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第14节 第二十五章 【
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傍晚来临的时候,坐立不安的克莱尔走出门外,来到苍茫的暮色里,而被他征服的她也已经回到了自己的房问。
晚上还是和白天一样地闷热。天黑以后,要是不到草地上去,就没有一丝凉气。道路、院中的小径、房屋正面的墙壁,还有院子的围墙,都热得像壁炉一样,而且还把正午的热气,反射到夜间行人的脸上。
他坐在奶牛场院子东边的栅栏门上,不知道怎样来看待自己。白天,他的感情的确压倒了他的理智。
自从三个小时以前突然发生拥抱以来,他们两个人就再也没有在一块儿呆过。她似乎是对白天发生的事保持镇静,但实际上是几乎给吓坏了,他自己也因为这件事的新奇、不容思索和受环境支配的结果而惶惶不安起来,因为他是一个易于激动和爱好思索的人。到目前为止,他还不大清楚他们两个人的真实关系,也不知道他们在其他人的面前应该怎样应付。
安琪尔来到这个奶牛场里当学徒,心想在这儿的短暂停留只不过是他人生中的一段插曲,不久就过去了,很快就忘掉了;他来到这儿,就像来到一个隐蔽的洞室,可以从里面冷静地观察外面吸引人的世界,并且同华尔特·惠特曼一起高喊——
你们这一群男女,身着日常的服饰,
在我眼里是多么地新奇!①
 
①华尔特·惠特曼(Walt Whitman,1819-1892),美国诗人,着有诗集《草叶集》,哈代所引的诗出自《过布鲁克林渡口》一诗。

同时心里计划着,决心再重新进入到那个世界里去。但是你看,那吸引人的景象向这边转移过来了。曾经那样吸引人的世界,在外面又变成了一出索然无味的哑剧了;而在这个表面上沉闷和缺少激情的地方,新奇的东西却像火山一样喷发出来,这是他在其它地方从来没有见到过的。
房子的每个窗子都开着,克莱尔听得见全屋子人安歇时发出的每一种细小的声音。奶牛场的住宅简陋不堪,无足轻重,他纯粹是迫不得已才来这儿寄居的,所以从来就没有重视它,也没有发现在这片景物里有一件有价值的东西让他留恋。但是这所住宅现在又是什么样子呢?古老的长满了苔藓的砖墙在轻声呼喊“留下来吧”,窗子在微微含笑,房门在好言劝说,在举手召唤,长春藤也因为暗中同谋而露出了羞愧。这是因为屋子里住着一个人物,她的影响是如此深远广大,深入到了砖墙、灰壁和头顶的整个蓝天之中,使它们带着燃烧的感觉搏动。什么人会有这么大的力量呢?是一个挤奶女工的力量。
这个偏僻奶牛场里的生活变成了对安琪尔·克莱尔非常重要的事情,这的确让人感到惊讶不已。虽然部分原因是因为刚刚产生的爱情,但是也不是完全如此。除了安琪尔而外,许多人知道,人生意义的大小不在于外部的变迁,而在于主观经验。一个天性敏感的农民,他的生活比一个天性迟钝的国王的生活更广阔、更丰富、更激动人心。如此看来,他发现这儿的生活同其它地方的生活一样有着重要的意义。
尽管克莱尔相信异端学说,身上有种种缺点和弱点,他仍然是一个具有是非感的人。苔丝不是一个无足轻重的人,不是随意玩弄以后就可以把她丢开的;而是一个过着宝贵生活的妇女——这种生活对她来说无论是受苦还是享受,也像最伟大人物的生活一样重要。对于苔丝来说,整个世界的存在全凭她的感觉,所有生物的存在也全凭她的存在。对于苔丝,宇宙本身的诞生,就是在她降生的某一年中的某一天里诞生的。
他已经进入的这个知觉世界,是无情的造物主赐给苔丝的唯一的生存机会——是她的一切;是所有的也是仅有的机会。那么他怎么能够把她看得不如自己重要呢?怎么能够把她当作一件漂亮的小物件去玩弄,然后又去讨厌它呢?怎么能够不以最严肃认真的态度来对待他在她身上唤起来的感情呢?——她看起来很沉静,其实却非常热烈,非常容易动情;因此他怎么能够去折磨她和让她痛苦呢?
