<h3>Phase the Fourth: The Consequence, XXV-XXXIV</h3>
<br/>Clare, restless, went out into the dusk when evening
drew on, she who had won him having retired to her
<br/>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 noontime temperature
into the noctambulist's face.
<br/>He sat on the east gate of the dairy-yard, and knew not
what to think of himself. Feeling had indeed smothered
judgement that day.
<br/>Since the sudden embrace, three hours before, the twain
had kept apart. She seemed stilled, almost alarmed, at
what had occurred, while the novelty, unpremeditation,
mastery of circumstance 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
<br/>Angel had come as pupil to this dairy in the idea that
his temporary 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 costumes,<br/>
How curious you are to me!—<br/>
resolve upon a plan for plunging into that world anew.
But behold, 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 unimpassioned place,
novelty had volcanically started up, as it had never,
for him, started up elsewhere.
<br/>Every window of the house being open, Clare could hear
across the yard each trivial sound of the retiring
household. The 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 quality 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 confederacy. A
personality within it was so far-reaching in her
influence as to spread into and make the bricks,
mortar, and whole overhanging sky throb with a burning
sensibility. Whose was this mighty personality? A
<br/>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
experiences. 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
<br/>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
sensations 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
<br/>This consciousness upon which he had intruded was the
single opportunity of existence ever vouchsafed to Tess
by an unsympathetic First Cause—her all; her every and
only chance. How then should he look upon her as of
less consequence than himself; as a pretty trifle to
caress and grow weary of; and not deal in the greatest
seriousness with the affection which he knew that he
had awakened in her—so fervid and so impressionable as
she was under her reserve—in order that it might not
agonize and wreck her?
<br/>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 occupations
in which they would be mutually engaged. As yet the
harm done was small.
<br/>But it was not easy to carry out the resolution never
to approach her. He was driven towards her by every
heave of his pulse.
<br/>He thought he would go and see his friends. It might
be possible to sound them upon this. In less than five
months his term here would have 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 silence, he resolved to go his journey.
<br/>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.
<br/>"O no," said Dairyman Crick. "Mr Clare has gone hwome
to Emminster to spend a few days wi' his kinsfolk."
<br/>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
<br/>"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.
<br/>The others waited for the dairyman's answer as if their
lives hung upon it; Retty, with parted lips, gazing on
the tablecloth, Marian with heat added to her redness,
Tess throbbing and looking out at the meads.
<br/>"Well, I can't mind the exact day without looking at my
memorandum-book," replied Crick, with the same
intolerable unconcern. "And even that may be altered a
bit. He'll bide to get a little practice in the
calving out at the straw-yard, for certain. He'll
hang on till the end of the year I should say."
<br/>Four months or so of torturing ecstasy in his
society—of "pleasure girdled about with pain".
After that the blackness of unutterable night.
<br/>At this moment of the morning Angel Clare was riding
along a narrow lane ten miles distant from the
breakfasters, in the direction 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 kind 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 depend
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
<br/>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 before 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.
<br/>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 Antinomianism 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.
<br/>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 the 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, somewhat 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.
<br/>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 Conversionist, a man
of Apostolic simplicity in life and thought, he had in
his raw youth made up his mind once for all in 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 admiration 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 then
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 consistent through the
whole category—which in a way he might have been. One
thing he certainly was—sincere.
<br/>To the aesthetic, sensuous, pagan pleasure in natural
life and lush womanhood which his son Angel had lately
been experiencing 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.
<br/>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,
uncontorted, untrammelled by those creeds which
futilely attempt to check what wisdom would be content
<br/>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
expressive; 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 become
coarse. Such was the contagion of domiciliary
fellowship with the Talbothays nymphs and swains.
<br/>After breakfast he walked with his two brothers,
non-evangelical, well-educated, hall-marked young men,
correct to their remotest 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 eyeglass and string they wore a single eyeglass
and string; when it was the custom to wear a double
glass they wore a double glass; when it was the custom
to wear spectacles they wore spectacles straightway,
all without reference to the particular variety of
defect in their own vision. When Wordsworth was
enthroned they carried pocket copies; and when Shelley
was belittled they allowed him to grow dusty on their
shelves. When Correggio's Holy Families were admired,
they admired Correggio's Holy Families; when he was
decried in favour of Velasquez, they sedulously
followed suit without any personal objection.
<br/>If these two noticed Angel's growing social ineptness,
he noticed their growing mental limitations. Felix
seemed to him all Church; Cuthbert all College. His
Diocesan Synod and Visitations were the mainsprings of
the world to the one; Cambridge to the other. Each
brother candidly recognized that there were a few
unimportant score of millions of outsiders in civilized
society, persons who were neither University men nor
churchmen; but they were to be tolerated rather than
reckoned with and respected.
<br/>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
<br/>As they walked along the hillside Angel's former
feeling revived in him—that whatever their advantages
by comparison with himself, neither saw or 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 clerical and
academic hearing was quite a different thing from what
the outer world was thinking.
<br/>"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, nevertheless."
<br/>"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
<br/>"Well, I fancied, from the tone of your letters and our
conversation—it may be fancy only—that you were
somehow losing intellectual grasp. Hasn't it struck
<br/>"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."
<br/>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 unselfish Mr
and Mrs Clare; though the three sons were sufficiently
in unison on this matter to wish that their parents
would conform a little to modern notions.
<br/>The walk had made them hungry, Angel in particular, who
was now an outdoor man, accustomed to the profuse <i>dapes
inemptae</i> 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 inconsistently,
tried to keep imprisoned in the flesh, their own
appetites being quite forgotten.
<br/>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
<br/>"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
<br/>"Of course," said Angel cheerfully, looking round for
<br/>"I 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."
<br/>"We never drink spirits at this table, on principle,"
added his father.
<br/>"But what shall I tell the dairyman's wife?" said Angel.
<br/>"The truth, of course," said his father.
<br/>"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."
<br/>"You cannot, if we did not," Mr Clare answered lucidly.
<br/>"Ah—no; though that mead was a drop of pretty tipple."
<br/>"A what?" said Cuthbert and Felix both.
<br/>"Oh—'tis an expression they use down at Talbothays,"
replied Angel, blushing. He felt that his parents were
right in their practice if wrong in their want of
sentiment, and said no more.
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