 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 trencher-woman, as her face showed. It seems 
as if the maids had all gone out o' their mindsl" 

"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 parlour and sat down by the 
fire, looking wistfully into it. She heard Jonathan Kail's heavy 
footsteps up and down the stairs till he had done placing the 
luggage, and heard him express his thanks for the ale her husband 
took out to him and for the gratuity he received. Jonathan's foot- 
steps then died from the door, and his cart creaked away. 

Angel slid forward the massive oak bar which secured the door 
and, coming in to where she sat over the hearth, pressed 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 
about, but as she did not rise, he sat down with her in the fire- 
light, the candles on the supper-table being too thin and glim- 
mering to interfere with its glow. 

"I am so sorry you should have heard this sad story about the 
girls," he said. "Still, don't let it depress you. Retty was natu- 
rally morbid, you know." 

"Without the least cause," said Tess. "While they who have 
cause to be hide it and 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 tell, there and then. This final determination 
she came to when she looked into the fire, he 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 
andirons, and the old brass tongs that would not meet. The un- 
derside of the mantel-shelf was flushed with the high-coloured 
light, and the legs of the table nearest the fire. Tess's face and 
neck reflected the same warmth, which each gem turned into an 
Aldebaran or a Sirius a constellation of white, red, and green 
flashes that 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 perhaps, and you may 
well have done so. But for me it was no light promise. I want to 
make a confession to you, love." 

This, from him, so unexpectedly apposite, had 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 speak, and 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 fellow- 
ship 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?" 

"Oh 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 spotless- 
ness, even though I could lay no claim to it, and hated impurity, 
as I hope I do now. Whatever one may think of plenary inspira- 
tion, 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 be- 
ings. Integer vitae,' says a Roman poet, who is strange company 
for St. Paul- 

The man of upright lif e, 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 when, tossed about by doubts and difficulties in Lon- 
don, like a cork on the waves, he 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 her, and I came 
home. I have never repeated the offence. But I felt I should like 
to treat you with perfect frankness and honour, and 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 forever! too painful as 
it is for the occasion and talk of something lighter." 

"Oh, 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 

"It can hardly be more serious, dearest." 

"It cannot oh no, it cannot!" She jumped up joyfully at the 


hope. "No, it cannot be more serious, certainly," she cried, "be- 
cause 'tis just the samel I will tell you now." 

She sat down again. 

Their hands were still joined. The ashes under the grate were 
lit by the fire vertically, like a torrid waste. Imagination might 
have beheld a Last Day luridness in this red-coaled glow, which 
fell on his face and hand, and on hers, peering into the loose 
hair about her brow and firing the delicate skin underneath. A 
large shadow of her shape rose upon the wall and ceiling. She 
bent forward, at 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'Urber- 
ville and its results, murmuring the words without flinching, and 
with her eyelids drooping down. 



The Woman Pays 


HER narrative ended; even its reassertions and secondary expla- 
nations 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 funny as if it did not care in 
the least about her strait. The fender grinned idly, as 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 corners of their 
brains, repeating themselves as echoes from a time of supremely 
purblind foolishness. 

Clare performed the irrelevant act of stirring the fire; the in- 
telligence had not even yet got to the bottom of him. After stir- 
ring the embers he rose to his feet; all the force of her disclosure 
had imparted itself now. His face had withered. In the strenuous- 
ness of his concentration he treadled fitfully on the floor. He 
could not by any contrivance think 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. 


"Yes, dearest" 

"Am I to believe this? From your manner I am to take it as true. 
Oh, 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 her, to resume with dazed 
senses: *Why didn't you tell me before? Ah, yes, you would have 
told me, in a way but I hindered you, I remember!" 

These and other of his words were nothing but the perfunctory 
babble of the surface while the depths remained paralysed. He 
turned away and bent over a chair. Tess followed him to the mid- 
dle of the room, where he was, and stood there staring at him 
with eyes that did not weep. Presently she slid down upon her 
knees beside his foot, and from this position she crouched in a 

"In the name of our love, forgive me!" she whispered with a 
dry mouth. "I have forgiven you for the same!" 

And as he did not answer, she said again, "Forgive me as you 
are forgiven! I forgive you, Angel." 

"You yes, you do." 

"But you do not forgive me?" 

"Oh, Tess, forgiveness does not apply to the case! You were 
one person; now you are another. My God how can forgive- 
ness meet such a grotesque prestidigitation as that!" 

He paused, contemplating 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. "Oh, have 
mercy upon me have mercy!" 

He did not answer; and, sickly white, she 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, oh how can it be that you look and speak so? It 
frightens me! Having begun to love you, I love you forever 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 appre- 
hensive foreboding in former times. He looked upon her as a 
species of impostor, a guilty woman in the guise of an innocent 
one. Terror was upon her white face as she saw it; her cheek was 
flaccid, and 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 forward, thinking she was going 
to fall. 

"Sit down, sit down," he said gently. "You are ill, and it is natu- 
ral that you should be." 

She did sit down, without knowing where she was, that 
strained look still upon her face, and her eyes such as to make 
his flesh creep. 

1 don't belong to you any more, then; do I, Angel?" she asked 
helplessly. "It is not me, but another woman like me that he 
loved, he says." 

The image raised caused her to take pity upon herself as one 
who was ill-used. Her eyes filled as she regarded her posi- 
tion further; she turned round and burst into a flood of self- 
sympathetic tears. 

Clare was relieved at this change, for 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 patiently, apa- 
thetically, till the violence of her grief had worn itself out and her 
rush of weeping had lessened to a catching gasp at intervals. 

"Angel," she said suddenly in her natural tones, the insane, 
dry 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 do order you to do anything?" 

a l 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 Tess, however, was much like flinging them at a dog 
or cat. The charms of their subtlety passed by her unappreciated, 
and she only received them as inimical sounds which meant that 
anger ruled. She remained mute, not knowing that he was smoth- 
ering his affection for her. She hardly observed that a tear de- 
scended slowly upon his cheek, a tear so large that it magnified 
the pores of the skin over which it rolled like the object lens of 
a microscope. Meanwhile reillumination as to the terrible and 
total change that her confession had wrought in his life, in his 
universe, returned to him, and he tried desperately to advance 
among the new conditions in which he stood. Some consequent 
action was necessary; yet what? 

"Tess," he said as gently as he could speak, "I cannot stay in 
this room just now. I will walk out a little way." 

He quietly left the room, and the two glasses of wine that he 
had poured out for their supper one for her, one for him re- 
mained on the table untasted. This was what their agape had 
come to. At tea, two or three hours earlier, they had in the freak- 
ishness of affection drunk from one cup. 

The closing of the door behind him, gently as it had been 
pulled to, roused Tess from her stupor. He was gone; she could 
not stay. Hastily flinging her cloak around her, she opened the 
door and followed, putting 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 heels, for Clare walked slowly and 
without purpose. His form beside her light-grey figure looked 
black, sinister, and forbidding, and she felt as sarcasm the touch 
of the jewels of which she had been momentarily so proud. Clare 
turned at hearing her footsteps, but his recognition of her pres- 
ence seemed to make no difference in him, and 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 water, the 
rain having been enough to charge them but 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 to-day was in the same 
valley as Talbothays, but 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 meads, and 
along these she followed Clare without any attempt to come up 
with him or to attract him, but with dumb and vacant fidelity. 

At last, however, her listless walk brought her up alongside 
him, and 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 tend- 
ency to act on impulse; she knew that he saw her without irradia- 
tionin all her bareness; that Time was chanting his satiric psalm 
at her then: 

Behold, when thy face is made bare, he that loved thee 

shall hate; 

Thy face shall be no more fair at the fall of thy fate. 
For thy lif e shall fall as a leaf and be shed as the rain; 
And the veil of thine head shall be grief, and the crown 

shall be pain. 

He was still intently thinking, and 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 any- 
thing that interferes with or belies my love for you. You don't 
think I fanned it, do you? It is in your own mind what you are 
angry at, Angel; it is not in me. Oh, 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. 

"Oh, 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 has not loved him as I do you!" 

"Don't, Tess; don't argue. Different societies, different man- 
ners. You almost make me say you are an unapprehending 
peasant-woman, who have never been initiated into the propor- 
tions 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 anger, but 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 f amilies 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 simply, not in their 
particulars; he did not love her as he had loved her hitherto, and 
to all else she was indifferent. 

They wandered on again in silence. It was said aftenwards that 
a cottager of Wellbridge, who went out late that night for a doc- 
tor, met two lovers in the pastures, walking very slowly, without 
converse, one behind the other, as in a funeral procession, and 
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 field, progressing just as slowly and as regard- 
less of the hour and of the cheerless night as before. It was only 
on account of his preoccupation with his own affairs, and the ill- 
ness in his house, that he did not bear in mind the curious inci- 
dent, which, however, he 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." 

T 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 un- 
derstand 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 mill, the latter 
having in centuries past been attached to the monastic establish- 
ment. The mill still worked on, food being a perennial necessity; 
the abbey had perished, creeds 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 house, and in obeying his direction she only had 
to reach the large stone bridge across the main river and follow 
the road for a few yards. When she got back, everything re- 
mained as she had left it, the fire being still burning. She did not 
stay downstairs for more than a minute, but proceeded to her 
chamber, whither the luggage had been taken. Here she sat down 
on the edge of the bed, looking blankly around, and presently 
began to undress. In removing the light towards the bedstead 
its rays fell upon the tester of white dimity; something was hang- 
ing beneath it, and 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 her, saying 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 fear, having scarce anything to hope, 
for that he would relent there seemed no promise whatever, she 
lay down dully. When sorrow ceases to be speculative, sleep 
sees her opportunity. Among so many happier moods which for- 
bid repose this was a mood which welcomed it, and in a few min- 


utes the lonely Tess forgot existence, surrounded by the aromatic 
stillness of the chamber that had once, possibly, been 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 light, and with 
the manner of one who had considered his course he spread 
his rugs upon the old horse-hair sofa which stood there, and 
roughly shaped it to a sleeping-couch. Before lying down, he 
crept, shoeless, upstairs and 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 true, though 
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; then, irresolute, faced round to 
her door again. In the act he caught sight of one of the d'Urber- 
ville dames, whose portrait was immediately over the entrance to 
Tess's bed-chamber. In the candlelight the painting was more 
than unpleasant. Sinister design lurked in the woman's features, 
a 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 

His air remained calm and cold, his small, compressed mouth 
indexing his powers of self-control; his face wearing still that 
terribly sterile expression which had spread thereon since her 
disclosure. It was the face of a man who was no longer passion's 
slave, yet who found no advantage in his enfranchisement He 
was simply regarding the harrowing contingencies of human ex- 
perience, the unexpectedness of things. Nothing so pure, so 
sweet, so virginal as Tess had seemed possible all the long while 
that he had adored her, up to an hour ago; but 

The little less, and 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 possible, he con- 
tinued, that eyes which as they gazed never expressed any diver- 


gence from what the tongue was telling were yet ever seeing 
another world behind her ostensible one, discordant and 

He reclined on his couch in the sitting-room and extinguished 
the light. The night came in and took up its place there, uncon- 
cerned and indifferent; the night which had already swallowed 
up his happiness and 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. 

CLABE arose in the light of a dawn that was ashy and furtive, as 
though associated with crime. The fireplace confronted him with 
its extinct embers; the spread supper-table, whereon stood the 
two full glasses of untasted wine, now flat and filmy; her vacated 
seat and his own; the other articles of furniture, with their eter- 
nal look of not being able to help it, their 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 wife, who was to minister 
to their wants while they remained here. 

The presence of a third person in the house would be extremely 
awkward just now, and, being 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 hand, which 
he told her to leave at the door. When the dame had gone away 
he searched in the back quarters of the house for fuel and speed- 
ily lit a fire. There was plenty of eggs, butter, bread, and so on 
in the larder, and 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 it, and thought of the newly married couple, and envied 
their happiness. 

Angel cast a final glance round and then, going to the foot of 
the stairs, called in a conventional voice: "Breakfast is ready!" 

He opened the front door and took a few steps in the morning 
air. When after a short space he came back, she was already in 


the sitting-room, mechanically readjusting the breakfast things. 
As she was fully attired, and the interval since his calling her had 
been but two or three minutes, she 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 head, and 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 cold, 
and she had possibly been sitting dressed in the bedroom a long 
time without any fire. The marked civility of Clare's tone in call- 
ing her seemed to have inspired her for the moment with a new 
glimmer of hope. But it soon died when she looked at him. 

The pair were, in truth, but the ashes of then: former fires. To 
the hot sorrow of the previous night had succeeded heavi- 
ness; it seemed as if nothing could kindle either of them to fer- 
vour of sensation any more. 

He spoke gently to her, and she replied with a like undemon- 
strativeness. 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 said, and paused, touching him with her fingers 
lightly as a breeze, as though she could hardly believe to be there 
in the flesh the man who was once her lover. Her eyes were 
bright, her pale cheek still showed its wonted roundness, though 
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 still, under the stress of her mental grief the 
life beat so brokenly that a little further pull upon it would cause 
real illness, dull her characteristic eyes, and make her mouth thin. 

She looked absolutely pure. Nature, in her fantastic trickery, 
had set such a seal of maidenhood upon Tess's countenance that 
he gazed at her with a stupefied air. 

"Tess! Say it is not truel No, it is not truel" 

"It is true." 

"Every word?" 

"Every word." 

He looked at her imploringly, as if he would willingly have 
taken a lie from her lips, knowing it to be one, and have made 
of it by some sort of sophistry a valid denial. However, she 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?" 


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 standing, with fortune, with knowledge of the world, 
I should secure rustic innocence as surely as I should secure pink 
cheeks, but However, I am no man to reproach you, and I will 

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." 


"By divorcing me." 

"Good heavens how can you be so simple! How can I divorce 

"Can't you now I have told you? I thought my confession 
would give you grounds for that." 

"Oh, Tess you are too, too childish unformed crude, I sup- 
pose! 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. "Oh, now I see how 
wicked I seem to you! Believe me believe me, on my soul, I 
never thought but that you could! I hoped you would not; yet I 
believed without a doubt that you could cast me off if you were 
determined, and didn't love me at at all!" 

"You were mistaken," he said. 

"Oh, 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." 


She writhed under this inquisitorial manner of his. "Last 
night," she answered. 


"Under your mistletoe." 

"My good I How?" he asked sternly. 

"Ill tell you if you won't be angry with me!" she said, shrinking. 
"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 confession, wrung from her 
and not volunteered, shook him perceptibly. But he still held her. 
and letting his glance fall from her face downwards, he said, 
"Now, 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 pleaded, enlarging her eyes in calm unconcern 
upon him, "it 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 wayl" 


"Well, since you say no, I won't. I have no wish opposed to 

He knew this to be true enough. Since the desperation of the 
night, her activities had dropped to zero, and there was no fur- 
ther rashness to be feared. 

Tess tried to busy herself again over the breakfast-table with 
more or less success, and they sat down both on the same side, 
so that then* glances did not meet. There was at first something 
awkward in hearing each other eat and drink, but this could not 
be escaped; moreover, the amount of eating done was small on 


both sides. Breakfast over, he rose and, telling her the hour at 
which he might be expected to dinner, went off to the miller's 
in a mechanical pursuance of the plan of studying that business, 
which had been his only practical reason for coming here. 

When he was gone, Tess stood at the window and presently 
saw his form crossing the great stone bridge which conducted to 
the mill premises. He sank behind it, crossed the railway beyond, 
and disappeared. Then, without a sigh, she 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 Tess, but afterwards an alleviation. At half -past twelve she 
left her assistant alone in the kitchen and, returning to the sitting- 
room, waited for the reappearance of Angel's form behind the 

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 din- 
ner served by the time he should enter. He went first to the room 
where they had washed then: hands together the day before, 
and as he entered the sitting-room the dish-covers rose from the 
dishes as if by his own motion. 

"How punctuall" 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 mill, of the methods 
of bolting and the old-fashioned machinery, which he feared 
would not enlighten him greatly on modern improved methods, 
some 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 hour, 
coming home at dusk and occupying himself through the evening 
with his papers. She feared she was in the way and, when the 
old woman was gone, retired to the kitchen, where 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 eyes and brightened somewhat. "I may think 
myself that indeed?" she murmured in piteous raillery. "You 
mean in name! Well, I don't want to be anything more." 

"You may think so, Tess! You are. What do you mean?" 

"I don't know," she said hastily with 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 you, only only you urged mel" 

She broke into sobs and turned her back to him. It would al- 
most have won round any man but Angel Clare. Within the re- 
mote depths of his constitution, so gentle and affectionate as he 
was in general, there lay hidden a hard, logical deposit, like a 
vein of metal in a soft loam, which turned the edge of everything 
that attempted to traverse it. It had blocked his acceptance of the 
Church; it blocked his acceptance of Tess. Moreover, his affection 
itself was less fire than radiance, and with regard to the other 
sex, when he ceased to believe he ceased to follow contrasting 
in this with many impressionable natures, who 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 said in an ebullition of bitterness against womankind in gen- 
eral. "It isn't a question of respectability, but one of principlel" 

He spoke such things as these and more of a kindred sore to 
her, being still swayed by the antipathetic wave which warps 
direct souls with such persistence when once their vision finds 
itself mocked by appearances. There was, it is true, underneath, 
a 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 deserts and hardly opened her mouth. 
The firmness of her devotion to him was indeed almost pitiful; 
quick-tempered as she naturally was, nothing 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 

This evening, night, and morning were passed precisely as 
the preceding ones had been passed. On one, and only one, oc- 
casion 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 "Good-bye," 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 lived, that he drew 
sustenance from them, and other follies of that sort. But he did 
not care for them now. He observed her sudden shrinking and 
said gently, "You know, I have to think of a course. It was imper- 
ative that we should stay together a little while to avoid the scan- 
dal 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 out, and on his way to the mill stood still and wished 
for a moment that he had responded yet more kindly, and kissed 
her once at least. 

Thus they lived through this despairing day or two; in the same 
house, truly; but more widely apart than before they were lovers. 
It was evident to her that he was, as he had said, living with par- 
alysed activities in his endeavour to think of a plan of procedure. 
She was awe-stricken to discover such determination under such 
apparent flexibility. His consistency was, indeed, 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 this, instead of benefiting him, might be the means of 
hampering and humiliating him yet more if it should become 

Meanwhile Clare was meditating, verily. His thought had been 
unsuspended; he was becoming ill with thinking; eaten out with 
thinking, withered by thinking; scourged out of all his former 
pulsating, flexuous domesticity. He walked about saying to him- 
self, "What'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 asked, the 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 cannot," he said, "without 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 some- 
body 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 ex- 
panding years. What an awakening for them! What a prospect! 
Can you honestly say Hemain' after contemplating this contin- 
gency? Don't you think we had better endure the ills we have 
than fly to others?" 

Her eyelids, weighted with trouble, continued drooping as 

"I cannot say 'Remain,'" she answered. "I cannot; I had not 
thought so far." 

Tess's feminine hope shall we confess it? had been so obsti- 
nately 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 sense, she was not incomplete; and it would have de- 
noted deficiency of womanhood if she had not instinctively 
known what an argument lies in propinquity. Nothing else would 
serve her, she knew, if this failed. It was wrong to hope in what 
was of the nature of strategy, she said to herself; yet that sort of 
hope she could not extinguish. His last representation had now 
been made, and it was, as she said, a new view. She had truly 
never thought so far as that, and his lucid picture of possible off- 
spring who would scorn her was one that brought deadly convic- 
tion to an honest heart which was humanitarian to its centre. 
Sheer experience had already taught her that in some circum- 
stances there was one thing better than to lead a good life, and 
that was to be saved from leading any life whatever. Like all who 
have been provisioned by suffering, she could, in the words of 
M. Sully-Prudhomme, hear 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 Nature that, till now, 
Tess 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 a misfortune to herself. 

She therefore could not withstand his argument. But with the 
self -combating proclivity of the supersensitive, an answer thereto 
arose in Clare's own mind, and 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 Texas plain, who is to know or care about my misfor- 
tunes or to reproach me or you?" Yet, like the majority of 
women, she accepted the momentary presentiment as if it were 
the inevitable. And she may have been right. The intuitive heart 
of woman knoweth not only its own bitterness but its husband's, 
and even if these assumed reproaches were not likely to be ad- 
dressed to him or to his by strangers, they 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, corporeal presence is sometimes less appealing than cor- 
poreal absence; the latter creating an ideal presence that con- 
veniently drops the defects of the real. She found that her 
personality did not plead her cause so forcibly as she had antici- 
pated. 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 him, mov- 
ing her forefinger over the tablecloth, her other hand, which 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 him, she 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 murmured, her counte- 


nance meeldy fixed. "I don't complain, Angel. I I think it best. 
What you said has quite convinced me. Yes, though nobody else 
should reproach me if we should stay together, yet somewhen, 
years hence, you might get angry with me for any ordinary mat- 
ter, and knowing what you do of my bygones, you yourself might 
be tempted to say words, and they might be overheard, perhaps 
by my own children. Oh, what only hurts me now would torture 
and kill me then! I will go to-morrow." 

"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 pale, even tremu- 
lous; but, as before, she was appalled by the determination re- 
vealed in the depths of this gentle being she had married the 
will to subdue the grosser to the subtler emotion, the substance 
to the conception, the flesh to the spirit. Propensities, tendencies, 
habits, were as dead leaves upon the tyrannous wind of his imagi- 
native ascendancy. 

He may have observed her look, for he explained: "I think of 
people more kindly when I am away from them"; adding cyni- 
cally, "God knows; perhaps we shall shake down together some 
day, for weariness; thousands have done itl" 

That day he began to pack up, and she went upstairs and be- 
gan to pack also. Both knew that it was in their two minds that 
they might part the next morning forever, despite the gloss of 
assuaging conjectures thrown over their proceeding because 
they were of the sort to whom any parting which has an air of 
finality is a torture. He knew, and she knew, that though the fas- 
cination 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 ever, time 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. Moreover, when two people 
are once parted have abandoned a common domicile and a com- 
mon environment new growths insensibly bud upward to fill 
each vacated place; unforeseen accidents hinder intentions, and 
old plans are forgotten. 


MIDNIGHT came and passed silently, for 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 dark- 
ened farmhouse once the mansion of the d'Urbervilles. Tess, who 
used the upper chamber, heard it and awoke. It had come from 
the corner step of the staircase, which, as usual, was loosely 
nailed. She saw the door of her bedroom open, and the figure of 
her husband crossed the stream of moonlight with a curiously 
careful tread. He was in his shirt and trousers only, and 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! DeadI Dead!" 

Under the influence of any strongly disturbing force, Clare 
would occasionally walk hi his sleep and even perform strange 
feats, such as he had done on the night of their return from mar- 
ket 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 somnambu- 
listic state now. 

