- زمان مطالعه 45 دقیقه
- سطح خیلی سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
This desperate cry for help eventually arrived at the parson’s house in Emminster. Old Mr. Clare was pleased.
‘I think this letter is from Angel’s wife. I hope this will bring him home more quickly. He did say he was planning to come home next month.’
‘Dear boy, I hope he will get home safely,’ murmured Mrs Clare. ‘I still feel he should have gone to university like the other two. He should have had the same chance as them, Church or no Church.’
This was the only complaint she ever made to her husband.
He too was worried that he had been unfair to Angel. They blamed themselves for this unfortunate marriage. If Angel had studied at Cambridge he would never have become a farmer and married a country girl. Still, his more recent letters showed that Angel was planning to come home to fetch her, so perhaps their quarrel, whatever it was, could be settled.
Angel himself was at this moment riding across Brazil towards the coast. He had never completely recovered from the serious illness he had had when he first arrived. He was not as strong as before, and looked much older. The country had been a disappointment to him. Many farmers had come here from England hoping to make their fortune, and had died in the fields or on the roads. He knew now he could not farm here.
His attitude to life had changed during this time. He began to look again at what was right and wrong. He began to see that a person should be judged not only on what he has done but also on what he wanted to do. He began to think that he had perhaps been unfair to Tess, and he thought about her with growing affection.
He wondered why she had not written. He forgot that he had told her not to write first. He did not realize that she was obeying his orders exactly, although it was breaking her heart.
On his journey, he travelled with another Englishman. They were both depressed and both told each other their problems.
The stranger was older and more experienced than Angel. He had a different, more open approach to life. He told Angel clearly that he was wrong in parting from Tess.
The next day they got wet in a thunderstorm. The stranger fell ill and died a few days later. Death came as no surprise in that unfriendly land. Clare buried him, and continued his journey.
The man’s words were somehow given greater importance by his unexpected death, and suddenly Clare felt ashamed. Tess had committed no crime. He should believe in her character, and not object to a past action she could not avoid. He remembered the words of Izz Huett: She would have laid down her life for you. No woman could do more. How she had looked at him on their wedding day — as if he were a god! And during that terrible evening by the fireside, when she told him her story, how desperately sad she had been to realize he might not love her any more.
Meanwhile Tess was not hopeful that Angel would come in answer to her letter. The past had not changed, so he might not change either. Nevertheless she spent her spare time preparing for his possible return, practising singing the songs he used to like, tears rolling down her cheeks all the while.
One evening she was in the cottage as usual when there was a knock at the door. A tall thin girl came in and Tess recognized her young sister Liza-Lu.
‘Liza-Lu!’ said Tess. ‘What’s the matter?’
‘Mother is very ill,’ her sister said seriously, ‘and father is not well either and says a man of such noble family shouldn’t have to work. So we don’t know what to do.’
Tess thought for a moment. She realized she had to go home immediately, although her time was not yet up at the farm. She left her sister to rest for a while, and she herself set off at once with her possessions in a basket.
Although it was night and she had a fifteen-mile walk, she felt quite safe. She was only worried about her mother, and did not notice the strange shapes of trees and hedges in the darkness. At three in the morning she passed the field where she had first seen Angel Clare, and felt again the disappointment when he did not dance with her. And when she saw the family cottage, it seemed to be part of her body and life, as it always did.
She found her mother recovering from her illness, and took over as head of the household. Her father did not seem ill, and had a new plan for earning money.
Tm going to find all the historians round here,’ he said, ‘and get them to pay money to keep me going. After all, they pay to look after old ruins, and I’m of historical interest. I think they’ll be pleased to do it!’
Tess did not have time to answer. She nursed her mother, fed the children, and worked in the garden, planting vegetables for next year. She enjoyed working outside, ainong her neighbours.
One evening when it was almost dark, sh^ was digging happily in the vegetable garden, some distance frorn the cottage. It was a clear, fresh night, with smoke blowing about from small fires in the gardens. Suddenly she saw a man’s face in the light of a fire.
It was d’Urberville! She gasped and stepped back, her face pale.
‘What are you doing here?’
