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13

 

  Clare was not depressed by Tess's refusal, feeling sure that she would finally accept him. A few days later he asked her again.

  ‘Tess, why did you say “no” so positively?’

  ‘I'm not good enough.’

  ‘Not enough of a fine lady?’

  ‘Yes. Your family would not respect me.’

  ‘You know, you're wrong.My father and mother would.And I don't care about my brothers.’He held her to stop her slipping away.‘You didn't mean it, did you? I can't work or read or play or anything until I know that you will some day be mine! Say you will,Tess!’

  She could only shake her head and look away.

  ‘Then I ought not to hold you, to talk to you like this?Why,Tess?’

  ‘It is for your good,my dearest! I can't give myself the great happiness of promising to be yours—because I am sure I ought not to!’

  ‘But you will make me happy!’

  ‘Ah, you think so, but you don't know!’

  After a struggle like this, Tess would go to the fields or her room to cry. Her heart was so strongly on the side of his that she feared she might give way.

  ‘Why doesn't somebody tell him all about me?’she thought.‘It was only forty miles away. Somebody must know!’But nobody knew and nobody told him.

  Tess's life now had two parts, positive pleasure and positive pain. Every time she and Angel were alone together he would ask her again, and she would refuse. She was keeping her promise to herself, but in her heart of hearts Tess knew that eventually she would accept him.Love and nature both advised her to have him without thinking of complications, to delight in passion without considering future pain.

  ‘I know I shall say yes—I can't help it!’She cried to herself in bed one night.‘But it may kill him when he knows! Oh, oh!’

  ‘I've got some news for you all, said Dairyman Crick as they sat down to breakfast one Sunday morning.‘It's that Jack Dollop again.’

  ‘The lover in the butter-churn?’ said Angel Clare,looking up from his newspaper.‘And has he married the young milkmaid, as he promised?’

  ‘Not he, sir,’replied the dairyman.‘He's married an older woman who had £ 50 a year. They married in a great hurry and then she told him that by marrying she'd lost her£50 a year! He only married her for her money too.So now they're always quarrelling.’

  ‘She ought to have told him just before they went to church,’ said Marian.

  ‘She ought to have seen he only wanted her money, and refused him,’said Retty.

  ‘What do you say, my dear? the dairyman asked Tess.

  ‘I think she ought… to have told him the truth—or else refused him… I don't know,’ replied Tess, who could not swallow her food. She soon left the table and went into the fields, feeling the pain in the story. She had continued to refuse Angel's offers of marriage, but from that Sunday he changed his approach towards her.He looked for her and came to talk to her at every possible moment, at milking, butter-making, cheese-making, among chickens and among pigs.She knew she could not resist much longer. She loved him so passionately, and he was so like a god in her eyes. He treated her as if he would love and defend her under any circumstances. This began to make her feel less afraid about agreeing to marry him, and telling him the truth about herself.

  The days were shorter now, and in the mornings the dairy worked by candlelight.One morning between three and four she ran up to Clare's room to wake him, before waking the others. Having dressed, she was about to go downstairs when Angel came out of his room and stopped her.

  ‘Now, miss,’he said firmly.‘You must give me an answer or I shall have to leave the house. You aren't safe with me. I saw you just now in your nightdress. Well? Is it yes at last?’

  ‘I really will think seriously about it,Mr Clare.’

  ‘Call me Angel then, and not Mr Clare. Why not Angel dearest?’

  ‘It would mean I agree, wouldn't it?’

  ‘It would only mean you love me, and you did admit that long ago.’

  ‘Very well then, Angel dearest,if I must,’she murmured,smiling. Clare could not resist kissing her warm cheek.

  After milking and skimming, all the dairy people went outside. Tess generously tried for the last time to interest Angel in the other dairymaids.

  ‘There's more in those three than you think, she said.

  ‘Any of them would make you a better wife than I could. And perhaps they love you as much as I do—almost.’

  ‘Oh Tessy!’ he cried impatiently. She was so relieved to hear this that she could not make any further self-sacrifice.She knew that this day would decide it.

  In the late afternoon Angel Clare offered to drive the waggon with its buckets of milk to the station. He persuaded Tess to go with him.

  At first there was silence as they drove along the quiet road,simply enjoying being close to each other.Soon drops of rain started falling.Tess's cheeks were pink and her long hair was wet.She had no jacket, and crept close to Clare. She held an old piece of cloth over them both to keep the rain off.

  ‘Well, dear,’ said Angel,‘ what about my question?’

  ‘I'll answer you soon.’

  ‘Before we get home?’

  ‘I'll try.’

  They passed an old house. Angel explained that it was an interesting place which belonged to the ancient family of the d’Urbervilles.

  ‘It's very sad when a noble family dies out,’he said.

  ‘Yes,’ said Tess.

  At last they reached the station and watched the milk being lifted on to the train. Tess was fascinated.

