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第1节 第十二章 【
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篮子沉甸甸的,包裹也很重,但是她这个人好像不把物质的东西看成特别负担似的,拖着它们在路上走。有时候,她就停下来,机械地靠在栅栏门上或柱子上歇一会儿;然后又用她那丰满圆润的胳膊挽起行李,不慌不忙地再往前走。
这是十月末一个礼拜天的早晨,大约在苔丝·德北菲尔德来到特兰里奇四个月以后,离他们骑马在猎苑走夜路有几个礼拜。天刚亮不久,她背后的地平线上出现的黄色光辉,照亮了她面前的那道山梁——这道山梁把山谷隔开,最近以来,她一直是山谷里的一个外来人——她只要翻过这道山梁,就可以回到她出生的地方了。在山梁的这一边,上坡的路是舒缓的,土壤和景物也同布莱克莫尔谷的土壤和景物大不相同。尽管那条蜿蜒而过的铁路起到了一些同化的作用,但是两边的人甚至在性格和口音方面也有细微的差别;因此,虽然她的故乡离她在特兰里奇的短暂居处还不到二十英里,但是已经似乎变成了一个很遥远的地方。封闭在那边的乡民到北边和西边去做买卖、旅行、求婚,同北边和西边的人结婚,一心想着西边和北边;而这边的人则把他们的精力和心思都放在东边和南边。
这道斜坡就是在六月里那一天德贝维尔接她时疯狂驾车的同一道坡。苔丝没有休息,一口气走完了这道坡上还没有走完的路,到了山崖的边上,她向前面那个她所熟悉的绿色世界望去,只见它在雾霭中半隐半现。从这儿望去,它总是美丽的;今天在苔丝看来它极其美丽,因为自从上一次看见它以来,她已经懂得,在可爱的鸟儿歌唱的地方,也会有毒蛇咝叫,因为这次教训,她的人生观已经被完全改变了。以前还在家里的时候,她是一个天真的孩子,而与此相比她现在变成了另一个姑娘,她满腹心事地垂着头,静静地站在那儿,然后又转过身去看看身后。望着前面的山谷,她心里忍受不了。
在苔丝刚才费力走过的那条漫长的白色道路上,她看见一辆双轮马车赶了上来,马车的旁边走着一个男子,举着他的手,好引起她的注意。
她听从了要她等他的信号,停了下来,既不想也不慌,几分钟以后,那个男子和马车就停在了她的身边。
“你为什么要这样偷偷地溜走呢?”德贝维尔上气不接下气地责备她说:“又是在礼拜天的早晨,大家都还在睡觉呀!我是碰巧发现你走了的,所以像鬼似地驾着车拼命地追,才赶上了你。你看看这匹母马就知道啦。为什么要像这样离开呢?你也知道,没有谁会阻拦你的。你这是何苦,要费力地步行走路,自己还带着这样沉重的行李!我像疯子一样地追了来,只是想赶车送你走完剩下的一段路,假使你不想回去的话。”
“我不会转回去了,”她说。
“我想你也不会转回去了——我早就这样说过了!那么,好吧,把你的篮子放上来吧,我来扶你上车。”
她没精打采地把篮子和包裹放进马车里,上了车,一起并排坐下来。现在她不再怕他了,然而她不怕他的地方也正是她伤心的地方。
