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第7节 第十八章 【
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从往日的回忆中显现出来的安棋尔·克莱尔先生,并不完全是一个清晰的形象,而是一种富有欣赏力的声音,一种凝视和出神眼睛的长久注视,一种生动的嘴唇,那嘴唇有时候对一个男人来说太小,线条太纤细,虽然他的下唇有时叫人意想不到地闭得紧紧的,但是这已足够叫人打消对他不够果断的推论。尽管如此,在他的神态和目光里,隐藏着某种混乱、模糊和心不在焉的东西,叫人一看就知道他这个人也许对未来的物质生活,既没有明确的目标,也不怎么关心。可是当他还是一个少年的时候,人们就说过,他是那种想做什么就能把什么做好的人。
他是他父亲的小儿子,他父亲是住在本郡另一头的穷牧师。他来到泰波塞斯奶牛场,是要当六个月的学徒,他已经去过附近其它的一些农场,目的是要学习管理农场过程中的各种实际技术,以便将来根据情况决定是到殖民地去,还是留在国内的农场里工作。
他进入农夫和牧人的行列,这只是这个年轻人事业中的第一步,也是他自己或者其他的人都不曾预料到的。老克莱尔先生的前妻给他生了一个女儿以后,就不幸死了,到了晚年,他又娶了第二个妻子。多少有些出人意料,后妻给他生了三个儿子,因此在最小的儿子安琪尔和老牧师父亲之间,好像差不多缺少了一辈人。在二个儿子中间,前面说到的安琪尔是牧师老来得到的儿子,也只有这个儿子没有大学学位,尽管从早年的天资看,只有他才真正配接受大学的学术训练。
从安琪尔在马洛特村的舞会上跳舞算起,在两三年前,有一天他放学回家后正在学习功课,这时候本地的书店给牧师家送来一个包裹,交到了詹姆士·克莱尔牧师手里。牧师打开包裹一看,里面是一本书,就翻开读了几页;读后他再也坐不住了,就从座位上跳起来,挟著书直奔书店而去。
“为什么要把这本书送到我家里?”他拿着书,不容分说地问。
“这本书是订购的,先生。”
“我敢说我没有订购这本书,我家里别的人也没有订购这本书。”
书店老板查了查订购登记簿。
“哦,这本书寄错了,先生,”他说。“这本书是安琪尔·克莱尔先生订购的,应该寄给他才对。”
克莱尔先生听后直往后躲,仿佛被人打了一样。他满脸苍白地回到家里,一脸地沮丧,把安琪尔叫到他的书房里。
“你读读这本书吧,我的儿子,”他说。“你知道这是怎么一回事吗?”
“这是我订购的书,”安琪尔回答得很简单。
“订这本书干什么?”
“读呀。”
“你怎么会想到要读这本书?”
“我怎么想到的?为什么——这是一本关于哲学体系的书呀。在已经出版的书里面,没有其它的书比它更符合道德的了,也甚至没有比它更符合宗教的了。”
“是的—一很道德;我不否认这一点。可是宗教呢?——尤其对你来说,对想当一个宣传福音的牧师的你来说,它不合乎宗教!”
“既然你提到这件事,父亲,”儿子说,脸上满是焦虑的神情,“我想最后再说一次,我不愿意担任教职。凭良心说,我恐怕不能够去当牧师。我爱教会就像一个人爱他的父亲一样。对教会我一直怀有最热烈的感情。再也没有一种制度的历史能使我有比它更深的敬爱了;可是,在她还没有把她的思想从奉神赎罪的不堪一击的信念中解放出来,我不能像我两个哥哥一样,真正接受教职做她的牧师。”
这位性格率直思想单纯的牧师从来没有想到,他自己的亲生骨肉竟会说出这样一番话来。他不禁吓住了、愣住了、瘫痪了。要是安琪尔不愿意进入教会,那么把他送到剑桥去还有什么用处呢?对这位思想观念一成不变的牧师来说,进剑桥大学似乎只是进入教会的第一步,是一篇还没有正文的序言。他这个人不但信教,而且非常虔诚;他是一个坚定的信徒——这不是现在教堂内外拿神学玩把戏而闪烁其词时用作解释的一个词,而是在福音教派①过去就有的在热烈意义上使用的一个词。他是这样一个人:
 
