<h3>Phase the Second: Maiden No More, XII-XV</h3>
<br/>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 mechanical way by some gate or
post; and then, giving the baggage another hitch upon
her full round arm, went steadily on again.
<br/>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 behind her back
lighted the ridge towards which her face was set—the
barrier of the vale wherein she had of late been a
stranger—which she would have to climb over to reach
her birthplace. The ascent was gradual on this side,
and the soil and scenery differed much from those
within 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.
<br/>The incline was the same down which d'Urberville had
driven her so wildly on that day in June. Tess went up
the remainder of its length without 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.
<br/>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
<br/>She obeyed the signal to wait for him with
unspeculative repose, and in a few minutes man and
horse stopped beside her.
<br/>"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
<br/>"I shan't come back," said she.
<br/>"I thought you wouldn't—I said so! Well, then, put up
your basket, and let me help you on."
<br/>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.
<br/>D'Urberville mechanically lit a cigar, and the journey
was continued with broken unemotional conversation on
the commonplace 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 monosyllables.
After some miles they came in view of the clump of
trees beyond which the village of Marlott stood.
It was only then that her still face showed the least
emotion, a tear or two beginning to trickle down.
<br/>"What are you crying for?" he coldly asked.
<br/>"I was only thinking that I was born over there,"
<br/>"Well—we must all be born somewhere."
<br/>"I wish I had never been born—there or anywhere else!"
<br/>"Pooh! Well, if you didn't wish to come to Trantridge
why did you come?"
<br/>She did not reply.
<br/>"You didn't come for love of me, that I'll swear."
<br/>"'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."
<br/>He shrugged his shoulders. She resumed—
<br/>"I didn't understand your meaning till it was too
<br/>"That's what every woman says."
<br/>"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?"
<br/>"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."
<br/>Her lip lifted slightly, though there was little scorn,
as a rule, in her large and impulsive nature.
<br/>"I have said I will not take anything more from you,
and I will not—I cannot! I <i>should</i> be your
creature to go on doing that, and I won't!"
<br/>"One would think you were a princess from your manner,
in addition to a true and original d'Urberville—ha!
ha! Well, Tess, dear, I can say no more. I suppose I
am a bad fellow—a damn bad fellow. I was born bad, and
I have lived bad, and I shall die bad in all
probability. But, upon my lost soul, I won't be bad
towards you again, Tess. And if certain circumstances
should arise—you understand—in which you are in the
least need, the least difficulty, send me one line, and
you shall have by return whatever you require. I may
not be at Trantridge—I am going to London for a
time—I can't stand the old woman. But all letters
will be forwarded."
<br/>She said that she did not wish him to drive her
further, and they stopped just under the clump of
trees. D'Urberville 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.
<br/>Alec d'Urberville removed his cigar, bent towards her,
<br/>"You are not going to turn away like that, dear!
<br/>"If you wish," she answered indifferently. "See how
you've mastered me!"
<br/>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.
<br/>"Now the other side, for old acquaintance' sake."
<br/>She turned her head in the same passive way, as one
might turn at the request of a sketcher or hairdresser,
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.
<br/>"You don't give me your mouth and kiss me back. You
never willingly do that—you'll never love me, I fear."
<br/>"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."
<br/>He emitted a laboured breath, as if the scene were
getting rather oppressive to his heart, or to his
conscience, or to his gentility.
<br/>"Well, you are absurdly melancholy, Tess. I have no
reason for flattering you now, and I can say plainly
that you need not be so sad. You can hold your own for
beauty against any woman of these parts, gentle or
simple; I say it to you as a practical man and
well-wisher. If you are wise you will show it to the
world more than you do before it fades… And yet,
Tess, will you come back to me! Upon my soul, I don't
like to let you go like this!"
<br/>"Never, never! I made up my mind as soon as I
saw—what I ought to have seen sooner; and I won't
<br/>"Then good morning, my four months' cousin—good-bye!"
<br/>He leapt up lightly, arranged the reins, and was gone
between the tall red-berried hedges.
<br/>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.
<br/>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
<br/>"It is early to be astir this Sabbath morn!" he said
<br/>"Yes," said Tess.
<br/>"When most people are at rest from their week's work."
<br/>She also assented to this.
<br/>"Though I do more real work to-day than all the week
<br/>"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."
<br/>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 painting large square letters on
the middle board of the three composing the stile,
placing a comma after each word, as if to give pause
while that word was driven well home to the reader's
<span class="inscription2"><b>THY, DAMNATION,
<span class="inscription"><b>2 Pet. ii. 3.</b></span><br/>
<br/>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.
<br/>Having finished his text he picked up her basket, and
she mechanically resumed her walk beside him.
<br/>"Do you believe what you paint?" she asked in low
<br/>"Believe that tex? Do I believe in my own existence!"
<br/>"But," said she tremulously, "suppose your sin was not
of your own seeking?"
<br/>He shook his head.
<br/>"I cannot split hairs on that burning query," he said.
"I have walked hundreds of miles this past summer,
painting these texes on every wall, gate, and stile the
length and breadth of this district. I leave their
application to the hearts of the people who read 'em."
<br/>"I think they are horrible," said Tess. "Crushing!
<br/>"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?"
<br/>"No," said she; and taking her basket Tess trudged on.
A little way forward she turned her head. The old gray
wall began to advertise a similar fiery lettering to
the 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 halfway through—
<span class="inscription2"><b>THOU, SHALT, NOT,
<br/>Her cheerful friend saw her looking, stopped his brush,
<br/>"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."
<br/>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.
<br/>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 down
stairs, 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.
<br/>"Well!—my dear Tess!" exclaimed her surprised mother,
jumping up and kissing the girl. "How be ye? I didn't
see you till you was in upon me! Have you come home to
<br/>"No, I have not come for that, mother."
<br/>"Then for a holiday?"
<br/>"Yes—for a holiday; for a long holiday," said Tess.
<br/>"What, isn't your cousin going to do the handsome
<br/>"He's not my cousin, and he's not going to marry me."
<br/>Her mother eyed her narrowly.
<br/>"Come, you have not told me all," she said.
<br/>Then Tess went up to her mother, put her face upon
Joan's neck, and told.
<br/>"And yet th'st not got him to marry 'ee!" reiterated
her mother. "Any woman would have done it but you,
<br/>"Perhaps any woman would except me."
<br/>"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!"
<br/>Get Alec d'Urberville in the mind to marry her! He
marry <i>HER</i>! On matrimony he had never once said a word.
And what if he had? How a convulsive snatching at
social salvation might have impelled her to answer him
she could not say. But her poor foolish mother little
knew her present feeling towards this man. Perhaps it
was unusual in the circumstances, unlucky,
unaccountable; 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 disliked 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.
<br/>"You ought to have been more careful if you didn't mean
to get him to make you his wife!"
<br/>"O 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!"
<br/>Her mother was subdued.
<br/>"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
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