像过去的习惯那样天天和她见面,已经开了头的事情就会继续向前发展。他们的关系既然是这样亲密,见面就意味着相互温存;这是血肉之躯不能抗拒的;既然不知道这种趋向的发展会导致什么样的结果,他决定目前还是避开他们有可能共同参与的工作。但是要坚持不同她接近的决心,却不是一件容易的事。他的脉搏每跳动一次,都把他向她的身边推动一步。
他想他可以去看看他的朋友们。他可以就这件事听听他们的意见。在不到五个月的时间里,他在这儿学习的时间就要结束了,然后再到其它的农场上学习几个月,他就完全具备了从事农业的知识了;也就可以独立地创建自己的事业了。一个农场主应不应该娶一个妻子?一个农场主的妻子应该是客厅里的蜡像呢,或者应该是一个懂得干农活的女人呢?不用说答案是他喜欢的那一种,尽管如此,他还是决定动身上路。
有一天早晨,大家在泰波塞斯奶牛场坐下来吃饭的时候,有个姑娘注意到当天她没有看见克莱尔先生一点儿影子。
“啊,不错,”奶牛场里的克里克老板说。“克莱尔先生已经回爱敏寺的家中去了,他要和他家里的人一起住几天。”
那张桌子上坐着四个情意绵缠的姑娘,对她们来说,那天早晨太阳的光芒突然黯淡无光了,鸟儿的啼鸣也变得嘶哑难听了。但是没有一个姑娘用说话或者手势来表达她们的惆怅。
“他在这儿跟我学习的时间就要结束了,”奶牛场老板接着说,他的话音里带着冷淡,却不知道这种冷淡就是残酷;“所以我想他已经开始考虑到其它地方去的计划了。”
“他在这儿还要住多久呢?”伊茨·休特问,在一群满怀忧郁的姑娘中间,只有她还敢相信自己说话的声音不会泄露自己的感情。
其他的姑娘等着奶牛场老板的答话,仿佛这个问题关系到她们的生命一样;莱蒂张大了嘴,两眼盯着桌布,玛丽安脸上发烧,变得更红了,苔丝心里怦怦直跳,两眼望着窗外的草地。
“啊,我要看看我的备忘录,不然我不记得准确的日子,”克里克回答说,说话里同样带着叫人无法忍受的漠不关心。“即使那样也是会有一点儿变化的。我可以肯定,他还要住在这儿实习一段时间,学习在干草场里饲养小牛。我敢说不到年底他是不会离开这儿的。”
和他相处还有四个月左右的时间,这都是痛苦的和快乐的日子——是快乐包裹着痛苦的日子。在那以后,就是无法形容的漫长黑夜了。
就在早晨的这个时候,安琪尔·克莱尔骑着马正在沿着一条狭窄的小路走着,离开吃早饭的人已经有十英里远了,他正朝着爱敏寺他父亲的牧师住宅的方向走,他还尽其所能地带着一个篮子,里面装着克里克太太送给他的一些血肠和一瓶蜜酒,那是用来对他的父母表示友好和尊敬的。白色的小路伸展在他的面前,他的一双眼睛看着路面,但是思考的却是明年的事情,而不是这条小路。他是爱上她了,但是应不应该娶她呢?他敢不敢娶她呢?他的母亲和兄弟会说什么呢?在结婚一两年后,他又怎样看呢?那就要看在这番暂时感情之下牢固的友谊会不会生长发育了,或者说,是不是仅仅因为她的美貌而生出的一种感官上的爱慕,实际上却缺少了永久的性质。
他走到后来,终于望见了他父亲住的那个四面环山的小镇,望见了用红色石头建造的都蜂王朝时期的教堂塔楼,以及牧师住宅附近的一片树林,于是他骑着马朝下面那个他熟悉不过的大门走去。他在进自己的家门之前,朝教堂的方向瞥了一眼,看见有一群女孩子站在小礼拜室的门口,年纪在十二岁到十六岁之间,显然在那儿等候某个人的到来,不一会儿,那个人果然出现了;看样子她的年纪比那些女孩子的年纪都要大,戴一顶宽边软帽,穿一件浆洗得发硬的细纱长衫,手里拿着两本书。