①福音教派(Evangelical school),新教(Protestant)中的一派,认为福音的要义是宣讲人陷入罪恶,耶稣为人赎罪,人应凭借信心赎罪。英国国教中包含这种主义的也就是低教派(Low Church)。

真正相信
上帝和造物主
在十八世纪以前
确实作过上……
安琪尔的父亲努力同他争论,劝说他,恳求他。
“不,爸爸;光是第四条我就不能赞同(其它的暂且不论),不能按照《宣言》的要求‘按照字面和语法上的意义’接受它;所以,在目前的情况下我不能做牧帅,”安琪尔说。“关于宗教的问题,我的全部本能就是趋向于将它重新改造;让我引用你所喜爱的《希伯莱书》中的几句话吧,‘那些被震动的都是受造之物,都要挪去,使那不被震动的常存’。”
他的父亲伤心无比,安琪尔见了心里感到非常难受。
“要是你不为上帝的光辉和荣耀服务,那么我和你母亲省吃俭用、吃苦受罪地供你上大学,还有什么用处呢?”他的父亲把这话说了一遍又一遍。
“可以用来为人类的光辉和荣耀服务啊,爸爸。”
如果安琪尔继续坚持下去,也许他就可以像两个哥哥一样去剑桥了。但是牧师的观点完全是一种家庭传统,就足仅仅把剑桥这个学府当作进入教会的一块垫脚石;他心中的思想是那样根深蒂固,所以生性敏感的儿子开始觉得,他要再坚持下去就好像是侵吞了一笔委托财产,对个起他虔诚的父母,正如他的父亲睹示的那样,他们过去和现在都不得不节衣缩食,以便实现供养三个儿子接受同样教育的计划。
“我不上剑桥大学也行,”安琪尔后来说。“我觉得在目前情况下,我没有权利进剑桥大学。”
这场关键性的辩论结束了,它的影响不久也显现出来。多少年来,他进行了许多漫无边际的研究,尝试过多次杂乱无章的计划,进行过无数毫无系统的思考;开始对社会习俗和礼仪明显表现出满不在乎的态度。他越来越鄙夷地位、财富这种物质上的差别。在他看来,即使“古老世家”(使用近来故去的一个本地名人的字眼儿)也没有了香味,除非它的后人能有新的良好变化。为了使这种严酷单调的生活得到平衡,他就到伦敦去住,要看看伦敦的世界是什么样子,同时也为了从事一种职业或者生意在那儿进行锻炼,他在那儿遇上了一个年纪比他大得多的女人,被她迷昏厂头脑,差一点儿掉进她的陷阱,幸好他摆脱开了,没有因为这番经历吃了大亏。
他的幼年生活同乡村幽静生活的联系,使他对现代城市生活生出一种不可抑制的几乎是非理性的厌恶来,因此也使他同另一种成功隔离开来,使他既不愿从事精神方面的工作,也不愿立志追求一种世俗的职业。但是他不能不做一件工作;他已经虚度了许多年的宝贵光阴;后来认识了一个在殖民地务农而发达起来的朋友,因此他想到这也许是一条正确的途径。在殖民地,在美国,或者在国内务农——通过认真地学习务农,无论如何,在学会了这件事之后——也许务农是使他得到独立的一种职业,而不用牺牲他看得比可观的财产更为宝贵的东西,即精神自由。