‘My dear Tess, I just want to help you, to see you. Have you finished at that farm?’
‘Yes, I have.’
‘Where are you going next? To join your dear husband?’
‘Oh, I don’t know!’ she said bitterly. T have no husband!’
That is quite true in one way. But you have a true friend.
When you go back to your cottage, you’ll see what I’ve done for you.’
‘Oh Alec, I wish you wouldn’t give me anything*. I - I have enough, I - I just don’t want to live at all!1 Her tears fell as she started digging again. When she looked round, d’Urberville had left.
On her way back one of her sisters rushed towards her shouting, ‘Tess! Tess! Mother is much better but father is dead!’
‘But father was only a little bit ill!’ said Tess, trying to take in the news.
‘He dropped down just now, and the doctor said there was no hope for him because it’s his heart!’
Poor John Durbeyfield’s death had more importance than his family realized at first. The cottage was in his name. On his death the farmer who owned it decided to put farm workers in it, and told the Durbeyfields to leave. They were not much respected in the village because of John’s laziness. Tess also felt guilty that her presence might have influenced the farmer. The village people clearly thought she was not a good example for their children.
So on Lady Day the Durbeyfields had to leave their old home.
The night before they left, d’Urberville came to visit Tess, to offer her and her family a little house on his land at Trantridge.
Her mother could look after the chickens, and he would pay for the children to go to school. Tess firmly rejected his offer. But when he had gone, for the first time a feeling of anger rose in her against her husband. She had never intended to do wrong and he had punished her too hard! She passionately wrote these few words to him:
Oh why have you treated me so badly, Angel? I do not deserve it. You are cruel! I intend to forget you. You have been so unfair to me!
T She ran out and posted it before she could change her mind.
‘I see there’s been a visitor,’ said her mother, coming into the living room later. ‘Your husband, was it?’
‘No, it wasn’t him. He’ll never, never come,’ said Tess hopelessly. She had said it was not her husband, but she was feeling more and more that d’Urberville was physically her husband.
Next day their possessions were put on a waggon and taken to Kingsbere. Mrs Durbeyfield had booked rooms there, as it was the family home of the d’Urbervilles, and she still hoped some good would come of belonging to the ancient family. But as they approached Kingsbere after a long and tiring day’s journey, a man came to tell them there were no rooms available.
Tess and her mother unloaded the waggon, and left the children and furniture near the churchyard wall, while they looked for somewhere to stay. But all the rooms were full.
Tess looked desperately at the pile of their possessions. In the cold sunlight of this spring evening the furniture looked old and the pots looked worn.
‘Tombs belong to families for ever, don’t they?’ asked her mother brightly, having looked round the churchyard. ‘Well, that’s where we’ll stay, children, until the place of your ancestors finds us some shelter!’
Tess helped her mother move the big bed against the church wall. Underground were the tombs of the d’Urbervilles, and at the head of the bed was a beautiful old window, in which the symbols on the Durbeyfield seal and spoon could be seen. The children were put to bed all together for warmth and comfort.
‘Tomorrow we’ll find somewhere better!’ said Joan cheerfully.
‘But Tess, what’s the good of you playing at marrying gentlemen, if it leaves us like this!’
Tess went inside the ancient church and stared sadly at the tombs of her ancestors. She thought she saw a movement and turned to look again at a stone figure lying on a tomb. When she saw it was Alec d’Urberville lying there, she almost fainted.
‘I’m going to help you,’ he said, jumping up and smiling at her. ‘You’ll see that I’m more useful than a real d’Urberville. I’ll see your mother. You’ll thank me for this!’ As he brushed past her, she dropped her head on to the cold stone of the tomb.
‘Why am I on the wrong side of this stone?’ she whispered.
Marian and Izz had seen Tess moving house with her family, and knew what a difficult position she was in. They generously hoped she would one day be happy with Angel again, and were afraid for her, knowing that Alec d’Urberville was constantly tempting her. They decided to write a letter to Angel Clare, to inform him of the dangerous situation his wife was in. This is what they wrote:
Watch out for your wife if you love her as much as she loves you. She is in danger from an enemy in the shape of a friend. A woman’s strength cannot last for ever, and water, if it drops continually, will wear away a stone - yes, even a diamond.
