<br/>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?
<br/>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.
<br/>"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."
<br/>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 dismissed
her carriage, and went on to the village alone by a
<br/>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 comparatively rich man,
who was to conduct her to bouncing prosperity; while
here she was, friendless, creeping up to the old door
quite by herself, with no better place to go to in the
<br/>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,
<br/>"But where's thy gentleman, Tess?"
<br/>Tess hastily explained that he had been called away on
business, and, leaving her interlocutor, clambered over
the garden-hedge, and thus made her way to the house.
<br/>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. Having performed this without
observing Tess, she went indoors, and her daughter
<br/>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.
<br/>"Why—Tess!—my chil'—I thought you was
married!—married really and truly this time—we sent
<br/>"Yes, mother; so I am."
<br/>"Going to be?"
<br/>"No—I am married."
<br/>"Married! Then where's thy husband?"
<br/>"Oh, he's gone away for a time."
<br/>"Gone away! When was you married, then? The day you
<br/>"Yes, Tuesday, mother."
<br/>"And now 'tis on'y Saturday, and he gone away?"
<br/>"Yes, he's gone."
<br/>"What's the meaning o' that? 'Nation seize such
husbands as you seem to get, say I!"
<br/>"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 away!"
<br/>"O you little fool—you little fool!" burst out Mrs
Durbeyfield, 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 fool!"
<br/>Tess was convulsed with weeping, the tension of so many
days having relaxed at last.
<br/>"I know it—I know—I know!" she gasped through her
sobs. "But, O 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 happened! If—if—it were to be
done again—I should do the same. I could not—I dared
not—so sin—against him!"
<br/>"But you sinned enough to marry him first!"
<br/>"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 O, 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 between caring so
much for him and my wish to be fair to him!"
<br/>Tess was so shaken that she could get no further, and
sank, a helpless thing, into a chair.
<br/>"Well, well; what's done can't be undone! 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
<br/>As if to bring matters to a focus, Tess's father was
heard approaching at that moment. He did not, however,
enter immediately, 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.
<br/>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.
<br/>The room below being unceiled she could hear most of
what went on there. Presently her father entered,
apparently carrying in 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 carried, 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 hour.
<br/>"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 formerly
styled 'sir', like my own ancestry," he said, "though
nowadays 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, d'Urberville, as
uncorrupted. It was better than her husbands's. He
asked if any letter had come from her that day.
<br/>Then Mrs Durbeyfield informed him that no letter had
come, but Tess unfortunately had come herself.
<br/>When at length the collapse was explained to him, a
sullen mortification, not usual with Durbeyfield,
overpowered the influence 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.
<br/>"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 getting 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?"
<br/>"Why, yes. But she won't think o' doing that."
<br/>"D'ye think he really have married her?—or is it like
<br/>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 nothing 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? O, she could not live
long at home!
<br/>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 imputation
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 humiliation 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, believing, 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.
<div style="break-after:column;"></div><br />