Her loyal confidence in him lay so deep down in her heart that, 
awake or asleep, he 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 close and bent over her. "Dead, dead, deadl" he 

After fixedly regarding her for some moments with the same 
gaze of immeasurable woe, he bent lower, enclosed her in his 
arms, and 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 
body, he carried her across the room, murmuring: "My poor, poor 
Tess my dearest, darling Tess! So sweet, so good, so true!" 

The words of endearment, withheld so severely in his waking 
hours, were inexpressibly sweet to her forlorn and hungry heart. 
If it had been to save her weary life, she would not, by moving 
or struggling, have put an end to the position she found herself 
in. Thus she lay in absolute stillness, scarcely venturing to 


breathe, and, wondering what he was going to do with her, suf- 
fered 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 her, and in the knowledge that he had 
planned to depart on the morrow, possibly for always, she lay 
in his arms in this precarious position with a sense rather of luxury 
than of terror. If they could only fall together and both be dashed 
to pieces, how fit, how desirable. 

However, he did not let her fall, but took advantage of the 
support of the hand-rail to imprint a kiss upon her lips lips in 
the day-time scorned. Then he clasped her with a renewed firm- 
ness of hold and descended the staircase. The creak of the loose 
stair did not awaken him, and they reached the ground-floor 
safely. Freeing one of his hands from his grasp of her for a mo- 
ment, he slid back the door-bar and passed out, slightly striking 
his stockinged toe against the edge of the door. But this he 
seemed not to mind, and having room for extension in the open 
air, he lifted her against his shoulder so that he could cany her 
with ease, the 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 intention, if he had any, she had not yet divined; 
and she found herself conjecturing on the matter as a third per- 
son 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 possession, to dispose of as he should choose. It 
was consoling, under the hovering terror of to-morrow's separa- 
tion, to feel that he really recognized her now as his wife Tess, 
and did not cast her off, even if in that recognition he went so 
far as to arrogate to himself the right of harming her. 

Ahl Now she knew what he was dreaming of that Sunday 
morning when he had borne her along through the water with 
the other dairymaids, who had loved him nearly as much as she, 
if that were possible, which Tess could hardly admit. Clare did 
not cross the bridge with her, but, proceeding several paces on 
the same side towards the adjoining mill, at length stood still on 
the brink of the river. 

Its waters, in creeping down these miles of meadow-land, fre- 
quently divided, serpentining in purposeless curves, looping 


themselves around little islands that had no name, returning and 
re-embodying themselves as a broad main stream further on. Op- 
posite the spot to which he had brought her was such a general 
confluence, and the river was proportionately voluminous and 
deep. Across it was a narrow foot-bridge; but now the autumn 
flood had washed the hand-rail away, leaving the bare plank only, 
which, lying a few inches above the speeding current, formed a 
giddy pathway for even steady heads; and Tess had noticed 
from the window of the house in the day-time young men walking 
across upon it as a feat in balancing. Her husband had possibly 
observed the same performance; anyhow, he now mounted the 
plank and, sliding one foot forward, advanced along it. 

Was he going to drown her? Probably he was. The spot was 
lonely, the 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 to-morrow to lead severed lives. 

The swift stream raced and gyrated under them, tossing, dis- 
torting, and splitting the moon's reflected face. Spots of froth trav- 
elled past, and intercepted weeds waved behind the piles. If 
they could both fall together into the current now, their arms 
would be so tightly clasped together that they could not be saved; 
they would go out of the world almost painlessly, and there 
would be no more reproach to her or to him for marrying her. 
His last half-hour with her would have been a loving one, while 
if they lived till he awoke, his day-time aversion would return 
and this hour would remain to be contemplated only as a tran- 
sient dream. 

The impulse stirred in her, yet she dared not indulge it, to 
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 
grounds, and 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 abbot, 
in which every tourist with a turn for grim humour was accus- 
tomed to stretch himself. In this Clare carefully laid Tess. Having 
kissed her lips a second time, he breathed deeply, as if a greatly 
desired end were attained. Clare then lay down on the ground 
alongside, when he immediately fell into the deep, dead slumber 


of exhaustion and 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 night, though dry and mild for the 
season, was more than sufficiently cold to make it dangerous for 
him to remain here long in 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 him, and 
let him know what he had been doing, when it would mortify 
him to discover his folly in respect of her? Tess, however, step- 
ping out of her stone confine, shook him slightly, but was unable 
to arouse him without being violent. It was indispensable to do 
something, for she was beginning to shiver, the 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 

It suddenly occurred to her to try persuasion; and accordingly 
she whispered in his ear, with 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 relief, he unresistingly 
acquiesced; her words had apparently thrown him back into his 
dream, which thenceforward seemed to enter on a new phase, 
wherein he fancied she had risen as a spirit and was leading him 
to Heaven. Thus she conducted him by the arm to the stone 
bridge in front of their residence, crossing which, they stood at 
the manor-house door. Tess's feet were quite bare, and the stones 
hurt her and chilled her to the bone; but Clare was in his woollen 
stockings and appeared to feel no discomfort. 

There was no further difficulty. She induced him to lie down 
on his own sofa bed and covered him up warmly, lighting a 
temporary fire of wood to dry any dampness out of him. The 
noise of these attentions she thought might awaken him, and 
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 excursion, though as regarded himself he may have been 
aware that he had not lain still. In truth, he had awakened that 
morning from a sleep deep as annihilation; and during those first 
few moments in which the brain, like a Samson shaking himself, 
is trying its strength, he 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-night, did not 
vanish in the light of morning, it stood on a basis approximating 
to one of pure reason, even if initiated by impulse of feeling; that 
it was so far, therefore to 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 
skeleton, but none the less there. Clare no longer hesitated. 

At breakfast, and while they were packing the few remaining 
articles, he showed his weariness from the night's effort so un- 
mistakably that Tess was on the point of revealing all that had 
happened; but the reflection that it would anger him, grieve him, 
stultify him, to know that he had instinctively manifested a fond- 
ness for her of which his common sense did not approve, that his 
inclination had compromised his dignity when reason slept, 
again deterred her. It was too much like laughing at a man when 
sober for his erratic deeds during intoxication. 

It just crossed her mind, too, that he might have a faint recol- 
lection of his tender vagary and 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 town, and 
soon after breakfast it arrived. She saw in it the beginning of the 
end the temporary end, at least, for the revelation of his ten- 
derness by the incident of the night raised dreams of a possible 
future with him. The luggage was put on the top, and the man 
drove them off, the miller and the old waiting-woman expressing 
some surprise at their precipitate departure, which Clare at- 
tributed to his discovery that the millwork was not of the modern 
kind which he wished to investigate, a statement that was true 
so far as it went. Beyond this there was nothing in the manner 
of their leaving to suggest a fiasco, or 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 back, and as Clare 
wished to wind up his business with Mr. Crick, Tess could hardly 
avoid paying Mrs. Crick a call at the same time, unless she would 
excite suspicion of their unhappy state. 


To make the call as unobtrusive as possible, they left the car- 
riage by the wicket leading down from the high road to the dairy- 
house and descended the track on foot, side by side. The 
withy-bed had been cut, and 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 fasci- 
nated by his harp; and far away behind the cow-stalls the mead 
which had been the scene of their first embrace. The gold of the 
summer picture was now grey, the colours mean, the rich soil 
mud, and the river cold. 

Over the barton-gate the dairyman saw them and came for- 
ward, throwing into his face the kind of jocularity deemed ap- 
propriate in Talbothays and its vicinity on the reappearance of 
the newly married. Then Mrs. Crick emerged from the house, 
and several others of their old acquaintance, though Marian and 
Retty did not seem to be there. 

Tess valiantly bore their sly attacks and friendly humours, 
which 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 then, al- 
though 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 latter 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 good-bye, touching each of them with her 
hand, and as she and Clare stood side by side at leaving, as if 
united body and soul, there would have been something pecul- 
iarly sorry in their aspect to one who should have seen it truly; 
two limbs of one life, as they outwardly were, his arm touching 
hers, her skirts touching him, facing one way, as against all the 
dairy facing the other, speaking in their adieus as "we," and yet 
sundered like the poles. Perhaps something unusually stiff and 
embarrassed in their attitude, some awkwardness in acting up 
to their profession of unity, different from the natural shyness of 
young couples, may have been apparent, for when they were 
gone, Mrs. Crick said to her husband, "How onnatural the bright- 
ness 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 vehicle, and were driven along the roads, 
towards Weatherbury and Stagfoot Lane, till they reached the 
Lane Inn, where Clare dismissed the fly and man. They rested 
here a while, and, entering the vale, were next driven onward 
towards her home by a stranger who did not know their rela- 
tions. At a midway point, when Nuttlebury had been passed and 
where there were cross-roads, Clare 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 
assented, and 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?" 

"Oh 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 bearl" 

That was all she said on the matter. If Tess had been artful, 
had she made a scene, fainted, wept hysterically, in that lonely 
lane, notwithstanding the fury of fastidiousness with which he 
was possessed, he would probably not have withstood her. But 
her mood of long-suffering made his way easy for him, and she 
herself was his best advocate. Pride, too, entered into her sub- 


mission which perhaps was a symptom of that reckless acquies- 
cence 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 
money, which he had obtained from his bankers for the purpose. 
The brilliants, the 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 

These things arranged, he walked with Tess back to the car- 
riage and 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 good- 
bye; and they parted there and then. 

The fly moved creepingly up a hill, and 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 doing, 
would not have ventured to do, lying in a half-dead faint inside. 
Thus he beheld her recede, and in the anguish of his heart quoted 
a line from a poet, with 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 way, and hardly knew that he loved her still. 

As she drove on through Blackmoor Vale, and the landscape of 
her youth began to open around her, Tess 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 stranger, not by the old man 
who had kept it for many years and to whom she had been 
known; he had probably left on New Year's Day, the date when 


such changes were made. Having received no intelligence lately 
from her home, she asked the turnpike-keeper for news. 

"Oh nothing, miss," he answered. "Marlott is Marlott still. 
Folks have died and that. John Durbeyfield, too, hev had a 
daughter married this week to a gentleman-farmer; not from 
John's own house, you 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 it, the 
bridegroom seeming not to know how't have been discovered 
that John is a old and ancient nobleman himself by blood, with 
family skillentons in their own vaults to this day, but done out of 
his property in the time o' the Romans. However, Sir John, as 
we call 'n now, kept up the wedding-day as well as he could, and 
stood treat to everybody in the parish; and John's wife sung songs 
at The Pure Drop till past eleven o'clock." 

Hearing this, Tess 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 while, and on his offering no objection, she dis- 
missed her carriage and went on to the village alone by a back 

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 com- 
paratively rich man, who was to conduct her to bouncing prosper- 
ity; while here she was, friendless, creeping up to the old door 
quite by herself, with 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 there, her friend, unheeding 
her tragic look, interrupted with: "But where's thy gentleman, 

Tess hastily explained that he had been called away on busi- 
ness and, leaving her interlocutor, clambered over the garden- 
hedge and thus made her way to the house. 

As she went up the garden-path she heard her mother singing 
by the back door, coming in sight of which, she perceived Mrs. 
Durbeyfield on the doorstep in the act of wringing a sheet. Hav- 
ing performed this without observing Tess, she went indoors, 
and her daughter followed her. 


The washing-tub stood in the same old place on the same old 
quarter-hogshead, and her mother, having thrown the sheet 
aside, was about to plunge her arms in anew. 

"Why Tess! My chiT 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 II" 

"Mother!" Tess went across to Joan Durbeyfield, laid her face 
upon the matron's bosom, and 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 

"Oh, you little fool you little fool!" burst out Mrs. Durbey- 
field, splashing Tess and herself in her agitation. "My good God! 
That ever I should ha' lived to say it, but I say it again, you little 

Tess was convulsed with weeping, the tension of so many days 
having relaxed at last. 

"I know it I know I know!" she gasped through her sobs. 
"But, oh, my mother, I could not help it! He was so good and 
I felt the wickedness of trying to blind him as to what had hap- 
pened! 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 oh, 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 be- 
tween caring so much for him and my wish to be fair to him!" 

Tess was so shaken that she could get no further, and sank, a 
helpless thing, into a chair. 

"Well, well; what's done can't be undonel 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 since, and 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- 

As if to bring matters to a focus, Tess's father was heard ap- 
proaching at that moment. He did not, however, enter imme- 
diately, and Mrs. Durbeyfield said that she would break the bad 
news to him herself, Tess 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 trouble, as 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 shifted and 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 
a live hen. He was a foot-haggler now, having been obliged to 
sell his second horse, and he travelled with his basket on his arm. 
The hen had been carried about this morning as it was often car- 
ried, to show people that he was in his work, though it had lain, 
with its legs tied, under the table at Rolliver's for more than an 

"We've just had up a story about" Durbeyfield began, and 
thereupon related in detail to his wife a discussion which had 
arisen at the inn about the clergy, originated by the fact of his 
daughter having married into a clerical family. "They was for- 
merly styled 'sir,' like my own ancestry," he said, "though nowa- 
days their true style, strictly speaking, is 'clerk' only." As Tess had 
wished that no great publicity should be given to the event, he 
had mentioned no particulars. He hoped she would remove that 
prohibition soon. He proposed that the couple should take Tess's 


own name, cTUrberville, as uncorrupted. It was better than her 
husband's. He asked if any letter had come from her that day. 

Then Mrs. Durbeyfield informed him that no letter had come, 
but Tess unfortunately had come herself. 

When at length the collapse was explained to him, a sullen 
mortification, not usual with Durbeyfield, overpowered the in- 
fluence 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-cellar, and my folk lying there in 
sixes and sevens, as 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 glane and say, This is yer mighty match is it; this is yer get- 
ting back to the true level of yer forefathers in King Norman's 
time!' I feel this is too much, Joan; I shall put an end to myself 
title 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 Tess, who had heard as far as this, could not bear to hear 
more. The perception that her word could be doubted even here, 
in her own parental house, set her mind against the spot as noth- 
ing else could have done. How unexpected were the attacks 
of destiny! And if her father doubted her a little, would not 
neighbours and acquaintance doubt her much? Oh, she could 
not live long at home! 

A few days, accordingly, were all that she allowed herself here, 
at the end of which time she received a short note from Clare, 
informing 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 
wife and to hide from her parents the vast extent of the division 
between them, she made use of this letter as her reason for again 
departing, leaving them under the impression that she was setting 
out to join him. Still further to screen her husband from any im- 
putation of unkindness to her, she took twenty-five of the fifty 
pounds Clare had given her and handed the sum over to her 
mother, as if the wife of a man like Angel Clare could well afford 
it, saying that it was a slight return for the trouble and humilia- 


tion she had brought upon them in years past. With this assertion 
of her dignity she bade them farewell; and after that there were 
lively doings in the Durbeyfield household for some time on the 
strength of Tess's bounty, her mother saying, and, indeed, be- 
lieving, that 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. 


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 no- 
tice him, still less to expect him. He was arriving like a ghost, and 
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 not, even yet. Nevertheless 
humanity stood before him no longer in the pensive sweetness 
of Italian art, but hi the staring and ghastly attitudes of a Wiertz 
Museum and with the leer of a study by Van Beers. 

His conduct during these first weeks had been desultory be- 
yond description. After mechanically attempting to pursue his 
agricultural plans as though nothing unusual had happened, in 
the manner recommended by the great and wise men of all ages, 
he 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 

His mood transmuted itself into a dogged indifference till at 


length he fancied he was looldng 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'Urber- 
ville. 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 by- 
gone days presented itself to his view, he perceived how inti- 
mately 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 ad- 
vantages of the empire of Brazil as a field for the emigrating 
agriculturist. Land was offered there on exceptionally advan- 
tageous terms. Brazil somewhat attracted him as a new idea. 
Tess could eventually join him there, and perhaps in that coun- 
try of contrasting scenes and notions and habits the conventions 
would not be so operative which made life with her seem im- 
practicable 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 actu- 
ally 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 

Clare had given his parents no warning of his visit, and his ar- 
rival 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 wife, dear AngelF* cried his mother. "How 
you surprise usl" 


"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 surelyl" 

"Are they? I hadn't thought of that." 

But even the novelty and painfulness of his going to a papisti- 
cal land could not 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. Clare, "and your father sent your god- 
mother'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 
brothers felt that very strongly. Now it is done we do not com- 
plain, 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 bet- 
ter to reserve our liking for your wife till we could see her. And 
now you have not brought her. It seems strange. What has hap- 

He replied that it had been thought best by them that she 
should go to her parents' home for the present, whilst he came 

"I don't mind telling you, dear Mother," he said, "that I always 
meant to keep her away from this house till I should feel she 
could come 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 

"And I shall not see her before you start?" 

He was afraid they would not. His original plan had been, as 
he had said, to 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 year if 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 in, and Clare made 
further exposition of his plans. His mother's disappointment at 
not seeing the bride still remained with her. Clare's late enthu- 
siasm for Tess had infected her through her maternal sympathies, 
till 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 questionl" he said with 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." 


"You were her first love?" 

"Of course." 

"There are worse wives than these simple, rosy-mouthed, ro- 
bust 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 
prayers, the 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 son, your father has decided to read us the chapter in Prov- 
erbs in praise of a virtuous wife. We shall not need to be re- 
minded to apply the words to the absent one. May Heaven shield 
her in all her ways!" 

A lump rose in Clare's throat. That portable lectern was taken 
out from the corner and set in the middle of the fireplace, the 


two old servants came in, and 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 strengthened! 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 over, his mother said, "I could not help 
thinking how very aptly that chapter your dear father read ap- 
plied, 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 daugh- 
ters 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 tears, 
which seemed like drops of molten lead. He bade a quick good 
night to these sincere and simple souls whom he loved so well; 
who knew neither the world, the flesh, nor the devil in their own 
hearts, only as something vague and external to themselves. He 
went to his own chamber. 

His mother followed him and tapped at his door. Clare opened 
it to discover her standing without, with anxious eyes. 

"Angel," she asked, "is there something wrong that you go away 
so soon? I am quite sure you are not yourself." 

1 am not, quite, Mother," said he. 

"About her? Now, my son, I know it is 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 investi- 

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 He. 

"Then never mind the rest. After all, there are few purer things 
in nature than an unsullied country maid. Any crudeness of man- 
ner which may offend your more educated sense at first will, I 
am sure, disappear under the influence of 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 marriage, which 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 people, and that it ab- 
horred lighting the face of a dupe and a failure. 

When his agitation had cooled, he would be at moments in- 
censed 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 anger, as if she had been in the room. And then her 
cooing voice, plaintive in expostulation, disturbed the darkness, 
the velvet touch of her lips passed over his brow, and he could 
distinguish in the air the warmth of her breath. 

This night the woman of his belittling deprecations was think- 
ing how great and good her husband was. But over them both 
there hung a deeper shade than the shade which Angel Clare per- 
ceived, namely, the shade of his own limitations. With all his 
attempted independence of judgement this advanced and well- 
meaning young man, a sample product of the last five-and-twenty 
years, was yet the slave to custom and conventionality when 
surprised back into his early teachings. No prophet had told him, 
and he was not prophet enough to tell himself, that 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 
evil, her moral value having to be reckoned not by achievement 
but by tendency. Moreover, the figure near at hand suffers on 
such occasions, because it shows up its sorriness without shade; 
while vague figures afar off are honoured, in that their distance 
makes artistic virtues of their stains. In considering what Tess was 
not, he overlooked what she was, and forgot that the defective 
can be more than the entire. 

AT breakfast Brazil was the topic, and all endeavoured to take a 
hopeful view of Clare's proposed experiment with that country's 
soil, notwithstanding 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 there 
and to get from the local bank all the money he possessed. On 
his way back he encountered Miss Mercy Chant by the church, 
from whose walls she seemed to be a sort of emanation. She was 
carrying an armful of Bibles for her class, and such was her view 
of life that events which produced heartache in others wrought 
beatific smiles upon her an enviable result although, in the 
opinion of Angel, it was obtained by a curiously unnatural sacri- 
fice of humanity to mysticism. 

She had learnt that he was about to leave England and ob- 
served 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. "But, my dear Mercy, it snaps the continuity 
of existence. Perhaps a cloister would be preferable." 

"A cloisterl Oh, Angel Clarel" 


"Why, you wicked man, a cloister implies a monk, and a monk 
Roman Catholicism." 

"And Roman Catholicism sin, and sin damnation. Thou art in a 
parlous state, Angel Clare." 

"I glory in my Protestantisml" she said severely. 

Then Clare, thrown by sheer misery into one of the demoniacal 
moods in which a man does despite to his true principles, called 
her close to him and 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 said, "you must forgive me. I think I am go- 
ing 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 months, as she 
might require; and wrote to her at her parents' home in Black- 
moor Vale to inform her of what he had done. This amount with 
the sum he had already placed in her hands about fifty pounds 
he hoped would be amply sufficient for her wants just at pres- 
ent, particularly 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; and, being unaware 
of what had really happened to estrange the two, neither his 
father nor his mother suggested that he should do so. During the 
day he left the parsonage, for what he had to complete he wished 
to get done quickly. 

As the last duty before leaving this part of England it was nec- 
essary for him to call at the Wellbridge farmhouse, in which he 
had spent with Tess the first three days of their marriage, the 
trifle of rent having to be paid, the key given up of the rooms 
they had occupied, and 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 it, the memory which returned first upon him was 
that of their happy arrival on a similar afternoon, the first fresh 
sense of sharing a habitation conjointly, the first meal together, 
the chatting by the fire with joined hands. 

The farmer and his wife were in the field at the moment of his 
visit, and Clare was in the rooms alone for some time. Inwardly 
swollen with a renewal of sentiments that he had not quite 
reckoned with, he went upstairs to her chamber, which 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 colour, and 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 conjuncture had been a wise, much less a generous, one. 
But had he not been cruelly blinded? In the incoherent multitude 
of his emotions he knelt down at the bedside wet-eyed. "Oh, 
Tess! If you had only told me sooner, I 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 standing and, 
on her turning up her face, recognized the pale, dark-eyed Izz 

"Mr. Clare," she said, "I've called to see you and Mrs. Clare, 
and to inquire if ye be well. I thought you might be back here 

This was a girl whose secret he had guessed, but who had not 
yet guessed his; an honest girl who loved him one who would 
have made as good or nearly as good a practical farmer's wife as 

"I am here alone," he said; "we are not living here now." Ex- 
plaining why he had come, he asked, ''Which 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 leftl I am staying out this way." 
She pointed in a contrary direction, the direction in which he was 

"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 farmer and 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 said as they drove on. 
"Going to Brazil." 

"And do Mrs. Clare like the notion of such a journey?" she 

"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 distance, Izz 
making no observation. 