From two well-wishers
It Mr wa s Clar s evenin e wer g i e waitin n the parson’ g anxiousl s hous y fo e a r Angel’ t Emminster s return . M. r and ‘He won’t be here yet, my dear,’ said old Mr Clare, as his wife went to the front door for the tenth time. ‘Remember his train doesn’t come in till six o’clock, and then he has to ride ten miles on our old horse.’
‘But he used to do it in an hour,’ said his wife impatiently.
Both knew it was useless to talk about it, and the only thing to do was wait.
When they heard footsteps they rushed outside to meet the shape in the darkness.
‘Oh my boy, my boy, home at last!’ cried Mrs Clare, who at that moment cared no more for Angel’s lack of religion than for the dust on his clothes. What woman, in fact, however firm her beliefs, would not sacrifice her religion for her children?
Nothing was more important to Mrs Clare than Angel’s happiness.
But as soon as they reached the living room, she saw his face clearly in the light of the candles. She gave a cry and turned away in sorrow. ‘Oh, it’s not the Angel who went away!’
Even his father was shocked to see the change in his son. They would not have recognized him if they had passed him in the street. The cruel climate and hard work had aged him by twenty years. He was like a shadow, thin and bony, with no spring in his step and no enthusiasm in his eyes.
‘I was ill over there,’ he said, noticing his parents’ concern. He had to sit down, being weak after his journey.
“Has any letter come for me?” He asked eagerly. “The last one from your wife.”
“Yes, I didn’t get this until very recently as I was traveling. If I had received it, Earlier. I would have come sooner.”
They gave him a letter that had been waiting for his arrival. Angel read it rapidly. It was Tess’s last letter short and desperate.
“Oh Why have you treated me so badly Angel. I do not deserve it. You are cruel. I intend to forget to you have been so unfair to me. T”
“It is all quite true.” Write Angel hopelessly throwing down the letter.
“Perhaps she will never take me back.”
“Angel don’t worry so much about a country girl” said his mother anxious about her son state of mind.
“You know, I’ve never told you but she is actually a descendent of one of the oldest noblest families in England, A d’Urberville In fact, and do you know why I left. How could I be so narrow-minded? I left her because I discovered she was not the pure country girl I thought. she had been seduced by a so-called gentleman, but it wasn’t her fault and I know now that her home character is honest and faithful. I must get her back.”
After this outburst, Angel went to bed early and thought about the situation. In Brazil It seemed easy to rush straight back into Tess’s loving arms. Whenever he chose to forgive her. However now he knew she was angry with him for leaving her for so long. He admitted she was right to be angry. So he decided to give her time to think about the relationship and wrote to her at Marlette. Instead of going to see her.
To his surprise he received a reply, a note from her mother. “Dear Sir, my daughter is not with me at the moment and I don’t know when she’ll come back. I will let you know when she does. I cannot tell you where she is staying. We don’t live in Marlette anymore. Yours, J Durbeyfield”
At first Clare decided to wait for further information from Tess’s mother. Then he reread the letter sent on to him in Brazil written from Flint Comash “I live only for you, don’t think I should be better because you left me. I am so lonely without you my darling. Haven’t you ever felt one little bit of your love for me at the dairy? I am the same woman you fell in love with then, the very same. As soon as I met you the past was dead for me.”
He was so touched. He felt he must go immediately to find however angry she and her family might be with him.
While he was packing the letter from … Marion arrived and made him hurry even more.
He searched for Tess took him first to Flint Comash – when he discovered she had never used her married name. He began to realize to what hardship she had suffered rather than ask his family for money.
Next he traveled to Marlette but found the Delafield cottage occupied by others as he left the village. He pasted the field where he had first seen Tess of the dance. He could bare to see it. Because Tess was not there. In the church yard, he saw a new headstone on which was written “In memory of John Durbeyfield, rightly d’Urberville, of the once powerful family of that name, and direct descendant of Sir Pagan d’Urberville. Died March 10th, 18-
A gravedigger noticed Clare looking at it, and called to him, ‘Ah sir, that man didn’t want to be buried here, but in his ancestors’ tombs at Kingsbere.’