德贝维尔呆板地点上一支雪茄烟,接着就上路了,沿途就路边一些普通景物断断续续地不带感情地说些闲话。当日夏初就在这同一条路上,他们驾车走的是相反的方向,当时他曾坚持要吻她,而现在他已经全忘光了。但是她没有忘记,她此刻像木偶似地坐着,对他说的话回答一两个字。走了几英里以后,他们看见了一小片树林,过了树林就是马洛特村了。直到那个时候,她麻木的脸上才露出一点儿感情来,一两颗泪珠开始从脸上流下来。
“你为什么要哭呢?”他冷冷地问。
“我只是在想,我是在那儿出生的,”苔丝低声说。
“唉呀——我们所有的人都要有一个出生的地方。”
“我真希望我没有在那儿或其它什么地方下世为人!”
“呸!好啦,要是你不想到特兰里奇来,那你又为什么来了呢?”她没有回答。
“你不是为了爱我才来的,我敢发誓。”
“你说得完全对。假如我是为了爱你而来的,假如我还在爱着你,我就不会像我现在这样讨厌自己,恨自己的软弱了!……只有一会儿,我的眼睛叫你给弄模糊了,就是这样。”
他耸耸肩。她接着说——
“等我明白了你的用心,可是已经晚了。”
“所有的女人都这么说。”
“你竟敢说这种话!”她叫喊起来,感情冲动地转身对着他,眼睛里冒着火,身上潜藏的那种精神醒来了(将来有一天他还会更多地看到这种精神)。“我的天哪!我真恨不得把你从车上打下去!你心里从来没有想到过,有些女人嘴里说的,也正是有些女人感受的吗?”
“好,好,”他说完,笑了起来;“真对不起,我伤害了你。我做错了——我承认我做错了。”他继续说,语气里带有一些淡淡的苦味;“不过你也不必老是和我过不去。我打算赔偿你,一直到用完我最后一个钱。你知道,你不必再到地里或者牛奶场去劳动,你也知道,你会穿上最漂亮的衣服,而不会像你近来这样老穿得如此寒酸,就好像你挣不到钱买一根带子似的。”
她把嘴唇轻轻地一撇,一般说来,虽然在她宽厚和易于冲动的天性里,平常很少有鄙视人的情形。
“我已经说过我不会再要你的东西了,我不会再要了——我也不能再要了!如果我再要你的东西,那我不就是你的玩物了?我不会再要了。”
“看看你的神态,别人以为你不但是一个真正的、地道的德贝维尔家里的人,而且还是一位公主哪——哈!哈!哈!好啦,苔丝,亲爱的,我不多说了。我想我是一个坏家伙——一个该死的坏家伙。我是一个生就的坏蛋,活着的坏蛋,大概到死也是一个坏蛋。但是,我用堕落的灵魂向你发誓,我再也不会对你坏了,苔丝。如果某种情形发生——你是明白的——在这种情形里你需要一点儿帮助,遇到了一点儿困难,就给我写几个字来,你需要什么,我就会给你什么的。我也许不在特兰里奇——我要到伦敦去一段时间——我忍受不了那个老太婆。不过所有的信都是可以转去的。”
她说她不想再要他往前送了,于是他们就在那一片小树林里停了下来。德贝维尔先下了车,再把苔丝抱下车来,然后又把她的物品拿下来放在她身边的地上。她稍微向他欠欠身子,看了他一眼;然后就转过身去,拿起行李,准备离开。
亚历克·德贝维尔把雪茄烟从嘴上拿下来,向她弯下腰去,说——
“你就这样转身走了吗,亲爱的?过来!”
“随你的便好啦,”她无动于衷地回答说。“看你把我已经摆布成什么样子了!”
于是她转过身去,对着他仰起脸来,就像大理石雕成的一座界神①一样,让他在她的脸颊上吻了一下——他一半是敷衍,一半好像他的热情还没有完全熄灭。他吻她的时候,她的眼睛茫然地望着路上最远处的树木,仿佛不知道他吻了她。
 