  ‘Londoners will drink it for breakfast, won't they? People who don't know we drove for miles in the rain so that it might reach them in time.’

  ‘That's true, but we drove a little for our own reasons too.Now Tess,’ he said anxiously, as they drove away into the night,‘your heart belongs to me.Why can't you give me your hand as well?’

  ‘My only reason is you… I have something to tell you—I must fell you about my past life!’

  ‘Tell me if you want to, dearest.I expect you have had as many experiences as that flower over there!’

  ‘I grew up in Marlott. And at school they said I would make a good teacher. But there was trouble in my family.Father didn't work very hard and he drank a little.’

  ‘Poor child!That's nothing new.’ He held her more closely to his side.

  ‘And there is something unusual about me. I…I am not a Durbeyfield, but a d’Urberville. I'm a descendant of the same family who owned that house we passed.’

  ‘A d’Urberville! And is that the whole story, Tess?’

  ‘Yes,’she answered faintly.

  ‘Well, why should I love you less because of that?’

  ‘The dairyman told me you hated old families.’

  He laughed.‘Well, I hate the idea that noble blood should be more important than anything else. But I am really very interested in your news. What do you think of it?’

  ‘I think it's sad, especially here, to see the fields which once belonged to my ancestors.’

  ‘So that's the awful secret!’

  She had not told him.At the last moment she had not been brave enough.

  Angel was delighted.‘You see,Tess,society likes a noble name,and will accept you better as my wife,because you are a d’Urberville. Even my mother will like you better. You must use the name of d’Urberville from this very day.’

  ‘I like the other name best.’

  ‘But you must! By the way, there's someone who has taken the d’Urberville name near The Chase. Yes, he's the man who insulted my father. How strange!’

  ‘Angel, I would rather not take that name!’

  ‘Now then,Teresa d’Urberville, I've got you!Take my name and you will escape yours!’

  ‘If it is sure to make you happy and you do wish to marry me very very much…’

  ‘I do, dearest, of course!Say you will be mine for ever!’

  He held her and kissed her.

  ‘Yes!’No sooner had she said it than she burst into a dry hard sobbing. Angel was surprised.

  ‘Why are you crying?’

  ‘I'm crying because I promised I would die unmarried! Oh,I sometimes wish I had never been born!’

  ‘Tess,how could you wish that if you really loved me?I wish you could prove your love in some way.’

  ‘Will this prove it more?’cried Tess desperately, holding him close and kissing him. For the first time Clare learnt what a passionate woman's kisses were like, on the lips of one she loved with all her heart and soul, as Tess loved him.

  ‘There—now do you believe?’she asked, wiping her eyes.

  ‘Yes.I never really doubted—never!’

  They drove on in the darkness, forming one bundle under the cloth.

  ‘I must write to my mother,’she said.

  ‘Of course,dear child. Where does she live?’

  ‘In Marlott.’

  ‘Ah,then I have seen you before…’

  ‘Yes, when you would not dance with me. Oh, I hope that doesn't mean bad luck!’

  After this decision Tess wrote an urgent letter to her mother.This was the reply she received:

  Dear Tess,

  I hope you are well, as I am.We are all glad to hear you are going to be married soon.But Tess,in answer to your question,whatever you do,don't tell your future husband anything about your past experience.No girl would be so foolish,especially as it is so long ago,and not your fault at all.Remember you promised me you would never tell anybody.Best wishes to your young man.

Love from your mother

  Tess could not accept her mother's view of life,but perhaps Joan was right in this.Silence seemed best for Angel's happiness.So she grew calm,and from October onwards she was completely happy.Clare seemed the perfect guide, thinker,and friend.She saw perfection in his face,his intelligence, and his soul.She dismissed the past from her mind. They spent all their time together,as country people do once they are engaged.In the wonderful autumn afternoons they walked by streams,crossing on little wooden bridges. They saw tiny blue fogs in the shadows of trees and hedges, and at the same time bright sunshine in the fields.The sun was so near the ground that the shadows of Clare and Tess stretched a quarter of a mile ahead of them,like two long pointing fingers.When Clare talked to Tess of their future, and the farm they would have abroad,she could hardly believe that she would be going through the world by his side.Her feeling for him was now the breath and life of Tess's being.It 152 made her forget her past sorrows,but she knew they were waiting like wolves for their moment to attack.

  One day she cried out to Angel:‘Why didn't you stay and love me when I was sixteen… when you danced in Marlott? Oh,Why didn't you?’

  ‘Ah yes!If only I had known!But you must not regret so bitterly!Why should you?’

  Hiding her feelings quickly,she said,‘I would have had four more years of your love than I can ever have now.’

  They had to tell the dairyman and his wife that they were planning to marry.That night as Tess entered the bedroom, all three dairymaids were waiting for her.

  ‘You are going to marry him!’said Marian.