‘So why wasn’t he buried there?’
‘No money. In fact, sir, even this headstone has not been paid for.’
Clare went immediately to pay the bill for the stone, and set out towards Shaston, where he found Mrs Durbeyfield and her children living in a small house. She seemed embarrassed to see him.
‘I’m Tess’s husband,’ he said awkwardly. ‘I want to see her at once. You were going to write and tell me where she is. Is she well?’
‘I don’t know, sir, but you ought to.’
‘You’re right. I ought to know that about my own wife.
Where is she?’
Mrs Durbeyfield would not reply.
‘Do you think Tess would want me to try and find her?’
‘I don’t think she would.’
He was turning away, and then he thought of Tess’s letter: If you would come, I could die in your arms! I live only for you .. . I am so lonely without you, my darling! He turned back.
‘I’m sure she would!’ he said passionately. ‘I know her better than you do!’
‘I expect you do, sir, for I have never really known her.’
‘Please, Mrs Durbeyfield, please tell me where she is! Please be kind to a miserable lonely man!’
There was a pause after this cry from the heart. Finally Tess’s mother replied in a low voice, ‘She is at Sandbourne.’
‘Thank you,’ he said, relieved. ‘Do you need anything?’
‘No, thank you, sir/ said Joan Durbeyfield. ‘We are wen provided for.’
Clare took the train to Sandbourne. On h’s arrival at eleven o’clock in the evening he took a room in a kotel> an^ walked around the streets, in the hope of meeting T^ss- ^ut ‘lt was to° late to ask anybody.
It seemed a strange place to Clare. It was a t>riSnt> fashionable holiday town, with parks, flowerbeds and amusements. This new town, a product of modern civilization, lia^ §rown UPnear the ancient Egdon Woods, where the paths over the nills had not changed for a thousand years.
He walked up and down the wide streets, tfyinSto a^mire tne modern buildings. He felt confused. The sea murmured, and he thought it was the trees. The trees murmured* anc* ne thought it was the sea. He could not understand what had brougnt Tess here. This was a town for relaxation, f
Before going to bed he re-read Tess’s pa*sionate letter. He could not sleep that night. At the post office ^ext morning they knew nothing of the names of Clare or Ouri76^6^’But there is the name of d’Urberville at MrJ> Brooks’,’ said the postman.
That’s it!’ cried Clare, pleased to think ?ne had taken her ancestors’ name, as he had suggested.
He made his way quickly to Mrs Brooks’ h
‘Is Teresa d’Urberville here?’ he asked.
‘Yes.’ He felt pleased that she was known there as a married woman. ‘Please tell her that a relation wants to see her. Say it’s Angel.’
‘No, just Angel. She’ll know.’
Angel waited in the sitting room, his heart beating painfully.
‘Whatever will she think of me?’ he thought. ‘I look so different, so much older!’ He was still weak after his illness. He could hardly stand, and held on to the back of a chair, as she entered the room.
He was not prepared for what he saw. Tess was wearing fashionable clothes, and looked even more beautiful than he remembered. He had held out his arms, but they fell to his side, because she stood still in the doorway. He thought she could not bear his changed appearance.
‘Tess!’ he whispered. His voice was low and breaking with emotion. ‘Can you forgive me for going away? Can’t you . . . come to me? Why are you . . . so beautiful?’
‘It is too late,’ she said, her voice hard and her eyes shining unnaturally.
‘I didn’t see you as you really were! Please forgive me, Tessy!’
‘Too late, too late!’ she said, waving her hand impatiently.
‘Don’t come close, Angel! Keep away!’
‘But is it that you don’t love me, my dear wife, because I’ve been ill? I’ve come to find you. My parents will welcome you!
I’ve told them everything!’
‘Yes, yes! But it is too late.’ Every moment seemed like an hour to her. She felt as if she was in a dream, trying to escape, but unable to. ‘Don’t you know what has happened? I waited and waited for you. But you didn’t come! And I wrote to you, and you didn’t come! He kept on saying you would never come back again, and he was very kind to my family after father’s death. He . . .’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘He has won me back to him.’