①界神(Term),罗马的分界和边界的界标、界柱、界石之神。
“看在老朋友的份上,现在吻另一边。”
她照样冷淡地转过头去,仿佛要她转脸的是一个速写画家,或者是一个理发师。他在她的另一边脸上吻了一下,他的嘴唇接触到她的面颊,感到湿润、平滑、冰冷,好像附近地里蘑菇的表皮一样。
“你是不会把你的嘴给我了,不回吻我了。你从来就不愿意吻我——恐怕你永远也不会爱我了。”
“我已经这样说过了,经常说过了。这是真的。我从来就没有真正地和真心地爱过你,我想我永远也不会爱你。”她又悲伤地接着说,“也许,事到如今,撒一句谎,说我爱你,这对我是最有好处的事;可是我的自尊还在呀,尽管剩下的不多了,我就是不能撒这个谎。要是我的确爱过你,我也许有许多最好的理由让你知道。可是我不爱你。”
他沉重地呼了一口气,仿佛当时的情景使他的良心感受到了压力,使他的良知和脸面也感受到了压力。
“唉,你的悲伤是可笑的,苔丝。现在我没有理由去奉承你,但是我坦率地跟你说,你不必这样悲伤。就凭你的美丽,你都可以把这一带任何一个女子比下去,无论出身高贵的还是出身贫贱的;我是作为一个务实的人和一个好心人才对你说这话。要是你聪明,你就会在你的美貌凋谢之前向世界展示你的美……不过,苔丝,你还会回到我身边来吗?凭着我的灵魂发誓,我真不愿意你就这样走了。”
“决不,决不!我一明白过来我就下定了决心——我应该早点儿明白过来的;我不会再回到你身边的。”
“那么再见吧,给我做了四个月时间的堂妹——再见!”
他轻快地跳上车,理好缰绳,就从两行高大的结着红色浆果的树篱中间走了。
苔丝没有看他一眼,只是沿着弯曲的小路朝前走去。天仍然还早,虽然太阳这时候已经从山头升起来了,但是它初露的温暖光芒还不耀眼。在附近看不见一个人影。出现在那条小路上的似乎只有两个实体,就是悲伤的十月和更加悲伤的她自己。
她一路走着,但是她的背后传来了有人走路的脚步声,而且是一个男人的脚步声;由于他走得很快,所以当她觉察到他正在走近的时候,他已经走到了她的身后,对她说了一句“你好”。他似乎是某种工匠之类的人,手里提着一铁罐红色的油漆。他用公事式的口气问她,需不需要帮她拿篮子,她同意了,把篮子交给他,跟在他旁边走着。
“安息日早晨你还起这样早啊!”他高兴地说。
“是的,”苔丝说。
“工作了一个星期,大多数人都还在休息。”
苔丝也表示同意。
“不过我今天作的工作,同一个礼拜作的工作比起来才是真正的工作。”
“是吗?”
“整个礼拜我都在为人的荣耀工作,但是礼拜天我是在为上帝的荣耀工作。同其它的工作比起来,这才是真正的工作——是不是?在这道栅栏上我还有一点儿事要做。”那人说着话,转身走向路边的一个开口,那个开口通向一片草场。“你能不能等一会儿,”他又说,“我不会很久的。”
因为他提走了她的篮子,她不得不等着他;她一边等着,一边看着他。他把她的篮子和铁罐放下来,拿起铁罐里的一把刷子搅拌了一下油漆,就开始在组成栅栏的三块木板的中间的一块上写起方形大字来,他在每个字后都加上一个逗号,仿佛要停顿一下,好叫每个字都让读者深深地记在心里——
他,们,的,灭,亡,必,速,速,来,到
彼得后书Ⅱ3
映衬着宁静的风景、矮树林灰白的枯黄色调、天边的蔚蓝色空气和长满苔藓的栅栏木板,那些鲜红的大字闪闪发光。每一个字都似乎在大声喊叫,连空气都被震得发响。也许有人会对这些讨厌的涂抹说“唉,可怜的神学!”——这种宗教当年也曾为人类服务过,现在是它最后的古怪一幕了。但是苔丝读到这些字,却感到有一种遭到指控的恐惧。就好像那个人已经知道了她最近的历史;但是他对苔丝的确是一无所知。
他写完了字,提起篮子,苔丝也机械地走在他的旁边。
“你真的相信你写的话吗?”苔丝低声问。
“相信那句话?就像相信我自己存在着一样!”
“但是,”她说话时声音颤抖起来,“假如你犯的罪不是有意犯的呢?”
他把头摇了摇。
“对于你问的这个棘手的问题,我没有本领作出回答,”他说。“这个夏季,我已经走了好几百英里路了,只要有一面墙、有一道门、有一道栅栏门,无论大小,我都把这些话写上去。至于这些话的应用,我就留给读这些话的人理解了。”
“我觉得这些话太可怕了,”苔丝说:“这些话是碾压人呀!是要人的命呀!”
“那就是这些话的本来用意呀!”他回答说,用的是干这一行的口吻。“但是你还没有读到我写的最厉害的话呢——我把那些话写在贫民窟的墙上或者码头上。那些话会使你胆战心惊的!不过在乡下这些地方,这也是很好的话了……啊——那儿谷仓的墙上有一块很好的地方还没有写字,浪费了。我一定要在那儿写上一行字——写一行字给像你这样容易出危险的年轻女人读。你等等我好吗,小姐?”
“我不能等,”她说;提起篮子往前走了。她向前走了几步,又扭过头去。在那面古老的灰色墙壁上,他又开始写上了和先前一样强烈的警示人的醒目字句,看上去既奇怪又不同寻常,这面墙以前从来没有让人写上什么,现在被写上了字,它仿佛有些痛苦。那句话剧写了一半,苔丝已经知道要写上去的那句话了,突然脸红起来。他写的是——
你,不,可,犯——①
 