  ‘Yes,some day,’said Tess.

  ‘Going to marry him,a gentleman!’said Izz.

  ‘It's strange,’said Marian,‘to think Tess will be his wife, not a fine lady,but a girl who lives like us.’

  ‘Do you all hate me for it?’asked Tess in a low voice.

  ‘I want to hate you,but I cannot!’said Retty.

  ‘That's how I feel!’said Marian and Izz.

  ‘He ought to marry one of you,’murmured Tess.‘You are all better than I am!’

  ‘No,no,dear Tess,’they all said.

  ‘I think I ought to make him marry one of you even now!’ she sobbed.they went up to her and calmed her and helped her to bed.Before they went to sleep,Marian whispered,‘You will think of us when you are his wife,Tess,and how we did not hate you,because we did not expect to be chosen by him.’

  The girls did not know that Tess cried even more at this, and that she decided she would tell Angel all her history.

  Because of this,she would not set a date for the wedding. She wanted to stay as she was,not move forward into a new life.But soon it was clear that the dairyman did not want so many dairymaids at this time of year.Tess would have to leave the dairy at Christmas.

  ‘I'm afraid I'm glad of it,’said Angel to her,‘because now we must decide when to marry.We can't go on like this for ever.’

  ‘I wish we could.I wish it could be always summer and autumn,with you always loving me!’

  ‘I always shall.’

  ‘Oh,I know you will!Angel,I'll fix the day!’

  So they decided on 31st December.The wedding was to take place as privately as possible at the dairy.Tess now felt she could not stop things happening,and agreed passively to whatever Angel suggested.In fact Angel's plans were a little hurried.He had not meant to marry so soon.But he wanted to keep her with him,to help her with her reading and studying, so that he could present her proudly as a lady to his parents. He also planned to spend some time studying work in a flour- mill.They could spend their honeymoon staying in the old farmhouse which had once belonged to the d’Urbervilles, while Angel studied at the mill nearby.

  The day,the impossible day of their wedding,came closer. His wife,Tess said to herself.Could it ever be?

  Angel and Tess decided to spend a day together shopping on Christmas Eve.They went into town in a borrowed carriage. The town was full of strangers,who stared at Tess,happy and beautiful on Angel's arm.At the end of the day,Tess was waiting for Angel to bring the horse and carriage,when two men passed her in the street.

  ‘She's a lovely maiden,’one said to his friend.

  ‘She's lovely,yes.But she's no maiden,replied the other.

  Angel returned at that moment and heard these words. Wildly angry at this insult to Tess,he hit the man in the face. The man said quickly:

  ‘I'm sorry,sir,I must have made a mistake.’

  Angel accepted this,gave the man some money,said goodnight,and drove off with Tess.The two men went in the opposite direction.

  ‘And was it a mistake?’asked the second man.

  ‘Certainly not,’said his friend.

  On the way home Tess was very serious.She felt she could not tell him the truth to his face,but there was another way. So she went to her room and wrote a four-page letter describing exactly what had happened three or four years ago. In the night she crept up to Angel's room and pushed the letter under his door.

  Next morning she looked anxiously at him,but he kissed her as usual.He said nothing about the letter.Had he read it? Did he forgive her? Every morning and night he was the same, until finally the wedding day came.

  Tess had not invited her family from Marlott.Angel had written to his.His brothers had not replied,and his parents wrote that they hoped he was not hurrying into marriage, but that he was old enough to decide for himself.Angel did not mind,because he was planning to introduce Tess to them as a d’Urberville as well as a dairymaid,some months later.

  Tess was still worried about her confession,and left the crowd of busy people downstairs to creep silently up to Angel's bedroom.There she found her letter unopened,just under the carpet.He had not seen it.She could not let him read it now, in the middle of the preparations.She found him alone for a moment.

  ‘I must confess all my mistakes to you!’she said,trying to keep her words light.

  ‘Not today,my sweet!We'll have plenty of time later on! I'll confess mine too.’

  ‘Then you really don't want me to?’

  ‘I don't,Tessy,really.’

  From now on,her one desire,to call him husband,and then if necessary to die,carried her on.She moved in a cloud.

  There were few people in the church.At one point she let her shoulder touch Clare's arm,to be sure that he was really there.It was only when she came out that she noticed the carriage they were driving back in.She felt she must have seen it in a dream.

  ‘Oh,maybe you know the story of the d’Urberville carriage,’said Angel,‘and this one reminds you of it.In the past a certain d’Urberville committed a crime in his carriage, and since then d’Urbervilles see or hear the old carriage whenever… But it's rather depressing to talk about.’

  ‘Is it when we are going to die,Angel,or is it when we have committed a crime?’

  ‘Now,Tess!’He kissed her.But she had no energy left. She was now Mrs Angel Clare,but wasn't she really Mrs Alexander d’Urberville?

