<br/>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 there were yet mere
lover and mistress; a romantic 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
<br/>Clare's life at the dairy had been that of a recluse in
respect the world of his own class. For months he had
never gone near a 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.
<br/>And then for the first time in their lives they shopped
as partners in one concern. It was Christmas Eve, with
its loads a 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.
<br/>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.
<br/>"A comely maid that," said the other.
<br/>"True, comely enough. But unless I make a great
mistake—" And he negatived the remainder of the
<br/>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.
<br/>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—
<br/>"I beg pardon, sir; 'twas a complete mistake. I
thought she was another woman, forty miles from here."
<br/>Clare, feeling 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.
<br/>"And was it a mistake?" said the second one.
<br/>"Not a bit of it. But I didn't want to hurt the
gentleman's feelings—not I."
<br/>In the meantime the lovers were driving onward.
<br/>"Could we put off our wedding till a little later?"
Tess asked in a dry dull voice. "I mean if we wished?"
<br/>"No, my love. Calm yourself. Do you mean that the
fellow may have time to summon me for assault?" he
<br/>"No—I only meant—if it should have to be put off."
<br/>What she meant was not very clear, and he directed her
to dismiss 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."
<br/>They parted tenderly that night on the landing, and
Clare ascended to his attic. Tess sat up getting on
with some little requisites, 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.
<br/>"Oh, nothing, dear," he said from within. "I am so
sorry I disturbed you! But the reason is rather an
amusing one: I fell asleep and dreamt that I was
fighting that fellow again who insulted you, and the
noise you heard was my pummelling away with my fists at
my 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."
<br/>This was the last drachm required to turn the scale of
her indecision. Declare the past to him by word of
mouth she could not; but there was another way. She
sat down and wrote on the four pages of a note-sheet a
succinct narrative of those events of three or four
years ago, put it into an envelope, and directed it to
Clare. Then, lest the flesh should again be weak, she
crept upstairs without any shoes and slipped the note
under his door.
<br/>Her night was a broken one, as it well might be, and
she listened for the first faint noise overhead. It
came, as usual; he descended, as usual. She descended.
He met her at the bottom of the stairs and kissed her.
Surely it was as warmly as ever!
<br/>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
forgave her. But even if he had not received it she
had a sudden enthusiastic trust that he surely would
<br/>Every morning and night he was the same, and thus New
Year's Eve broke—the wedding day.
<br/>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 there. This
renovated aspect of what was the focus indeed of the
room on a full winter morning threw a smiling
demeanour over the whole apartment.
<br/>"I was determined to do summat in honour o't", said the
dairyman. "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."
<br/>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 rushing 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 which he might be supposed to be the best judge.
<br/>This coolness in his relations distressed Clare less
than it would have done had he been without the grand
card with which he meant to surprise them ere long. To
produce 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 reading with him, he could take her on a visit to
his parents and impart 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 anybody in the world beside.
<br/>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
climbing 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
<br/>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.
<br/>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
<br/>"I am so anxious to talk to you—I want to confess all
my faults and blunders!" she said with attempted
<br/>"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
<br/>"But it would be better for me to do it now, I think,
so that you could not say—"
<br/>"Well, my quixotic one, you shall tell me
anything—say, as soon as we are settled in our
lodging; not now. I, too, will tell you my faults
then. But do not let us spoil the day with them; they
will be excellent matter for a dull time."
<br/>"Then you don't wish me to, dearest?"
<br/>"I do not, Tessy, really."
<br/>The hurry of dressing and starting left no time for
more than this. Those words of his seemed to reassure
her on further reflection. She was whirled onward
through the next couple of critical hours by the
mastering tide of her devotion to 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 pathway. In dressing,
she moved about in a mental cloud of many-coloured
idealities, which eclipsed all sinister contingencies
by its brightness.
<br/>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, counter-acted 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 required 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.
<br/>Inside this cumbrous and creaking structure, and behind
this decayed conductor, the <i>partie carrée</i>
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 unpleasantly upon
their biased niceness, apart from their views of the
<br/>Upheld by the momentum of the time, Tess knew nothing of
this, did not see anything, did not know the road they
were taking to the church. She knew that Angel was
close to her; all the rest was a luminous mist. She
was a sort of celestial person, who owed her being to
poetry—one of those classical divinities Clare was
accustomed to talk to her about when they took their
<br/>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 frightened by a passing thought, and
the movement had been automatic, to assure herself that
he was really there, and to fortify her belief that his
fidelity would be proof against all things.
<br/>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 devotion, its single-mindedness, its
meekness; what long-suffering it guaranteed, what
honesty, what endurance, what good faith.
<br/>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 the circle of sound, and it matched the
highly-charged mental atmosphere in which she was
<br/>This condition of mind, wherein she felt glorified by
an irradiation 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.
<br/>"I fancy you seem oppressed, Tessy," said Clare.
<br/>"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."
<br/>"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."
<br/>"I have never heard of it to my knowledge," said she.
"What is the legend—may I know it?"
<br/>"Well—I would rather not tell it in detail just now.
A certain d'Urberville of the sixteenth or seventeenth
century committed a dreadful crime in his family coach;
and since that time members of the family see or hear
the old coach whenever—But I'll tell you another
day—it is rather gloomy. Evidently some dim knowledge
of it has been brought back to your mind by the sight
of this venerable caravan."
<br/>"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
<br/>He silenced her by a kiss.
<br/>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 upright souls
as culpable reticence? She knew not what was expected
of women in such cases; and she had no counsellor.
<br/>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 desperate for human conditions—too rank, to
wild, too deadly.
<br/>"O my love, why do I love you so!" she whispered there
alone; "for she you love is not my real self, but one
in my image; the one I might have been!"
<br/>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 inclining 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 forgot her own dogging shadow for a
moment in contemplating theirs.
She impulsively whispered to him—
<br/>"Will you kiss 'em all, once, poor things, for the
first and last time?"
<br/>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 "Goodbye" to each as he did so. When
they reached the door Tess femininely glanced back to
discern the effect of that kiss of charity; there was
no triumph in her 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.
<br/>Of all this Clare was unconscious. Passing on to the
wicket-gate he shook hands with the dairyman and his
wife, and expressed his last thanks to them for their
attentions; after which there was a moment of silence
before they had moved off. It was interrupted by the
crowing of a cock. The white one with the rose comb
had come and settled on the palings in front of the
house, within a few yards of them, and his notes
thrilled their ears through, dwindling away like echoes
down a valley of rocks.
<br/>"Oh?" said Mrs Crick. "An afternoon crow!"
<br/>Two men were standing by the yard gate, holding it
<br/>"That's bad," one murmured to the other, not thinking
that the words could be heard by the group at the
<br/>The cock crew again—straight towards Clare.
<br/>"Well!" said the dairyman.
<br/>"I don't like to hear him!" said Tess to her husband.
"Tell the man to drive on. Goodbye, goodbye!"
<br/>The cock crew again.
<br/>"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
<br/>"It only means a change in the weather," said she;
"not what you think: 'tis impossible!"
<div style="break-after:column;"></div><br />