因此,我们就看到安琪尔·克莱尔在二十六岁时来到泰波塞斯,做一个学习养牛的学徒,同时,因为附近找不到一个舒适的住处,所以他吃住都和奶牛场的老板在一起。他的房间是一个很大的阁楼,同整个牛奶房的长度一样长。奶酪间里有一架楼梯,只有从那儿才能上楼去,阁楼已经关闭了很长时间,他来了以后才把它打开作他的住处。克莱尔住在这儿,拥有大量空间,所有的人都睡了,奶牛场的人还听见他在那儿走来走去。阁楼的一头用帘子隔出了一部分,里面就是他的床铺,外面的部分则被布置成一个朴素的起居室。
起初他完全住在楼上,读了大量的书,弹一弹廉价买来的一架旧竖琴,在他感到心情苦恼无奈的时候,就说有一天他要在街上弹琴挣饭吃。可是后来不久,他就宁肯下楼到那间大饭厅里去体察人生,同老板、老板娘和男女工人一起吃饭了,所有这些人一起组成了一个生动的集体;因为只有很少的挤奶工人住在奶牛场里,但是同牛奶场老板一家吃饭的人倒有好几个。克莱尔在这儿住的时间越长,他同他的伙伴们的隔阂就越少,也愿意同他们多增加相互的往来。
使他大感意外的是,他的确真的喜欢与他们为伍了。他想象中的世俗农夫——报纸上所说的典型人物,著名的可怜笨伯霍吉——他住下来没有几天就从他心中消失了。同他们一接近,霍吉是不存在的。说真的,起初克莱尔从一个完全不同的社会来到这里,他感到同他朝夕相处的这些朋友呆在一起似乎有点儿异样。作为奶牛场老板一家人中的一个平等成员坐在一起,他在开头还觉得有失身分。他们的思想观念、生活方式和周围的环境似乎都是落后的、毫无意义的。但是他在那儿住下来,同他们天天生活在一起,于是寄居在这儿的这个眼光敏锐的人,就开始认识到这群平常人身上的全新的一面。虽然他看到的人并没有发生什么变化,但是丰富多采已经取代了单调乏味。老板和老板娘、男工和女工都变成了克莱尔熟悉的朋友,他们像发生化学变化一样开始显示出各自不同的特点。他开始想到帕斯卡说过的话:“一个人自身的心智越高,就越能发现别人的独特之处。平庸的人是看不出人与人之间的差别的。”①那种典型的没有变化的霍吉已经不存在了。他已经分化了,融进了大量的各色各样的人中间去了——成了一群思想丰富的人,一群差别无穷的人;有些人快乐,多数人沉静,还有几个人心情忧郁,其间也有聪明程度达到天才的人,也有一些人愚笨,有些人粗俗,有些人质朴;有些人是沉默无声的弥尔顿式的人物,有些人则是锋芒毕露的克伦威尔式的人物②;他们就像他认识自己的朋友一样,相互之间都有着自己的看法;他们也会相互赞扬,或者相互指责,或者因为想到各自的弱点或者缺点而感到好笑和难过;他们都按照各自的方式在通往尘土的死亡道路上走着。
 