"How are the others?" he inquired. "How is Hetty?" 

"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." 


"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 f ailing off?" 

Her black eyes flashed up to his face for one moment by way 
of answer. 

"Izz! How weak of you for such as II" he said, and fell into 
reverie. "Then suppose I had asked you to marry me?" 

"If you had I should have said *Yes,' and you would have mar- 
ried a woman who loved 'eel" 


"Down to the ground!" she whispered vehemently. "Oh 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 fate, bit- 
terly disposed towards social ordinances; for they had cooped 
him up in a corner, out of which there was no legitimate pathway. 
Why not be revenged on society by shaping his future domestic- 
ities 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 personal, not voyaging, reasons. 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 Izz after 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 civiliza- 
tionWestern civilization, that is to say." 

"I don't mind that; no woman do when it comes to agony-point, 
and there's no other way!" 

"Then don't get down, but sit where you are." 

He drove past the cross-roads, one mile, two miles, without 
showing any signs of affection. 

"You love me very, very much, Izz?" he suddenly asked. 

1 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 murmured, "not more than she." 

"How's thatr 

"Because nobody could love 'ee more than Tess did! . . . She 
would have laid down her lif e for 'ee. I could do no more." 

Like the prophet on the top of Peor, Izz Huett would fain have 
spoken perversely at such a moment, but the fascination exer- 
cised 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 ears 
repeated, "She would have laid down her life for 'ee. I could do 
no morer 

"Forget our idle talk, Izz," he said, turning 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 'eel Oh how can I bear it how 
can I how can I!" 

Izz Huett burst into wild tears and beat her forehead as she 
saw what she had done. 

"Do you regret that poor little act of justice to an absent one? 
Oh, 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 bel" 

"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 earlier, and she hopped down. 

"Izz please, please forget my momentary levity!" he cried. "It 
was so ill-considered, so ill-advised!" 

"Forget it? Never, never! Oh, it was no levity to me!" 

He felt how richly he deserved the reproach that the wounded 
cry conveyed and, in a sorrow that was inexpressible, leapt 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 girl, and allowed no further bitter- 
ness to mar their adieus. 

"I forgive 'ee, sir!" she said. 

"Now, Izz," he said while 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 woman 
and not to give way to folly. Promise that, and tell Hetty that 
there are more worthy men than I in the world, that 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 you, Izzy, you 
have saved me by your honest words about my wife from an in- 
credible impulse towards folly and treachery. Women may be 
bad, but 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 lover, 
but a faithful friend. Promise." 

She gave the promise. 

"Heaven bless and keep you, sir. Good-bye!" 

He drove on; but no sooner had Izz turned into the lane, and 
Clare was out of sight, than 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. No- 
body ever was told how Izz spent the dark hours that intervened 
between Angel Clare's parting from her and her arrival home. 

Clare, too, after bidding the girl farewell, was wrought to ach- 
ing thoughts and quivering lips. But his sorrow was not for Izz. 
That evening he was within a featherweight's turn of abandoning 
his road to the nearest station and 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 heart which deterred him. 

No; it was a sense that despite her love, as corroborated by 
Izz's admission, the facts had not changed. If he was right at first, 
he was right now. And the momentum of the course on which he 
had embarked tended to keep him going in it, unless diverted 
by a stronger, more sustained force than had played upon him 
this afternoon. He could soon come back to her. He took the 
train that night for London and five days after shook hands in 
farewell of his brothers at the port of embarkation. 


FROM the foregoing events of the whiter-time, let us press on to 
an October day more than eight months subsequent to the part- 
ing of Clare and Tess. We discover the latter in changed condi- 
tions; instead of a bride with boxes and trunks which others bore, 
we see her a lonely woman with a basket and a bundle in her own 
porterage, as 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 period, she can produce 
only a flattened purse. 

After again leaving Marlott, her home, she had got through the 
spring and summer without any great stress upon her physical 
powers, the time being mainly spent in rendering light, irregular 
service at dairy-work near Port Bredy to the west of the Black- 
moor Valley, equally remote from her native place and from 
Talbothays. She preferred this to living on his allowance. Men- 
tally she remained in utter stagnation, a condition which the 
mechanical occupation rather fostered than checked. Her 
consciousness was at that other dairy, at that other season, in the 
presence of the tender lover who had confronted her there he 
who, the moment she had grasped him to keep for her own, had 
disappeared like a shape in a vision. 

The dairy-work lasted only till the milk began to lessen, for 
she had not met with a second regular engagement as at 
Talbothays, but had done duty as a supernumerary only. How- 
ever, as harvest was now beginning, she had simply to remove 


from the pasture to the stubble to find plenty of further occupa- 
tion, and this continued till harvest was done. 

Of the five-and-twenty pounds which had remained to her of 
Clare's allowance, after deducting the other half of the fifty as a 
contribution to her parents for the trouble and expense to which 
she had put them, she had as yet spent but little. But there now 
followed an unfortunate interval of wet weather, during which 
she was obliged to fall back upon her sovereigns. 

She could not bear to let them go. Angel had put them into 
her hand, had 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 it, and one by one 
they left her hands. 

She had been compelled to send her mother her address from 
time to time, but 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 house, which required en- 
tire 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 required, which, with the previous bill, would 
amount to a sum of twenty pounds. As her husband was a man of 
means and had doubtless returned by this time, could she not 
send them the money? 

Tess had thirty pounds coming to her almost immediately from 
Angel's bankers, and the case being so deplorable, as soon as the 
sum was received, she sent the twenty as requested. Part of the 
remainder she was obliged to expend in winter clothing, leaving 
only a nominal sum for the whole inclement season at hand. 
When the last pound had gone, a remark of Angel's, that when- 
ever she required further resources she was to apply to his father, 
remained to be considered. 

But the more Tess thought of the step, the more reluctant was 
she to take it. The same delicacy, pride, false shame, whatever it 
may be called, on Clare's account, which had led her to hide from 
her own parents the prolongation of the estrangement, hindered 
her in 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 
might, she thought, lessen with the lapse of time; but with her 
own the reverse obtained. On her leaving then* house after the 
short visit subsequent to her marriage, they were under the im- 
pression 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 comfort, hoping 
against hope that his journey to Brazil would result in a short 
stay only, after which he would come to fetch her, or 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 wife, dependent, now that she had relieved their ne- 
cessities, on her own hands for a living, after the 6clat of a mar- 
riage which was to nullify the collapse of the first attempt, would 
be too much indeed. 

The set of brilliants returned to her mind. Where Clare had 
deposited them she did not know, and it mattered little if 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 Brazil, having been drenched with thunder- 
storms and persecuted by other hardships, in common with all 
the English farmers and farm-labourers who, just at this time, 
were deluded into going thither by the promises of the Brazilian 
Government, and by the baseless assumption that those frames 
which, ploughing and sowing on English uplands, had resisted 
all the weathers to whose moods they had been born could 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 sov- 
ereigns had been spent, she was unprovided with others to take 
their place, while on account of the season she found it increas- 
ingly difficult to get employment. Not being aware of the rarity 
of intelligence, energy, health, and willingness in any sphere of 
life, she refrained from seeking an indoor occupation; fearing 
towns, large houses, people of means and social sophistication, 


and 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 this, and 
her instinct in the circumstances was to avoid its purlieus. 

The small dairies to the west, beyond Port Bredy, in 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 pity and their whispered remarks to one another upon 
her strange situation; though she would almost have faced 
a knowledge of her circumstances by every individual there so 
long as her story had remained isolated in the mind of each. It 
was the interchange of ideas about her that made her sensitive- 
ness 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 
county, to 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 girl, 
deeming Tess in trouble, had hastened to notify to her former 
friend that she herself had gone to this upland spot after leaving 
the dairy and would like to see her there, where there was room 
for other hands, if it was really true that she worked again as of 

With the shortening of the days all hope of obtaining her hus- 
band'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 step, obliterating her identity, giving 
no thought to accidents or contingencies which might make a 
quick discovery of her whereabouts by others of importance to 
her own happiness, if 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 
distinction, which she had caught from Clare, being superadded 
to her natural attractiveness. Whilst the clothes lasted which had 
been prepared for her marriage these casual glances of interest 


caused her no inconvenience, but as soon as she was compelled 
to don the wrapper of a field-woman, 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 bound because, for one thing, 
it was nearer to the home of her husband's father; and to hover 
about that region unrecognized, with the notion that she might 
decide to call at the vicarage some day, gave her pleasure. But 
having once decided to try the higher and drier levels, she 
pressed back eastward, marching afoot towards the village of 
Chalk-Newton, where she meant to pass the night 

The lane was long and unvaried, and owing to the rapid short- 
ening of the days, dusk came upon her before she was aware. 
She had reached the top of a hill, down which the lane stretched 
its serpentine length in glimpses, when she heard footsteps be- 
hind her back, and in a few moments she was overtaken by a 
man. He stepped up alongside Tess and said, "Good night, 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 

"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 her, and 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, consid- 

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 wind and, without looking behind her, ran along 
the road till she came to a gate which opened directly into a 
plantation. Into this she plunged and did not pause till she was 
deep enough in its shade to be safe against any possibility of dis- 

Under foot the leaves were dry, and 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 heap, making a sort of nest in 
the middle. Into this Tess crept. 

Such sleep as she got was naturally fitful; she fancied she heard 
strange noises, but 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 globe while she was here hi the 
cold. Was there another such a wretched being as she in the 
world? Tess asked herself; and, thinking of her wasted life, said, 
"All is vanity." She repeated the words mechanically, till she re- 
flected that this was a most inadequate thought for modern days. 
Solomon had thought as far as that more than two thousand years 
ago; she herself, though not in the van of thinkers, had got much 
further. If all were only vanity, who would mind it? All was, alas, 
worse than vanity injustice, punishment, exaction, death. The 
wife of Angel Clare put her hand to her brow, and felt its curve, 
and the edges of her eye-sockets perceptible under the soft skin, 
and 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 main- 
tained 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 

She had occasionally caught glimpses of these men in girlhood, 
looking over hedges or peering through bushes and pointing 
their guns, strangely accoutred, a blood-thirsty 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 win- 
ter, 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 He where she had found them till the gamekeepers 
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 I" she exclaimed, her 
tears running down as she killed the birds tenderly. "And not a 
twinge of bodily pain about mel I be not mangled, and I be not 
bleeding, and I have two hands to feed and clothe me." She was 
ashamed of herself for her gloom of the night, based on nothing 
more tangible than a sense of condemnation under an arbitrary 
law of society which had no foundation in nature. 

IT was now broad day, and she started again, emerging cautiously 
upon the highway. But there was no need for caution; not a soul 
was at hand, and Tess went onward with fortitude, her recollec- 
tion of the birds' silent endurance of their night of agony im- 
pressing upon her the relativity of sorrows and the tolerable 
nature of her own, if 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-Newton and breakfasted at an inn, where 
several young men were troublesomely complimentary to her 
good looks. Somehow she felt hopeful, for 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 it and keep 
off these casual lovers. To this end Tess resolved to run no fur- 
ther risks from her appearance. As soon as she got out of the vil- 
lage, she entered a thicket and took from her basket one of the 
oldest field-gowns, which she had never put on even at the dairy 
never since she had worked among the stubble at Marlott. She 
also, by a felicitous thought, took a handkerchief from her bundle 
and tied it round her face under her bonnet, covering her chin 
and half her cheeks and temples, as if she were suffering from 
toothache. Then with her little scissors, by the aid of a pocket 
looking-glass, she mercilessly nipped her eyebrows off, and thus 
insured against aggressive admiration, she went on her uneven 

"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 

"But I don't care!" she said. "Oh no I don't care! I'll always be 
ugly now because Angel is not here, and I have nobody to take 
care of me. My husband that was is gone away, and never will 
love me any more; but I love him just the same, and hate all other 
men, and like to make 'em think scornfully of me!" 

Thus Tess walks on; a figure which is part of the landscape; a 
field-woman pure and simple, in winter guise; a grey serge cape, 
a red woollen cravat, a stuff skirt covered by a whitey-brown 
rough wrapper, and buff-leather gloves. Every thread of that old 


attire has become faded and thin under the stroke of raindrops, 
the burn of sunbeams, and 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 exterior, over which the eye might have roved as over 
a thing scarcely percipient, almost inorganic, there was the record 
of a pulsing life which had learnt too well, for its years, of the 
dust and ashes of things, of the cruelty of lust and the fragility 
of love. 

Next day the weather was bad, but she trudged on, the hon- 
esty, directness, and impartiality of elemental enmity discon- 
certing her but little. Her object being a winter's occupation and 
a winter's home, there 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 her, which she deter- 
mined to make use of as a last shift only, its rumoured stringencies 
being the reverse of tempting. First she inquired for the lighter 
kinds of employment and, as acceptance in any variety of these 
grew hopeless, applied next for the less light, till, beginning with 
the dairy and poultry tendance that she liked best, she ended 
with the heavy and coarse pursuits which she liked least work 
on arable land; work of such roughness, indeed, as she would 
never have deliberately volunteered for. 

Towards the second evening she reached the irregular chalk 
table-land, or plateau, bosomed 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 

Here the air was dry and cold, and the long cart roads were 
blown white and dusty within a few hours after rain. There were 
few trees or none, those that would have grown in the hedges 
being mercilessly plashed down with the quickset by the tenant- 
farmers, the natural enemies of tree, bush, and brake. In the 
middle distance ahead of her she could see the summits of Bui- 
barrow and of Nettlecombe-Tout, and they seemed friendly. 


They had a low and unassuming aspect from this upland, though 
as approached on the other side from Blackmoor in her childhood 
they were as lofty bastions against the sky. Southerly, at many 
miles' distance and over the hills and ridges coastward, she could 
discern a surface like polished steel: it was the English Channel 
at a point far out towards France. 

Before her in a slight depression were the remains of a village. 
She had, in fact, reached 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 rough- 
est kind; but it was time to rest from searching, and she resolved 
to stay, particularly as it began to rain. At the entrance to the 
village was a cottage whose gable jutted into the road, and be- 
fore applying for a lodging, she stood under its shelter and 
watched the evening close in. 

"Who would think I was Mrs. Angel Clare!" she said. 

The wall felt warm to her back and shoulders, and she found 
that immediately within the gable was the cottage fireplace, the 
heat of which came through the bricks. She warmed her hands 
upon them and also put her cheek red and moist with the driz- 
zleagainst 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 to- 
gether after their day's labour talking to each other within, and 
the rattle of their supper-plates was also audible. But in the vil- 
lage street she had seen no soul as yet. The solitude was at last 
broken by the approach of one feminine figure, who, though the 
evening was cold, wore the print gown and the tilt-bonnet of 
summer-time. Tess instinctively thought it might be Marian, and 
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 formerly, and 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 
excessive, and she responded readily to Marian's greeting. 

Marian was quite respectful in her inquiries, but 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 separa- 


"Tess Mrs. Clare the dear wife of dear hel 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 pres- 
ent life." 

Marian paused. 

"But you be a gentleman's wife, and it seems hardly fair that 
you should live like this!" 

"Oh 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 then* 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 ask- 
ing 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 be- 
fore. Do they want a hand here?" 

"Oh 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 myself, I 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." 

"Oh 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." 

Marian, who was really a trustworthy girl though of coarser 
grain than Tess, promised anything she asked. 

"This is pay-night," she said, "and 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 he used you 
like a drudge." 

"That's true; I could not!" 

They walked on together and soon reached the farmhouse, 
which was almost sublime in its dreariness. There was not a tree 
within sight; there was not, at this season, a green pasture noth- 
ing 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 work-folk had received their wages, and then Marian intro- 
duced her. The farmer himself, it appeared, was not at home, but 
his wife, who represented him this evening, made no objection to 
hiring Tess on 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 

Having signed the agreement, there was nothing more for Tess 
to do at present than to get a lodging, and she found one in the 
house at whose gable-wall she had warmed herself. It was a poor 
subsistence that she had ensured, but it would afford a shelter for 
the winter at any rate. 

That night she wrote to inform her parents of her new address 
in 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. 


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 village, the village cared for by its lord, the village 


cared for by itself, and the village uncared for either by itself or 
by its lord (in other words, the village of a resident squire's ten- 
antry, the village of free- or copy-holders, and the absentee 
owner's village, farmed with the land), this place, Flintcomb-Ash, 
was the third. 

But Tess set to work. Patience, that blending of moral courage 
with physical timidity, was 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 acres in one patch, on 
the highest ground of the farm, rising above stony lanchets or 
linchets the outcrop of siliceous veins in the chalk formation, 
composed of myriads of loose, white flints in bulbous, cusped, 
and phallic shapes. The upper half of each turnip had been eaten 
off by the live-stock, and 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 hacker, that it might be eaten also. Every leaf of the 
vegetable having already been consumed, the whole field was in 
colour a desolate drab; it was a complexion without features, as 
if a face, from chin to brow, should be only an expanse of skin. 
The sky wore, in another colour, the same likeness; a white 
vacuity of countenance with the lineaments gone. So these two 
upper and nether visages confronted each other all day long, the 
white face looking down on the brown face and the brown face 
looking up at the white face, without anything standing between 
them but the two girls crawling over the surface of the former 
like flies. 

Nobody came near them, and their movements showed a me- 
chanical regularity; their forms standing enshrouded in Hessian 
"wrappers" sleeved brown pinafores, tied behind to the bottom, 
to keep their gowns from blowing about scant skirts revealing 
boots that reached high up the ankles, and 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 hour, unconscious of the forlorn 
aspect they bore in the landscape, not thinking of the justice or 
injustice of their lot. Even in such a position as theirs it was pos- 
sible to exist in a dream. In the afternoon the ram came on again, 
and 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 situation, this field, that the rain had no occasion to fall, 
but raced along horizontally upon the yelling wind, sticking 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 dampness, and a very little is called being wet through in com- 
mon talk. But to stand working slowly in a field and feel the creep 
of rainwater, first on legs and shoulders, then on hips and head, 
then at back, front, and sides, and yet to work on till the leaden 
light diminishes and marks that the sun is down, demands a dis- 
tinct modicum of stoicism, even of valour. 

Yet they did not feel the wetness so much as might be sup- 
posed. They were both young, and they were talking of the time 
when they lived and loved together at Talbothays Dairy, that 
happy green tract of land where summer had been liberal in her 
gifts; in substance to all, emotionally to these. Tess would fain not 
have conversed with Marian of the man who was legally, if not 
actually, her husband; but the irresistible fascination of the sub- 
ject betrayed her into reciprocating Marian's remarks. And thus, 
as has been said, though the damp curtains of their bonnets 
flapped smartly into their faces and their wrappers clung about 
them to wearisomeness, they lived all this afternoon in memories 
of green, sunny, romantic Talbothays. 

"You can see a gleam of a hill within a few miles o' Froom Val- 
ley from here when 'tis fine," said Marian. 

"Ah! Can you?" said Tess, awake to the new value of this lo- 

So the two forces were at work here as everywhere, the inher- 
ent will to enjoy and 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 dreaming, however, being enough for her sublimation at pres- 
ent, she declined except the merest sip, and then Marian took 
a pull herself from the spirits. 

"I've got used to it," she said, "and 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's, but upheld by the 
dignity of being Angel's wife, in the letter at least, she 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- 
trimming, in 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 in- 
gredient of Clare's character would lead him to rejoin her. 

Marian, primed to a humorous mood, would discover the 
queer-shaped flints aforesaid and shriek with laughter, Tess re- 
maining severely obtuse. They often looked across the country 
to where the Var or Froom was known to stretch, even though 
they might not be able to see it, and fixing their eyes on the 
cloaking grey mist, imagined the old times they had spent out 

"Ah," said Marian, "how I should like another or two of our 
old set to come herel 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 again a'most, in seemingl" Marian's eyes softened, and her 
voice grew vague as the visions returned. "I'll write to Izz Huett," 
she said. "She's biding at home doing nothing now, I know, and 
I'll tell her we be here and ask her to come; and perhaps Hetty is 
well enough now." 

Tess had nothing to say against the proposal, and the next she 
heard of this plan for importing old Talbothays' joys was two or 
three days later, when Marian informed her that Izz had replied 
to her inquiry and had promised to come if she could. 

There had not been such a winter for years. It came on in 
stealthy and measured glides, like the moves of a chess-player. 
One morning the few lonely trees and the thorns of the hedge- 
rows 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 night, giving it four times its usual 
stoutness; the whole bush or tree forming a staring sketch in white 
lines on the mournful grey of the sky and horizon. Cobwebs re- 
vealed their presence on sheds and walls where none had ever 
been observed till brought out into visibility by the crystallizing 
atmosphere, hanging like loops of white worsted from salient 
points of the outhouses, posts, and gates. 


After this season of congealed dampness came a spell of dry 
frost, when 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 conceived, in curdling tempera- 
tures 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 Marian, but of all they had seen which 
humanity would never see, they brought no account. The travel- 
ler's ambition to tell was not theirs, and with dumb impassivity 
they dismissed experiences which they did not value for the im- 
mediate 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 rain, and a 
cold which was not of frost. It chilled the eyeballs of the twain, 
made their brows ache, penetrated to their skeletons, affecting 
the surface of the body less than its core. They knew that it meant 
snow, and in the night the snow came. Tess, who continued to 
live at the cottage with the warm gable that cheered any lonely 
pedestrian who paused beside it, awoke in the night and 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 casement, forming a white cone of 
the finest powder against the inside, and had also come down the 
chimney, so that it lay sole-deep upon the floor, on which her 
shoes left tracks when she moved about. Without, the 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 lamp, Marian 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 soon, therefore, as the uniform cloak of darkness 
without began to turn to a disordered medley of greys, they blew 


out the lamp, wrapped themselves up in their thickest pinners, 
tied their woollen cravats round their necks and across their 
chests, and started for the barn. The snow had followed the birds 
from the polar basin as a white pillar of a cloud, and individual 
flakes could not be seen. The blast smelt of icebergs, arctic seas, 
whales, and 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 fields, keeping as well as they 
could in the shelter of hedges, which, however, acted as strainers 
rather than screens. The air, afflicted to pallor with the hoary 
multitudes that infested it, twisted 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't, they keep just in front o't all the 
way from the North Star. Your husband, my dear, is, I make no 
doubt, having scorching weather all this time. Lord, if he could 
only see his pretty wife now! Not that this weather hurts your 
beauty at all in fact, it 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 answering, Tess, with tears in her eyes, impulsively 
faced in the direction in which she imagined South America to 
lie and, putting up her lips, blew 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 1. 1 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 on, and 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 was, and she came forward. She had walked all the way 
from her mother's home on the previous afternoon and, not deem- 
ing the distance so great, had been belated, arriving, however, 


just before the snow began and sleeping at the alehouse. The 
farmer had agreed with her mother at market to take her on if 
she came to-day, and she had been afraid to disappoint him by 

In addition to Tess, Marian, and Izz, there were two women 
from a neighbouring village; two Amazonian sisters, whom 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 her and possibly had none, for they had been un- 
der the influence of liquor on that occasion, and were only tem- 
porary sojourners there as here. They did all lands of men's work 
by preference, including well-sinking, hedging, ditching, and ex- 
cavating, without any sense of fatigue. Noted reed-drawers were 
they too, and looked round upon the other three with some super- 

Putting on their gloves, all set to work in a row in front of the 
press, an erection formed of two posts connected by a cross-beam, 
under which the sheaves to be drawn from were laid ears out- 
ward, the beam being pegged down by pins in the uprights and 
lowered as the sheaves diminished. 