①全句为“不要犯奸淫”,为摩西十诫之一,见“旧约”“出埃及记”第二十章第十四节。

她那愉快的朋友看见她在那儿读着,就把手中的排笔停下来大声叫道——
“要是你想在这些问题上得到启发,在你要去的那个教区,今天有一个非常热心的好人要去作慈善讲道,他就是爱敏寺的克莱尔先生。我现在跟他不是一个教派了,不过他是一个好人,不比我所知道的任何一个牧师差,我最先就是受他的影响。”
但是苔丝没有答话;她心里怦怦直跳,又继续往前走,一双眼睛死死地盯着地面。“呸——我才不信上帝说过这种话呢!”她脸上的红晕消失了,用鄙夷的口气低声说。
突然,她看见有一缕炊烟从她父亲家的烟囱里袅袅升起,这使她心里十分难过。她回家进了屋,看见屋里的光景,心里更加难过了。她的母亲刚刚从楼上下来,正在燃烧剥了皮的橡树枝,烧水做早饭,看见苔丝回来,就从炉前转过身来,向她打招呼。因为是礼拜天早晨,小孩子们都还在楼上睡着,她的父亲也还躺在床上,心里觉得多睡上半个小时不算过份。
“哎哟!——我亲爱的苔丝呀!”她的母亲喜出望外,大声嚷着,跑上前去吻她的女儿。“你还好吧?直到你走到我的眼前,我才看见你呀!你是回家来准备结婚吧?”
“不,我不是为了结婚回家的,妈妈。”
“那么是回家来度假啦?”
“是的——是回家来度假的;回家度长假的,”苔丝说。
“什么呀,你的堂兄不办喜事了吗?”
“他不是我的堂兄,他也不想娶我。”
她的母亲仔细地打量着她。
“过来,你还没有说完呢!”她说。
于是苔丝走到她的母亲面前,把脸伏在琼的脖子上,一五一十地对母亲说了。
“你怎么不让他把你娶了呀!”她母亲嘴里反复说着。“有了那种关系,除了你而外,任何女人都会那么办的呀!”
“也许别的女人会那么做,不过我不会。”
“要是你让他娶了你,然后再回来,这就有些像一个传奇了!”德北菲尔德太太接着说,心里头烦恼,眼泪都快流了出来。“关于你和他的事,有各种各样的说法,都传到我们这儿来了,谁又会想到是这样一个结果!你为什么只是为自己打算,而不为我们一家人做件好事呢?你看看,为了生活,我天天不得不累死累活,你可怜的父亲身子弱,那颗心脏就像一个油盘子,给油裹得紧紧的。你到那儿去了,我真希望能从中得到一点儿好处呀!四个月前你们坐着车走的时候,看上去你和他是多么美的一对啊!看看他送给我们的东西吧——我们觉得,这些都不过因为我们是他的本家。不过,如果他不是我们的本家,他就一定是因为爱你了。可是你却没有让他娶了你。”
要亚历克·德贝维尔一心娶了她!他娶了她!关于婚姻的事,他从来就没有说过一个字。即使他说过又会怎样呢?为了从社会上拯救自己就慌慌忙忙地抓住一个机会,在被迫之下她会怎样回答他,她自己也说不清楚。可是她那可怜的母亲太糊涂,一点儿也不知道她目前对这个男人的感情。也在这种情形里,她的感情是不同寻常的,不幸的,不可解释的;但是,实际上正是如此;正像她已经说过的,这就是她为什么要自己恨自己的原因了。她从来就没有一心一意理睬过他,现在她根本也不会理睬他。她从前怕他,躲避他,他抓住机会,巧妙地利用了她的无依无靠,使她屈服了;后来,她又暂时被他表面的热情态度蒙蔽了,被他打动了,糊里糊涂地顺从了他;忽然她又鄙视他,讨厌他,从他那儿跑走了。所有的情形就是这样。她也并不十分恨他;不过在她看来,他不过是一撮尘土,即使为了自己的名声打算,她也几乎没有想过要嫁给他。
“你如果不想让他娶你,你就应该多加小心呀!”
“啊,妈妈,我的妈妈呀!”痛苦的姑娘哭了起来,满怀感情地转身朝向母亲,好像她可怜的心已经碎了。“你想我怎么会知道呀?四个月前我离开这个家的时候,我还只是个孩子。你为什么不告诉我男人的危险呀?你为什么不警告我呢?夫人小姐们都知道要提防什么,因为她们读小说,小说里告诉了她们这些花招;可是我没有机会读小说,哪能知道呢,而且你又不帮助我!”
她的母亲被说得哑口无言了。
“我想要是我告诉了他对你的痴情,告诉了你这种痴情可能有什么结果,你就会摆架子,失去了机会,”她拿起围裙擦擦眼泪,嘟哝着说:“唉,我想我们也只能往好处想了。说到底,这才是自然的,是上帝高兴的!”
 

