<br/>Meanwhile Angel Clare had walked automatically along
the way by which he had come, and, entering his hotel,
sat down over the breakfast, staring at nothingness.
He went on eating and drinking unconsciously till on a
sudden he demanded his bill; having paid which, he took
his dressing-bag in his hand, the only luggage he had
brought with him, and went out.
<br/>At the moment of his departure a telegram was handed to
him—a few words from his mother, stating that they
were glad to know his address, and informing him that
his brother Cuthbert had proposed to and been accepted
by Mercy Chant.
<br/>Clare crumpled up the paper and followed the route to
the station; reaching it, he found that there would be
no train leaving for an hour and more. He sat down to
wait, and having waited a quarter of an hour felt that
he could wait there no longer. Broken in heart and
numbed, he had nothing to hurry for; but he wished to
get out of a town which had been the scene of such an
experience, and turned to walk to the first station
onward, and let the train pick him up there.
<br/>The highway that he followed was open, and at a little
distance dipped into a valley, across which it could be
seen running from edge to edge. He had traversed the
greater part of this depression, and was climbing the
western acclivity when, pausing for breath, he
unconsciously looked back. Why he did so he could not
say, but something seemed to impel him to the act. The
tape-like surface of the road diminished in his rear as
far as he could see, and as he gazed a moving spot
intruded on the white vacuity of its perspective.
<br/>It was a human figure running. Clare waited, with a
dim sense that somebody was trying to overtake him.
<br/>The form descending the incline was a woman's, yet so
entirely was his mind blinded to the idea of his wife's
following him that even when she came nearer he did not
recognize her under the totally changed attire in which
he now beheld her. It was not till she was quite close
that he could believe her to be Tess.
<br/>"I saw you—turn away from the station—just before I
got there—and I have been following you all this way!"
<br/>She was so pale, so breathless, so quivering in every
muscle, that he did not ask her a single question, but
seizing her hand, and pulling it within his arm, he led
her along. To avoid meeting any possible wayfarers he
left the high road and took a footpath under some
fir-trees. When they were deep among the moaning
boughs he stopped and looked at her inquiringly.
<br/>"Angel," she said, as if waiting for this, "do you know
what I have been running after you for? To tell you
that I have killed him!" A pitiful white smile lit her
face as she spoke.
<br/>"What!" said he, thinking from the strangeness of her
manner that she was in some delirium.
<br/>"I have done it—I don't know how," she continued.
"Still, I owed it to you, and to myself, Angel. I
feared long ago, when I struck him on the mouth with my
glove, that I might do it some day for the trap he set
for me in my simple youth, and his wrong to you through
me. He has come between us and ruined us, and now he
can never do it any more. I never loved him at all,
Angel, as I loved you. You know it, don't you? You
believe it? You didn't come back to me, and I was
obliged to go back to him. Why did you go away—why
did you—when I loved you so? I can't think why you
did it. But I don't blame you; only, Angel, will you
forgive me my sin against you, now I have killed him?
I thought as I ran along that you would be sure to
forgive me now I have done that. It came to me as a
shining light that I should get you back that way. I
could not bear the loss of you any longer—you don't
know how entirely I was unable to bear your not loving
me! Say you do now, dear, dear husband; say you do,
now I have killed him!"
<br/>"I do love you, Tess—O, I do—it is all come back!"
he said, tightening his arms round her with fervid
pressure. "But how do you mean—you have killed him?"
<br/>"I mean that I have," she murmured in a reverie.
<br/>"What, bodily? Is he dead?"
<br/>"Yes. He heard me crying about you, and he bitterly
taunted me; and called you by a foul name; and then I
did it. My heart could not bear it. He had nagged me
about you before. And then I dressed myself and came
away to find you."
<br/>By degrees he was inclined to believe that she had
faintly attempted, at least, what she said she had
done; and his horror at her impulse was mixed with
amazement at the strength of her affection for himself,
and at the strangeness of its quality, which had
apparently extinguished her moral sense altogether.
Unable to realize the gravity of her conduct, she seemed
at last content; and he looked at her as she lay upon
his shoulder, weeping with happiness, and wondered what
obscure strain in the d'Urberville blood had led to
this aberration—if it were an aberration. There
momentarily flashed through his mind that the family
tradition of the coach and murder might have arisen
because the d'Urbervilles had been known to do these
things. As well as his confused and excited ideas
could reason, he supposed that in the moment of mad
grief of which she spoke, her mind had lost its balance,
and plunged her into this abyss.
<br/>It was very terrible if true; if a temporary
hallucination, sad. But, anyhow, here was this
deserted wife of his, this passionately-fond woman,
clinging to him without a suspicion that he would be
anything to her but a protector. He saw that for him
to be otherwise was not, in her mind, within the region
of the possible. Tenderness was absolutely dominant in
Clare at last. He kissed her endlessly with his white
lips, and held her hand, and said—
<br/>"I will not desert you! I will protect you by every
means in my power, dearest love, whatever you may have
done or not have done!"
<br/>They then walked on under the trees, Tess turning her
head every now and then to look at him. Worn and
unhandsome as he had become, it was plain that she did
not discern the least fault in his appearance. To her
he was, as of old, all that was perfection, personally
and mentally. He was still her Antinous, her Apollo
even; his sickly face was beautiful as the morning to
her affectionate regard on this day no less than when
she first beheld him; for was it not the face of the
one man on earth who had loved her purely, and who had
believed in her as pure!
