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 perceived 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 today, like
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 their 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 tell'n where you was, knowing you wouldn't wish to see him.''
''Ah-but I did see him!'' Tess murmured. ''He found me.''
''And do he know where you be going?''
''I think so.''
''Husband come back?''
She bade her acquaintance goodbye-for the respective carters had now come out
from the inn-and the two waggons resumed their journey in opposite directions; the
vehicle whereon sat 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 coming.
The distance was great-too great for a day's journey-and it was with the utmost
difficulty that the horses performed it. Though they had started so early it was
quite late in the afternoon when they turned the flank of an eminence which formed
part of the upland called Greenhill. While the horses stood to stale and breathe
themselves Tess looked around. Under the hill, and just ahead of them, was the half-dead
townlet of their pilgrimage, Kingsbere, where lay those ancestors of whom her father
had spoken and sung to painfulness: Kingsbere, the spot of all spots in the world
which could be considered the d'Urbervilles' home, since they had resided there
for full five hundred years. 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 domain of his forefathers.''
''Oh? Well, I know nothing about that; but if you be Mrs Durbeyfield, I am sent
to tell 'ee that the rooms you wanted be let. We didn't know that you was coming
till we got your letter this morning-when 'twas too late. But no doubt you can get
other lodgings somewhere.''
The man had noticed the face of 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 welcome to your ancestors' lands! However, let's try further.''
They moved on into the town, and tried with all their 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 accommodation
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
''Very well-unload it here,'' said Joan recklessly. ''I'll get shelter somewhere.''
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 sunlight 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 indoor articles abandoned to the vicissitudes of a
roofless exposure for which they were never made. Round about were deparked hills
and slopes-now cut up into little paddocks-and the green foundations that showed
where the d'Urberville mansion once had stood; also an outlying stretch of Egdon
Heath that had always belonged to the estate. Hard 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 we'll 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 building know as the d'Urberville Aisle, beneath which the
huge vaults lay. Over the tester of the bedstead was a beautiful traceried window,
of many lights, its date being the fifteenth century. It was called the d'Urberville
Window, and in the upper part could be discerned heraldic emblems like those on
Durbeyfield's old seal and spoon.
Joan drew the curtains round the bed so as to make an excellent tent of 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! O, 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 spot!''
It was Alec d'Urberville. ''Where is
Tess?'' he asked.
Personally Joan had no liking for Alec. She cursorily signified the direction
of the 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 the family,
covering in their dates several centuries. They were canopied, alter-shaped, and
plain; their carvings being defaced and broken; their brasses torn from the matrices,
the rivet-holes remaining like martin-holes in a sandcliff. Of all the reminders
that she had ever received that her people were socially extinct there was none
so forcible as this spoliation.
She drew near to a dark stone on which was inscribed:
OSTIUM SEPULCHRI ANTIQUAE FAMILIAE D'URBERVILLE
Tess did not read Church-Latin like a 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 altertomb, the oldest of them
all, on which was a recumbent figure. In the dusk she had not noticed it before,
and would hardly have noticed it now but for an odd fancy that the effigy moved.
As soon as she drew close to it she discovered all in a moment that the figure was
a living person; and the shock to her sense of not having been alone was so violent
that she was quite 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?
He stamped with his heel heavily on the floor; whereupon there arose a hollow
echo from below.
''That shook them a bit, I'll warrant!'' he continued. ''And you thought I was
the mere stone reproduction of one of them. But no. The old order changeth. The
little finger of the sham d'Urberville can do more for you than the whole dynasty
of the real underneath…. Now command me. What shall I do?''
''Go away!'' she murmured.
''I will-I'll look for your mother,'' said he blandly. But in passing her he
whispered: ''Mind this; you'll be civil yet!''
When he was gone she bent down upon the entrance to the 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 connection with her previous history they had partly heard and partly
guessed ere this.
'''Tisn't as though she had never known him afore,'' said Marian. ''His having
won her once makes all the difference in the world. 'Twould be a thousand pities
if he were to tole her away again. Mr Clare can never be anything to 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
nothing 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-ay, more-a Diamond.
FROM TWO WELL-WISHERS
This was 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.
Phase the Seventh: Fulfilment
It was evening at Emminster Vicarage. The two customary candles 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.''
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 their spectacles because they confronted the
last rays of day; but they could only see his shape against the light.