The day hardened in colour, the light coming in at the barn- 
doors 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 women, who were re- 
counting scandals, Marian and Izz could not at first talk of old 
times as they wished to do. Presently they heard the muffled tread 
of a horse, and the farmer rode up to the barn-door. When he 
had dismounted, he came close to Tess and remained looking 
musingly at the side of her face. She had not turned at first, but 
his fixed attitude led her to look round, when 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 
outside, when he said, "So 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 of you." He concluded with a hard 


Tess, between the Amazons and the farmer, like a bird caught 
in a clap-net, returned no answer, continuing 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 treat- 
ment 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 well see which is master here. Be 
they all the sheaves you've done to-day?" 

"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 flagon, put down 
their hooks, tied their last sheaves, and went away. Marian and 
Izz would have done likewise, but on hearing that Tess meant to 
stay, to make up by longer hours for her lack of skill, they would 
not leave her. Looking out at the snow, which still fell, Marian 
exclaimed, "Now, we've got it all to ourselves." And so at last the 
conversation turned to their old experiences at the dairy and, of 
course, the incidents of their affection for Angel Clare. 

"Izz and Marian," said Mrs. Angel Clare with a dignity which 
was extremely touching, seeing how very little of a wife she was, 
"I can't join in talk with you now as I used to do about Mr. Clare; 
you will see that I cannot, because although he is gone away from 
me for the present, he 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 lover, no 
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 answered with tearfulness in her words. 
"Perhaps there's a good deal to be said for him! He did not go 
away, like some husbands, without telling me; and I can always 
find out where he is." 

After this they continued for some long time in a reverie as 
they went on seizing the ears of corn, drawing out the straw, 
gathering it under their arms, and cutting off the ears with their 
bill-hooks, nothing sounding in the barn but the swish of the straw 
and the crunch of the hook. Then Tess suddenly flagged and 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. "Oh, that'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 doggedly as 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." 

However, she was so overcome that she consented to lie down 
awhile, and 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 owing to agita- 
tion at reopening the subject of her separation from her husband 
as to the hard work. She lay in a state of percipience without voli- 
tion, and 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 corner, in addition to these noises, the 
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 saying, and persuading herself 
that she felt better, she got up and resumed work. 

Then Izz Huett broke down. She had walked more than a 
dozen miles the previous evening, had gone to bed at midnight, 
and had risen again at five o'clock. Marian alone, thanks to her 
bottle of liquor and her stoutness of build, stood the strain upon 
back and arms without suffering. Tess urged Izz to leave off, 
agreeing, as she felt better, to finish the day without her and 
make equal division of the number of sheaves. 

Izz accepted the offer gratefully and disappeared through the 
great door into the snowy track to her lodging. Marian, as was 
the case every afternoon at this time on account of the bottle, 
began 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 sol I didn't mind his having you. 
But this about Izz is too bad!" 

Tess, in her start at the words, narrowly missed cutting off a 
finger with the bill-hook. 

"Is it about my husband?" she stammered. 

"Well, yes. Izz said, TDon'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 without, and 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 Tess, without any premonitory 
symptoms, burst 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 dimmer, and they could see to 
work no longer. When Tess had reached home that evening and 
had entered into the privacy of her little white-washed chamber, 
she began impetuously writing a letter to Clare. But falHng into 


doubt, she could not finish it. Afterwards she took the ring from 
the ribbon on which she wore it next her heart and retained it on 
her finger all night, as if to fortify herself in the sensation that 
she was really the wife of this elusive lover of hers, who could 
propose that Izz should go with him abroad so shortly after he 
had left her. Knowing that, how could she write entreaties to 
him or show that she cared for him any more? 


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 par- 
ents 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 vicarage, therefore, as to her own parents since her marriage, 
she was virtually non-existent. This self-effacement in both direc- 
tions had been quite in consonance with her independent char- 
acter 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 qualities, and to waive such 
merely technical claims upon a strange family as had been es- 
tablished for her by the flimsy fact of a member of that family, in 
a season of impulse, writing his name in a church-book beside 

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 solicitude, call at the vicarage for 
intelligence, and 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 weekday was not in her power; Sunday 


was the only possible opportunity. Flintcomb-Ash being in the 
middle of the cretaceous table-land over which no railway had 
climbed as yet, it 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 later, when the snow had gone, and had been fol- 
lowed by a hard black frost, she took advantage of the state of 
the roads to try the experiment. At four o'clock that Sunday morn- 
ing she came downstairs and stepped out into the starlight. The 
weather was still favourable, the ground ringing under her feet 
like an anvil. 

Marian and Izz were much interested in her excursion, know- 
ing that the journey concerned her husband. Their lodgings were 
in a cottage a little further along the lane, but 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 she, knowing of the austere and Calvin- 
istic tenets of old Mr. Clare, was indifferent and even doubtful. 
A year had now elapsed since her sad marriage, but she had pre- 
served sufficient draperies from the wreck of her then-full ward- 
robe to clothe her very charmingly as a simple country-girl with 
no pretensions to recent fashion; a soft grey woollen gown, with 
white crape quilling against the pink skin of her face and neck, 
and 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 and 
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 antagonis- 
tic to Tess in her presence, the influence which she exercised 
over those of her own sex being of a warmth and strength quite 
unusual, curiously overpowering the less worthy feminine feel- 
ings of spite and rivalry. 

With a final tug and touch here and a slight brush there, they 
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 win and, 
though without any particular respect for her own virtue, felt 
glad that she had been prevented wronging her friend when mo- 
mentarily tempted by Clare. 


It was a year ago, all but a day, that Clare had married Tess, 
and only a few days less than a year that he had been absent from 
her. Still, to start on a brisk walk, and on such an errand as hers, 
on a dry, clear, wintry morning, through the rarefied air of these 
chalky hogs'-backs, was not depressing; and there is no doubt 
that her dream at starting was to win the heart of her mother- 
in-law, tell her whole history to that lady, enlist her on her side, 
and so gain back the truant. 

In time she reached the edge of the vast escarpment below 
which stretched the loamy Vale of Blackmoor, now 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 
acres, so numerous that they looked from this height like the 
meshes of a net. Here the landscape was whitey-brown; down 
there, as in Froom Valley, it was always green. Yet it was in that 
vale that her sorrow had taken shape, and she did not love it as 
formerly. Beauty to her, as to all who have felt, lay not in the 
thing, but in what the thing symbolized. 

Keeping the vale on her right, she steered steadily westward; 
passing above the Hintocks, crossing at right angles the high road 
from Sherton-Abbas to Casterbridge, and 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- 
Hand, where the stone pillar stands desolate and silent, to mark 
the site of a miracle, or 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 
Evershead, being now about half-way over the distance. She 
made a halt here and breakfasted a second time, heartily enough 
not at the Sow-and-Acorn, for she avoided inns, but at a cottage 
by the church. 

The second half of her journey was through a more gentle 
country, by way of Benvill Lane. But as the mileage lessened 
between her and the spot of her pilgrimage, so did Tess's con- 
fidence decrease and her enterprise loom out more formidably. 
She saw her purpose in such staring lines, and the landscape so 
faintly, that she was sometimes in danger of losing her way. How- 


ever, about noon she paused by a gate on the edge of the basin 
in which Emminster and its vicarage lay. 

The square tower, beneath which she knew that at that mo- 
ment 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 weekday. Such a good man might be prejudiced 
against a woman who had chosen Sunday, never 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 leather, and, stuffing 
the former into the hedge by the gate-post, where she might read- 
ily find them again, descended 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 her, but noth- 
ing favoured her. The shrubs on the vicarage lawn rustled un- 
comfortably in the frosty breeze; she could not feel by any stretch 
of imagination, dressed to her highest as she was, that the house 
was the residence of near relations; and yet nothing essential, in 
nature or emotion, divided her from them: in pains, pleasures, 
thoughts, birth, death, and after-death, they were the same. 

She nerved herself by an effort, entered the swing-gate, and 
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 to be risen to and made again. She rang a second time, 
and the agitation of the act, coupled with her weariness after 
the fifteen miles' walk, led her to support herself while she waited 
by resting her hand on her hip and her elbow against the wall of 
the porch. The wind was so nipping that the ivy-leaves had 
become wizened and grey, each tapping incessantly upon its 
neighbour with a disquieting stir of her nerves. A piece of blood- 
stained paper, caught up from some meat-buyer's dust-heap, beat 
up and down the road without the gate; too flimsy to rest, too 
heavy to fly away; and a few straws kept it company. 

The second peal had been louder, and still nobody came. Then 
she walked out of the porch, opened the gate, and passed 
through. And though she looked dubiously at the house-front as 
if inclined to return, it was with a breath of relief that she closed 
the gate. A feeling haunted her that she might have been recog- 
nized (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 distress, she walked back again quite past the house, 
looking 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 household, servants included, going to morning- 
service, and as a consequence, eating cold food when they came 
home. It was, therefore, only necessary to wait till the service 
was over. She would not make herself conspicuous by waiting 
on the spot, and she started to get past the church into the lane. 
But as she reached the churchyard-gate the people began pour- 
ing out, and Tess found herself in the midst of them. 

The Emminster congregation looked at her as only a congrega- 
tion 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 road by which 
she had come, to find a retreat between its hedges till the vicar's 
family should have lunched, and it might be convenient for them 
to receive her. She soon distanced the church-goers, except two 
youngish men, who, linked arm in arm, were beating up behind 
her at a quick step. 

As they drew nearer she could hear their voices engaged in ear- 
nest discourse and, with the natural quickness of a woman in 
her situation, did not fail to recognize in those voices the quality 
of her husband's tones. The pedestrians were his two brothers. 
Forgetting all her plans, Tess's one dread was lest they should 
overtake her now, in her disorganized condition, before 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 dinner, to restore warmth to limbs chilled with 
sitting through a long service. 

Only one person had preceded Tess up the hill a ladylike 
young woman, somewhat interesting, though perhaps a 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 nothing, however, which particularly interested her till, ob- 


serving the young lady still further in front, one of them re- 
marked, "There 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 parents, and whom he 
probably would have married but for her intrusive self. She 
would have known as much without previous information if she 
had waited a moment, for 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." 

"1 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 altogether 
and passed her by. The young lady still further ahead heard their 
footsteps and turned. Then there was a greeting and a shaking 
of hands, and the three went on together. 

They soon reached the summit of the hill and, evidently in- 
tending this point to be the limit of their promenade, slackened 
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 umbrella and 
dragged something to light. 

"Here's a pair of old boots," he said. "Thrown away, I suppose, 
by some tramp or other." 

"Some impostor who wished to come into the town barefoot, 
perhaps, and so excite our sympathies," said Miss Chant. "Yes, 
it must have been, for 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 Clare, who had been the one to find them, picked 
them up for her with the crook of his stick; and Tess's boots were 

She, who had heard this, walked past under the screen of her 
woollen veil till, presently looking back, she 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 
tears, were running down her face. She knew that it was all senti- 
ment, all 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 these 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 inflicted, it 
was somewhat unfortunate that she had encountered the sons 
and not the father, who, despite his narrowness, was far less 
starched and ironed than they and had to the full the gift of 
charity. As she again thought of her dusty boots she almost pitied 
those habiliments for the quizzing to which they had been sub- 
jected, and felt how hopeless lif e was for then* owner. 

"Ah!" she said, still sighing in pity of herself. "They 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 misfor- 
tune 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 cases, when 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 hope, but full of a conviction 
that a crisis in her life was approaching. No crisis, apparently, 
had 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, indeed, take sufficient 
interest in herself to throw up her veil on this return journey, as 
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 sprightliness, no purpose; only a tendency. Along the tedious 
length of Benvill Lane she began to grow tired, and she leant 
upon gates and paused by milestones. 

She did not enter any house till, at the seventh or eighth 
mile, she descended the steep, long hill below which lay the vil- 
lage or townlet of Evershead, where in the morning she had 
breakfasted with such contrasting expectations. The cottage by 
the church, in which she again sat down, was almost the first at 
that end of the village, and while the woman fetched her some 
milk from the pantry Tess, looking down the street, perceived 
that the place seemed quite deserted. 

> "The people are gone to afternoon-service, I suppose?" she 

"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, fiery, Christian man, they say. But, Lord, I 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 village, her 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 road, she 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 sentences, though she was on the closed side of 
the barn. The sermon, as might be expected, was of the extremest 
untinomian type; on justification by faith, as expounded in the 
theology of St. Paul. This fixed idea of the rhapsodist was de- 
livered with animated enthusiasm in a manner entirely declama- 
tory, for he had plainly no skill as a dialectician. Although Tess 


had not heard the beginning of the address, she 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 interested, as she stood listening be- 
hind, in finding that the preacher's doctrine was a vehement 
form of the views of Angel's father, and her interest intensified 
when the speaker began to detail his own spiritual experiences 
of how he had come by those views. He had, he said, been the 
greatest of shiners. He had scoffed; he had wantonly associated 
with the reckless and the lewd. But a day of awakening had 
come, and in a human sense it had been brought about mainly 
by the influence of a certain clergyman, whom he had at first 
grossly insulted, but whose parting words had sunk into his heart 
and had remained there till, by the grace of Heaven, they had 
worked this change in him and made him what they saw him. 

But more startling to Tess than the doctrine had been the 
voice, which, impossible as it seemed, was precisely that of Alec 
d'Urberville. Her face fixed in painful suspense, she came round 
to the front of the barn and passed before it. The low, winter sun 
beamed directly upon the great double-doored entrance on this 
side; one of the doors being open, so that the rays stretched 
far in over the threshing-floor to the preacher and his audience, 
all snugly sheltered from the northern breeze. The listeners 
were entirely villagers, among them being the man whom she 
had seen carrying the red paint-pot on a former memorable oc- 
casion. But her attention was given to the central figure, who 
stood upon some sacks of corn, facing the people and the door. 
The three-o'clock sun shone full upon him, and the strange, ener- 
vating conviction that her seducer confronted her, which had 
been gaining ground in Tess ever since she had heard his words 
distinctly, was at last established as a fact indeed. 



The Convert 


TELL this moment she had never seen or heard from dlJrberville 
since her departure from Trantridge. 

The rencounter came at a heavy moment, one 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 man who was sorrowing for 
his past irregularities, a fear overcame her, paralysing her move- 
ment so that she neither retreated nor advanced. 

To think of what emanated from that countenance when she 
saw it last, and to behold it nowl . . . There was the same hand- 
some unpleasantness of mien, but now he wore neatly trimmed, 
old-fashioned whiskers, the sable moustache having disappeared; 
and his dress was half clerical, a modification which had changed 
his expression sufficiently to abstract the dandyism from his fea- 
tures and to hinder for a second her belief in his identity. 

To Tess's sense there was, just at first, a ghastly bizarrerie, a 
grim incongruity, in the march of these solemn words of Scrip- 
ture out of such a mouth. This too-familiar intonation, less 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 pas- 
sion. The lip-shapes that had meant seductiveness were now 
made to express supplication; the glow on the cheek that yester- 


day could be translated as riotousness was evangelized to-day 
into the splendour of pious rhetoric; animalism had become fa- 
naticism; 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 lineaments, as such, seemed 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 misapplication, that 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 alive, and 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 

Such impressions as these moved her vaguely and without strict 
definiteness. As soon as the nerveless pause of her surprise would 
allow her to stir, her impulse was to pass on out of his sight. He 
had obviously not discerned her yet in her position against the 

But the moment that she moved again, he recognized her. The 
effect upon her old lover was electric, far stronger than the effect 
of his presence upon her. His fire, the tumultuous ring of his elo- 
quence, seemed 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 eyes, after their first glance upon her 
face, hung confusedly in every other direction but hers, but came 
back in a desperate leap every few seconds. This paralysis lasted, 
however, but a short time; for Tess's energies returned with the 
atrophy of his, and she walked as fast as she was able past the 
barn and onward. 

As soon as she could reflect, it appalled her, this change in 
their relative platforms. He who had wrought her undoing was 
now on the side of the Spirit, while she remained unregenerate. 
And, as in the legend, it had resulted that her Cyprian image 


had suddenly appeared upon his altar, whereby 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 cloth- 
ingso 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 existence, 
which she had hoped for, had not, after 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 angles and presently saw before her the road as- 
cending whitely to the upland, along whose margin the remainder 
of her journey lay. Its dry, pale surface stretched severely on- 
ward, unbroken by a single figure, vehicle, or mark, save some 
occasional brown horse-droppings which dotted its cold aridity 
here and there. While slowly breasting this ascent Tess became 
conscious of footsteps behind her, and turning, she saw approach- 
ing that well-known form so strangely accoutred as the Meth- 
odistthe one personage in all the world she wished not to 
encounter alone on this side of the grave. 

There was not much time, however, for thought or elusion, 
and she yielded as calmly as she could to the necessity of letting 
him overtake her. She saw that he was excited, less 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 him, and he came up. 

1 see it is," she answered coldly. 

"Well is that all? Yet I deserve no more! Of course," he added 
with a slight laugh, "there 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 won- 
der 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 grimly as they moved 


onward together, she 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 consider- 
ing what you had been to me, it 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 home, they say." 

"I have done nothing!" said he indifferently. "Heaven, as I 
have been telling my hearers, has done all. No amount of con- 
tempt 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 so? 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 
wing 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 then: 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 con- 
duct, 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 to-day; 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 passionately as she turned away 
from him to a stile by the wayside, on which she bent herself. 
"I can't believe in such sudden things! I feel indignant with you 
for talking to me like this, when you know when you know what 
harm you've done me! You and those like you take 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 thing, when you have had 
enough of that, to 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." 


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 declared, a resentment beneath his words seeming 
ready to spring out at a moment's notice, "God 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 new-comers see furthest 

"Yes," she replied sadly. "But I cannot believe in your conver- 
sion to a new spirit. Such flashes as you feel, Alec, I fear don't 

Thus speaking, she turned from the stile over which she had 
been leaning and faced him; whereupon his eyes, falling cas- 
ually upon the familiar countenance and form, remained contem- 


plating her. The inferior man was quiet in him now, but it was 
surely not extracted nor even entirely subdued. 

"Don't look at me like that!" he said abruptly. 

Tess, who had been quite unconscious of her action and mien, 
instantly withdrew the large, dark gaze of her eyes, stammering 
with a flush, "I beg your pardon!" And there was revived in her 
the wretched sentiment which had often come to her before, 
that 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 veil, saying hastily, "It 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 

"Ssh!" said Tess. 

"Well, women's faces have had too much power over me al- 
ready 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 onward, Tess inwardly wondering how 
far he was going with her and 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 
Scripture, and 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 district, to paint these reminders, that no means might 
be left untried which might move the hearts of a wicked 

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 
beauty, a negative beauty of tragic tone. The place took its name 
from a stone pillar which stood there, a strange, rude monolith, 
from a stratum unknown in any local quarry, on which was 
roughly carved a human hand. Differing accounts were given 
of its history and purport. Some authorities stated that a devo- 


tional cross had once formed the complete erection thereon, of 
which the present relic was but the stump; others that the stone 
as it stood was entire, and that it had been fixed there to mark a 
boundary or place of meeting. Anyhow, whatever the origin of 
the relic, there was and is something sinister or solemn, according 
to mood, in the scene amid which it stands; something tending 
to impress the most phlegmatic passer-by. 

"I think I must leave you now," he remarked as they drew near 
to this spot. "I have to preach at Abbot's-Cernel at six this eve- 
ning, and my way lies across to the right from here. And you up- 
set me somewhat too, Tessy I cannot, will not, say why. I must 
go away and get strength. . . . How is it that you speak so flu- 
ently 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 fear, put your hand upon that 
stone hand and 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." 

Tess, half frightened, gave 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. Good-bye!" 

He turned to a hunting-gate in the hedge and, without letting 
his eyes again rest upon her, leapt over and struck out across 
the down in the direction of Abbot's-Cernel. As he walked his 
pace showed perturbation, and by and by, as if instigated by a 


former thought, he drew from his pocket a small book, between 
the leaves of which was folded a letter, worn and soiled as from 
much rereading. D'Urberville opened the letter. It was dated 
several months before this time and was signed by Parson Clare. 

The letter began by expressing the writer's unfeigned joy at 
d'Urberville's conversion and 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 
conduct and his interest in the young man's plans for the future. 
He, Mr. Clare, would much have liked to see d'Urberville in the 
church to whose ministry he had devoted so many years of his 
own life and would have helped him to enter a theological col- 
lege to that end; but since his correspondent had possibly not 
cared to do this on account of the delay it would have entailed, 
he was not the man to insist upon its paramount importance. 
Every man must work as he could best work and in the method 
towards which he felt impelled by the Spirit. 

D'Urberville read and reread this letter and seemed to quiz 
himself cynically. He also read some passages from memoranda as 
he walked till his face assumed a calm, and 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; 'twere not a cross! Tis a thing of ill omen, miss. 
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 
devil, and that he walks at times." 

She felt the petite mart at this unexpectedly gruesome in- 
formation and left the solitary man behind her. It was dusk 
when she drew near to Flintcomb-Ash, and in the lane at the 
entrance to the hamlet she approached a girl and her lover with- 
out their observing her. They were talking no secrets, and the 
clear, unconcerned voice of the young woman, in response to 
the warmer accents of the man, spread into the chilly air as the 
one soothing thing within the dusky horizon, full of a stagnant 
obscurity upon which nothing else intruded. For a moment the 
voices cheered the heart of Tess till she reasoned that this inter- 


view had its origin, on one side or the other, in the same attrac- 
tion which had been the prelude to her own tribulation. When she 
came close, the girl turned serenely and recognized her, the 
young man walking off in embarrassment. The woman was Izz 
Huett, whose interest in Tess's excursion immediately superseded 
her own proceedings. Tess did not explain very clearly its results, 
and Izz, who was a girl of tact, began to speak of her own little 
affair, a 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 actu- 
ally inquired and found out that I had come here and has fol- 
lowed me. He says he's been in love wi' me these two years. But 
I've hardly answered him." 