①帕斯卡(Pascal,1623-1662),法国数学家和哲学家,引文引自其《沉思录》“总序”。
②该文出自于英国诗人托玛斯·葛雷的《墓园挽歌》一诗的第十五节。

出乎意料的是,他开始喜爱户外的生活了,这倒不是由于户外的生活对自己选择的职业有关系,而是因为户外生活本身,由于户外生活给他带来的东西。从克莱尔的地位来看,他已经令人惊奇地摆脱了长期的忧郁,那种忧郁是因为文明的人类对仁慈的神逐渐丧失信心而产生的。近些年来,他能够第一次按照自己的意思读他喜爱的书了,而不用考虑为了职业去死记硬背,因为他认为值得熟读的几本农业手册,根本用不了多少时间。
他同过去的联系越来越少了,在人生和人类中间发现了一些新的东西。其次,他对过上只是模模糊糊地知道的外界现象更加熟悉了——如四季的变幻、清晨和傍晚、黑夜和正午、不同脾性的风、树木、水流、雾气、幽暗、静寂,还有许多无生命事物的声音。
清早的气温仍然凉得很,所以在他们吃早饭的那间大房子里生上了火,大家感到适意;克里克太太认为克莱尔温文尔雅,不宜于坐在他们的桌子上同大家在一起吃饭,就吩咐让人把他的盘子和一套杯子和碟子摆在一块用铰链连起米的搁板上,所以吃饭的时候他总是坐在大张着口的壁炉旁边。阳光从对面那个又长又宽的直棂窗户里射进来,照亮了他坐的那个角落,壁炉的烟囱里也有一道冷蓝色的光线照进来,每当想要读书的时候,他就可以在那儿舒舒服服地读书了。在克莱尔和窗户中间,有一张他的伙伴们坐着吃饭的桌子,他们咀嚼东西的身影清清楚楚地映在窗户的玻璃上;房子一边是奶房的门,从门里面看进去,可以看见一排长方形的铅桶,里面装满了早晨挤出来的牛奶。在更远的一头,可以看见搅黄油的奶桶在转动着,也听得见搅黄油的声音——从窗户里看过去,可以看出奶桶是由一匹马拉着转动的,那是一匹没精打采的马,在一个男孩的驱赶下绕着圈走着。
在苔丝来后的好几天里,克莱尔老是坐在那儿聚精会神地读书,读杂志,或者是读他刚收到的邮局寄来的乐谱,几乎没有注意到桌子上苔丝的出现。苔丝说话不多,其他的女孩子又说话太多,所以在那一片喧哗里,他心里没有留下多了一种新的说话声的印象,而且他也只习惯于获得外界的大致印象,而不太注意其中的细节。但是有一天,他正在熟悉一段乐谱,并在头脑里集中了他的全部想象力欣赏这段乐谱的时候,突然走了神,乐谱掉到了带炉的边上。那时已经做完了早饭,烧过了开水,他看见燃烧的木头只剩下一点火苗还在跳动着,快要熄火了,似乎在和着他内心的旋律跳吉尔舞;他还看见从壁炉的横梁或十字架上垂下来的两根挂钩,钩子沾满了烟灰,也和着同样的旋律颤抖着;钩子上的水壶已经空了一半,在用低声的倾诉和着旋律伴奏。桌子上的谈话混合在他幻想中的管弦乐曲里,他心里想:“在这些挤奶女工中间,有一个姑娘的声音多么清脆悦耳呀!我猜想这是一个新来的人的声音。”
克莱尔扭头看去,只见她同其他的女工坐在一起。
她没有向他这边看。实在的情形是,因为他在那儿坐了很久,默不作声,差不多已经被人忘记了。
“我不知道有没有鬼怪,”她正在说,“但是我的确知道我们活着的时候,是能够让我们的灵魂出窍的。”
奶牛场的老板一听,惊讶得合不上嘴,转过身看着她,眼睛里带着认真的询问;他把手里拿的大刀子和大叉子竖在桌子上(因为这儿的早餐是正规的早餐),就像是一副绞刑架子。
“什么呀——真的吗?真的是这样吗,姑娘?”他问。
“要觉得灵魂出窍,一种最简单的方法,”苔丝继续说,“就是晚上躺在草地上,用眼睛紧紧盯着天上某颗又大又亮的星星;你把思想集中到那颗星星上,不久你就会发现你离开自己的肉体有好几千里路远了,而你又似乎根本不想离开那么远。”
奶牛场老板把死死盯在苔丝身上的目光移开,盯在他的妻子身上。
“真是一件怪事,克里丝蒂娜,你说是不是?想想吧,我这三十年来在星空中走了多少里路啊,讨老婆,做生意,请大夫,找护士,一直到现在,一点儿也没有注意到灵魂出窍,也没有感觉到我的灵魂曾经离开过我的衣领半寸。”
所有的人都把日光集中到了她的身上,其中也包括奶牛场老板的学徒的目光,苔丝的脸红了,就含含糊糊地说这只不过是一种幻想,说完了又接着吃她的早饭。
克莱尔继续观察她,不久她就吃完了饭,感觉到克莱尔正在注意她,就像一只家畜知道有人注意自己时感到的紧张那样,开始用她的食指在桌布上画着她想象中的花样。
“那个挤奶的女工,真是一个多么新鲜、多么纯洁的自然女儿啊!”他自言自语地说。
后来,他似乎在她的身上了解到一些他所熟悉的东西,这些东西使他回忆起欢乐的不能预知未来的过去,回忆起从前顾虑重重天空昏暗的日子。他最后肯定他从前见过她;但是他说不出在哪儿见过她。肯定是有一次在乡下漫游时偶然相遇的;因而他对此并不感到十分奇怪。但是这情形已经足以使他在希望观察身边这些女性时,选择苔丝而宁愿放弃别的漂亮女孩子了。

Angel Clare rises out of the past not altogether as a distinct figure, but as an appreciative voice, a long regard of fixed, abstracted eyes, and a mobility of mouth somewhat too small and delicately lined for a man's, though with an unexpectedly firm close of the lower lip now and then; enough to do away with any inference of indecision. Nevertheless, something nebulous, preoccupied, vague, in his bearing and regard, marked him as one who probably had no very definite aim or concern about his material future. Yet as a lad people had said of him that he was one who might do anything if he tried.

