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The End

 

19

 

It was evening in the parson's house at EmminsterMr and Mrs Clare were waiting anxiously for Angel's return

He won't be here yetmy dear,’said old Mr Clareas his wife went to the front door for the tenth time.‘Remember his train doesn't come in till six o'clockand then he has to ride ten miles on our old horse.’

But he used to do it in an hour,’said his wife impatientlyBoth knew it was useless to talk about itand the only thing to do was wait

When they heard footsteps they rushed outside to meet the shape in the darkness

Oh my boymy boyhome at last!’cried Mrs Clarewho at that moment cared no more for Angel's lack of religion than for the dust on his clothesWhat womanin facthowever firm her beliefswould not sacrifice her religion for her childrenNothing was more important to Mrs Clare than Angel's happiness

But as soon as they reached the living roomshe saw his face clearly in the light of the candlesShe gave a cry and turned away in sorrow.‘Ohit's not the Angel who went away!’

Even his father was shocked to see the change in his sonThey would not have recognized him if they had passed him in the streetThe cruel climate and hard work had aged him by twenty yearsHe was like a shadowthin and bonywith no spring in his step and no enthusiasm in his eyes

I was ill over there,’he saidnoticing his parents concernHe had to sit downbeing weak after his journey

Has any letter come for me?’he asked eagerly.‘The last one…’

From your wife?’

YesI didn't get it until very recentlyas I was travellingIf I had received it earlierI would have come sooner.’

They gave him a letter that had been waiting for his arrivalAngel read it rapidlyIt was Tess's last lettershort and desperate

Oh why have you treated me so badlyAngelI do not deserve itYou are cruel I intend to forget youYou have been so unfair to me

T

It is all quite true!’cried Angel hopelesslythrowing down the letter.‘Perhaps she will never take me back!’

Angeldon't worry so much about a country girl,’said his motheranxious about her son's state of mind

You knowI've never told youbut she is actually a descendant of one of the oldestnoblest families in Englanda d'Urberville in factAnd do you know why I left herHow could I be so narrowmindedI left her because I discovered she was not the pure country girl I thoughtShe had been seduced by a socalled gentlemanBut it wasn't her faultAnd I Know now that her whole character is honest and faithfulI must get her back!’

After this outburst Angel went to bed early and thought about the situationIn Brazil it had seemed easy to rush straight back into Tess's loving arms whenever he chose to forgive herHowevernow he knew she was angry with him for leaving her for so longHe admitted she was right to be angrySo he decided to give her time to think about their relationshipand wrote to herat Marlottinstead of going to see herTo his surprise he received in 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 backI will let you know when she doesI cannot tell you where she is stayingWe don't live in Marlott any more

Yours

JDurbeyfield

At first Clare decided to wait for further information from Tess's motherbut then he reread the letter sent on to him in Brazilwritten from FlintcombAshI live only for youDon't think I shall be bitter because you left meI am so lonely without youmy darling

Haven't you ever felt one little bit of your love for me at the dairyI am the same woman you fell in love with thenthe very sameAs soon as I met youthe past was dead for me

He was so touched he felt he must go immediately to find herhowever angry she and her family might be with himWhile he was packingthe letter from Izz and Marian arrivedand made him hurry even more

His search for Tess took him first to FlintcombAshwhere he discovered she had never used her married nameHe began to realizetoowhat hardship she had suffered rather than ask his family for moneyNext he travelled to Marlottbut found the Durbeyfield cottage occupied by othersAs he left the village he passed the field where he had first seen Tess at the danceHe could not bear to see itbecause Tess was not thereIn the churchyard he saw a new headstoneon which was written

In memory of John Durbeyfieldrightly d'Urbervilleof the once powerful family of that nameand direct descendant of Sir Pagan d'UrbervilleDied March 10th18

A gravedigger noticed Clare looking at itand called to him,‘Ah sirthat man didn't want to be buried herebut in his ancestors'tombs at Kingsbere.’

So why wasn't he buried there?’

No moneyIn factsireven this headstone has not been paid for.’

Clare went immediately to pay the bill for the stoneand set out towards Shastonwhere he found Mrs Durbeyfield and her children living in a small houseShe seemed embarrassed to see him

I'm Tess's husband,’he said awkwardly.‘I want to see her at onceYou were going to write and tell me where she isIs she well?’

I don't knowsirbut you ought to.’

You're rightI ought to know that about my own wifeWhere 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 awayand then he thought of Tess's letterIf you would comeI could die in your armsI live only for youI am so lonely without youmy darlingHe turned back

I'm sure she would!’he said passionately.‘I know her better than you do!’

I expect you dosirfor I have never really known her.’

PleaseMrs Durbeyfieldplease tell me where she isPlease be kind to a miserable lonely man!’

There was a pause after this cry from the heartFinally Tess's mother replied in a low voice,‘She is at Sandbourne.’

Thank you,’he saidrelieved.‘Do you need anything?’

Nothank yousir,’said Joan Durbeyfield.‘We are well provided for.’