Clare stared at her. He saw her fashionable clothes. He saw her relaxed, well-fed body. He saw her white, delicate hands. At last he understood, and fell into a chair, as if hit on the head.
She continued, ‘He is upstairs. I hate him now, because he told me a lie, that you would never return, and you have returned! Will you go away now, Angel, please, and never come back?’
They looked at each other without joy and without hope, desperately wanting to be sheltered from reality.
‘It’s my fault!1 said Clare. But talking did not help. The Tess he had first loved had separated her body from her soul. Her soul remained and would remain faithful to him for ever. But what happened to her body no longer interested her after he had rejected it.
After a few moments of confused reflection, he realized Tess had left the room. His mind was in a fog. He felt very cold and very ill. Somehow he found himself in the street, walking, although he did not know where.
Mrs Brooks was not usually curious about her guests. She was too interested in the money they paid her, to ask many questions. However, Angel Clare’s visit to her wealthy guests, Mr and Mrs d’Urberville, as she knew them, was unusual enough to interest her. She could hear parts of the conversation between the two lost souls, and when Tess went back upstairs, Mrs Brooks crept quietly up to listen outside the bedroom door.
She heard Tess sobbing, and through the keyhole could see her half lying over the breakfast table.
‘And then my dear husband came home to me . . . And it’s too late! Because you persuaded me, you with your fine words! As you did when you seduced me! You told me he would never come back! But he did! And you helped my family - that’s how you persuaded me so cleverly. But when I believed you and came to live with you, he came back! And now I’ve lost him a second time, and this time for ever! He will hate me now!’ She turned her tear-stained face and Mrs Brooks could see how she was suffering.
‘And he’s dying, he looks as if he’s dying! It will be my fault if he dies! You have destroyed my life and his! I can’t bear it, I can’t!’
The man spoke sharply, and after that there was silence.
Mrs Brooks went back downstairs to wait until she was called to take their breakfast away. She could hear Tess moving about, and then saw Tess leave the house, fully dressed in her fashionable clothes. Perhaps Mr d’Urberville was still asleep, as he did not like getting up early. Mrs Brooks wondered who this morning’s visitor was, and where Mrs d’Urberville had gone so early.
Just then she noticed a mark on the ceiling. It seemed to be spreading. It was red, and when she stood on the table and touched it, it looked like blood. She ran up to listen at the bedroom door again. The dead silence was broken only by a regular drip, drip, drip. She ran wildly out into the street and begged a man she knew to come back with her. Together they hurried upstairs and pushed open the bedroom door. The breakfast lay untouched on the table, but the large knife was missing. They found it in Alec d’Urberville’s heart. He lay on the bed, pale, fixed, dead, still bleeding. Soon the news spread all over Sandbourne that Mrs Brooks’ guest had been killed by his young wife.
Meanwhile Angel Clare returned to his hotel, and sat for a while over breakfast, staring into space. A note arrived from his mother, saying that his brother Cuthbert was going to marry Mercy Chant, Clare threw away the paper. At last he got up, paid the bill and went to the railway station. But he could not sit patiently and wait for the next train, in an hour’s time.
He had nothing to wish for in life, and nobody to love. He was in no hurry, but just wanted to get out of that town as soon as possible.
So he started walking along the road out of town. The road was open, and dropped down to cross a valley. When he was climbing the far side of the valley, he stopped for breath, and something made him turn round. There was a small black figure in the distance — a human figure, running. Clare waited. It looked like a woman, but he never imagined that it could be his wife until she came close and he saw it was Tess.
‘I saw you - turn on to the road - from the station — and I’ve been following you all this way!’ She was pale, breathless and trembling. He did not question her but took her arm and helped her along. They took a footpath under some trees, to avoid being seen.
‘Angel,’ she said, ‘do you know why I’ve been running after you? To tell you that I’ve killed him!’ There was a pitiful smile on ber white face as she spoke.
‘What!’ he cried, thinking her mind was disturbed.
‘I don’t know how I did it,’ she said. ‘I had to do it, for you and me, Angel. I was afraid long ago, when I hit him in the mouth with that heavy glove, that I might kill him one day. He has come between us and ruined our lives. I never loved him at all, Angel. You believe me, don’t you? Oh, why did you go away, when I loved you so much? But I don’t blame you, Angel.