He was the youngest son of his father, a poor parson at the other end of the county, and had arrived at Talbothays Dairy as a six months' pupil, after going the round of some other farms, his object being to acquire a practical skill in the various processes of farming, with a view either to the Colonies, or the tenure of a home-farm, as circumstances might decide.

His entry into the ranks of the agriculturists and breeders was a step in the young man's career which had been anticipated neither by himself nor by others.

Mr Clare the elder, whose first wife had died and left him a daughter, married a second late in life. This lady had somewhat unexpectedly brought him three sons, so that between Angel, the youngest, and his father the vicar there seemed to be almost a missing generation. Of these boys the aforesaid Angel, the child of his old age, was the only son who had not taken a University degree, though he was the single one of them whose early promise might have done full justice to an academical training.

Some two or three years before Angel's appearance at the Marlott dance, on a day when he had left school and was pursuing his studies at home, a parcel came to the vicarage from the local bookseller's, directed to the Reverend James Clare. The vicar having opened it and found it to contain a book, read a few pages; whereupon he lumped up from his seat and went straight to the shop with the book under his arm.

`Why has this been sent to my house?' he asked peremptorily, holding up the volume.

`It was ordered, sir.'

`Not by me, or any one belonging to me, I am happy to say.' The shopkeeper looked into his order-book.

`Oh, it has been misdirected, sir,' he said. `It was ordered by Mr Angel Clare, and should have been sent to him.'

Mr Clare winced as if he had been struck. He went home pale and dejected, and called Angel into his study.

`Look into this book, my boy,' he said. `What do you know about it?'

`I ordered it,' said Angel simply.

`What for?'

`To read.'

`How can you think of reading it?'

`How can I? Why - it is a system of philosophy. There is no more moral, or even religious, work published.'

`Yes - moral enough; I don't deny that. But religious! - and for you, who intend to be a minister of the Gospel!'

`Since you have alluded to the matter, father,' said the son, with anxious thought upon his face, `I should like to say, once for all, that I should prefer not to take Orders. I fear I could not conscientiously do so. I love the Church as one loves a parent. I shall always have the warmest affection for her. There is no institution for whose history I have a deeper admiration; but I cannot honestly be ordained her minister, as my brothers are, while she refuses to liberate her mind from an untenable redemptive theolatry.'

It had never occurred to the straightforward and simple-minded Vicar that one of his own flesh and blood could come to this! He was stultified, shocked, paralyzed. And if Angel were not going to enter the Church, what was the use of sending him to Cambridge? The University as a step to anything but ordination seemed, to this man of fixed ideas, a preface without a volume. He was a man not merely religious, but devout; a firm believer - not as the phrase is now elusively construed by theological thimble-riggers in the Church and out of it, but in the old and ardent sense of the Evangelical school: one who could

Indeed opine
That the Eternal and Divine
Did, eighteen centuries ago
In very truth...

Angel's father tried argument, persuasion, entreaty.
`No, father: I cannot underwrite Article Four (leave alone the rest), taking it "in the literal and grammatical sense" as required by the Declaration; and, therefore, I can't be a parson in the present state of affairs,' said Angel. `My whole instinct in matters of religion is towards reconstruction; to quote your favourite Epistle to the Hebrews, "the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain".'

His father grieved so deeply that it made Angel quite ill to see him.

`What is the good of your mother and me economizing and stinting ourselves to give you a University education, if it is not to be used for the honour and glory of God?' his father repeated.

`Why, that it may be used for the honour and glory of man, father.'