The basket was heavy and the bundle was large, but she lugged them along like a person who did not find her especial burden in material things. Occasionally she stopped to rest in a mechanical way by some gate or post; and then, giving the baggage another hitch upon her full round arm, went steadily on again.

It was a Sunday morning in late October, about four months after Tess Durbeyfield's arrival at Trantridge, and some few weeks subsequent to the night ride in The Chase. The time was not long past daybreak, and the yellow luminosity upon the horizon behind her back lighted the ridge towards which her face was set - the barrier of the vale wherein she had of late been a stranger - which she would have to climb over to reach her birthplace. The ascent was gradual on this side, and the soil and scenery differed much from those within Blakemore Vale. Even the character and accent of the two peoples had shades of difference, despite the amalgamating effects of a roundabout railway; so that, though less than twenty miles from the place of her sojourn at Trantridge, her native village had seemed a far-away spot. The field-folk shut in there traded northward and westward, travelled, courted, and married northward and westward, thought northward and westward; those on this side mainly directed their energies and attention to the east and south.

The incline was the same down which d'Urberville had driven with her so wildly on that day in June. Tess went up the remainder of its length without stopping, and on reaching the edge of the escarpment gazed over the familiar green world beyond, now half-veiled in mist. It was always beautiful from here; it was terribly beautiful to Tess to day, for since her eyes last fell upon it she had learnt that the serpent hisses where the sweet birds sing, and her views of life had been totally changed for her by the lesson. Verily another girl than the simple one she had been at home was she who, bowed by thought, stood still here, and turned to look behind her. She could not bear to look forward into the Vale.

Ascending by the long white road that Tess herself had just laboured up, she saw a two-wheeled vehicle, beside which walked a man, who held up his hand to attract her attention.

She obeyed the signal to wait for him with unspeculative repose, and in a few minutes man and horse stopped beside her.