  Later that afternoon they left the dairy.All the dairy people watched them leave,and Clare kissed the dairymaids goodbye. As he was thanking the dairyman,a cock crowed just in front of him.

  ‘That's bad!’whispered the dairymen to each other. ‘When a cock crows at a husband like that…’and they laughed together behind their hands.

  ‘Go away!’shouted Mr Crick at the cock.Later he said to his wife,‘Why did it have to crow at Mr Clare like that?’

  ‘It only means a change in the weather,’said Mrs Crick, ‘not what you think.That's impossible.’

  Tess and Angel arrived at the old d’Urberville farmhouse.It was empty,although a woman came to cook and clean for them.They had their tea together,and Clare delighted in eating from the same plate as Tess.Looking at her he thought,‘Do I realize how important I am to this woman? And how I must look after her?I must never forget to think about her feelings!’

  It started to rain as it grew dark outside.Finally a man arrived from the dairy with their bags.

  ‘I'm sorry I'm late, sir,’he said,‘but terrible things have been happening at the dairy You remember the cock crowing? Well,whatever it means,poor little Retty Priddle has tried to drown herself!’

  ‘What happened?’asked Angel.

  ‘Well,after you left,she and Marian walked from one public house to another,drinking.Retty was found in the river,later on.And Marian was found drunk in a field!’

  ‘And Izz?’asked Tess.

  ‘Izz is at home as usual,but very sad and depressed.’

  As the man left,Tess sat sadly by the fire,looking into it. They were simple innocent girls who had not been loved.It was wicked of her to take all the love without paying for it. She would pay:she would tell,there and then.

  Angel was sitting beside her,holding her hand.Their faces were red in the firelight.

  ‘This morning,’he said suddenly,‘ we said we would both confess our mistakes.I must tell you something and you must forgive me.Perhaps I ought to have told you before.I've put off telling you,because I didn't want to lose you.’

  ‘Angel,I'm sure I'll forgive you…A wild hope was making Tess's heart beat faster.

  ‘Well,wait a minute.You know how much I believe in goodness and purity But I myself,when I was in London years ago,did wrong with a woman I hardly knew.It lasted two days.I came home and I have never done anything like it since.Do you forgive me?’

  ‘Oh Angel,of course I do!And I am almost glad,because now you can forgive me!I have a confession too.’

  ‘Ah yes,well confess,you wicked little girl!It can hardly be more serious than mine.’

  ‘It can't,no,it can't!’She jumped up joyfully at the hope.

  ‘No,in fact,it is just the same.I will tell you now.’

  She sat down again.They held hands.The fire burned like a Judgement Day fire.Her shadow rose high on the wall. Putting her head against his,she bravely told the whole story of her meeting with Alec d’Urberville and its results.

 

13

 

  克莱尔没有因为苔丝的拒绝而感到沮丧,他相信她最终会接受他的。过了几天,他再度向她问起此事。

  “苔丝,为什么你这么肯定地对我说‘不行’?”

  “我不够好。”

  “不够一位体面的小姐的标准?”

  “是的。你的家庭是不会尊敬我的。”

  “你知道,你这么说不对。我的父亲和母亲会尊敬你的,我不在乎我哥哥的看法。”他抱住她,防止她逃开。“你不是当真的,是不是?除非我知道有一天你将属于我,否则我无法工作,无法看书,无法放松或做任何别的事情!苔丝,说你会是我的!”

  她只是不断地摇头,看着别处。

  “那么,我不应该抱住你,不该这样跟你谈话?为什么,苔丝?”

  “我最亲爱的,这是为你好!我不能给予自己这莫大的幸福,答应你我将属于你——因为我确信我不应该!”

  “但是那样你会让我幸福的呀!”

  “啊,你这样认为,可是你并不知道实情啊!”

  这样一番挣扎之后,苔丝会跑到野外或房间里痛哭一场。
她的心是如此紧密地和他连在一起,她怕她会屈服的。

  “为什么没有人告诉他关于我的事情?”她想,“那儿离这儿只有四十英里远,一定有人知道的!”但是没有人知道,也没有人告诉他。

  现在,苔丝的生活包含了两部分,实实在在的快乐和实实在在的痛苦。每当她和安吉尔单独在一起的时候,他都会再问她,而她又会拒绝他。她坚守着自己的承诺,但在内心深处,苔丝知道她终归会接受他的。爱情和自然都劝她去拥有他,而不要想得太复杂,趁着现在的热情享受快乐,而不要考虑将来的痛苦。

  “我知道我会答应的——我克制不了!”一天晚上睡觉时,她哭着对自己说,“可是,当他知道那件事情以后,那也许会要他的命的!唉,唉!”

  “我给你们大家带来了一些新闻。”星期天上午,当他们坐下吃早饭时,奶场主克里克说道,“还是关于杰克·多洛的事。”

  “那个黄油机里的情人?”安吉尔·克莱尔抬起他正在看报纸的眼睛,说道,“他遵守诺言跟那位年轻的挤奶女工结婚了吗?”