SEVERAL days had passed since her futile journey, and Tess was 
afield. The dry winter wind still blew, but 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 machine, whose 
bright blue hue of new paint seemed almost vocal in the other- 
wise subdued scene. Opposite its front was a long mound, or 
"grave," in 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 root and 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 swedes, 
the fresh smell of whose yellow chips was accompanied by the 
sounds of the snuffling wind, the smart swish of the slicing-blades, 
and the choppings of the hook in Tess's leather-gloved hand. 

The wide acreage of blank agricultural brownness, apparent 
where the swedes had been pulled, was beginning to be striped 
in wales of darker brown, gradually broadening to ribands. Along 
the edge of each of these, something crept upon ten legs, moving 
without haste and without rest up and down the whole length 
of the field; it was two horses and a man, the plough going be- 
tween them, turning up the cleared ground for a spring sowing. 

For hours nothing relieved the joyless monotony of things. 
Then, far beyond the ploughing-teams, a black speck was seen. 


It had come from the corner of a fence, where there was a gap, 
and its tendency was up the incline, towards the swede-cutters. 
From the proportions of a mere point it advanced to the shape 
of a ninepin, and was soon perceived to be a man in black, arriv- 
ing from the direction of Flintcomb-Ash. The man at the slicer, 
having nothing else to do with his eyes, continually observed the 
comer, but Tess, who was occupied, did not perceive him till 
her companion directed her attention to his approach. 

It was not her hard taskmaster, Farmer Groby; it was one in a 
semi-clerical costume, who now represented what had once been 
the free-and-easy Alec d'Urberville. Not being hot at his preach- 
ing, there was less enthusiasm about him now, and the presence 
of the grinder seemed to embarrass him. A pale distress was al- 
ready on Tess's face, and she pulled her curtained hood further 
over it. 

D'Urberville came up and said quietly, "I want to speak to you, 

"You have refused my last request, not to come near me!" said 

"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 slicer, and the move- 
ment of the machine, too, sufficiently prevented Alec's words 
reaching other ears. D'Urberville placed himself so as to screen 
Tess from the labourer, turning his back to the latter. 

"It is this," he continued with capricious compunction. "In 
thinking of your soul and mine when we last met, I neglected 
to inquire as to your worldly condition. You were well dressed, 
and 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 owing to me!" 

She did not answer, and he watched her inquiringly as, with 
bent head, her face completely screened by the hood, she re- 
sumed her trimming of the swedes. By going on with her work 
she felt better able to keep him outside her emotions. 

"Tess," he added with 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 inno- 
cent life! The whole blame was mine the whole unconventional 


business of our time at Trantridge. You, too, the real blood of 
which I am but the base imitation, what 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 them, whether 
their motive be a good one or the result of simple indifference." 

Tess still did no more than listen, throwing down one globular 
root and taking up another with automatic regularity, the pensive 
contour of the mere field-woman 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 Trantridge, and the place is my own. But I intend to sell it and 
devote myself to missionary work in Africa. A devil of a poor 
hand I shall make at the trade, no doubt. However, what I want 
to ask you is, will you put it in my power to do my duty to 
make the only reparation I can make for the trick played you? 
That is, will you be my wife and go with me? ... I have al- 
ready obtained this precious document. It was my old mother's 
dying wish." 

He drew a piece of parchment from his pocket, with a slight 
fumbling of embarrassment. 

"What is it?" said she. 

"A marriage licence." 

"Oh no, sir no!" she said quickly, starting 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'Ur- 
berville'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 again, in more impetuous tones, and then 
looked round at the labourer who turned the slicer. 

Tess, too, felt that the argument could not be ended there. 
Informing the man that a gentleman had come to see her, with 
whom she wished to walk a little way, she moved off with d'Ur- 
berville 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 repeated as 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?" 


"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" 


"Yes, yes! Why not?" 

1 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 here, or at any rate but dimly known. So will you, please 
will you, keep 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 

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, be- 
fore Christianity or since! There I won't lose my head; I dare 
not. I own that the sight of you has 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 un- 
believing 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 
calmly, tearing 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 ask, but I will not do so, of 
course, in opposition to your wishes. Though if I could know your 
husband, I might more easily benefit him and you. Is he on this 

"No," she murmured. "He is far away." 
"Far away? From you? What sort of husband can he be?" 
"Oh, do not speak against him! It was through you! He found 
out " 

"Ah, is it so! . . . That's sad, Tess!" 

"But to stay away from you to leave you to work like this!" 
"He does not leave me to work!" she cried, springing 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 

"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 it, and 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 pocket and leaving it in his grasp. 
"Oh, will you go away for the sake of me and my husband go, 
in the name of your own Christianity!" 

"Yes, yes; I will," he said abruptly and, thrusting the glove back 
to her, turned to leave. Facing round, however, he said, "Tess, as 
God is my judge, I meant no humbug in taking your hand!" 

A pattering of hoofs on the soil of the field, which they had 
not noticed in their preoccupation, ceased 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 distance 
and had inquisitively ridden across to learn what was their busi- 
ness in his field. 

"Don't speak like that to her!" said d'Urberville, his face black- 
ening with something that was not Christianity. 

"Indeed, misterl And what mid Methodist pa'sons have to do 
with she?" 

"Who is the fellow?" asked d'Urberville, turning 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 

"Well, I have no right but to obey, I suppose. But well, good- 

Her defender, whom she dreaded more than her assailant, 
having reluctantly disappeared, the farmer continued his repri- 
mand, which Tess took with the greatest coolness, that sort of 
attack being independent of sex. To have as a master this man of 
stone, who would have cuffed her if he had dared, was almost a 
relief after her former experiences. She silently walked back to- 
wards the summit of the field that was the scene of her labour, 
so 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, 
111 see that you carry it out," he growled. " 'Od rot the women 
now 'tis one thing, and then 'tis another. But 111 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 received, she 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 com- 
pletely out of subjection, not only to her present oppressive em- 
ployer but to a whole world who seemed to despise her. "But 
no, no!" 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, con- 
cealing from him her hardships and 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 him, and perhaps 
he did not care for her at all. She put the letter in her box and 
wondered if it would ever reach Angel's hands. 

After this her daily tasks were gone through heavily enough 
and brought on the day which was of great import to agricul- 
turiststhe day of the Candlemas Fair. It was at this fair that new 
engagements were entered into for the twelve months following 
the ensuing Lady-Day, and 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 town, which 
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 fair, having a vaguely shaped 
hope that something would happen to render another outdoor 
engagement unnecessary. 

It was a peaceful February day of wonderful softness for the 
time, and 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 lodger, 
which she had all to herself to-day. 

Tess jumped up, but her visitor had knocked at the door, and 
she could hardly in reason run away. D'Urberville's knock, his 
walk up to the door, had some indescribable quality of differ- 
ence 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; but, as there was no sense in that either, she arose 
and, having lifted the latch, stepped back quickly. He came in, 
saw her, and flung himself down into a chair before speaking. 

"Tess I couldn't help it!" he began desperately as he wiped 
his heated face, which had also a superimposed flush of excite- 
ment. "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 Sun- 
day; now I cannot get rid of your image, try 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 me, Tess!" 

The suppressed discontent of his manner was almost pitiable, 
and yet Tess did not pity him. 

"How can I pray for you,** she said, "when 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 other- 

"Cured? By whom?" 

"By my husband, if I must tell." 

"Ah your husband your husband! How strange it seemsl 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 dryly, "whatever your dear hus- 
band 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 she with a triumphant 
simplicity of faith in Angel Clare that the most perfect man could 
hardly have deserved, much 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 doc- 
trines 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 remarks, even when she did not comprehend their 
spirit, she recalled a merciless polemical syllogism that she had 
heard him use when, as it occasionally happened, he indulged 
hi a species of thinking aloud with her at his side. In delivering 
it she gave also Clare's accent and manner with reverential faith- 

"Say that again," asked d'Urberville, who had listened with 
the greatest attention. 

She repeated the argument, and d'Urberville thoughtfully 
murmured the words after her. 

"Anything else?" he presently asked. 

"He said at another time something like this"; and she gave 
another, which might possibly have been paralleled in many a 
work of the pedigree ranging from the Dictionnaire PhUoso- 
phique to Huxley's Essays. 

"Ah hal 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 

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 to-day than I am, Tess, after all! You 
don't believe that you ought to preach my doctrine and, there- 
fore, 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." 


"Why," he said aridly, "I have come all the way here to see 
you to-day! But I started from home to go to Casterbridge Fair, 
where I have undertaken to preach the Word from a waggon at 
half-past two this afternoon and where all the brethren are ex- 
pecting me this minute. Here's the announcement." 

He drew from his breast-pocket a poster whereon was printed 


the day, hour, and place of meeting at which he, d'Urberville, 
would preach the Gospel as aforesaid. 

"But how can you get there?" said Tess, looking 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 moun- 
tains, but I find I still serve in the groves! Ha! Hal" 

"Oh, Alec d'Urberville! What does this mean? What have I 

"Done?" he said with 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 her as 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 sank, and a hot archness shot from 
his own black eyes. "You temptress, Tess; 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 re- 
mains. 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 seems to neglect you utterly!" 

"Don't speak against him he is absent!" she cried in much ex- 
citement. "Treat him honourably he has never wronged you! Oh, 
leave his wife before any scandal spreads that may do harm to 
his honest name!" 

"I will I will," he said, like a man awakening from a luring 


dream. "I have broken my engagement to preach to those poor 
drunken boobies at the fan* 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 ah, can I! to keep 
away." Then, suddenly: "One clasp, Tessy onel Only for old 
friendship * 

"I am without defence, Alecl A good man's honour is in my 
keeping think be ashamed!" 

"Pooh! Well, yes-yes!" 

He clenched his lips, mortified 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 indetermi- 

Though d'Urberville had declared that this breach of his en- 
gagement to-day was the simple backsliding of a believer, Tess's 
words, as echoed from Angel Clare, had made a deep impression 
upon him and continued to do so after he had left her. He moved 
on in silence, as 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 sen- 
sation, and temporarily impressed by his mother's death. 

The drops of logic Tess had let fall into the sea of his enthu- 
siasm served to chill its effervescence to stagnation. He said to 
himself as he pondered again and again over the crystallized 
phrases that she had handed on to him, "That clever fellow little 
thought that by telling her those things, he might be paving my 
way back to her!" 


IT is the threshing of the last wheat-rick at Flintcomb-Ash Farm. 
The dawn of the March morning is singularly inexpressive, and 
there is nothing to show where the eastern horizon lies. Against 
the twilight rises the trapezoidal top of the stack, which has stood 
forlornly here through the washing and bleaching of the wintry 


When Izz Huett and Tess arrived at the scene of operations, 
only a rustling denoted that others had preceded them; to which, 
as the light increased, there were presently added the silhouettes 
of two men on the summit. They were busily "unhailing" the rick, 
that is, stripping off the thatch before beginning to throw down 
the sheaves; and while this was in progress Izz and Tess with the 
other women-workers in their whitey-brown pinners stood wait- 
ing 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 
visible, was the red tyrant that the women had come to serve a 
timber-framed construction, with straps and wheels appertain- 
ingthe threshing-machine, which, whilst it was going, kept up a 
despotic demand upon the endurance of their muscles and 

A little way off there was another indistinct figure; this one 
black, with a sustained hiss that spoke of strength very much in 
reserve. The long chimney running up beside an ash-tree and 
the warmth which radiated from the spot explained 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 being, a sooty and grimy embodiment 
of taUness, in a sort of trance, with a heap of coals by his side: it 
was the engine-man. The isolation of his manner and colour lent 
him the appearance of a creature from Tophet who had strayed 
into the pellucid smokelessness of this region of yellow grain and 
pale soil, with which he had nothing in common, to amaze and 
to discompose its aborigines. 

What he looked he felt. He was in the agricultural world, but 
not of it. He served fire and smoke; these denizens of the fields 
served vegetation, weather, frost, and sun. He travelled with his 
engine from farm to farm, from county to county, for as yet the 
steam threshing-machuie was itinerant in this part of Wessex. 
He spoke in a strange northern accent; his thoughts being 
turned inwards upon himself, his eye on his iron charge, hardly 
perceiving the scenes around him and caring for them not at all; 
holding only strictly necessary intercourse with the natives, as 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 force, round whose hot blackness the 
morning air quivered. He had nothing to do with preparatory 
labour. His fire was waiting incandescent, his steam was at high 
pressure, in a few seconds he could make the long strap move at 
an invisible velocity. Beyond its extent the environment might be 
corn, straw, or chaos; it was all the same to him. If any of the 
autochthonous idlers asked him what he called himself, he re- 
plied shortly, "An engineer." 

The rick was unhaled by full daylight; the men then took their 
places, the women mounted, and die work began. Farmer Groby 
or, as they called him, "he" had arrived ere this, and by his 
orders Tess was placed on the platform of the machine, close to 
the man who fed it, her business being to untie every sheaf of 
corn handed on to her by Izz Huett, who stood next, but on the 
rick; so that the feeder could seize it and spread it over the re- 
volving drum, which whisked out every grain in one moment. 

They were soon in full progress after a preparatory hitch or 
two, which rejoiced the hearts of those who hated machinery. 
The work sped on till breakfast-time, when 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-rick, which began to grow be- 
side the stack of corn. A hasty lunch was eaten as they stood, 
without leaving their positions, and then another couple of hours 
brought them near to dinner-time; the inexorable wheels con- 
tinuing to spin and 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-floor; when everything, even to winnowing, was ef- 
fected by hand-labour, which, to their thinking, though slow, 
produced better results. Those, too, on the corn-rick talked a 
little; but the perspiring ones at the machine, including Tess, 
could not lighten their duties by the exchange of many words. It 
was the ceaselessness of the work which tried her so severely and 
began to make her wish that she had never come to Flintcomb- 
Ash. The women on the corn-rickMarian, who was one of them, 
in particular could stop to drink ale or cold tea from the flagon 
now and then, or 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; for as the drum 
never stopped, the man who fed it could not stop, and she, who 
had to supply the man with untied sheaves, could not stop either 
unless Marian changed places with her, which she sometimes did 
for half an hour in spite of Groby's objection 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 duty, and Groby gave as his 
motive in selecting Tess that she was one of those who best com- 
bined strength with quickness in untying, and both with staying 
power, and this may have been true. The hum of the thresher, 
which prevented speech, increased 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 scene and Tess in particular. He was dressed in a 
tweed suit of fashionable pattern, and he twirled a gay walking- 

"Who is that?" said Izz Huett to Marian. She had at first ad- 
dressed the inquiry to Tess, but 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." 

"Oh 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 dryly. "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 'ee, neither 
court-paying, nor preaching, nor the seven thunders themselves 
can wean a woman when 'twould be better for her that she 
should be weaned." 

Dinner-time came, and the whirling ceased; whereupon Tess 


left her post, her 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. Why, souls above us, 
your face is as if you'd been hag-rode!" 

It occurred to the good-natured Marian that as Tess was so 
tired, her 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 said 
quicldy, "I shall eat my dinner here right on the rick." 

Sometimes, when they were so far from their cottages, they all 
did this; but as there was rather a keen wind going to-day, Mar- 
ian and the rest descended and sat under the straw-stack. 

The new-comer was, indeed, Alec d'Urberville, the late evan- 
gelist, despite his changed attire and aspect. It was obvious at a 
glance that the original Weltlust had come back; that he had re- 
stored himself, as nearly as a man could do who had grown 
three or four years older, to the old jaunty, slap-dash guise under 
which Tess had first known her admirer, and cousin so-called. 
Having decided to remain where she was, Tess sat down among 
the bundles, out of sight of the ground, and began her meal; till, 
by and by, she heard footsteps on the ladder, and immediately 
after, Alec appeared upon the stack now an oblong and level 
platform of sheaves. He strode across them and sat down oppo- 
site to her without a word. 

Tess continued to eat her modest dinner, a slice of thick pan- 
cake, which she had brought with her. The other work-folk were 
by this time all gathered under the rick, where the loose straw 
formed a comfortable retreat. 

"I am here again, as you see," said d'Urberville. 

"Why do you trouble me so!" she cried, reproach 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 anywhen!" 

"You say you don't? But you do! You haunt me. Those very 
eyes that you turned upon me 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 hi a strong 


puritanical stream, had suddenly found a way open in the direc- 
tion of you and had all at once gushed through. The religious 
channel is left dry forthwith, and it is you who have done itl" 

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 enthusiasms; but as a woman 
she 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 moments, 
and 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 expostulate, but at this juncture all her flu- 
ency failed her, and without heeding he added: "Well, this para- 
dise that you supply is perhaps as good as any other, after all. 
But to speak seriously, Tess." D'Urberville rose and came nearer, 
reclining sideways amid the sheaves and 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 can- 


not 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." 

"Oh no! I'm a different sort of fellow from that! If there's no- 
body to say, *Do this, and it will be a good thing for you after you 
are dead; do that, and it 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 argue and tell him that he had mixed in his dull 
brain two matters, theology and morals, which in the primitive 
days of mankind had been quite distinct. But owing to Angel 
Clare's reticence, to her absolute want of training, and to her 
being a vessel of emotions rather than reasons, she could not 
get on. 

"Well, never mind," he resumed. "Here I am, my love, as in 
the old times!" 

"Not as then never as then 'tis different!" she entreated. "And 
there was never warmth with me! Oh, why didn't you keep your 
faith, if 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 dry, and she was ready to choke. The voices and laughs of 
the work-folk 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 talk if you care ever so little for me?" 

"True, true," he said, wincing a little. "I did not come to re- 
proach you for my deeds. I came, Tess, to say that I don't like 
you to be working like this, and I have come on purpose for you. 
You say you have a husband who is not I. Well, perhaps you 
have; but I've never seen him, and you've not told me his name; 
and altogether he seems rather a mythological personage. How- 


ever, even if you have one, I think I am nearer to you than he is. 
I, at any rate, try to help you out of trouble, but he does not, bless 
his invisible face! The words of the stern prophet Hosea that I 
used to read come back to me. Don't you know them, Tess? 'And 
she shall follow after her lover, but she shall not overtake him; 
and she shall seek him, but shall not find him: then shall she say, 
I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better 
with me than now!' . . . Tess, my trap is waiting just under the 
hill, and darling mine, not 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 continued, 
stretching his arm towards her waist; "you should be willing to 
share it and leave that mule you call husband forever." 

One of her leather gloves, which she had taken off to eat her 
skimmer-cake, lay in her lap, and without the slightest warning 
she passionately swung the glove by the gauntlet directly in his 
face. It was heavy and thick as a warrior's, and it struck him flat 
on the mouth. Fancy might have regarded the act as the re- 
crudescence 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 alighted, and in 
a moment the blood began dropping from his mouth upon the 
straw. But he soon controlled himself, calmly drew his handker- 
chief from his pocket, and mopped his bleeding lips. 

She too had sprung up, but she sank down again. 

"Now, punish me!" she said, turning up her eyes to him with 
the hopeless defiance of the sparrow's gaze before its captor 
twists its neck. "Whip me, crush me; you need not mind those 
people under the rick! I shall not cry out. Once victim, always 
victim that's the law!" 

"Oh no, no, Tess," he said blandly. "I can make full allowance 
for this. Yet you most unjustly forget one thing: that 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 hard- 
ened as his temper got the better of him with the recollection 
of his sincerity in asking her and her present ingratitude, and he 
stepped across to her side and held her by the shoulders, so that 
she shook under his grasp. "Remember, my lady, I was your mas- 


ter once! I will be your master again. If you are any man's wife, 
you are minel" 

The threshers now began to stir below. 

"So much for our quarrel," he said, letting her go. "Now I shall 
leave you and shall come again for your answer during the after- 
noon. You don't know me yetl But I know you." 

She had not spoken again, remaining as if stunned. D'Urber- 
ville retreated over the sheaves and descended the ladder, while 
the workers below rose and stretched their arms and 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 dream, untying sheaf 
after sheaf in endless succession. 

IN the afternoon the farmer made it known that the rick was to 
be finished that night, since there was a moon by which they 
could see to work and 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"-time, about 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 back and 
was standing under the hedge by the gate. He had seen her lift 
her eyes, and waved his hand urbanely to her while he blew her 
a kiss. It meant that their quarrel was over. Tess looked down 
again and carefully abstained from gazing in that direction. 

Thus the afternoon dragged on. The wheat-rick shrank lower, 
and the straw-rick grew higher, and 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 still, notwithstanding the enormous numbers 
that had been gulped down by the insatiable swallower, fed by 
the man and Tess, through whose two young hands the greater 
part of them had passed. And the immense stack of straw where 
in the morning there had been nothing appeared 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 day, flooding the tired and 
sticky faces of the threshers and dyeing them with a coppery 
light, as also the flapping garments of the women, which clung 
to them like dull flames. 

A panting ache ran through the rick. The man who fed was 
weary, and Tess could see that the red nape of his neck was en- 
crusted with dirt and husks. She still stood at her post, her 
flushed and perspiring face coated with the corn-dust and 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 spin- 
ning, and the decrease of the stack now separated her from 
Marian and Izz and prevented their changing duties with her as 
they had done. The incessant quivering, in which every fibre of 
her frame participated, had thrown her into a stupefied reverie 
in which her arms worked on independently of her conscious- 
ness. She hardly knew where she was and 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 it, against the grey north sky; in front of it the long 
red elevator like a Jacob's ladder, on which a perpetual stream 
of threshed straw ascended, a yellow river running uphill and 
spouting out on the top of the rick. 

She knew that Alec d'Urberville was still on the scene, ob- 
serving her from some point or other, though she could not 
say where. There was an excuse for his remaining, for when the 
threshed rick drew near its final sheaves, a little ratting was al- 
ways done, and men unconnected with the threshing sometimes 
dropped in for that performance sporting characters of all 
descriptions, gents 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 eve- 
ning light in the direction of the Giant's Hill by Abbot's-Cernel 
dissolved away, the 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 Tess, whom she could not get near enough to speak to, the 
other women having kept up their strength by drinking ale and 
Tess having done without it through traditionary dread, owing 


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 
contingency, which she would have regarded with equanimity 
and even with relief a month or two earlier, had 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 sur- 
prise Farmer Groby came up on the machine to her and said that 
if she desired to join her friend, he did not wish her to keep on 
any longer and would send somebody else to take her place. The 
"friend" was d'Urberville, she knew, and also that this concession 
had been granted in obedience to the request of that friend, or 
enemy. She shook her head and toiled on. 