这个人克莱尔很熟。他不敢肯定她是不是看见他了;虽然她是一个没有过错的女孩子,但是他希望她没有看见自己,这样就不必上前去同她打招呼了。他决心不去同她打招呼,因此认定她没有看见自己。那个年轻的姑娘名叫梅茜·羌特,是他父亲的邻居和朋友的独生女儿,他的父母心里也暗暗盼望将来有一天他能够娶了她。她精通唯信仰主义的理论和《圣经》教义,现在显然是来上课的。但是克莱尔的心又飞到了瓦尔谷中那一群感情热烈和生活在盛夏气候中的异教徒身边了,想起了她们的玫瑰色双颊上的美人痣,其实那是沾上的牛粪形成的;他特别想起了她们中间最热情奔放和情意深重的那一位。
他是由于一时的冲动而决定回爱敏寺的,因此他事先并没有写信告诉他的母亲和父亲,不过他希望能够在吃早饭的时候到家,在他的父母还没有出门去教区工作之前见到他们。他比预计的时间到得晚了些,那时父母已经坐下来吃早饭了。一看见他走进门来,坐在桌子边的一群人都跳起来欢迎他。他们是他的父亲、母亲,大哥费利克斯牧师,他现在已经是附近郡里一个镇上的副牧师了,正好请了两个礼拜的假回家。他的另一个哥哥卡斯伯特也是牧师,他还是一个古典学者,剑桥大学一个学院的院长和董事,现在从学校回家度假。他的母亲头上戴一顶软帽,鼻梁上架一副银边眼镜,他的父亲还是从前的样子,貌如其人,热心、诚恳、敬仰上帝,他有点儿憔悴,大约六十五岁的年纪,苍白的脸上刻满了思想和意志的印迹。从他们的头上看过去,墙上挂着安琪尔姐姐的画像,她是家中最大的孩子,比安琪尔大十六岁,嫁给一个传教的牧师到非洲去了。
在最近二十年里,老克莱尔先生这样的牧师都差不多在现代人的生活里消失了。他是从威克利夫、胡斯、马丁·路德和加尔文一派传下来的真正传人,福音教派中的福音教徒,一个劝人信教的传教士,他是一个在生活和思想方面都像基督使徒一样简朴的人,在他毫无人生经验的年轻时候,对于深奥的存在问题就拿定了主意,再也不许有别的理由改变它们。和他同时代的人,还有和他一派的人,都认为他是一个极端的人;同时在另一方面,那些完全反对他的人,看到他那样彻底,看到他在倾注全部的热情运用原理时对所有的疑问都弃之不顾,表现出非同寻常的毅力,也不得不对他表示尊敬佩服。他爱的是塔苏斯的保罗,喜欢的是圣约翰,恨得最厉害的是圣詹姆斯,对提摩西、提多和腓力门则是既爱又恨的复杂感情。按照他的理解,《新约全书》与其说是记载基督的经典,不如说是宣扬保罗的史书——与其说是为了说服人,不如说是为了麻醉人。他深深地信仰宿命论,以至于这种信仰都差不多成了一种毒害,在消极方面简直就和放弃哲学一样,和叔本华与雷奥巴狄的哲学同出一源。他瞧不起法典和礼拜规程,却又坚信宗教条例,并且自己认为在这类问题上是始终如一的——这从某方面说他是做到了的。有一点肯定如此,那就是他的诚实。