Perhaps if Angel had persevered he might have gone to Cambridge like his brothers. But the Vicar's view of that seat of learning as a stepping-stone to Orders alone was quite a family tradition; and so rooted was the idea in his mind that perseverance began to appear to the sensitive son akin to an intent to misappropriate a trust, and wrong the pious heads of the household, who had been and were, as his father had hinted, compelled to exercise much thrift to carry out this uniform plan of education for the three young men.

`I will do without Cambridge,' said Angel at last. `I feel that I have no right to go there in the circumstances.'

The effects of this decisive debate were not long in showing themselves. He spent years and years in desultory studies, undertakings, and meditations; he began to evince considerable indifference to social forms and observances. The material distinctions of rank and wealth he increasingly despised. Even the `good old family' (to use a favourite phrase of a late local worthy) had no aroma for him unless there were good new resolutions in its representatives. As a balance to these austerities, when he went to live in London to see what the world was like, and with a view to practising a profession or business there, he was carried off his head, and nearly entrapped by a woman much older than himself, though luckily he escaped not greatly the worse for the experience.

Early association with country solitudes had bred in him an unconquerable, and almost unreasonable, aversion to modern life, and shut him out from such success as he might have aspired to by following a mundane calling in the impracticability of the spiritual one. But something had to be done; he had wasted many valuable years; and having an acquaintance who was starting on a thriving life as a Colonial farmer, it occurred to Angel that this might be a lead in the right direction. Farming, either in the Colonies, America, or at home - farming, at any rate, after becoming well qualified for the business by a careful apprenticeship - that was a vocation which would probably afford an independence without the sacrifice of what he valued even more than a competency - intellectual liberty.

So we find Angel Clare at six-and-twenty here at Talbothays as a student of kine, and, as there were no houses near at hand in which he could get a comfortable lodging, a boarder at the dairyman's.

His room was an immense attic which ran the whole length of the dairy-house. It could only be reached by a ladder from the cheese-loft, and had been closed up for a long time till he arrived and selected it as his retreat. Here Clare had plenty of space, and could often be heard by the dairy-folk pacing up and down when the household had gone to rest. A portion was divided off at one end by a curtain, behind which was his bed, the outer part being furnished as a homely sitting-room.

At first he lived up above entirely, reading a good deal, and strumming upon an old harp which he had bought at a sale, saying when in a bitter humour that he might have to get his living by it in the streets some day. But he soon preferred to read human nature by taking his meals downstairs in the general dining-kitchen, with the dairyman and his wife, and the maids and men, who all together formed a lively assembly; for though but few milking hands slept in the house, several joined the family at meals. The longer Clare resided here the less objection had he to his company, and the more did he like to share quarters with them in common.

Much to his surprise he took, indeed, a real delight in their companionship. The conventional farm-folk of his imagination - personified in the newspaper-press by the pitiable dummy known as Hodge - were obliterated after a few days' residence. At close quarters no Hodge was to be seen. At first, it is true, when Clare's intelligence was fresh from a contrasting society, these friends with whom he now hobnobbed seemed a little strange. Sitting down as a level member of the dairyman's household seemed at the outset an undignified proceeding. The ideas, the modes, the surroundings, appeared retrogressive and unmeaning. But with living on there, day after day, the acute sojourner became conscious of a new aspect in the spectacle. Without any objective change whatever, variety had taken the place of monotonousness. His host and his host's household, his men and his maids, as they became intimately known to Clare, began to differentiate themselves as in a chemical process. The thought of Pascal's was brought home to him: `A mesure qu'on a plus d'esprit, on trouve qu'il y a plus d'hommes originaux. Les gens du commun ne trouvent pas de difference entre les hommes.' The typical and unvarying Hodge ceased to exist. He had been disintegrated into a number of varied fellow-creatures - beings of many minds, beings infinite in difference; some happy, many serene, a few depressed, one here and there bright even to genius, some stupid, others wanton, others austere; some mutely Miltonic, some potentially Cromwellian; into men who had private views of each other, as he had of his friends; who could applaud or condemn each other, amuse or sadden themselves by the contemplation of each other's foibles or vices; men every one of whom walked in his own individual way the road to dusty death.