`Why did you slip away by stealth like this?' said d'Urberville, with upbraiding breathlessness; `on a Sunday morning, too, when people were all in bed! I only discovered it by accident, and I have been driving like the deuce to overtake you. Just look at the mare. Why go off like this? You know that nobody wished to hinder your going. And how unnecessary it has been for you to toll along on foot, and encumber yourself with this heavy load! I have followed like a madman, simply to drive you the rest of the distance, if you won't come back.'

`I shan't come back,' said she.

`I thought you wouldn't - I said so! Well, then, put up your baskets, and let me help you on.'

She listlessly placed her basket and bundle within the dog-cart, and stepped up, and they sat side by side. She had no fear of him now, and in the cause of her confidence her sorrow lay.

D'Urberville mechanically lit a cigar, and the journey was continued with broken unemotional conversation on the commonplace objects by the wayside. He had quite forgotten his struggle to kiss her when, in the early summer, they had driven in the opposite direction along the same road. But she had not, and she sat now, like a puppet, replying to his remarks in monosyllables. After some miles they came in view of the clump of trees beyond which the village of Marlott stood. It was only then that her still face showed the least emotion, a tear or two beginning to trickle down.

`What are you crying for?' he coldly asked.

`I was only thinking that I was born over there,' murmured Tess.

`Well - we must all be born somewhere.'

`I wish I had never been born - there or anywhere else!' `Pooh! Well, if you didn't wish to come to Trantridge why did you come,'

She did not reply.

`You didn't come for love of me, that I'll swear.'

`'Tis quite true. If I had gone for love o' you, if I had ever sincerely loved you, if I loved you still, I should not so loathe and hate myself for my weakness as I do now!... My eyes were dazed by you for a little, and that was all.'

He shrugged his shoulders. She resumed--

`I didn't understand your meaning till it was too late.'

`That's what every woman says.'

`How can you dare to use such words!' she cried, turning impetuously upon him, her eyes flashing as the latent spirit (of which he was to see more some day) awoke in her. `My God! I could knock you out of the gig! Did it never strike your mind that what every woman says some women may feel?'

`Very well,' he said, laughing; `I am sorry to wound you. I did wrong - I admit it.' He dropped into some little bitterness as he continued: `Only you needn't be so everlastingly flinging it in my face. I am ready to pay to the uttermost farthing. You know you need not work in the fields or the dairies again. You know you may clothe yourself with the best, instead of in the bald plain way you have lately affected, as if you couldn't get a ribbon more than you earn.'

Her lip lifted slightly, though there was little scorn, as a rule, in her large and impulsive nature.

`I have said I will not take anything more from you, and I will not - I cannot! I should be your creature to go on doing that, and I won't!'

`One would think you were a princess from your manner, in addition to a true and original d'Urberville - ha! ha! Well, Tess, dear, I can say no more. I suppose I am a bad fellow - a damn bad fellow. I was born bad, and I have lived bad, and I shall die bad in all probability. But, upon my lost soul, I won't be bad towards you again, Tess. And if certain circumstances should arise - you understand - in which you are in the least need, the least difficulty, send me one line, and you shall have by, return whatever you require. I may not be at Trantridge - I am going to London for a time - I can't stand the old woman. But all letters will be forwarded.'

She said that she did not wish him to drive her further, and they stopped lust under the clump of trees. D'Urberville alighted, and lifted her down bodily in his arms, afterwards placing her articles on the ground beside her. She bowed to him slightly, her eye just lingering in his; and then she turned to take the parcels for departure.

Alec d'Urberville removed his cigar, bent towards her, and said--

`You are not going to turn away like that, dear? Come!'

`If you wish,' she answered indifferently. `See how you've mastered me!'

She thereupon turned round and lifted her face to his, and remained like a marble term while he imprinted a kiss upon her cheek-half perfunctorily, half as if zest had not yet quite died out. Her eyes vaguely rested upon the remotest trees in the lane while the kiss was given, as though she were nearly unconscious of what he did.

`Now the other side, for old acquaintance' sake.'