  “他没有,先生。”奶场主回答道,“他娶了一个比他大的女人,那女人一年有五十英镑收入。他们匆匆忙忙结了婚,然后她告诉他因为结婚,她失去了她的每年五十英镑!他也不过是因为她的钱才娶她的。因此,现在他们一直吵吵闹闹。”

  “她应该在他们进教堂之前跟他说。”玛丽安说道。

  “她应该看清他只想要她的钱,然后拒绝他,”蕾蒂说道。

  “你怎么认为,亲爱的?”奶场主问苔丝。

  “我认为她应该……告诉他真相——或者拒绝他……我不知道。”苔丝回答道。她再也咽不下她的饭了。她很快离开了餐桌,跑到了野外,感受着故事中的痛苦。她一直下断地拒绝安吉尔的求婚,但是从星期天开始,他变着法子接近她。他四处寻找她,利用每一个可能的机会跟她说话,不管是挤奶、制黄油还是做奶酪的时候,也不管是在鸡中间还是在猪群里。她知道她抵挡不了多久了。她这么炽烈地爱他,在她眼里,他就是一个神。他对待她就像不管在什么情况下,他都会深爱她,保护她。对于答应嫁给他并告诉他关于自己的事实真相这件事,她的害怕减少了。

  现在白天变短了,清晨牛奶场要借助烛光干活。一天凌晨三四点钟之间,在唤醒其他人之前,她跑到楼上克莱尔的房间里,先唤醒他。她正准备下楼,这时安吉尔已经穿好了衣服,从他的房间里走出来,叫住了她。

  “小姐,现在,”他的语气很坚决,“你必须给我一个答覆,否则我只有离开这个房子。跟我在一起你并不安全。我刚才看到你穿着睡衣。那么,最后你是答应了?”

  “我一定会认真考虑的,克莱尔先生。”

  “那么叫找安吉尔,而不是克莱尔先生。为什么不叫安吉尔,最亲爱的?”

  “那就表明我同意了,不是吗?”

  “这只表明你爱我,这是很早以前你就承认过的。”

  “那么好吧,如果我必须这么叫的话。安吉尔,最亲爱的。”她微笑着轻声叫道。克莱尔抑制不住要亲吻她那温暖的脸颊。

  挤完又撇完牛奶之后,所有奶场的人都出去了。苔丝最后一次慷慨地尝试引起安吉尔对其他挤奶女工的兴趣。

  “那里面你可以考虑的远不止三个,”她说,“其中任何一个都比我更适合做你的妻子,而且也许她们和我一样爱你——几乎是一样的。”

  “哦,苔丝!”他焦躁地叫道。听到这个,苔丝是那么宽慰,她无法再进一步地作任何自我牺牲了。她知道这天就是作决定的日子。

  那天傍晚,安吉尔·克莱尔要赶一辆装着一桶桶牛奶的马车去车站。他说服苔丝跟他一起去。

  最初,他们沿着安静的马路赶着车子,谁也没吱声,只是默默地体会着彼此靠近的感觉。不久,开始有雨点滴落下来。苔丝的脸颊微红着,她的长发润湿了。她没有穿外套,不知不觉地偎近了克莱尔。她抓起一块旧布盖在他们身上挡雨。

  “嗯,亲爱的,”安吉尔说话了,“我的问题考虑得怎样了?”

  “我很快就会答覆你的。”

  “在我们到家之前?”

  “我会尽力。”

  他们经过了一座旧房子。安吉尔解释说,这是一个让人好奇的地方,它属于一个叫做德伯的古老家族。

  “一个高贵的家族消逝时是会让人伤感的。”他说。

  “是啊。”苔丝说。

  终于,他们到达了车站,看着牛奶被搬上了火车。苔丝看呆了。

  “伦敦人会在早餐时喝到它们,是不是?那些人不知道我们冒着雨赶了这么远的路,就为了让他们能及时喝到牛奶。”

  “确实如此,不过,我们赶车还有一点点我们自己的事情。苔丝,现在,”当他们在夜色中驱车离开时,他急切地问道,“你的心是属于我的,为什么不能答应嫁给我呢?”

  “我唯一的理由是因为你……我有一些事情要对你说——我必须告诉你我过去的生活!”

  “亲爱的,要是你愿意,你就对我说吧。我想你就如那儿的鲜花一样有着丰富的经历!”

  “我在马勒特村长大。在学校读书的时候,他们说我会成为一个好老师的,但是我们家有点困难。父亲工作不很勤快,还喝酒。”

  “可怜的孩子!这不是什么新鲜事。”他把她更紧地搂在了身边。

  “然后,关于我自己有件不寻常的事。我……我不姓德北,而姓德伯。我是那个拥有我们路过的那座房子的家族的后代。”

  “德伯家的人!这就是你的所有经历吗?苔丝?”