The time for the rat-catching arrived at last, and the hunt be- 
gan. The creatures had crept downwards with the subsidence of 
the rick till they were all together at the bottom, and being now 
uncovered from their last refuge, they ran across the open ground 
in all directions, a loud shriek from the by-this-time-half-tipsy 
Marian informing her companions that one of the rats had in- 
vaded 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 dislodged, and amid the barking 
of dogs, masculine shouts, feminine screams, oaths, stampings, 
and confusion as of Pandemonium, Tess untied her last sheaf; 
the drum slowed, the whizzing ceased, and she stepped from 
the machine to the ground. 

Her lover, who had only looked on at the rat-catching, was 
promptly at her side. 

"What after all my insulting slap, tool" said she in an under- 
breath. 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 answered in the seductive voice of the Trantridge 
time. "How the little limbs tremble! You are as weak as a bled 
calf, you know you are; and yet you need have done nothing 
since I arrived. How could you be so obstinate? However, I 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 up, as he knows very well. I will 
walk with you as far as your home." 

"Oh 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 as kindness I am grateful for; whatever is meant hi any 
other way I am angered at. I cannot sense your meaning 

"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 
mel I have enough and more than enough to put you out of anx- 
iety, 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 

"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 no, no!" she 
cried. "I will take nothing from you, either for them or for me!" 

He did not accompany her further since, as she lived with the 
household, all was public indoors. No sooner had she herself en- 
tered, laved herself in a washing-tub, and shared supper with 
the family than she fell into thought and, withdrawing to the 
table under the wall, by 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 temptation, Angel. I fear to say who 
it is, and 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 now, at once, before 
anything terrible happens? Oh, I know you cannot because you are 
so far away! I think I must die if you do not come soon or tell me to 
come to you. The punishment you have measured out to me is de- 
servedI do know that well deserved and you are right and just 


to be angry with me. But, Angel, please, please, not to be just only 
a little kind to me, even if I do not deserve it, and come to mel If 
you would come, I could die in your arms! I would be well content to 
do that if so be you had forgiven mel 

Angel, I live entirely for you. I love you too much to blame you 
for going away, and 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 you, my darling, oh so desolate! I do 
not mind having to work, but if you will send me one little line and 
say, "I am coming soon," I will bide on, Angel oh so cheerfully! 

It has been so much my religion ever since we were married to 
be faithful to you in every thought and look that even when a man 
speaks a compliment to me before I am aware, it seems wronging you. 
Have you never felt one little bit of what you used to feel when we 
were at the dairy? If you have, how can you keep away from me? 
I am the same woman, Angel, as you fell in love with; yes, the 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 woman, filled full of new life from you. How could I be the 
early one? Why do you not see this? Dear, if you would only be a little 
more conceited and believe in yourself so far as to see that you were 
strong enough to work this change in me, you would perhaps be in 
a mind to come to me, your 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 heart, not only for old times, but 
for the present. Think think how it do hurt my heart not to see you 
ever ever! Ah, if 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. 

People still say that I am rather pretty, Angel (handsome is the 
word they use, since 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 be- 
cause they belong to you, my dear, and that there may be at least 
one thing about me worth your having. So much have I felt this that 
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. Oh, Angel, I 
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 am, 
as I say, worried, pressed 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 to, and 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 snare, my last state will be worse than my 


first. Oh, God, I cannot think of itl Let me come at once, or at once 
come to me! 

I would be content, aye, glad, to live with you as your servant 
if I may not as your wife, so that I could only be near you, and get 
glimpses of you, and think of you as mine. 

The daylight has nothing to show me since you are not here, and 
I don't like to see the rooks and starlings in the fields because 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 earth, to meet you, my own 
dear! Come to me come to me and save me from what threatens 

Your faithful, heartbroken 


THE appeal duly found its way to the breakfast table of the quiet 
vicarage to the westward, in that valley where the air is so soft 
and the soil so rich that the effort of growth requires but super- 
ficial aid by comparison with the tillage at Flintcomb-Ash, and 
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 fa- 
ther, whom he kept pretty well informed of his changing ad- 
dresses in the country he had gone to exploit for himself with a 
heavy heart. 

"Now," said old Mr. Clare to his wife when he had read the 
envelope, "if 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 redi- 
rected 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 has been ill-used. 
You should have sent him to Cambridge in spite of his want of 
faith and given him the same chance as the other boys had. He 
would have grown out of it under proper influence and perhaps 
would have taken orders after all. Church or no Church, it would 
have been fairer to him." 

This was the only wail with which Mrs. Clare ever disturbed 


her husband's peace in respect of their sons. And she did not vent 
this often, for she was as considerate as she was devout and 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 night, 
stifling sighs for Angel with prayers. But the uncompromising 
Evangelical did not even now hold that he would have been jus- 
tified in giving his son, an unbeliever, the same academic advan- 
tages that he had given to the two others when it was possible, 
if not probable, that those very advantages might have been used 
to decry the doctrines which he had made it his life's mission and 
desire to propagate, and the mission of his ordained sons like- 
wise. To put with one hand a pedestal under the feet of the two 
faithful ones and with the other to exalt the unfaithful by the 
same artificial means, he deemed to be alike inconsistent with his 
convictions, his position, and his hopes. Nevertheless, he loved his 
misnamed Angel and 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 ren- 
dered 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 v/hat 
had separated him and his wife, nor the date on which the sepa- 
ration had taken place. At first they had supposed it must be 
something of the nature of a serious aversion. But in his later let- 
ters 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 relatives, and 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 here, 
though as long as the bare possibility existed of his remaining, 
he kept this change of view a secret from his parents. 


The crowds of agricultural labourers who had come out to the 
country in his wake, dazzled by representations of easy independ- 
ence, had suffered, died, and wasted away. He would see mothers 
from English farms trudging along with their infants in their arms, 
when 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 
hands, would bury the babe therein with the same natural grave- 
tools, shed one tear, and 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 desperation, the 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 mysticism, he now began to discredit the old appraisements 
of morality. He thought they wanted readjusting. Who was the 
moral man? Still more pertinently, who was the moral woman? 
The beauty or ugliness of a character lay not only in its achieve- 
ments, but in its aims and impulses; its true history lay not among 
things done, but among things willed. 

How, then, about Tess? 

Viewing her in these lights, a regret for his hasty judgement 
began to oppress him. Did he reject her eternally, or did he not? 
He could no longer say that he would always reject her, and 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-Ash, but 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 rights, ad- 
mitted his judgement to be in every respect the true one, and 
bent her head dumbly thereto. 

In the before-mentioned journey by mules through the interior 
of the country, another man rode beside him. Angel's companion 
was also an Englishman, bent on the same errand though he 


came from another part of the island. They were both in a state 
of mental depression, and they spoke of home affairs. Confidence 
begat confidence. With that curious tendency evinced by men, 
more especially when in distant lands, to entrust to strangers 
details of their lives which they would on no account mention to 
friends, Angel admitted to this man as they rode along the sor- 
rowful 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 domesticity, were 
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 be, and 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 fever, and died by the week's 
end. Clare waited a few hours to bury him and then went on his 

The cursory remarks of the large-minded stranger, of whom 
he knew absolutely nothing beyond a commonplace name, were 
sublimed by his death, and 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 unintact state, which he had 
inherited with the creed of mysticism, as at least open to correc- 
tion when the result was due to treachery. A remorse struck into 
him. The words of Izz Huett, never quite stilled in his memory, 
came back to him. He had asked Izz if she loved him, and she 
had replied in the affirmative. Did she love him more than Tess 
did? "No," she had replied; Tess would lay down her life for him, 
and 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 ter- 
rible evening over the hearth, when her simple soul uncovered 
itself to his, how pitiful her face had looked by the rays of the 


fire, in her inability to realize that his love and protection could 
possibly be withdrawn. 

Thus, from being her critic he grew to be her advocate. Cyni- 
cal 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 

But the reasoning is somewhat musty; lovers and husbands 
had gone over the ground before to-day. 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 uni- 
versal harshness out of which they grow; the harshness of the 
position towards the temperament, of the means towards the 
aims, of to-day towards yesterday, of hereafter towards to-day. 

The historic interest of her family that masterful line of 
d'Urbervilles whom he had despised as a spent force, touched 
his sentiments now. Why had he not known the difference be- 
tween 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 economics, it was a most useful 
ingredient to the dreamer, to 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 name and 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 again, he 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 felt and which left behind it a 
sense of sickness. 

Despite her not-inviolate past, what 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 

So spoke love renascent, preparing the way for Tess's devoted 
outpouring, which 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 that if 
her presence had not attenuated them, her 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 harp, that she had inquired more 
curiously of him which were his favourite ballads among those 
the country-girls sang. She indirectly inquired of Amby Seedling, 
who had followed Izz from Talbothays, and by chance Amby 
remembered that amongst the snatches of melody in which they 
had indulged at the dairyman's to induce the cows to let down 
their milk, Clare 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 moments, especially "The Break 
o' the Day": 

Arise, arise, arisel 

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 ditties whenever 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 not, after all, come 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 
lengthened, that Lady-Day was at hand, and would soon be 
followed by Old Lady-Day, the end of her term here. 

But before the quarter-day had quite come, something hap- 
pened 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 family, when 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 child, a tall, thin, girlish creature whom she did not 
recognize in the twilight till the girl said, "Tess!" 

"What-is it, Liza-Lu?" asked Tess in startled accents. Her 
sister, whom a little over a year ago she had left at home as a 
child, had sprung up by a sudden shoot to a form of this presenta- 
tion, of which as yet Lu seemed herself scarce able to understand 
the meaning. Her thin legs, visible below her once-long frock, 
now short by her growing, and her uncomfortable hands and 
arms revealed her youth and inexperience. 

"Yes, I have been traipsing about all day, Tess," said Lu with 
unemotional gravity, "a-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 labour- 
ing 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 so, and 
Liza-Lu was having some tea, she came to a decision. It was 
imperative that she should go home. Her agreement did not end 
till Old Lady-Day, the sixth of April, but 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 lived, informed them of what 
had happened, and begged them to make the best of her case to 
the farmer. Returning, she got Lu a supper and, after that, having 
tucked the younger into her own bed, packed up as many of her 
belongings as would go into a withy basket and started, directing 
Lu to follow her next morning. 

SHE plunged into the chilly equinoctial darkness as the clock 
struck ten, for her fifteen miles' walk under the steely stars. In 
lonely districts night is a protection rather than a danger to a 


noiseless pedestrian, and knowing this, Tess pursued the nearest 
course along by-lanes that she would almost have feared in the 
day-time; but marauders were wanting now, and spectral fears 
were driven out of her mind by thoughts of her mother. Thus she 
proceeded mile after mile, ascending and descending till she 
came to Bulbarrow and, 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 it, and 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 Black- 
moor Vale, and a part of the vale to which turnpike-roads had 
never penetrated. Superstitions linger longest on these heavy 
soils. Having once been forest, at this shadowy time it seemed 
to assert something of its old character, the far and the near being 
blended and every tree and tall hedge making the most of its 
presence. The harts that had been hunted here, the witches that 
had been pricked and ducked, the 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 inn, whose 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 muscles, spread out in the 
darkness beneath coverlets made of little purple patchwork 
squares, and undergoing a bracing process at the hands of sleep 
for renewed labour on the morrow as 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 threaded and entered Marlott, passing the field in which as 
a club-girl she had first seen Angel Clare, when 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 window, and 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 dormers, the finish of its gables, the broken 


courses of brick which topped the chimney all had something 
in common with her personal character. A stupefaction had come 
into these features, to her regard; it meant the illness of her 

She opened the door so softly as to disturb nobody; the lower 
room was vacant, but the neighbour who was sitting up with her 
mother came to the top of the stairs and whispered that Mrs. 
Durbeyfield was no better, though she was sleeping just then. 
Tess prepared herself a breakfast and then took her place as nurse 
in her mother's chamber. 

In the morning, when 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 of the same indefinite kind, and he 
sat in his chair as usual. But the day after her arrival he was un- 
usually bright. He had a rational scheme for living, and 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 hand, which seemed little im- 
proved 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 found to her dismay that 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 procure, and 
in a few days her father was well enough to see to the garden, 
under 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-chamber, 
where she was not now required by reason of her mother's im- 
provement. Violent motion relieved thought. The plot of ground 
was in a high, dry, open enclosure, where 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'clock 
and extended indefinitely into the dusk or moonlight. Just now 
heaps of dead weeds and refuse were burning on many of the 
plots, the 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 sun- 
set the flare of the couch-grass and cabbage-stalk fires began to 
light up the allotments fitfully, their outlines appearing and dis- 
appearing under the dense smoke as wafted by the wind. When 
a fire glowed, banks of smoke blown level along the ground would 
themselves become illuminated to an opaque lustre, screening 
the work-people from one another; and the meaning of the "pillar 
of a cloud," which was a wall by day and a light by night, could 
be understood. 

As evening thickened, some of the gardening men and women 
gave over for the night, but the greater number remained to get 
their planting done, Tess being among them, though she sent her 
sister home. It was on one of the couch-burning plots that she 
laboured with her fork, its four shining prongs resounding against 
the stones and dry clods in little clicks. Sometimes she was com- 
pletely involved in the smoke of her fire; then it would leave her 
figure free, irradiated by the brassy glare from the heap. She was 
oddly dressed to-night and presented a somewhat staring aspect, 
her attire being a gown bleached by many washings, with a short 
black jacket over it, the effect of the whole being that of a 
wedding and funeral guest in one. The women further back wore 
white aprons, which with their pale faces were all that could 
be seen of them in the gloom except when at moments they 
caught a flash from the flames. 

Westward, the wiry boughs of the bare thorn-hedge, which 
formed the boundary of the field, rose against the pale opales- 
cence of the lower sky. Above, Jupiter hung like a full-blown 
jonquil, so bright as almost to throw a shade. A few small, non- 


descript stars were appearing elsewhere. In the distance a dog 
barked, and wheels occasionally rattled along the dry road. 

Still the prongs continued to click assiduously, for 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 
place, the hour, the crackling fires, the fantastic mysteries of light 
and shade, made others as well as Tess enjoy being there. Night- 
fall, which in the frost of winter comes as a fiend and in the 
warmth of summer as a lover, came 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 them, she did not 
for a long time notice the person who worked nearest to her a 
man in a long smock-frock who, she found, was forking the same 
plot as herself, and 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 swerved, and the two were visible to 
each other but divided from all the rest. 

Tess did not speak to her fellow-worker, nor 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 daylight and that she did 
not know him as any one of the Marlott labourers, which was no 
wonder, her 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 it, she found that he did the same on the other side. The 
fire flared up, and she beheld the face of d'Urberville. 

The unexpectedness of his presence, the grotesqueness of his 
appearance in a gathered smock-frock, such as was now worn 
only by the most old-fashioned of the labourers, had 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 whimsically, looking 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: 

" 'Empress, the way is ready, and not long, 

Beyond a row of myrtles. . . . 

... If thou accept 

My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon.'" 

" Xead then,' " said Eve. 

And so on. My dear, dear Tess, I am only putting this to you as 
a thing that you might have supposed or said quite untruly, be- 
cause 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 be- 
cause of me?" 

"Entirely. To see you; nothing more. The smock-frock, 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 

"But I like doing it it is for my father." 

"Your engagement at the other place is ended?" 


"Where are you going to next? To join your dear husband?" 

She could not bear the humiliating reminder. 

"Oh 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 spite of 
yourself. When you get down to your house you will see what I 
have sent there for you." 

"Oh, Alec, I wish you wouldn't give me anything at all! I can- 
not 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 you in 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 turned and desperately resumed her digging, tears drip- 
ping 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 pas- 

If your mother does not recover, somebody ought to do some- 
thing for them; since your father will not be able to do much, I 

"He can with my assistance. He must!" 

"And with mine." 

"No, sirl" 

"How damned foolish this is!" burst out d'Urberville. "Why, he 
thinks we are the same family, and will be quite satisfied!" 

"He don't. I've undeceived him." 

"The more fool youl" 

D'Urberville in anger retreated from her to the hedge, where 
he pulled off the long smock-frock which had disguised him, and 
rolling it up and pushing it into the couch-fire, went away. 

Tess could not get on with her digging after this; she felt rest- 
less; 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 

"Oh, 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 importance 
till, beholding the effect produced upon her, she said, "What, 
Tess, shan't we talk to Father never no more?" 

"But Father was only a little bit ill!" exclaimed Tess dis- 

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 danger, and the indisposed one was dead. The 
news meant even more than it sounded. Her father's life had a 
value apart from his personal achievements, or 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 la- 
bourers, who were stinted in cottage accommodation. Moreover, 
"liviers" were disapproved of in villages almost as much as little 
freeholders because of their independence of manner, and when 
a lease determined it was never renewed. 

Thus the Durbeyfields, once d'Urbervilles, saw descending 
upon them the destiny which, no doubt, when they were among 
the Olympians of the county, they had caused to descend many 
a time, and severely enough, upon the heads of such landless 
ones as they themselves were now. So do flux and reflux the 
rhythm of change alternate and persist in everything under the 

AT length it was the eve of Old Lady-Day, and 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 outdoors service during the ensuing year, entered into at 
Candlemas, are 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 in- 
crease here. When Tess's mother was a child, the majority of the 
field-folk about Marlott had remained all their lives on one farm, 
which 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 distance, 
till by residence there it became in turn their Egypt also; and so 
they changed and changed. 

However, all the mutations so increasingly discernible in vil- 
lage life did not originate entirely in the agricultural unrest. A 
depopulation was also going on. The village had formerly con- 
tained, side by side with the agricultural labourers, an interest- 
ing and better-informed class, ranking distinctly above the former 
the class to which Tess's father and mother had belonged 
and including the carpenter, the smith, the shoemaker, the 


huckster, together 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 life-holders like Tess's 
father, or copyholders, or, occasionally, small freeholders. But 
as the long holdings fell in, they were seldom again let to similar 
tenants, and were mostly pulled down if not absolutely required 
by the farmer for his hands. Cottagers who were not directly em- 
ployed on the land were looked upon with disfavour, and the 
banishment of some starved the trade of others, who were thus 
obliged to follow. These families, who had formed the backbone 
of the village life in the past, who were the depositaries of the 
village traditions, had to seek refuge in the large centres; the 
process, humorously 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 life, the Durbeyfield family (whose 
descent was not credited) had been tacitly looked on as one 
which would have to go when their lease ended, if only in the 
interests of morality. It was, indeed, quite true that the house- 
hold had not been shining examples either of temperance, sober- 
ness, or chastity. The father, and even the mother, had got drunk 
at times, the younger children seldom had gone to church, and 
the eldest daughter had made queer unions. By some means the 
village had to be kept pure. So on this, the first Lady-Day on 
which the Durbeyfields were expellable, the house, being roomy, 
was required for a carter with a large family; and Widow Joan, 
her daughters Tess and Liza-Lu, the boy Abraham, and the 
younger children had 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 birthplace, Mrs. Durbeyfield, Liza-Lu, and 
Abraham had gone out to bid some friends good-bye, and Tess 
was keeping house till they should return. 

She was kneeling in the window-bench, her face close to the 
casement, where an outer pane of rain-water was sliding down 
the inner pane of glass. Her eyes rested on the web of a spider, 


probably starved long ago, which had been mistakenly placed in 
a corner where no flies ever came, and shivered in the slight 
draught through the casement. Tess was reflecting on the posi- 
tion of the household, in which she perceived her own evil in- 
fluence. 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 churchyard, restoring 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 Joan, 
who 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 herself bit- 

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 quickly, and 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 ceased, and she opened the casement hi 
obedience to his gesture. 

"Didn't you see me?" asked d'Urberville. 

"I was not attending," she said. "I heard you, I believe, though 
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 com- 
mitted 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 forgot which. Such is one version of the tale. ... I 
see that your tubs and buckets are packed. Going away, aren't 

"Yes, to-morrow 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, per- 
haps, 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 going, is 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 white-washed 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 youl" 

"But we have already taken the rooms at Kingsbere!" she de- 
clared. "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 at- 
tend to them excellently; and the children can go to school." 

Tess breathed more and more quickly, and 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 home- 
less again." 


"Oh no no. I would guarantee you against such as that, in writ- 
ing if necessary. Think it over." 

Tess shook her head. But d'Urberville persisted; she had sel- 
dom 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 to-morrow morning, and fires lit; and it will be dry 
by the evening, so that you can come straight there. Now mind, 
I shall expect you." 

Tess again shook her head, her throat swelling with compli- 
cated emotion. She could not look up at d'Urberville. 

"I owe you something for the past, you know," he resumed. 
"And you cured me, too, of 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. To- 
morrow 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 murmur 
and put his hand in at the half -open casement. With stormy eyes 
she pulled the stay-bar quickly and, hi doing so, caught his arm 
between the casement and the stone mullion. 

"Damnation you are very cruell" he said, snatching out his 
arm. "No, no! I know you didn't do it on purpose. Well, I shall 
expect you, or your mother and the children at least." 

"I shall not come I have plenty of money!" she cried. 


"At my f ather-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 youll starve first!" 

With these words he rode off. Just at the corner of the street 
he met the man with the paint-pot, who asked him if he had de- 
serted the brethren. 

"You go to the devil!" said d'Urberville. 

Tess remained where she was a long while, till a sudden re- 
bellious sense of injustice caused the region of her eyes to swell 
with the rush of hot tears thither. Her husband, Angel Clare him- 
self, had, like others, dealt out hard measure to her; surely 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 
intention, but of inadvertence, and why should she have been 
punished so persistently? 

She passionately seized the first piece of paper that came to 
hand and scribbled the following lines: 

Oh why have you treated me so monstrously, Angel! I do not de- 
serve it. I have thought it all over carefully, and I can never, never 
forgive youl You know that I did not intend to wrong you why have 
you so wronged me? You are cruel, cruel indeedl I will try to forget 
you. It is all injustice I have received at your hands! T. 

She watched till the postman passed by, ran out to him with 
her epistle, and then again took her listless place inside the 

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 darker, the firelight shining over the room. The two 
biggest of the younger children had gone out with their mother; 
the four smallest, their ages ranging from three and a half years 
to eleven, all in black frocks, were 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, hi the 
house where we were born," she said quickly. "We ought to think 
of it, oughtn'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 up, though 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 broken first by one little 
tentative note; then a second voice strengthened it, and a third 
and a fourth chimed in in unison with 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 question and, there being no mistake 
about it, felt that further thought was not required. With features 
strained hard to enunciate the syllables, they continued to re- 
gard the centre of the nickering fire, the notes of the youngest 
straying over into the pauses of the rest. 

Tess turned from them and went to the window again. Dark- 
ness had now fallen without, but 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! 
But in default of that, it behoved her to do something; to be 
their Providence; for to Tess, as to not a few millions of others, 
there was ghastly satire in the poet's lines: 

Not in utter nakedness 
But trailing clouds of glory do we come. 