<br/>With an instinct as to possibilities, he did not now, as
he had intended, make for the first station beyond the
town, but plunged still farther under the firs, which
here abounded for miles. Each clasping the other round
the waist they promenaded over the dry bed of
fir-needles, thrown into a vague intoxicating
atmosphere at the consciousness of being together at
last, with no living soul between them; ignoring that
there was a corpse. Thus they proceeded for several
miles till Tess, arousing herself, looked about her,
and said, timidly—
<br/>"Are we going anywhere in particular?"
<br/>"I don't know, dearest. Why?"
<br/>"I don't know."
<br/>"Well, we might walk a few miles further, and when it
is evening find lodgings somewhere or other—in a
lonely cottage, perhaps. Can you walk well, Tessy?"
<br/>"O yes! I could walk for ever and ever with your arm
<br/>Upon the whole it seemed a good thing to do. Thereupon
they quickened their pace, avoiding high roads, and
following obscure paths tending more or less northward.
But there was an unpractical vagueness in their
movements throughout the day; neither one of them
seemed to consider any question of effectual escape,
disguise, or long concealment. Their every idea was
temporary and unforefending, like the plans of two
<br/>At mid-day they drew near to a roadside inn, and Tess
would have entered it with him to get something to eat,
but he persuaded her to remain among the trees and
bushes of this half-woodland, half-moorland part of the
country till he should come back. Her clothes were of
recent fashion; even the ivory-handled parasol that she
carried was of a shape unknown in the retired spot to
which they had now wandered; and the cut of such
articles would have attracted attention in the settle
of a tavern. He soon returned, with food enough for
half-a-dozen people and two bottles of wine—enough to
last them for a day or more, should any emergency
<br/>They sat down upon some dead boughs and shared their
meal. Between one and two o'clock they packed up the
remainder and went on again.
<br/>"I feel strong enough to walk any distance," said she.
<br/>"I think we may as well steer in a general way towards
the interior of the country, where we can hide for a
time, and are less likely to be looked for than
anywhere near the coast," Clare remarked. "Later on,
when they have forgotten us, we can make for some
<br/>She made no reply to this beyond that of grasping him
more tightly, and straight inland they went. Though
the season was an English May, the weather was serenely
bright, and during the afternoon it was quite warm.
Through the latter miles of their walk their footpath
had taken them into the depths of the New Forest, and
towards evening, turning the corner of a lane, they
perceived behind a brook and bridge a large board on
which was painted in white letters, "This desirable
Mansion to be Let Furnished"; particulars following,
with directions to apply to some London agents. Passing
through the gate they could see the house, an old brick
building of regular design and large accommodation.
<br/>"I know it," said Clare. "It is Bramshurst Court. You
can see that it is shut up, and grass is growing on the
<br/>"Some of the windows are open," said Tess.
<br/>"Just to air the rooms, I suppose."
<br/>"All these rooms empty, and we without a roof to our
<br/>"You are getting tired, my Tess!" he said. "We'll stop
soon." And kissing her sad mouth, he again led her
<br/>He was growing weary likewise, for they had wandered a
dozen or fifteen miles, and it became necessary to
consider what they should do for rest. They looked
from afar at isolated cottages and little inns, and
were inclined to approach one of the latter, when their
hearts failed them, and they sheered off. At length
their gait dragged, and they stood still.
<br/>"Could we sleep under the trees?" she asked.
<br/>He thought the season insufficiently advanced.
<br/>"I have been thinking of that empty mansion we passed,"
he said. "Let us go back towards it again."
<br/>They retraced their steps, but it was half an hour
before they stood without the entrance-gate as earlier.
He then requested her to stay where she was, whilst he
went to see who was within.
<br/>She sat down among the bushes within the gate, and
Clare crept towards the house. His absence lasted some
considerable time, and when he returned Tess was wildly
anxious, not for herself, but for him. He had found
out from a boy that there was only an old woman in
charge as caretaker, and she only came there on fine
days, from the hamlet near, to open and shut the
windows. She would come to shut them at sunset.
"Now, we can get in through one of the lower windows,
and rest there," said he.
<br/>Under his escort she went tardily forward to the main
front, whose shuttered windows, like sightless
eyeballs, excluded the possibility of watchers. The
door was reached a few steps further, and one of the
windows beside it was open. Clare clambered in, and
pulled Tess in after him.
<br/>Except the hall, the rooms were all in darkness, and
they ascended the staircase. Up here also the shutters
were tightly closed, the ventilation being
perfunctorily done, for this day at least, by opening
the hall-window in front and an upper window behind.
Clare unlatched the door of a large chamber, felt his
way across it, and parted the shutters to the width of
two or three inches. A shaft of dazzling sunlight
glanced into the room, revealing heavy, old-fashioned
furniture, crimson damask hangings, and an enormous
four-post bedstead, along the head of which were carved
running figures, apparently Atalanta's race.
<br/>"Rest at last!" said he, setting down his bag and the
parcel of viands.
<br/>They remained in great quietness till the caretaker
should have come to shut the windows: as a precaution,
putting themselves in total darkness by barring the
shutters as before, lest the woman should open the door
of their chamber for any casual reason. Between six
and seven o'clock she came, but did not approach the
wing they were in. They heard her close the windows,
fasten them, lock the door, and go away. Then Clare
again stole a chink of light from the window, and they
shared another meal, till by-and-by they were enveloped
in the shades of night which they had no candle to
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