  “是的。”她虚弱地回答说。

  “可是因为这个,我为什么就得少爱你一些呢?”

  “奶场主对我说过你嫌恶旧家族。”

  他大笑了起来。“嗯,我憎恶这种观念,认为高贵的血统比任何其他事情都重要。但是我对你的新闻真地感兴趣。你自己是怎么想的?”

  “我觉得这让人伤心,特别是在这儿,看到这些曾经属于我的祖先的土地。”

  “所以,这就是那个可怕的秘密喽!”

  她还是没有告诉他。在这最后时刻,她失去了足够的勇气。

  安吉尔非常高兴。“苔丝,你知道,这个社会喜欢高贵的姓氏。因为你是德伯家的人,作为我的妻子,他们就会更好地接受你。甚至我母亲都会更喜欢你的。从今天开始,你一定要用德伯这个姓氏。”

  “我更喜欢另外那个姓。”

  “但是你必须这样!顺便提一句,在逐猎林附近已经有人袭用德伯这个姓氏了。是的,就是那个人辱骂了我的父亲。多奇怪啊!”

  “安吉尔,我宁愿不要那个姓!”

  “喂,苔丽莎·德伯,你是说不过我的。那就用我的姓吧,这样你就可以避开你的姓了!”

  “要是你确信这会使你幸福,而且你确实非常非常希望娶我的话……”

  “我确实是这样的,最亲爱的,当然是这样!说你将永远属于找!”

  他抱住她并亲吻她。

  “是的!”她一说出这话,便剧烈地抽噎起来。安吉尔大吃一惊。

  “为什么哭了?”

  “我哭,是因为我曾发誓我将终生不嫁!唉,有时我真希望自己从没出生过!”

  “苔丝,如果你真心爱我的话,你怎么能这样想呢?我希望你能用什么方式来证明你的爱。”

  “这样做是不是能更好地证实呢?”苔丝迫切地叫道。她抱紧他,亲吻他。克莱尔第一次感受到一个充满激情的女子亲吻的滋味。苔丝以发自内心的爱,亲吻着她全心全意爱着的男人的双唇。

  “你看——现在你可相信了吧?”她抹着眼泪问道。

  “相信了。其实,我从来没有怀疑过——从来没有!”

  他们在黑夜中继续驱车赶路,在那块布下缩成了一团。

  “我必须给我母亲写封信,”她说。

  “当然啦,宝贝。她住在哪儿?”

  “在马勒特村。”

  “啊,那么我以前的确见过你……”

  “是的,那时候你不愿和我跳舞。哦,我希望这个意味着什么坏运气!”

  在作了这个决定之后,苔丝给她母亲写了一封紧急的信。这是她收到的回信:

  亲爱的苔丝:

  我希望你和我一样,一切都好。听说你不久就要结婚,我们都很高兴。但是,苔丝,对你提出的问题,回答是,不管怎么样,千万不要告诉你未来的丈夫任何有关你过去的遭遇。没有哪个姑娘会这么傻的,况且这是很久以前的事了,又根本不是你的过错。记住你答应过我,你永远不会告诉任何人的。代我问候那个年轻人。

爱你的妈妈

  苔丝不能接受母亲对于人生的看法,但也许在这件事上,琼是正确的。保持沉默看来是让安吉尔快乐的最好办法。因此,她变得平静了,而且从10月以来,她一直沉浸在无比的幸福中。克莱尔像是一位绝好的老师、思想家和朋友。她从他的容貌、他的智慧和他的灵魂中找到了完美。在心里,她摆脱了过去。

  像订了婚的乡下人那样,他们在一起度过了所有的时光。在壮丽的秋日午后,他们在小溪旁漫步,从小木桥上走过。他们在树木和篱笆的影子中看到轻薄的蒙蒙烟雾,而与此同时,田野上阳光灿烂、明媚。太阳离地面那么地近,它把克莱尔和苔丝在前面的影子拉到了四分之一英里长,就像伸出了两根长长的手指。当克莱尔对苔丝讲起他们的将来,还有他们将会在国外拥有的农场时,她几乎不能相信自己将会陪伴在他身旁,穿越这个世界。她对他的感情现在就如同维系苔丝身心的呼吸或生命一样。这让她忘记了过去的悲伤,但是她知道这些悲伤就像伺机等候的狼一般,在等待出击的时刻。

  有一天,她对克莱尔大声喊道:“为什么当我十六岁的时候,你不留在我身边爱我?当你在马勒特村跳舞的时候?哦,为什么你不那样做?”

  “啊,我会的!如果我早知道的话!但是你个必这么哀怨地感到遗憾!为什么你会这样想?”

  她迅速地掩饰起她的感情,说道:“那样的话,比起现在来,我就可以多拥有四年你的爱!”