Unexpectedly he began to like the outdoor life for its own sake, and for what it brought, apart from its bearing on his own proposed career. Considering his position he became wonderfully free from the chronic melancholy which is taking hold of the civilized races with the decline of belief in a beneficent Power. For the first time of late years he could read as his musings inclined him, without any eye to cramming for a profession, since the few farming handbooks which he deemed it desirable to master occupied him but little time.

He grew away from old associations, and saw something new in life and humanity. Secondarily, he made close acquaintance with phenomena which he had before known but darkly - the seasons in their moods, morning and evening, night and noon, winds in their different tempers, trees, waters and mists, shades and silences, and the voices of inanimate things.

The early mornings were still sufficiently cool to render a fire acceptable in the large room wherein they breakfasted; and, by Mrs Crick's orders, who held that he was too genteel to mess at their table, it was Angel Clare's custom to sit in the yawning chimney-corner during the meal, his cup-and-saucer and plate being placed on a hinged flap at his elbow. The light from the long, wide, mullioned window opposite shone in upon his nook, and, assisted by a secondary light of cold blue quality which shone down the chimney, enabled him to read there easily whenever disposed to do so. Between Clare and the window was the table at which his companions sat, their munching profiles rising sharp against the panes; while to the side was the milk-house door, through which were visible the rectangular leads in rows, full to the brim with the morning's milk. At the further end the great churn could be seen revolving, and its slip-slopping heard - the moving power being discernible through the window in the form of a spiritless horse walking in a circle and driven by a boy,

For several days after Tess's arrival Clare, sitting abstractedly reading from some book, periodical, or piece of music just come by post, hardly noticed that she was present at table. She talked so little, and the other maids talked so much, that the babble did not strike him as possessing a new note, and he was ever in the habit of neglecting the particulars of an outward scene for the general impression. One day, however, when he had been conning one of his music-scores, and by force of imagination was hearing the tune in his head, he lapsed into listlessness, and the music-sheet rolled to the hearth. He looked at the fire of logs, with its one flame pirouetting on the top in a dying dance after the breakfast-cooking and boiling, and it seemed to jig to his inward tune; also at the two chimney crooks dangling down from the cotterer or cross-bar, plumed with soot which quivered to the same melody; also at the half-empty kettle whining an accompaniment. The conversation at the table mixed in with his phantasmal orchestra till he thought: `What a fluty voice one of those milkmaids has! I suppose it is the new one.'

Clare looked round upon her, seated with the others.

She was not looking towards him. Indeed, owing to his long silence, his presence in the room was almost forgotten.

`I don't know about ghosts,' she was saying; `but I do know that our souls can be made to go outside our bodies when we are alive.'

The dairyman turned to her with his mouth full, his eyes charged with serious inquiry, and his great knife and fork (breakfasts were breakfasts here) planted erect on the table, like the beginning of a gallows.

`What - really now? And is it so, maidy?' he said.

`A very easy way to feel 'em go,' continued Tess, `is to lie on the grass at night and look straight up at some big bright star; and, by fixing your mind upon it, you will soon find that you are hundreds and hundreds o' miles away from your body, which you don't seem to want at all.'

The dairyman removed his hard gaze from Tess, and fixed it on his wife.

`Now that's a rum thing, Christianner - hey? To think o' the miles I've vamped o' starlight nights these last thirty years, courting, or trading, or for doctor, or for nurse, and yet never had the least notion o' that till now, or feeled my soul rise so much as an inch above my shirt-collar.'

The general attention being drawn to her, including that of the dairyman's pupil, Tess flushed, and remarking evasively that it was only a fancy, resumed her breakfast.

Clare continued to observe her. She soon finished her eating, and having a consciousness that Clare was regarding her, began to trace imaginary patterns on the tablecloth with her forefinger with the constraint of a domestic animal that perceives itself to be watched.

`What a fresh and virginal daughter of Nature that milkmaid is!' he said to himself.

And then he seemed to discern in her something that was familiar, something which carried him back into a joyous and unforeseeing past, before the necessity of taking thought had made the heavens gray. He concluded that he had beheld her before; where he could not tell. A casual encounter during some country ramble it certainly had been, and he was not greatly curious about it. But the circumstance was sufficient to lead him to select Tess in preference to the other pretty milkmaids when he wished to contemplate contiguous womankind.