Clare took the train to SandbourneOn his arrival at eleven o'clock in the evening he took a room in a hoteland walked around the streetsin the hope of meeting TessBut it was too late to ask anybody

It seemed a strange place to ClareIt was a brightfashionable holiday townwith parksflowerbeds and amusementsThis new towna product of modern civilizationhad grown up near the ancient Egdon Woodswhere the paths over the hills had not changed for a thousand years

He walked up and down the wide streetstrying to admire the modern buildingsHe felt confusedThe sea murmuredand he thought it was the treesThe trees murmuredand he thought it was the seaHe could not understand what had brought Tess hereThis was a town for relaxationfor pleasurenot for a working girl like TessThere were no cows to milk hereand no vegetables to digHe looked at the lights in the bedroom windowsand wondered which one was hers

Before going to bed he reread Tess's passionate letterHe could not sleep that nightAt 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 Clarepleased to think she had taken her ancestorsnameas he had suggested

He made his way quickly to Mrs Brooks' housefollowing the postman's directionsIt was a largeimpressive houseand he wondered if he should go to the back dooras Tess was probably a servant hereBut he rang at the frontMrs Brooks herself appeared

Is Teresa d'Urberville here?’he asked

Mrs d'Urberville?’

Yes.’He felt pleased that she was known there as a married woman.‘Please tell her that a relation wants to see herSay it's Angel.’

Mr Angel?’

Nojust AngelShe'll know.’

Angel waited in the sitting roomhis heart beating painfully

Whatever will she think of me?’he thought.‘I look so differentso much older!’He was still weak after his illnessHe could hardly standand held on to the back of a chairas she entered the room

He was not prepared for what he sawTess was wearing fashionable clothesand looked even more beautiful than he rememberedHe had held out his armsbut they fell to his sidebecause she stood still in the doorwayHe thought she could not bear his changed appearance

Tess!’he whisperedHis voice was low and breaking with emotion.‘Can you forgive me for going awayCan't youcome to meWhy are you so beautiful?’

It is too late,’she saidher voice hard and her eyes shining unnaturally

I didn't see you as you really werePlease forgive meTessy!’he begged Too latetoo late!’she saidwaving her hand impatiently

Don't come closeAngelKeep away!’

But is it that you don't love memy dear wifebecause I've been illI've come to find youMy parents will welcome youI've told them everything!’

YesyesBut it is too late.’Every moment seemed like an hour to herShe felt as if she was in a dreamtrying to escapebut unable to.‘Don't you know what has happenedI waited and waited for youBut you didn't comeAnd I wrote to youand you didn't comeHe kept on saying you would never come back againand he was very kind to my family after father's deathHe…’

I don't understand.’

He has won me back to him.’

Clare stared at herHe saw her fashionable clothesHe saw her relaxedwellfed bodyHe saw her whitedelicate handsAt last he understoodand fell into a chairas if hit on the head

She continued,‘He is upstairsI hate him nowbecause he told me a liethat you would never returnand you have returnedWill you go away nowAngelpleaseand never come back?’

They looked at each other without joy and without hopedesperately wanting to be sheltered from reality

It's my faultsaid ClareBut talking did not helpThe Tess he had first loved had separated her body from her soulHer soul remained and would remain faithful to him for everBut what happened to her body no longer interested her after he had rejected it

After a few moments of confused reflectionhe realized Tess had left the roomHis mind was in a fogHe felt very cold and very illSomehow he found himself in the streetwalkingalthough he did not know where

Mrs Brooks was not usually curious about her guestsShe was too interested in the money they paid herto ask many questionsHoweverAngel Clare's visit to her wealthy guestsMr and Mrs d'Urbervilleas she knew themwas unusual enough to interest herShe could hear parts of the conversation between the two lost soulsand when Tess went back upstairsMrs Brooks crept quietly up to listen outside the bedroom doorShe heard Tess sobbingand through the keyhole could see her half lying over the breakfast table

And then my dear husband came home to meAnd it's too lateBecause you persuaded meyou with your fine words as you did when you seduced meYou told me he would never come backBut he didAnd you helped my familythat's how you persuaded me so cleverlyBut when I believed you and came to live with youhe came backAnd now I've lost him a second timeand this time for everHe will hate me now!’She turned her tearstained face and Mrs Brooks could see how she was suffering.‘And he's dyinghe looks as if he's dyingIt will be my fault if he diesYou have destroyed my life and hisI can't bear itI can't!’The man spoke sharplyand after that there was silence

Mrs Brooks went back downstairs to wait until she was called to take their breakfast awayShe could hear Tess moving aboutand then saw Tess leave the housefully dressed in her fashionable clothesPerhaps Mr d'Urberville was still asleepas he did not like getting up earlyMrs Brooks wondered who this morning's visitor wasand where Mrs d'Urberville had gone so early

Just then she noticed a mark on the ceilingIt seemed to be spreadingIt was redand when she stood on the table and touched itit looked like bloodShe ran up to listen at the bedroom door againThe dead silence was broken only by a regular dripdripdripShe ran wildly out into the street and begged a man she knew to come back with herTogether they hurried upstairs and pushed open the bedroom doorThe breakfast lay untouched on the tablebut the large knife was missingThey found it in Alec d'Urberville's heartHe lay on the bedpalefixeddeadstill bleedingSoon the news spread all over Sandbourne that Mrs Brooks' guest had been killed by his young wife

 


 

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