To her and her like, birth itself was an ordeal of degrading per- 
sonal compulsion, whose gratuitousness nothing in the result 
seemed to justify and 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 door, and 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 her, and one mur- 
mured, "Why, Tess, the gentleman a-horseback!" 

"He didn't call," said Tess. "He spoke to me in passing." 

"Who was the gentleman?" asked her mother. "Your hus- 

"No. Hell never, never come," answered Tess in stony hope- 

"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 lodgings at Kings- 
bere to-morrow every word." 


It was not her husband, she 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 morning, while it was still 
dark, dwellers near the highways were conscious of a disturbance 
of their night's rest by rumbling noises, intermittently 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 removal, the 
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 con- 
veyed to his destination. That this might be accomplished within 
the day was the explanation of the reverberation occurring so 
soon after midnight, the aim of the carters being to reach the door 
of the outgoing households by six o'clock, when 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 expense, and got nothing 
sent gratuitously. 

It was a relief to Tess when she looked out of the window that 
morning to find that though the weather was windy and louring, 
it did not rain, and that the waggon had come. A wet Lady-Day 
was a spectre which removing families never forgot; damp furni- 
ture, damp bedding, damp clothing, accompanied it and left a 
train of ills. 

Her mother, Liza-Lu, and Abraham were also awake, but the 
younger children were let sleep on. The four breakfasted by the 
thin light, and the "house-ridding" was taken in hand. 

It proceeded with some cheerfulness, a 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 bed- 
ding, in which Joan Durbeyfield and the young children were to 
sit through the journey. After loading there was a long delay be- 
fore the horses were brought, these having been unharnessed 


during the ridding; but at length, about two o'clock, the whole 
was under way, the cooking-pot swinging from the axle of the 
waggon, Mrs. Durbeyfield and family at the top, the matron hav- 
ing in her lap, to prevent injury to its works, the head of the clock, 
which at any exceptional lurch of the waggon struck one or one 
and a half in 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 evening, and some came to see them off, all wishing 
them well, though in 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 ground, and the wind grew keener with the change of level 
and soil. 

The day being the sixth of April, the Durbeyfield waggon met 
many other waggons with families on the summit of the load, 
which was built on a well-nigh unvarying principle, as peculiar, 
probably, to the rural labourer as the hexagon to the bee. The 
groundwork of the arrangement was the family dresser, which 
with its shining handles and finger-marks and domestic evi- 
dences thick upon it stood importantly in front, over the tails of 
the shaft-horses, in its erect and natural position, like some Ark 
of the Covenant that they were bound to carry reverently. 

Some of the households were lively, some mournful; some were 
stopping at the doors of wayside inns; where, in due time, the 
Durbeyfield menagerie also drew up to bait horses and refresh 
the travellers. 

During the halt Tess's eyes fell upon a three-pint blue mug, 
which 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 upward and per- 
ceived it to be clasped by hands whose owner she well knew. 
Tess went towards the waggon. 

"Marian and Izz!" she cried to the girls, for it was they, sitting 
with the moving family at whose house they had lodged. "Are 
you house-ridding to-day, like everybody else?" 

They were, they said. It had been too rough a life for them at 
Flintcomb-Ash, and they had come away almost without notice, 
leaving Groby to prosecute them if he chose. They told Tess then* 
destination, and Tess told them hers. 


Marian leant over the load and 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 telTn where you was, knowing you wouldn't wish to see 

"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?" 


She bade her acquaintance good-bye for the respective cart- 
ers had now come out from the inn and the two waggons re- 
sumed their journey in opposite directions; the vehicle whereon 
sat Marian, Izz, and the ploughman's family with whom they had 
thrown in their lot being brightly painted, and 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 made, and 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 

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 after- 
noon 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 them was the half-dead townlet of their pil- 
grimage, Kingsbere, where lay those ancestors of whom her fa- 
ther had spoken and sung to painfulness: Kingsbere, the spot of 
all spots in the world which could be considered the d'Urber- 
villes' home, since they had resided there for full five hundred 

A man could be seen advancing from the outskirts towards 
them, and 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 mother, who had descended to walk the remainder 
of the way. 


She nodded. "Though widow of the late Sir John d'Urberville, 
poor nobleman, if I cared for my rights; and returning to the do- 
main 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 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 Tess, which had become ash- 
pale at his intelligence. Her mother looked hopelessly at fault. 
"What shall we do now, Tess?" she said bitterly. "Here's a wel- 
come to your ancestors' lands! However, let's try further. 1 * 

They moved on into the town and tried with all then- might, 
Tess 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 later, when her search for accom- 
modation had still been fruitless, the driver of the waggon said 
the goods must be unloaded, as 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 

The waggon had drawn up under the churchyard-wall, in a 
spot screened from view, and the driver, nothing loth, soon 
hauled down the poor heap of household goods. This done, she 
paid him, reducing herself to almost her last shilling thereby, and 
he moved off and left them, only too glad to get out of further 
dealings with such a family. It was a dry night, and he guessed 
that they would come to no harm. 

Tess gazed desperately at the pile of furniture. The cold sun- 
light of this spring evening peered invidiously upon the crocks 
and kettles, upon the bunches of dried herbs shivering in the 
breeze, upon the brass handles of the dresser, upon the wicker- 
cradle they had all been rocked in, and upon the well-rubbed 
clock-case; all of which gave out the reproachful gleam of in- 
door 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 al- 
ways belonged to the estate. Hard by, the aisle of the church 
called the d'Urberville Aisle looked on imperturbably. 


"Isn't your family vault your own freehold?" said Tess's mother 
as she returned from a reconnoitre of the church and graveyard. 
"Why, of course 'tis, and that's where we will camp, girls, till the 
place of your ancestors finds us a roof! Now, Tess and Liza and 
Abraham, you help me. We'll make a nest for these children, and 
then well have another look round." 

Tess listlessly lent a hand, and in a quarter of an hour the old 
four-post bedstead was dissociated from the heap of goods and 
erected under the south wall of the church, the part of the build- 
ing known as the d'Urberville Aisle, beneath which the huge 
vaults lay. Over the tester of the bedstead was a beautifully 
traceried window of many lights, its date being the fifteenth cen- 
tury. It was called the d'Urberville Window, and in the upper 
part could be discerned heraldic emblems like those on Durbey- 
field's old seal and spoon. 

Joan drew the curtains round the bed, so as to make an excel- 
lent tent of it, and put the smaller children inside. "If it comes to 
the worst we can sleep there too, for one night," she said. "But let 
us try further on and get something for the dears to eat! Oh, Tess, 
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 said, riding 
up to them. "This is indeed a family gathering on the historic 

It was Alec d'Urberville. "Where is Tess?" he asked. 

Personally Joan had no liking for Alec. She cursorily signified 
the direction of the church and went on, d'Urberville saying that 
he would see them again in case they should be still unsuccessful 
in their search for shelter, of which he had just heard. When they 
had gone, d'Urberville rode to the inn and shortly after came out 
on foot. 

In the interim Tess, left with the children inside the bedstead, 
remained talking with them awhile, till, seeing that no more 
could be done to make them comfortable just then, she walked 
about the churchyard, now beginning to be embrowned by the 
shades of nightfall. The door of the church was unfastened, and 
she entered it for the first time in her life. 

Within the window under which the bedstead stood were the 


tombs of tbe family, covering in their dates several centuries. 
They were canopied, altar-shaped, and plain; their carvings be- 
ing defaced and broken; their brasses torn from the matrices, the 
rivet-holes remaining like martin-holes in a sand-cliff. Of all the 
reminders that she had ever received that her people were so- 
cially extinct, there was none so forcible as this spoliation. 
She drew near to a dark stone on which was inscribed: 

antfquae famflfoe b'33r&erbflle. 

Tess did not read Church-Latin like a cardinal, but 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 withdraw, passing near an altar-tomb, 
the oldest of them all, on which was a recumbent figure. In the 
dusk she had not noticed it before, and would hardly have no- 
ticed 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 hav- 
ing been alone was so violent that she was quite overcome, and 
sank down nigh to fainting, not, however, till she had recognized 
Alec d'Urberville in the form. 

He leapt off the slab and supported her. 

"I saw you come in," he said, smiling, "and 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'Urber- 
ville can do more for you than the whole dynasty of the real un- 
derneath. . . . Now command me. What shall I do?" 

"Go away!" she murmured. 

"I will I'll look for your mother," said he blandly. But in pass- 
ing her he whispered: "Mind this; you'll be civil yet!" 

When he was gone, she bent down upon the entrance to the 
vaults and 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 lover, whose connexion with her previous his- 
tory they had partly heard and partly guessed ere this. 

"'Tisn't as though she had never known him afore," said Mar- 
ian. "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 us, Izz; and why should 
we grudge him to her and not try to mend this quarrel? If he 
could on'y know what straits she's put to and what's hovering 
round, he 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 settled, a month later, they 
heard of Clare's approaching return, though they had learnt noth- 
ing more of Tess. Upon that, agitated anew by their attachment 
to him, yet honourably disposed to her, Marian uncorked the 
penny ink-bottle they shared, and 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. Sir, there is 
one near her who ought to be Away. A woman should not be try'd 
beyond her Strength, and continual dropping will wear away a Stone 
aye, more a Diamond. 

From Two Well-Wishers 

This they addressed to Angel Clare at the only place they had 
ever heard him to be connected with, Emminster Vicarage; after 
which they continued in a mood of emotional exaltation at their 
own generosity, which made them sing in hysterical snatches and 
weep at the same time. 





IT was evening at Emminster Vicarage. The two customary can- 
dles were burning under their green shades in the vicar's study, 
but he had not been sitting there. Occasionally he came in, 
stirred the small fire which sufficed for the increasing mildness of 
the spring, and went out again; sometimes pausing at the front 
door, going on to the drawing-room, then returning again to the 
front door. 

It faced westward, and though gloom prevailed inside, there 
was still light enough without to see with distinctness. Mrs. Clare, 
who had been sitting in the drawing-room, followed him hither. 

"Plenty of time yet," said the vicar. "He doesn't reach Chalk- 
Newton till six even if the train should be punctual, and ten miles 
of country-road, five of them in Crimmercrock Lane, are 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 minutes, each well knowing that this was 
only waste of breath, the one essential being simply to wait. 

At length there was a slight noise in the lane, and the old pony- 
chaise appeared indeed outside the railings. They saw alight 
therefrom a form which they affected to recognize, but 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 arrival, who was just about to enter, saw their anxious 
faces in the doorway and the gleam of the west in then: spectacles 
because they confronted the last rays of day; but they could only 
see his shape against the light. 

"Oh, my boy, my boy home again at last!" cried Mrs. Clare, 
who cared no more at that moment for the stains of heterodoxy 
which had caused all this separation than for the dust upon his 
clothes. What woman, indeed, among the most faithful adher- 
ents of the truth believes the promises and threats of the Word 
in the sense in which she believes in her own children, or would 
not throw her theology to the wind if weighed against their hap- 
piness? As soon as they reached the room where the candles were 
lighted, she looked at his face. 

"Oh, it is not Angel not my son the Angel who went away!" 
she cried in all the irony of sorrow as she turned herself aside. 

His father, too, was shocked to see him, so reduced was that 
figure from its former contours by worry and the bad season that 
Clare had experienced, in 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 man, and almost the ghost 
behind the skeleton. He matched Crivelli's dead Christus. His 
sunken eye-pits were of morbid hue, and 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 

"I was ill over there, you know," he said. "I am all right now." 

As if, however, to falsify this assertion, his legs seemed to give 
way, and he suddenly sat down to save himself from falling. It 
was only a slight attack of faintness, resulting 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 de- 
lay 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 
him, knowing he would start for home so soon. 

He hastily opened the letter produced, and was much dis- 


turbed to read in Tess's handwriting the sentiments expressed in 
her last hurried scrawl to him. 

Oh why have you treated me so monstrously, Angel! I do not 
deserve it. I have thought it all over carefully, and I can never, never 
forgive you! You know that I did not intend to wrong you why have 
you so wronged me? You are cruel, cruel indeed! I will try to forget 
you. It is all injustice I have received at your hands! T. 

"It is quite true!" said Angel, throwing down the letter. "Per- 
haps 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 descend- 
ant in the male line of one of the oldest Norman houses, like a 
good many others who lead obscure agricultural lives in our vil- 
lages, and are dubbed 'sons of the soil/ 

He soon retired to bed; and the next morning, feeling exceed- 
ingly unwell, he remained in his room pondering. The circum- 
stances amid which he had left Tess were such that though, 
while on the south of the Equator and just in receipt of her lov- 
ing epistle, it had seemed the easiest thing in the world to rush 
back into her arms the moment he chose to forgive her, now that 
he had arrived it was not so easy as it had seemed. She was pas- 
sionate, and her present letter, showing that her estimate of him 
had changed under his delay too justly changed, he sadly owned 
made him ask himself if it would be wise to confront her un- 
announced in the presence of her parents. Supposing that her 
love had indeed turned to dislike during the last weeks of separa- 
tion, a 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 return and 
his hope that she was still living with them there, as he had ar- 
ranged for her to do when he left England. He dispatched the 
inquiry that very day, and before the week was out there came 
a short reply from Mrs. Durbeyfield which did not remove his 
embarrassment, for it bore no address, though to his surprise it 
was not written from Marlott. 


J write these few lines to say that my Daughter is away from me at 
present, and J am not sure when she will return, but 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. Yours, 

J. Durbeyfield 

It was such a relief to Clare to learn that Tess was at least ap- 
parently well that her mother's stiff reticence as to her where- 
abouts did not long distress him. They were all angry with him, 
evidently. 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 ab- 
sence; he had seen the virtual Faustina in the literal Cornelia, a 
spiritual Lucretia in a corporeal Phryne; he had thought of the 
woman taken and set in the midst as one deserving to be stoned, 
and of the wife of Uriah being made a queen; and he had asked 
himself why he had not judged Tess constructively rather than 
biographically, by 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 Durbeyfield, and 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 Brazil, which Tess had 
written from Flintcomb-Ash, and reread 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 elsel ... I think 
I must die if you do not come soon or tell me to come to you. . . . 
please, please not to be just only a little kind to me! ... If you 
would come, I 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 say, "I am coming soon," I will bide on, Angel oh so cheer- 
fully! . . . Think . . . how it do hurt my heart not to see you ever 
ever! Ah, if 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 content, 
aye, glad, to live with you as your servant if I may not as your wife, 
so that I could only be near you, and get glimpses of you, and think 
of you as mine. ... I long for only one thing in heaven or earth or 
under the earth, to meet you, my own dear! Come to me come to me 
and 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 im- 


mediately. He asked his father if she had applied for any money 
during his absence. His father returned a negative, and 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 care, 
the tenderness towards Tess which her blood, her simplicity, 
even her poverty, had not engendered, was 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 Huett, beginning; "Honour'd 
Sir, Look to your Wife if you do love her as much as she do love 
you," and signed, "From 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 mare, well knowing 
of its necessity to the household. He went to the inn, where he 
hired a trap, and could hardly wait during the harnessing. In a 
very few minutes after, he was driving up the hill out of the town 
which, three or four months earlier in the year, Tess had de- 
scended with such hopes and ascended with such shattered pur- 

Benvill Lane soon stretched before him, its hedges and trees 
purple with buds; but he was looking at other things, and 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 un- 
toward solitude of Cross-in-Hand, the unholy stone whereon Tess 
had been compelled by Alec d'Urberville, in his whim of reforma- 
tion, to swear the strange oath that she would never wilfully 
tempt him again. The pale and blasted nettle-stems of the pre- 
ceding 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 Hintocks and, turning to the right, plunged into the bracing 


calcareous region of Flintcomb-Ash, the address from which she 
had written to him in one of the letters and which he supposed 
to be the place of sojourn referred to by her mother. Here, of 
course, he 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 himself, though Tess was re- 
membered well enough by her Christian name. His name she had 
obviously never used during their separation, and 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 gone with- 
out due notice to the home of her parents, on the other side of 
Blackmoor, and it therefore became necessary to find Mrs. Dur- 
beyfield. She had told him she was not now at Marlott, but had 
been curiously reticent as to her actual address, and 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 
Clare, and lent him a horse and man to drive him towards Mar- 
lott, the 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 vale, and sending it 
back with the man who had driven him, he put up at an inn and 
next day entered on foot the region wherein was the spot of his 
dear Tess's birth. It was as yet too early hi 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 greenness, and 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 inter- 
est in their own doings as if the homestead had never passed its 
primal time in conjunction with the histories of others, beside 
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 mo- 
ment into jarring collision with the dim ghosts behind them, 
talking 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 par- 

On inquiry of these precious innocents, to 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 Marlott, declaring that they were going to live at Kingsbere, 
but instead of doing so had gone on to another place they men- 
tioned. By this time Clare abhorred the house for ceasing to 
contain Tess and 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 churchyard, where, amongst the new headstones, 
he saw one of a somewhat superior design to the rest. The 
inscription ran thus: 

In memory of John Durbeyfield, rightly dlJrberville, of the once 
powerful family of that Name, and Direct Descendant through an Il- 
lustrious Line from Sir Pagan d'Urberville, one of the Knights of the 
Conqueror. Died March loth, 18 . 


Some man, apparently the sexton, had observed Clare standing 
there and drew nigh. "Ah, sir, now that's a man who didn't want 
to lie here, but wished to be carried to Kingsbere, where 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 village, and on leav- 
ing the churchyard, Clare called at the mason's house. He found 
that the statement was true and paid the bill. This done, he 
turned in the direction of the migrants. 

The distance was too long for a walk, but 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 Shaston, however, he found 
he must hire; but the way was such that he did not enter Joan's 
place till about seven o'clock in the evening, having traversed a 
distance of over twenty miles since leaving Marlott. 


The village being small, he had little difficulty in finding Mrs. 
Durbeyfield's tenement, which was a house in a walled garden, 
remote from the main road, where 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 her, and he felt 
his call to be somewhat of an intrusion. She came to the door her- 
self, and 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 hand- 
some woman, in the garb of a respectable widow. He was 
obliged to explain that he was Tess's husband, and his object in 
coming there, and he did it awkwardly enough. "I want to see her 
at once," he added. "You said you would write to me again, but 
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 again, and the younger children 
had by this time crept to the door, where, pulling at his mother's 
skirts, the 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 reticence and 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 

"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 
hand, and seeing that he suffered, she at last said in a low voice, 
"She is at Sandbourne." 

"Ah where there? Sandbourne has become a large place, they 

"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 this, and 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 ahead, and paying off his coachman, he 
walked thither. The last train to Sandbourne left shortly after, 
and it bore Clare on its wheels. 


AT eleven o'clock that night, having secured a bed at one of the 
hotels and telegraphed his address to his father immediately on 
his arrival, he walked out into the streets of Sandbourne. It was 
too late to call on or inquire for any one, and he reluctantly post- 
poned his purpose till the morning. But he could not retire to 
rest just yet. 

This fashionable watering-place, with its eastern and its west- 
ern stations, its piers, its groves of pines, its promenades, and its 
covered gardens, was, to Angel Clare, like a fairy-place suddenly 
created by the stroke of a wand and allowed to get a little dusty. 
An out-lying eastern tract of the enormous Egdon Waste was 
close at hand, yet 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 prehistoric, every channel an undis- 
turbed British trackway; not a sod having been turned there since 
the days of the Caesars. Yet the exotic had grown here, suddenly 
as the prophet's gourd, and had drawn hither Tess. 

By the midnight lamps he went up and down the winding ways 
of this new world in an old one, and could discern between the 
trees and against the stars the lofty roofs, chimneys, gazebos, and 


towers of the numerous fanciful residences of which the place 
was composed. It was a city of detached mansions, a Mediter- 
ranean 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 hand, but not intrusive; it murmured, and 
he thought it was the pines; the pines murmured in precisely the 
same tones, and he thought they were the sea. 

Where could Tess possibly be, a cottage-girl, his young wife, 
amidst 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 
along, looking at the chamber-windows and their lights going 
out one by one, and wondered which of them might be hers. 

Conjecture was useless, and just after twelve o'clock he entered 
and went to bed. Before putting out his light, he reread Tess's 
impassioned letter. Sleep, however, he could not so near her, yet 
so far from her and he continually lifted the window-blind and 
regarded the backs of the opposite houses and 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 seven and, 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. 

Then, remembering that she would have been likely to continue 
the use of her maiden name, Clare said, "Or a Miss 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 moment, the 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 Clare, pleased to think that she had 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 house and hastened 


thither, arriving with the milkman. The Herons, though an 
ordinary villa, stood in its own grounds, and was certainly the 
last place in which one would have expected to find lodgings, so 
private was its appearance. If poor Tess was a servant here, as he 
feared, she would go to the back-door to that milkman, and he 
was inclined to go thither also. However, in his doubts he turned 
to the front and rang. 

The hour being early, the landlady herself opened the door. 
Clare inquired for Teresa d'Urberville or Durbeyfield. 

"Mrs. d'Urberville?" 


Tess, then, passed as a married woman, and he felt glad even 
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?" 


"Mr. Angel?" 

"No; Angel. It is my Christian name. She'll understand." 

"Ill 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 lawn, and the 
rhododendrons and other shrubs upon it. Obviously her position 
was by no means so bad as he had feared, and 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 stairs, at which his heart thumped 
so painfully that he could hardly stand firm. "Dear me! What will 
she think of me, so altered as I ami" he said to himself; and the 
door opened. 

Tess appeared on the threshold, not at all as he had expected 
to see her bewilderingly otherwise, indeed. Her great natural 
beauty was, if not heightened, rendered more obvious by her 
attire. She was loosely wrapped in a cashmere dressing-gown of 
grey-white, embroidered in half-mourning tints, and she wore 
slippers of the same hue. Her neck rose out of a frill of down, and 
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 arms, but they had fallen again to his side; 
for she had not come forward, remaining still in the opening of 
the doorway. Mere yellow skeleton that he was now, he felt the 


contrast between them and thought his appearance distasteful 
to her. 

"Tess!" he said huskily. "Can 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 she, her voice sounding hard through the 
room, her 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 since, dearest Tessy 

Too late, too late!" she said, waving her hand in the impa- 
tience of a person whose tortures cause every instant to seem an 
hour. "Don't come close to me, Angel! No you must not. Keep 

"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 pur- 
pose for you my mother and father will welcome you now!" 

"Yes oh, yes, yes! But I say, I say it is too late." 

She seemed to feel like a fugitive in a dream who tries to move 
away, but 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 on, her tones suddenly 
resuming their old fluty pathos. "But you did not come! And I 
wrote to you, and you did not come! He kept on saying you would 
never come any more, and that I was a foolish woman. He was 
very kind to me, and to Mother, and to all of us after Father's 
death. He " 

"I don't understand." 

"He has won me back to him." 

