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When Clare woke up the next morningthe sky was grey and the sun was not shiningThe fireplace in the room was full of cold ashesThe two full glasses of wine still stood untouched on the table

When the cleaning woman camehe sent her awaynot wanting a third person in the house He found wood to make a fireand prepared breakfastPeople passing the farmhouse saw the smoke rising from the chimneyand envied the newly- married couple in their happiness

Breakfast is ready!’he called upstairs in a normal voice

Tess came down immediatelyShe was already dressedbut her hands and face were coldShe had no fire in her bedroom where she had been sitting waiting for his calland staring at the dying mistletoeClare's polite words gave her a moment of hopewhich diedhoweverwhen she saw his face

They were bothin factthe ashes of their former fires After last night's passionate sorrowthey both felt heavy and lacking in energy

Tess went up to Angeltouching him lightly with her fingersWas this really the man who once loved her Her eyes were brighther cheeks still roundbut her lips were pale She looked absolutely pureAngel looked at her in wonder TessSay it isn't trueIt can't be true!’ It is true.’

Every word?’

Every word.’

He world almost have preferred her to lieso that he could believe her blindlybut she repeated,‘It is true.’

Is he living?’asked Angel

The baby died.’

But the man?’

He is alive.’

Is he in England?’


Despair passed over Clare's faceHe moved vaguely around the room

Look,’he said,‘I thoughtany man would have thoughtthat if I didn't look for knowledgegood family and wealth in a wifeif I sacrificed all thatI would be sure of finding a country girl who was at least pure but but I should not accuse you.’

Tess understood his feelings perfectlyShe saw that he had lost in every way

AngelI would not have married you if I had not known thatafter allthere is a way out for you only I hoped you would never She was close to tears

A way out?’

You can divorce me.’

Good heavensHow can you be so stupidHow can I divorce you?’

Can't younow I have told you everything?’

Oh Tessyou are so childishYou don't understand the lawNoI can't.’

There was shame and misery in Tess's face

I thought you could,’she whispered.‘Don't think I planned thisI really believed you could take that way outOhthen I ought to have done it last nightBut I didn't have the courageThat's just like me!’

The courage to do what?’he asked

To put an end to myself.’


In the bedroomunder your mistletoeWith the rope from my boxBut I couldn't in the endI was afraid that people would talk and you would suffer from that.’

Clare was shaken by this unexpected confession

NowlistenYou must never think of such a wicked thing againPromise me as your husband never to do anything like that.’

I promiseI see it was wickedButAngelit was to set you freeand to avoid a divorcewhich everyone would talk aboutBut dying by my own hand is too good for meYoumy husbandshould kill meI think I would love you moreif that were possibleif you could bring yourself to do itI am so much in your way!’

QuietDon't talk about it.’

Welljust as you wishI will do whatever you like.’They sat down to breakfasttired and sadThey did not look at each other and they did not eat muchAngel left soon afterwards to start his studies at the flourmill nearbyTess cleared the ashes from the fireplacecleaned the house and prepared the lunchwaiting for his returnAt lunch they talked politely of work at the flourmill and methods of millingIn the afternoon he went back to the milland in the evening he studied his books and papersTess felt she was in his way and went to the kitchenHe came to find her there

Don't work in the kitchen like this,’he said.‘You're not my servantyou're my wife.’

She looked happier.‘You meanI can think of myself as that?’She askedtrembling

What do you meanTessYou are my wifeof course.’

I don't knowshe saidwith tears in her eyes.‘I told you long ago I wasn't good enough for youAnd I'm not good enoughI was rightBut you persuaded me!’

She turned her back on himsobbing as if her heart would breakIt would have won round any man but Angel ClareDeep in him lay a hard logicwhich had resisted the Churchand now resisted TessShe accepted his treatment of her as being what she deservedShe would never have thought of criticizing his hardnessTo her he was still perfection

Another day passed by in the same wayOnly once did Tess try to get closer to her husbandAs he was leaving for the flourmillshe put up her mouth to be kissedHe ignored the invitationand said goodbye coldlyShe felt as if he had hit herHow often had he wanted to kiss her in those happy days at Talbothays

But on his way to the mill Angel regretted his coldnessHe wished he had been kinder to her and kissed her once at least

So they lived through another day-together in the same housebut more separately than ever beforeClare was desperately wondering what to doTess no longer even hoped for forgivenessThat evening she said bravely

I suppose you aren't going to live with me longare youAngel?’She found it difficult to control the muscles of her face

NoHow can we live together as man and wife while that man livesHe is your natural husbandI'm notIf he were deadthat might be differentAnywayhave you thought of the futurehave you thought we might have childrenThey would find out about thisEverybody would talk about itCan you imagine them growing up under a cloud like thatThey would hate you for it.’