  他们有必要把他们准备结婚的事告诉奶场主和他的妻子。那天晚上,当苔丝走进卧室时,另外三个女工都在等着她。

  “你就要嫁给他了!”玛丽安说。

  “是的,某一天。”苔丝说道。

  “嫁给他,嫁给一位绅士!”伊茨说。

  “不可思议,”玛丽安说,“想想苔丝要成为他的太太了,她并不是一位体面的小姐,而只是生活得跟我们差不多的一个姑娘。”

  “你们都会为此恨我吗?”苔丝轻轻地问道。

  “我想要恨你,可是又恨不起来!”蕾蒂说。

  “我也是这种感觉!”玛丽安和伊茨说道。

  “他应该在你们中间娶一个。”苔丝说,“你们都比我好!”

  “不,不,亲爱的苔丝,”她们一起说。

  “即使是现在,我想我也应该让他娶你们当中的一个!”她抽泣着说道。她们走到她身边,安抚她,并扶她上了床。在她们入睡之前,玛丽安轻轻说道:“苔丝,你成了他太太之后会想起我们的,想起我们怎么不能恨你,因为我们从没指望过被他看中。”

  姑娘们不知道,苔丝听到这些话时,哭得更厉害了。她决定把自己所有的经历都告诉安吉尔。

  因为这个,她不想定下婚期。她只想保持现状,不愿继续往前走入新的生活。但是很快,情况变得很明显,那就是奶场主在一年中的这个时候不再需要这么多挤奶女工了。苔丝将不得不在圣诞节的时候离开。

  “恐怕对此我感到高兴,”安吉尔对她说,“因为现在我们必须决定什么时候结婚啦!我们不能永远这样下去。”

  “我希望我们能够如此。我希望永远是甜蜜的夏天和悦人的金秋,而且有你永远爱着我!”

  “我永远爱你!”

  “哦,我知道你会的!安吉尔,我愿意定下那个日子!”

  于是,他们把婚期定在了12月31日。婚礼打算在牛奶场举行,尽可能地不张扬。现在,苔丝觉得自己无力阻止事情的进展,只是顺从地听任安吉尔安排。实际上,安吉尔的计划有点仓促,他本来没打算这么快结婚的,但是他想把她留在身边,帮助她读书、学习,以便日后可以自豪地把她像一位小姐似地带到他父母面前。同时,他计划花一段时间到一个面粉加工厂学习作业。他们可以在那座原来属于德伯家的旧农舍里度蜜月,同时,安吉尔可以在附近的面粉厂学习。

  那个日子,那个令人无法忍受的婚礼日期,越来越临近了。他的妻子,苔丝自言自语道。这可能吗?

  圣诞节的前一天,安吉尔和苔丝决定花一天时间一起去购置一些东西。他们坐着一辆借来的马车来到了镇上。这里到处都是陌生人,他们都盯住挽着安吉尔胳膊、漂亮又快乐的苔丝看。那一天的采购结束时,苔丝正等着安吉尔去牵马拉车,这时,街上有两个男人从她身边经过。

  “她真是个讨人喜欢的处女。”其中一个对他的朋友说。

  “她讨人喜欢,这没错。但是她可不是什么处女。”另一个回答道。

  安吉尔恰好在这时回来,听到了这些话。对苔丝的这种侮辱让他怒不可遏,他对准那人的脸就是一拳。那人赶紧说道:

  “对不起,先生。我刚才一定是搞错了。”

  安吉尔接受了道歉,给了那人点儿钱,道了声晚安,就和苔丝驾车离开了。那两人朝相反的方向走去。

  “是弄错了吗?”另一个人问道。

  “绝对没有。”他的朋友说。

  在回家的路上,苔丝非常地严肃。她觉得她不能把事情的真相当面告诉他,不过还有别的办法。于是她回到自己的房间,写了一封四页长的信,信中详实地描述了三四年前所发生的事情。晚上,她蹑手蹑脚地走到安吉尔的房间,把信从门底下塞了进去。

  第二天早晨,她焦虑地看着他,但是他亲吻她时和平常没什么两样。关于那封信,他只字未提。他读过信了吗?他宽恕她了吗?每天早晚,他都一如既往,终于,他们结婚的喜日子到了。

  苔丝没有邀请她在马勒特的家人。安吉尔给他的家人写了信。他的哥哥们没有答覆,他的父母来信说,他们希望他不要草率地结婚,但是他已经足够大了,可以为自己做主。安吉尔并不介意,因为他打算几个月后,把苔丝不仅作为一个挤奶女工,还作为一个德伯家的人介绍给父母。

  苔丝还在为她那封自白书忧心忡忡。她悄悄地离开了正在楼下忙碌着的人群,轻手轻脚地来到了安吉尔的卧室。在那儿,她发现她的信原封未动地塞在地毯下。他还没有见到这封信。可现在她不能让他看这封信了,因为婚礼正在准备当中。她找到了与他单独待一会儿的机会。

  “我必须向你坦白我所有的过错!”她说道,尽量把话说得柔和一些。

  “今天不行,我的宝贝儿!往后我们会有充裕的时间!那时我也要坦白我的过错!”