She turned her head in the same passive way, as one might turn at the request of a sketcher or hairdresser, and he kissed the other side, his lips touching cheeks that were damp and smoothly chill as the skin of the mushrooms in the fields around.

`You don't give me your mouth and kiss me back. You never willingly do that - you'll never love me, I fear.'

`I have said so, often. It is true. I have never really and truly loved you, and I think I never can.' She added mournfully, `Perhaps, of all things, a lie on this thing would do the most good to me now; but I have honour enough left, little as 'tis, not to tell that lie. If I did love you I may have the best o' causes for letting you know it. But I don't.'

He emitted a laboured breath, as if the scene were getting rather oppressive to his heart, or to his conscience, or to his gentility.

`Well, you are absurdly melancholy, Tess. I have no reason for flattering you now, and I can say plainly that you need not be so sad. You can hold your own for beauty against any woman of these parts, gentle or simple; I say, it to you as a practical man and well-wisher. If you are wise you will it to the world more than you do before it fades... And yet, Tess, will you come back to me? Upon my soul I don't like to let you go like this!'

`Never, never! I made up my mind as soon as I saw - what I ought to have seen sooner; and I won't come.'

`Then good morning, my four months' cousin - good-bye!'

He leapt up lightly, arranged the reins, and was gone between the tall red-berried hedges.

Tess did not look after him, but slowly wound along the crooked lane. It was still early, and though the sun's lower limb was just free of the hill, his rays, ungenial and peering, addressed the eye rather than the touch as yet. There was not a human soul near. Sad October and her sadder self seemed the only two existences haunting that lane.

As she walked, however, some footsteps approached behind her, the footsteps of a man; and owing to the briskness of his advance he was close at her heels and had said `Good morning' before she had been long aware of his propinquity. He appeared to be an artisan of some sort, and carried a tin pot of red paint in his hand. He asked in a business-like manner if he should take her basket, which she permitted him to do, walking beside him.

`It is early to be astir this Sabbath morn!' he said cheerfully.

`Yes,' said Tess.

`When most people are at rest from their week's work.'

She also assented to this.

`Though I do more real work to-day than all the week besides.'

`Do you?'

`All the week I work for the glory of man, and on Sunday for the glory of God. That's more real than the other - hey? I have a little to do here at this stile.' The man turned as he spoke to an opening at the roadside leading into a pasture.'If you'll wait a moment,'he added, `I shall not be long.'

As he had her basket she could not well do otherwise; and she waited, observing him. He set down her basket and the tin pot, and stirring the paint with the brush that was in it began painting large square letters on the middle board of the three composing the stile, placing a comma after each word, as if to give pause while that word was driven well home to the reader's heart--

THY, DAMNATION, SLUMBERETH, NOT.
2 PET. ii. 3.

Against the peaceful landscape, the pale, decaying tints of the copses, the blue air of the horizon, and the lichened stile-boards, these staring vermilion words shone forth. They seemed to shout themselves out and make the atmosphere ring. Some people might have cried `Alas, poor Theology!' at the hideous defacement - the last grotesque phase of a creed which had served mankind well in its time. But the words entered Tess with accusatory horror. It was as if this man had known her recent history; yet he was a total stranger.
Having finished his text he picked up her basket, and she mechanically resumed her walk beside him.

`Do you believe what you paint?' she asked in low tones.

`Believe that tex? Do I believe in my own existence!'

`But,' said she tremulously, `suppose your sin was not of your seeking?'

He shook his head.

`I cannot split hairs on that burning query,' he said. `I have walked hundreds of miles this past summer, painting these texes on every wall, gate, and stile in the length and breadth of this district. I leave their application to the hearts of the people who read 'em.'

`I think they are horrible,' said Tess. `Crushing! killing!'

`That's what they are meant to be!' he replied in a trade voice. `But you should read my hottest ones - them I kips for slums and seaports. They'd make ye wriggle! Not but what this is a very good tex for rural districts... Ah - there's a nice bit of blank wall up by that barn standing to waste. I must put one there - one that it will be good for dangerous young females like yerself to heed. Will ye wait, missy?'