Only, will you forgive me now? I could not bear losing you any longer, I had to kill him. Say you love me now, say you do!’
‘Oh, I do love you, Tess, I do. It has all come back!’ he said, holding her tightly in his arms. ‘But what do you mean, you’ve killed him?’
‘He is dead. He heard me crying about you, and he called you rude names. I couldn’t bear it. So I killed him.’
Eventually Angel came to helieve that she probably had killed d’Urherville. He was amazed at the strength of her feeling, and this, it seemed, had made her forget the difference between right and wrong. She did not seem to realize what she had done, and laid her head on his shoulder, crying with happiness. He wondered if the bad blood of the d’Urbervilles was to blame for this moment of madness.
However, he knew he could not leave her now. She expected him to protect her. And at last, Clare felt nothing but love for this passionate, loving wife of his. He kissed her again and again, and held her hand.
‘1 won’t leave you! I’ll protect you as well as I can, my dearest love, whatever you may or may not have done!’
They walked on, Tess turning her head occasionally to look at him. For her he was still perfection, despite his thinness and pale face. He was the one man who had loved her purely, and who believed in her as pure. Their arms around each other’s waists, they walked through the woods on lonely footpaths, taking care not to meet anybody. They did not talk much, being content to be together at last.
‘Where shall we go?’ asked Tess.
‘I don’t know. Perhaps we could find a cottage to stay in tonight. Can you walk a long way, Tessy?’
‘Oh yes! I could walk for ever with your arm around me!’
At midday Angel went to a public house and brought food and wine back to where Tess was waiting in the woods for him.
Her clothes were so fashionable that the country people would have noticed her.
‘I think we should keep walking inland, away from the coasts,’ said Clare, as they finished eating. ‘We can hide there for a while. Later on, when they stop looking for us, we can go to a port and get right out of the country.’
But their plans were vague. They were like two children, who think only of the moment. The weather was warm and they enjoyed walking together. However, in the afternoon they did not find any suitable cottages to stay in, and it was too cold to sleep outside. They had walked about fifteen miles, when they passed a large empty house in the middle of the woods.
‘All those rooms empty!’ said Tess, ‘and we have no shelter!’
‘We can stay the night there,’ said Clare. ‘Look, there’s a window open. The caretaker probably airs the rooms in the daytime. We can climb in. Nobody will know.’
And so they did. They chose a bedroom with heavy old fashioned furniture and a huge old bed. They kept quiet while the caretaker came to shut the windows in the evening. Then the house was theirs. They ate some of the food they had brought, and went to bed in total darkness.
During the night she told him about his sleepwalking just after their wedding.
‘You should have told me at the time!’
‘Don’t think of the past! Think of the present. Tomorrow may mean the end of our happiness.’
But when tomorrow came it was wet and foggy. It seemed that the caretaker only came on fine days, so they were alone in the house. They had enough food and wine, and stayed there for the next five days. It was the honeymoon they had never had.
They had no contact with people, and only noticed changes in the weather. Neither mentioned the depressing period from their wedding-day to the present. They lived for the moment, and were completely happy. When Angel suggested leaving their shelter and travelling to a port like Southampton or London, Tess was unwilling.
‘Why put an end to sweetness and happiness? Outside, everything is confused and sad. Here, we are quite content.’
Angel agreed. Inside was forgiveness and love: outside was eventual punishment.
‘And . . .’ she said, putting her cheek against his, ‘1 want you to go on loving me. I’m afraid you might reject me one day for what I’ve done. Then I would rather be dead. I must have been mad to kill him! But I don’t want to be alive when you reject me for it.’
They stayed for one more day, but the caretaker came early that fine sunny morning. She wanted to open the windows in the bedrooms, which she did not usually do, and opened their bedroom door. She saw the young couple lying in the big bed, fast asleep, and hurried away to tell her neighbours.
Tess and Angel woke soon after, and decided to leave immediately. They dared not stay any longer. When they were in the woods Tess turned to look at the house.