Tess's head was bentHer eyes felt so heavy they were almost closed.‘NoI can't ask you to stay with me,’she whispered.‘I hadn't thought of it like that.’

She had hopedas women dothat living together for a time would break down his coldnessBeing near him every day was her only hope of winning him backBut she had never imagined she might have children who would reject herShe now remembered how she had criticized her mother for bringing babies into the world without being able to look after themShe realized that she might have made the same mistake as Joan DurbeyfieldShe completely accepted Angel's argument

She could have argued that if they went as planned to farm in another countrynobody would know about her pastBut perhaps she was right not to argueA woman knows not only her own sorrow but also her husband'sHe might keep the bitterness alive in his hearteven if nobody knew or talked about it at allShe had lost

On the third day she said,‘I accept what you sayWe must separate.’

But what can you do?’

I can go home.’

Clare had not thought of that.‘Can you really?’

YesIf I am with you all the timeI may persuade you to stayagainst your better judgementThen you and I would both be sorryI must go.’

Right,’said AngelHis face was pale but his voice was determined

Tess was slightly shockedHe had agreed so quickly to her generous offer

I didn't like to suggest it,’he said,‘but as you haveI think it's a good idea to partat least for a whileGod knowswe may come togetner again one day!’

So they both prepared to leave the following dayThat night Tess was woken by a noise in the houseAt first she thought Angel was coming to her bedroomand her heart beat wildly with joyBut then she saw his eyes staring emptily ahead of himand knew he was walking in his sleepHe came to the middle of her room and said very sadly,‘DeadDeadDeadPoor darling TessSo sweetso goodso pureMy wifedead!’

These wordswhich he would never say when awakewere very sweet to TessShe would not have moved to save her lifeShe lay in absolute stillnesstrying not to breathewondering what he was going to do with herHer trust in him was complete

He picked her up and carried her to the stairsWas he going to throw her downShe knew he was leaving her the next dayperhaps for everShe almost hoped they would fall and die together

He continued downstairstaking her out of the house towards the riverShe had given herself totally up to him and did not care what happened to her as long as she was with himThey arrived at a place where the river was fast and deepand Angel started to cross it on the narrow footbridgestill holding TessPerhaps he wanted to drown herEven that would be better than separation

As they crossedthe water rushed fiercely below themIf Tess had moved in his armsthey would both have fallen into the dangerous waterBut she had no right to take his lifealthough her own was worthlessso she stayed still

Angel walked purposefully towards a ruined church near the riverAgainst the old wall was an empty stone tombIn this he carefully laid Tessand kissing her lipssighed deeply and happilyHe immediately lay down on the ground next to the tomband looked fast asleep

Tess stepped out of the tomb and managed to persuade Angel to walk back to the housewithout waking himIt was very cold outsideand both had only night clothes onShe helped him to his sofa bed in the living roomand he still did not wake up

Next morning he seemed to remember nothing of the night's experiencesand Tess did not refer to his sleepwalkingThey finished packing and left the farmhousewhere they had hoped to be so happyAfter driving some distance Angel stopped the carriage to get down and continue on footTess was going further on in the carriageHe spoke seriously to her as they separated

Now remember,’he said,‘ I am not angry with youbut I cannot bear to live with you at the momentI will try to accept itBut until I come to youyou should not try to come to me.’

The punishment seemed a heavy one to TessHad she really deserved this

May I write to you?’

Oh yesif you are ill or need anythingYou probably won'tso I might be the first to write.’

I agree to the conditionsAngelbecause you know bestOnly don't make it too much for me to bear!’

That was all she saidIf she had sobbed or fainted or begged himhe would probably have given wayBut she made it easy for himHe gave her some money and they said goodbyeHe stood on the road watching the carnage continue up the hillsecretly hoping that Tess would look backBut she was lying half dead with misery insideHe turned to walk on alone not realizing thai he still loved her



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