★ 第18章 ★
It was evening in the parson's house at Emminster. Mr. and Mrs. Clare were waiting anxiously for Angel's return.
'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 it 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'slast 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 you. You have been so unfair to me!
'It is all quite true!'
cried 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's state of mind.
'You know, I've never told you, but she is actually a descendant of one of the oldest, noblest families in England, a d'Urberville in fact.
And do you know why I left her? 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 whole 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 had 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 their relationship, and wrote to her, at Marlott, instead of going to see her. To his surprise, he received in reply a note from her mother.
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 Marlott anymore. Yours J.Durbey field
At first, Clare decided to wait for further information from Tess's mother, but then he re-read the letter sent on to him in Brazil, written from Flintcomb-Ash:
I live only for you. Don't think I shall be bitter 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 her, however angry she and her family might be with him. While he was packing, the letter from Izz and Marian arrived and made him hurry even more.
His search for Tess took him first to Flintcomb-Ash, where he discovered she had never used her married name.
He began to realize, too, what hardship she had suffered rather than ask his family for money.
Next, he traveled to Marlott but found the Durbeyfield cottage occupied by others.
As he left the village he passed the field where he had first seen Tess at the dance.
He could not bear to see it, because Tess was not there. In the churchyard, 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 well provided for.'
Clare took the train to Sandbourne. On his arrival at eleven o'clock in the evening, he took a room in a hotel and walked around the streets, in the hope of meeting Tess. But it was too late to ask anybody.
It seemed a strange place to Clare. It was a bright, fashionable holiday town, with parks, flowerbeds, and amusements.
This new town, a product of modern civilization, had grown up near the ancient EgdonWoods, where the paths over the hills had not changed for a thousand years.
He walked up and down the wide streets, trying to admire the modern buildings. He felt confused.
The sea murmured, and he thought it was the trees. The trees murmured, and he thought it was the sea.
He could not understand what had brought Tess here. This was a town for relaxation, for pleasure, not for a working girl like Tess.
There were no cows to milk here, and no vegetables to dig. He looked at the lights in the bedroom windows and wondered which one was hers.
Before going to bed he re-read Tess's passionate letter. He could not sleep that night. At the post office next morning they knew nothing of the names of Clare or Durbeyfield.
'But there is the name of d'Urberville at Mrs. Brooks,' said the postman.
'That's it!' cried Clare, pleased to think she had taken her ancestors' name, as he had suggested.
He made his way quickly to Mrs. Brooks' house, following the postman's directions.
It was a large, impressive house, and he wondered if he should go to the back door, as Tess was probably a servant here. But he rang at the front. Mrs. Brooks herself appeared.
'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!' he begged. '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! 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 forever. 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 forever!
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.