‘So much happiness in that house!’ she whispered. ‘My life can only be a question of a few weeks. Why couldn’t we have stayed there?’
‘Don’t say that, Tess! We’ll go northwards and get to a port.
They won’t find us.’
They kept going all day and most of the night, passing the cathedral city of Melchester and reaching open land. It was a windy, cloudy night. They walked on grass, so as not to make any noise on the road. They were alone and in darkness.
Suddenly, Clare almost bumped into a great stone rising up in front of him. Moving forwards carefully, they found other stones, standing tall and black against the night sky.
‘What on earth is this place?’ Clare asked.
‘Listen!’ cried Tess.
The wind, playing on the huge stones, produced a strange tune, like the notes of a great harp. The couple walked slowly into the middle of the great circle of stones.
‘It’s Stonehenge!’ cried Clare.
The pagan temple?’
‘Yes. Older than the centuries; older than the d’Urbervilles!’
‘Let’s stay here tonight, Angel,’ said Tess, lying down on a flat stone which was still warm from the day’s sunshine.
‘We’d better not. This place can be seen for miles in day light.’
‘I feel at home here,’ murmured Tess. ‘You used to say at Talbothays that 1 was a pagan, do you remember?’
He bent over her and kissed her.
‘Sleepy, are you, dearest?’
‘I love it here,’ she said. ‘1 have been so happy with you. And here I have only the sky above my face. There is nobody in the world except us two.’
Clare thought she could rest a while here. He put his coat over her, and lay down beside her.
‘Angel,’ she asked presently, as they listened to the wind among the stones, ‘if anything happens to me, will you take care of Liza-Lu?’
‘She is so good and pure. Oh Angel, I wish you would marry her if you lose me, as you will do soon.’
‘If I lose you, I lose everything.’
‘She has all the best of me without my bad side, and if she were yours, it would almost seem as if we were not separated by death. Well, I won’t mention it again.’
There was silence for a while. Angel could see the first light in the east. They had not much time.
‘Did they sacrifice to God here?1 she asked.
‘No, to the sun.’
That reminds me, dear. Tell me, do you think we shall meet again after we are dead? I want to know.’
He kissed her to avoid replying.
‘Oh Angel, that means no!’ she almost sobbed. ‘And I so wanted to see you again - so much, so much! Not even you and I, Angel, who love each other so much?’
He could not answer. Soon she fell asleep on the stone of sacrifice. The night wind died away, and the stones looked black in the half-light. Something seemed to move in the distance. It was a figure approaching Stonehenge. Clare wished they had gone on, but it was too late. He turned, and saw another, and another. They were uniformed men, closing in on Tess with slow purposeful steps. Clare jumped up wildly, looking round for a way to escape.
‘It’s no use, sir,’ said the nearest policeman. ‘We’ve surrounded the place.’
‘Let her finish her sleep!’ he begged in a whisper, as the men gathered round the stone. He held her hand. She was breathing more like a trapped animal than a woman. All waited in the growing light, their faces and hands silver, the stones grey.
When the light was strong, she awoke.
‘What is it, Angel?’ she said, sitting up. ‘Have they come for me?’
‘Yes, dearest, they have.’
‘That is right. I am almost glad. This happiness could not have lasted!’
She stood up and went towards the waiting men. ‘I am ready,’
she said quietly.
One July morning the sun shone on two figues climbing the hill leading out of the fine city of wintoncester. They were young but they walked bent in sorrow. One was Angel Clare, the other Tess’s younger sister, Liza-Lu. Hand in hand, with pale, tear-stained faces, they walked in silence.
When they reached the top of the hill, they heard the town clocks strike eight. They turned quickly and looked back at the city. They could see the cathedral, the college and the prison very clearly. A tall post was fixed to the prison tower. A few minutes after eight, as they watched, a black flag moved slowly up the post.
The gods had finished playing with Tess. Society had seen ‘justice’ done. Her d’Urberville ancestors slept on in their tombs, uncaring. The two silent watchers dropped to the ground and stayed there without moving for a long time. The flag waved in the wind. As soon as they had strength, they stood up, joined hands again, and continued slowly on their way.
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