`No,' said she; and taking her basket Tess trudged on. A little way forward she turned her head. The old gray wall began to advertise a similar fiery lettering to the first, with a strange and unwonted mien, as if distressed at duties it had never before been called upon to perform. It was with a sudden flush that she read and realized what was to be the inscription he was now half-way through--

THOU, SHALT, NOT, COMMIT -
Her cheerful friend saw her looking, stopped his brush, and shouted--
`If you want to ask for edification on these things of moment, there's a very earnest good man going to preach a charity-sermon to-day in the parish you are going to - Mr Clare of Emminster. I'm not of his persuasion now, but he's a good man, and he'll expound as well as any parson I know. 'Twas he began the work in me.'

But Tess did not answer; she throbbingly resumed her walk, her eyes fixed on the ground. `Pooh - I don't believe God said such things!' she murmured contemptuously when her flush had died away.

A plume of smoke soared up suddenly from her father's chimney, the sight of which made her heart ache. The aspect of the interior, when she reached it, made her heart ache more. Her mother, who had just come down stairs, turned to greet her from the fireplace, where she was kindling barked-oak twigs under the breakfast kettle. The young children were still above, as was also her father, it being Sunday morning, when he felt justified in lying an additional half-hour.

`Well! - my dear Tess!' exclaimed her surprised mother, jumping up and kissing the girl. `How be ye? I didn't see you till you was in upon me! Have you come home to be married?'

`No, I have not come for that, mother.'

`Then for a holiday?'

`Yes - for a holiday; for a long holiday,' said Tess.

`What, isn't your cousin going to do the handsome thing?'

`He's not my cousin and he's not going to marry me.'

Her mother eyed her narrowly.

`Come, you have not told me all,' she said.

Then Tess went up to her mother, put her face upon Joan's neck, and told.

`And yet th'st not got him to marry 'ee!' reiterated her mother. `Any woman would have done it but you, after that!'

`Perhaps any woman would except me.'

`It would have been something like a story to come back with, if you had!' continued Mrs Durbeyfield, ready to burst into tears of vexation. `After all the talk about you and him which has reached us here, who would have expected it to end like this! Why didn't ye think of doing some good for your family instead o' thinking only of yourself? See how I've got to teave and slave, and your poor weak father with his heart clogged like a dripping-pan. I did hope for something to come out o'this! To see what a pretty pair you and he made that day when you drove away together four months ago! See what he has given us - all, as we thought, because we were his kin. But if he's not, it must have been done because of his love for 'ee. And yet you've not got him to marry!'

Get Alec d'Urberville in the mind to marry her! He marry her! On matrimony he had never once said a word. And what if he had? How a convulsive snatching at social salvation might have impelled her to answer him she could not say. But her poor foolish mother little knew her present feeling towards this man. Perhaps it was unusual in the circumstances, unlucky, unaccountable; but there it was; and this, as she had said, was what made her detest herself. She had never wholly cared for him, she did not at all care for him now. She had dreaded him, winced before him, succumbed to adroit advantages he took of her helplessness; then, temporarily blinded by his ardent manners, had been stirred to confused surrender awhile: had suddenly despised and disliked him, and had run away. That was all. Hate him she did not quite; but he was dust and ashes to her, and even for her name's sake she scarcely wished to marry him.

`You ought to have been more careful if you didn't mean to get him to make you his wife!'

`O mother, my mother!' cried the agonized girl, turning passionately upon her parent as if her poor heart would break. `How could I be expected to know? I was a child when I left this house four months ago. Why didn't you tell me there was danger in men-folk? Why didn't you warn me? Ladies know what to fend hands against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks; but I never had the chance o' learning in that way, and you did not help me!'

Her mother was subdued.

`I thought if I spoke of his fond feelings and what they might lead to, you would be hontish wi' him and lose your chance,' she murmured, wiping her eyes with her apron. `Well, we must make the best of it, I suppose. 'Tis nater, after all, and what do please God!'