Clare looked at her keenly, then, gathering her meaning, 
flagged like one plague-stricken, and his glance sank; it fell on 
her hands, which, once 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 fixed, their baffled hearts looking out of their eyes 
with a joylessness pitiful to see. Both seemed to implore some- 
thing 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 thing, though 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 drift, like 
a corpse upon the current, in a direction dissociated from its liv- 
ing will. 

A few instants passed, and he found that Tess was gone. His 
face grew colder and more shrunken as he stood concentrated 
on the moment, and a minute or two after, he found himself in 
the street, walking along he did not know whither. 

MRS. BROOKS, the lady who was the householder at The Herons 
and owner of all the handsome furniture, was not a person of an 
unusually curious turn of mind. She was too deeply materialized, 
poor woman, by her long and enforced bondage to that arithmeti- 
cal demon Profit-and-Loss to retain much curiosity for its own 
sake, and apart from possible lodgers' pockets. Nevertheless, the 
visit of Angel Clare to her well-paying tenants, Mr. and Mrs. 
d'Urberville, as she deemed them, was sufficiently exceptional in 
point of time and manner to reinvigorate the feminine proclivity 
which had been stifled down as useless save in its bearings on 
the letting trade. 

Tess had spoken to her husband from the doorway, without 
entering the dining-room, and Mrs. Brooks, who stood within the 
partly closed door of her own sitting-room at the back of the pas- 
sage, could hear fragments of the conversation if conversation it 
could be called between those two wretched souls. She heard 
Tess reascend the stairs to the first floor, and the departure of 
Clare, and 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 softly and 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 floor, containing Mrs. Brooks's 
best apartments, had been taken by the week by the d'Urber- 


villes. 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 syllable, 
continually repeated in a low note of moaning, as if it came from 
a soul bound to some Ixionian wheel: "Oh oh oh!" 

Then a silence, then a heavy sigh, and again: "Oh oh oh!" 

The landlady looked through the keyhole. Only a small space 
of the room inside was visible, but within that space came a 
corner of the breakfast table, which was already spread for the 
meal, and also a chair beside. Over the seat of the chair Tess's 
face was bowed, her posture being a kneeling one in front of it; 
her hands were clasped over her head, the skirts of her dressing- 
gown and the embroidery of her nightgown flowed upon the 
floor behind her, and her stockingless feet, from which the slip- 
pers had fallen, protruded 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 the 

She did not answer, but went on in a tone which was a soliloquy 
rather than an exclamation, and 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 simple- 
ton 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 forever and he will not 
love me the littlest bit ever any more only hate me! . . . Oh 
yes, I have lost him now again because of you!" In writhing, 
with her head on the chair, she turned her face towards the door, 
and Mrs. Brooks could see the pain upon it, and that her lips were 
bleeding from the clench of her teeth upon them, and 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! . . . Oh, 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 oh, God I can't bear this! I cannot!" 


There were more and sharper words from the man; then a sud- 
den rustle; she had sprung to her feet. Mrs. Brooks, thinking that 
the speaker was coming to rush out of the door, hastily retreated 
down the stairs. 

She need not have done so, however, for the door of the sitting- 
room was not opened. But Mrs. Brooks felt it unsafe to watch on 
the landing again and entered her own parlour below. 

She could hear nothing through the floor although she 
listened intently, and 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 sewing, waiting for her 
lodgers to ring that she might take away the breakfast, which she 
meant to do herself, to discover what was the matter if possible. 
Overhead, as she sat, she could now hear the floor-boards slightly 
creak, as if some one were walking about, and presently the move- 
ment was explained by the rustle of garments against the banis- 
ters, the opening and the closing of the front door, and 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 arrived, with 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 farewell, 
temporary or otherwise, between her tenants at the door above. 
They might have quarrelled or Mr. dTJrberville might still be 
asleep, for he was not an early riser. 

She went into the back room, which was more especially her 
own apartment, and continued her sewing there. The lady 
lodger did not return, nor did the gentleman ring his bell. Mrs. 
Brooks pondered on the delay and 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 it, but it speedily grew as large 
as the palm of her hand, and then she could perceive that it was 
red. The oblong white ceiling with this scarlet blot in the midst 
had the appearance of a gigantic ace of hearts. 

Mrs. Brooks had strange qualms of misgiving. She got upon 
the table and touched the spot in the ceiling with her fingers. It 
was damp, and she fancied that it was a blood-stain. 


Descending from the table, she left the parlour and went up- 
stairs, intending to enter the room overhead, which was the bed- 
chamber at the back of the drawing-room. But, nerveless woman 
as she had now become, she could not bring herself to attempt 
the handle. She listened. The dead silence within was broken 
only by a regular beat. 

Drip, drip, drip. 

Mrs. Brooks hastened downstairs, opened the front door, and 
ran into the street. A man she knew, one of the workmen em- 
ployed at an adjoining villa, was 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 assented and fol- 
lowed her to the landing. 

She opened the door of the drawing-room and stood back for 
him to pass in, entering herself behind him. The room was empty; 
the breakfast a substantial repast of coffee, eggs, and a cold ham 
lay spread upon the table untouched, as when she had taken it 
up, excepting that the carving-knife was missing. She asked the 
man to go through the folding-doors into the adjoining room. 

He opened the doors, entered a step or two, and 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 has run down upon the floorl" 

The alarm was soon given, and the house, which had lately 
been so quiet, resounded with the tramp of many footsteps, a 
surgeon among the rest. The wound was small, but the point of 
the blade had touched the heart of the victim, who lay on his 
back, pale, fixed, dead, 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 bed, spread through every street and villa of the 
popular watering-place. 


MEANWHILE Angel Clare had walked automatically along the 
way by which he had come, and entering his hotel, sat down over 
the breakfast, staring 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 hand, the only 
luggage he had brought with him, and went out. 

At the moment of his departure a telegram was handed to 
him a few words from his mother, stating that they were glad 
to know his address and informing him that his brother Cuthbert 
had proposed to and been accepted by Mercy Chant. 

Clare crumpled up the paper and followed the route to the 
station; reaching it, he found that there would be no train leaving 
for an hour and more. He sat down to wait, and having waited 
a quarter of an hour, felt that he could wait there no longer. 
Broken in heart and numbed, he had nothing to hurry for; but he 
wished to get out of a town which had been the scene of such an 
experience, and turned to walk to the first station onward, and 
let the train pick him up there. 

The highway that he followed was open and at a little distance 
dipped into a valley, across which it could be seen running from 
edge to edge. He had traversed the greater part of this depres- 
sion and was climbing the western acclivity when, pausing for 
breath, he unconsciously looked back. Why he did so he could not 
say, but something seemed to impel him to the act. The tape-like 
surface of the road diminished in his rear as far as he could see, 
and as he gazed a moving spot intruded on the white vacuity of 
its perspective. 

It was a human figure running. Clare waited, with a dim sense 
that somebody was trying to overtake him. 

The form descending the incline was a woman's, yet 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 pale, so breathless, so quivering in every muscle, 
that he did not ask her a single question, but seizing her hand 
and pulling it within his arm, he led her along. To avoid meeting 
any possible wayfarers, he left the high road and took a foot- 
path under some fir-trees. When they were deep among the 
moaning boughs, he stopped and looked at her inquiringly. 

"Angel," she said as if waiting for this, "do 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 he, thinking 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 lov- 
ing me! Say you do now, dear, dear husband; say you do, now I 
have killed him!" 

"I do love you, Tess oh, I do it is all come back!" he said, 
tightening 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 at- 
tempted, at least, what 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 quality, which 
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 shoulder, weeping with 
happiness, and 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'Urber- 
villes had been known to do these things. As well as his confused 
and excited ideas could reason, he 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 hallucination, sad. 
But, anyhow, here was this deserted wife of his, this 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 not, in her mind, within the region of the possible. 
Tenderness was absolutely dominant in Clare at last. He kissed 
her endlessly with his white lips, and held her hand, and 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 

They then walked on under the trees, Tess turning her head 
every now and then to look at him. Worn and unhandsome as he 
had become, it was plain that she did not discern the least fault 
in his appearance. To her he was, as of old, all that was perfec- 
tion, personally and mentally. He was still her Antinoiis, her 
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 purely and who had believed in her as pure? 

With an instinct as to possibilities, he did not now, as he had 
intended, make for the first station beyond the town, but 
plunged still farther under the firs, which here abounded for 
miles. Each clasping the other round the waist, they promenaded 
over the dry bed of fir-needles, thrown into a vague, intoxicating 
atmosphere at the consciousness of being together at last, with 
no living soul between them; ignoring that there was a corpse. 
Thus they proceeded for several miles till Tess, arousing herself, 
looked about her and said timidly, "Are we going anywhere in 

"I don't know, dearest. Why?" 

"I don't know." 

"Well, we might walk a few miles further, and when it is eve- 
ning find lodgings somewhere or other in a lonely cottage, per- 
haps. Can you walk well, Tessy?" 

"Oh yes! I could walk forever and ever with your arm round 

Upon the whole it seemed a good thing to do. Thereupon they 
quickened their pace, avoiding high roads and following obscure 
paths tending more or less northward. But there was an unpracti- 


cal vagueness in their movements throughout the day; neither 
one of them seemed to consider any question of effectual escape, 
disguise, or long concealment. Their every idea was temporary 
and unforfending, like the plans of two children. 

At mid-day they drew near to a roadside inn, and Tess would 
have entered it with him to get something to eat, but he per- 
suaded her to remain among the trees and bushes of this half- 
woodland, half-moorland part of the country till 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 returned with food enough for half a dozen people and 
two bottles of wine enough to last them for a day or more should 
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 re- 
marked. "Later on, when they have forgotten us, we can make 
for some port." 

She made no reply to this beyond that of grasping him more 
tightly, and straight inland they went. Though the season was an 
English May, the weather was serenely bright, and during the 
afternoon it was quite warm. Through the latter miles of their 
walk their foot-path had taken them into the depths of the New 
Forest, and towards evening, turning the corner of a lane, they 
perceived behind a brook and bridge a large board on which 
was painted in white letters: "This desirable Mansion to be Let 
Furnished"; particulars following, with directions to apply to 
some London agents. Passing through the gate, they could see 
the house, an old brick building of regular design and large ac- 

"I know it," said Clare. "It is Bramshurst Court. You can see 
that it is shut up, and 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 TessI" he said. "We'll stop soon." 
And kissing her sad mouth, he again led her onwards. 

He was growing weary likewise, for they had wandered a 
dozen or fifteen miles, and it became necessary to consider what 
they should do for rest. They looked from afar at isolated cottages 
and little inns, and were inclined to approach one of the latter 
when their hearts failed them, and they sheered off. At length 
their gait dragged, and 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 steps, but it was half an hour before they 
stood without the entrance-gate as earlier. He then requested her 
to stay where she was, whilst he went to see who was within. 

She sat down among the bushes within the gate, and Clare 
crept towards the house. His absence lasted some considerable 
time, and when he returned Tess was wildly anxious, not for 
herself, but for him. He had found out from a boy that there was 
only an old woman in charge as caretaker, and she only came 
there on fine days, from the hamlet near, to 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 front, 
whose shuttered windows, like sightless eyeballs, excluded the 
possibility of watchers. The door was reached a few steps further, 
and one of the windows beside it was open. Clare clambered in 
and pulled Tess in after him. 

Except the hall, the rooms were all in darkness, and they as- 
cended the staircase. Up here also the shutters were tightly 
closed, the ventilation being perfunctorily done, for this day at 
least, by opening the hall-window in front and an upper window 
behind. Clare unlatched the door of a large chamber, felt his way 
across it, and parted the shutters to the width of two or three 
inches. A shaft of dazzling sunlight glanced into the room, re- 
vealing heavy, old-fashioned furniture, crimson damask hangings, 
and an enormous four-post bedstead, along the head of which 
were carved running figures, apparently Atalanta's race. 

"Rest at last!" said he, setting down his bag and the parcel of 

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 before, lest the woman 
should open the door of their chamber for any casual reason. 
Between six and seven o'clock she came, but did not approach 
the wing they were in. They heard her close the windows, fasten 
them, lock the door, and go away. Then Clare again stole a chink 
of light from the window, and they shared another meal, till by 
and by they were enveloped in the shades of night, which they 
had no candle to disperse. 

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 stream, at the im- 
minent 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 to-morrow has 
in store?" 

But it apparently had no sorrow. The morning was wet and 
foggy, and Clare, rightly informed that the caretaker only opened 
the windows on fine days, ventured to creep out of their chamber 
and explore the house, leaving Tess asleep. There was no food 
on the premises, but there was water, and he took advantage of 
the fog to emerge from the mansion and fetch tea, bread, and 
butter from a shop in a little place two miles beyond, as 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 abroad, and the day passed, and 
the night following, and the next, and next; till, almost without 
their being aware, five days had slipped by in absolute seclu- 
sion, not a sight or sound of a human being disturbing their 
peacefulness, such as it was. The changes of the weather were 
their only events, the birds of the New Forest their only com- 
pany. By tacit consent they hardly once spoke of any incident 


of the past subsequent to their wedding-day. The gloomy inter- 
vening time seemed to sink into chaos, over which the present 
and prior times closed as if it never had been. Whenever he sug- 
gested that they should leave their shelter and go forwards 
towards Southampton or London, she showed a strange unwill- 
ingness to move. 

"Why should we put an end to all that's sweet and lovely!" she 
deprecated. "What must come will come." And, looking through 
the shutter-chink: "All is trouble outside there; inside here con- 

He peeped out also. It was quite true: within was affection, 
union, error forgiven; outside was the inexorable. 

"And and," she said, pressing her cheek against his, "I fear 
that what you think of me now may not last. I do not wish to out- 
live your present feeling for me. I would rather not. I would 
rather be dead and buried when the time comes for you to de- 
spise me, so that it may never be known to me that you despised 

"I cannot ever despise you." 

"I also hope that. But considering what my life has been, I can- 
not see why any man should, sooner or later, be able to help de- 
spising 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 
cleared, and 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 immediately and to air 
it thoroughly on such a day. Thus it occurred that, having arrived 
and opened the lower rooms before six o'clock, she ascended 
to the bed-chambers and 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 far, and she made 
for instant retreat; then, deeming that her hearing might have 
deceived her, she turned anew to the door and softly tried the 
handle. The lock was out of order, but a piece of furniture had 
been moved forward on the inside, which 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 pair, wrapt 
in profound slumber, Tess's lips being parted like a half-opened 


flower near his cheek. The caretaker was so struck with their in- 
nocent appearance, and with the elegance of Tess's gown hang- 
ing across a chair, her silk stockings beside it, the pretty parasol, 
and the other habits in which she had arrived because she had 
none else, that her first indignation at the effrontery of tramps 
and vagabonds gave way to a momentary sentimentality over 
this genteel elopement, as it seemed. She closed the door and 
withdrew as softly as she had come, to go and consult with her 
neighbours on the odd discovery. 

Not more than a minute had elapsed after her withdrawal 
when Tess woke, and then Clare. Both had a sense that something 
had disturbed them, though 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 rate, 
the woman will be sure to come to-day." 

She passively assented, and 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 good-bye!" 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 alto- 
gether. 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 pursued, and 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 Melchester, 
which lay directly in their way. He decided to rest her in a clump 
of trees during the afternoon and push onward under cover of 
darkness. At dusk Clare purchased food as usual, and their night 
march began, the 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 Tess, and she showed her old agility in the performance. 
The intercepting city, ancient Melchester, they 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 mid- 
night when they went along the deserted streets, lighted fitfully 
by the few lamps, keeping off the pavement, that it might not 
echo their footsteps. The graceful pile of cathedral architecture 
rose dimly on their left hand, but it was lost upon them now. 
Once out of the town they followed the turnpike-road, which 
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 sunk, the clouds seemed to settle almost on 
their heads, and the night grew as dark as a cave. However, they 
found their way along, keeping as much on the turf as possible, 
that their tread might not resound, which it was easy to do, there 
being no hedge or fence of any kind. All around was open loneli- 
ness and black solitude, over 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 front, rising 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 wind, playing upon the edifice, produced a 
booming tune, like the note of some gigantic one-stringed harp. 
No other sound came from it, and lifting his hand and advanc- 
ing a step or two, Clare felt the vertical surface of the structure. 
It seemed to be of solid stone, without joint or moulding. Carry- 
ing his fingers onward, he found that what he had come in con- 
tact 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 blacker, which 
had the semblance of a vast architrave uniting the pillars horizon- 
tally. 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 fearfully, and Angel, 
perplexed, said, "What can it be?" 

Feeling sideways, they encountered another tower-like pillar, 
square and uncompromising as the first; beyond it another and 
another. The place was all doors and pillars, some connected 
above by continuous architraves. 

"A very Temple of the Winds," he said. 


The next pillar was isolated; others composed a trilithon; others 
were prostrate, their 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 Tess, really tired by this time, flung herself upon an oblong 
slab that lay close at hand, and was sheltered from the wind by 
a pillar. Owing to the action of the sun during the preceding day, 
the stone was warm and dry, in comforting contrast to the rough 
and chill grass around, which 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 form and 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 thought she might as well rest here till it should get a 
little lighter, and he flung his overcoat upon her and sat down by 
her side. 

"Angel, if anything happens to me, will you watch over Liza- 
Lu for my sake?" she asked when they had listened a long time 
to the wind among the pillars. 

"I will." 

"She is so good and simple and pure. Oh, Angel I wish you 
would marry her if you lose me, as you will do shortly. Oh, if you 

"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. Oh, 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 has 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 ceased, and he fell into thought. In the far north-east sky 
he could see between the pillars a level streak of light. The uni- 
form concavity of black cloud was lifting bodily like the lid of a 
pot, letting in at the earth's edge the coming day, against which 
the towering monoliths and trilithons began to be blackly de- 

"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 same, and I thought as you thought 
not from any reasons of my own, but because you thought so. 
Tell me now, Angel, do 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. 

"Oh, Angel I fear that means no!" said she with a suppressed 
sob. "And I wanted so to see you again so much, so much! What 
not even you and I, Angel, who love each other so well?" 

Like a greater than himself, to the critical question at the criti- 
cal time he did not answer; and they were again silent. In a min- 
ute or two her breathing became more regular, her clasp of his 
hand relaxed, and 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 reserve, taciturnity, and hesitation which is 
usual just before day. The eastward pillars and their architraves 
stood up blackly against the light, and the great flame-shaped 
Sun-stone beyond them, and the Stone of Sacrifice midway. 
Presently the night wind died out, and 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 on- 
ward, but in the circumstances decided to remain quiet. The 
figure came straight towards the circle of pillars in which they 

He heard something behind him, the brush of feet. Turning, 
he saw over the prostrate columns another figure; then, before 
he was aware, another was at hand on the right, under a trilithon, 
and another on the left. The dawn shone full on the front of the 
man westward, and Clare could discern from this that he was tall 
and walked as if trained. They all closed in with evident pur- 
pose. Her story, then, was true! Springing to his feet, he looked 
around for a weapon, loose stone, means of escape, anything. By 
this time the nearest man was upon him. 

"It is no use, sir," he said. "There are sixteen of us on the plain, 
and 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 lay, which they had not done till 
then, they showed no objection and stood watching her, as still 
as the pillars around. He went to the stone and bent over her, 
holding one poor little hand; her breathing now was quick and 
small, like that of a lesser creature than a woman. All waited in 
the growing light, their faces and hands as if they were silvered, 
the remainder of their figures dark, the stones glistening green- 
grey, the plain still a mass of shade. Soon the light was strong, 
and a ray shone upon her unconscious form, peering under her 
eyelids and waking her. 

"What is it, Angel?" she said, starting up. "Have they come 
for me?" 

"Yes, dearest," he said. "They have come." 

"It is as it should be," she murmured. "Angel, I am almost glad 
yes, glad! This happiness could not have lasted. It was too 
much. I have had enough, and now I shall not live for you to de- 
spise me!" 

She stood up, shook herself, and went forward, neither of the 
men having moved. 

"I am ready," she said quietly. 


THE city of Wintoncester, that fine old city, aforetime capital of 
Wessex, lay amidst its convex and concave downlands in all the 
brightness and warmth of a July morning. The gabled brick, tile, 
and freestone houses had almost dried off for the season their 
integument of lichen, the streams in the meadows were low, and 
in the sloping High Street, from the West Gateway to the 
mediaeval cross and from the mediaeval cross to the bridge, that 
leisurely dusting and sweeping was in progress which usually 
ushers in an old-fashioned market-day. 

From the western gate aforesaid the highway, as every Win- 
toncestrian knows, ascends a long and regular incline of the 
exact length of a measured mile, leaving 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 kind, and this road 
appeared to offer the quickest means of doing so. Though they 
were young, they walked with bowed heads, which gait of grief 
the sun's rays smiled on pitilessly. 

One of the pair was Angel Clare, the other a tall budding crea- 
turehalf girl, half woman a spiritualized image of Tess, slighter 
than she, but 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 
word, the drooping of their heads being that of Giotto's Two 

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 notes, 
and walking onward yet a few steps, they reached the first mile- 
stone, standing whitely on the green margin of the grass, and 
backed by the down, which here was open to the road. They en- 
tered upon the turf and, impelled by a force that seemed to over- 
rule their will, suddenly stood still, turned, and waited in 
paralysed 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 tower, with its Norman windows and immense 
length of aisle and nave, the spires of St. Thomas', the pinnacled 
tower of the College, and, more to the right, the tower and gables 
of the ancient hospice, where to this day the pilgrim may receive 
his dole of bread and ale. Behind the city swept the rotund up- 
land of St. Catherine's Hill; further off, landscape beyond land- 
scape, till the horizon was lost in the radiance of the sun hanging 
above it. 

Against these far stretches of country rose, in front of the other 
city edifices, a large red-brick building, with level grey roofs 
and rows of short, barred windows bespeaking captivity, the 
whole contrasting greatly by its formalism with the quaint ir- 
regularities of the Gothic erections. It was somewhat disguised 
from the road in passing it by yews and evergreen oaks, but 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 horizon, and viewed from this spot, on its shady 
side and against the light, it seemed the one blot on the city's 
beauty. Yet it was with this blot, and not with the beauty, that 
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, some- 
thing moved slowly up the staff and extended itself upon the 
breeze. It was a black flag. 

"Justice" was done, and the President of the Immortals, in 
Aeschylean phrase, had ended his sport with Tess. And the 
d'Urberville knights and dames slept on in their tombs unknow- 
ing. The two speechless gazers bent themselves down to the 
earth, as if in prayer, and remained thus a long time, absolutely 
motionless; the flag continued to wave silently. As soon as they 
had strength, they arose, joined hands again, and went on. 






Hardy, Thomas. 


Tess of the