  “那么,你是真地不想让我说喽?”

  “是的,苔丝,的确是这样。”

  从现在开始,她只有一个渴望,就是称他为丈夫。然后如果需要有人去死的话,那就让她去好了。她像在一片云雾中活动着。

  教堂里只有寥寥数人。有一会儿,她用自己的肩膀碰碰他的手臂,好让自己确信他真地在那儿。只是到了她走出教堂时,她才注意到这辆载着他们回去的马车。她觉得她一定是在梦里见过它。

  “啊,也许你知道德伯家马车的故事。”安吉尔说,“这辆马车让你想起了它。过去,有一个德伯家的人曾在他的马车里犯下了罪,从那以后,德伯家的人总会看到或听到那辆旧马车,当他们……但是,谈论这个太让人沮丧了。”

  “安吉尔,是当我们要死的时候,或是当我们犯了罪的时候吗?”

  “别说啦,苔丝!”他亲吻着她。但她已经虚弱不堪了。她现在已成了安吉尔·克莱尔夫人,但实际上,她难道不是亚历山大·德伯夫人吗?

  那天傍晚时分,他们离开了牛奶场。牛奶场的所有人都来为他们送行。克莱尔向每一个挤奶女工亲吻告别。当他向奶场主致谢时,一只公鸡恰好在他面前啼叫开了。

  “那可不吉利!”奶场工们相互窃窃私语。“当公鸡冲着丈夫那样叫时……”他们在背后取笑起来。

  “走开!”克里克先生冲着公鸡喊道。后来他对他的妻于说:“为什么公鸡一定要对着克莱尔先生那样啼叫呢?”

  “这只表明天气要变了,”克里克夫人说,“不是你想的那样。那是不可能的。”

  苔丝和安吉尔来到这座德伯家的旧农舍。整座房子空无一人。但是,会有一个女人来给他们做饭,打扫房子。他们一起吃茶点,克莱尔能和苔丝用同一个盘子进餐了,他感到非常高兴。他看着她,心想:“我意识到了我对这个女人有多重要吗?我又必须怎样去照顾她?我必须永远不忘考虑她的感受!”

  夜幕渐渐降临,外面开始下雨了。终于,从牛奶场来了一个人,送来了他们的包裹。

  “先生,很抱歉,我来晚了。”他说,“但是牛奶场刚刚发生了些可怕的事情。你还记得公鸡打鸣吗?唉,不管那预示着什么,可怜的小雷蒂·普里德尔想淹死自己!”

  “出了什么事?”安吉尔问道。

  “是这样,在你们离开以后,她和玛丽安从一个酒店走到另一个酒店,不停地喝酒。后来,有人在河里发现了蕾蒂,又有人发现玛丽安醉倒在一块田里!”

  “那么伊茨呢?”苔丝问道。

  “伊茨还像平常那样待在家里,但是非常伤心沮丧。”

  这人离开了,苔丝神色凄怆地坐在壁炉旁,注视着炉火。她们都是从未被人爱过的朴实、纯洁的姑娘。而她没有付出任何代价,就获得了所有的爱,这是不道德的。她会偿付的:就在此时此地,她要把一切都讲出来。

  安吉尔坐在她的身旁,握着她的手。在炉火的烘照下,他们的脸红彤彤的。

  “今天上午,”他突然说道,“我们说过我们都要坦白自己的过错。有些事情,我必须告诉你,而你一定要宽恕我。也许我应该早些告诉你。我一直拖到现在才告诉你,是因为我不想失去你。”

  “安吉尔,我一定会宽恕你……”急切的希望加快了苔丝的心跳。

  “不过,先等一等。你知道我对美德和纯洁有多么笃信。可是,我自己,几年前在伦敦时,却糊里糊涂地和一个女人做了坏事。我们在一起度过了两天时间。回到家以后,我再也没干过类似的事情。你会宽恕我吗?”

  “哦,安吉尔,当然,我会的!可以说,我的心情倒好些了,因为现在你能宽恕我了!我也有要坦白的事。”

  “啊,是的,好好坦白吧,你这个小坏蛋!不会比我的更严重了吧。”

  “不会的,是的,不会的!”由于充满了希望,她快乐地跳了起来。“是的,实际上,它们完全一样。我现在就讲给你听。”

  她又坐了下来。他们的手握在一起。炉火燃烧得如同末日审判的火焰一般。她的身影被长长地映在了墙上。她把头靠在他的头上,勇敢地把自己与亚历克·德伯的相遇及其结果统统告诉了他。