在瓦尔谷,他儿子克莱尔近来过的是自然的生活,接触的是鲜美的女性,得到的是美学的、感官的和异教的快乐,假如他通过打听或者想象知道了,按他的脾性对儿子是会毫不留情的。曾经有一次,安琪尔因为烦恼不幸对他的父亲说,假如现代文明的宗教是从希腊起源的,不是从巴勒斯坦起源的,结果可能对人类要好得多;他的父亲听了这句实实在在的话,不禁痛苦万分,一点儿也没有想到这句话里面会有干分之一的真理,更不用说会认识到里面有一半的真理或者是百分之百的真理了。后来,他不分青红皂白地把儿子狠狠地教训了好些日子。不过,他的内心是那样慈爱,对任何事情也不会恨得很久,看见儿子回家,就微笑着欢迎他,真诚可爱得像一个孩子。
安琪尔坐下来,这时候才觉得回到了家里;不过和大家坐在一起,他倒觉得缺少了自己过去有过的自己是家庭一员的感觉。从前他每次回到家里,都意识到这种分歧,但是自从上次回家住了几天以后,他现在感触到这种分歧明显变得比过去更大了,他和他们越来越陌生了。家里那种玄妙的追求,仍然还是以地球为万物中心的观点为基础的,也就是说,天上是天堂,地下是地狱,这种追求和他自己的相比,它们就变得陌生了,陌生得就像它们是生活在其它星球上的人做的梦一样。近来他看见的只是有趣的生活,感觉到的只是强烈激情的搏动,由于这些信仰,它们没有矫饰,没有歪曲,没有约束,这些信仰只能由智慧加以节制,而是不能够压制的。
在他的父母方面,他们也在他的身上看出了巨大的不同,看到了同在前几次里看到的安琪尔·克莱尔的差别。他们所注意到的这种差别主要是他的外表上的,他的两个哥哥注意到的尤其如此。他的表现越来越像一个农民,抖他的双腿,脸上易于表现喜怒哀乐的情绪,富有表情的眼睛传达的意思甚至超过了舌头。读书人的风度差不多消逝了;客厅里的青年人的风度更加看不见了。道学先生会说他没有教养,假装正经的人会说他举止粗野。这就是他在泰波塞斯同大自然的儿女们住在一起而受到熏陶感染的结果。
早饭以后,他和他的两个哥哥一起出门散步,他的两个哥哥都是非福音教徒,受过良好的教育,他们都是高品位的青年,品行端正,性格谨慎;他们都是由教育机床一年年生产出来的无可挑剔的模范人物。他们两个人都有点儿近视,那个时候时兴戴系带子的单片眼镜,所以他们就戴系带子的单片眼镜;如果时兴戴夹鼻眼镜,他们就戴夹鼻眼镜,而从不考虑他们有毛病的眼睛的特殊需要。当有人崇拜华兹华斯的时候,他们就带着华兹华斯的袖珍诗集,当有人贬低雪莱的时候,他们就把雪莱的诗集扔在书架上,上面落满了灰尘。当有人称赞柯累佐的画《神圣家庭》的时候,他们也称赞柯累佐的画《神圣家庭》;当有人诋毁柯累佐而赞扬维拉奎的时候,他们也紧跟在后面人云亦云,从来没有自己的不同意见。
如果说他的两个哥哥注意到了安琪尔越来越不合社会世俗,那么他也注意到了他的两个哥哥在心智上越来越狭隘。在他看来,费利克斯似乎就是整个社会,卡斯伯特似乎就是所有的学院。对费利克斯来说,主教会议和主教视察就是世界的主要动力;对卡斯伯特来说,世界的主要动力则是剑桥。他们每一个人都坦诚地承认,在文明的社会里,还有千千万万的无足轻重的化外之人,他们既不属于大学,也不属于教会;对他们只需容忍,而无需尊敬和一视同仁。
他们是两个孝顺的儿子,定期回家看望他们的父母。在神学的发展变化中,虽然费利克斯和他的父亲相比是更新的一支的产物,但是却缺少了父亲的牺牲精神,多了自私自利的特点。和他的父亲相比,对于和他相反的意见,他不会因为这种意见对坚持这种意见的人有害就不能容忍,但是这种意见只要对他的说教有一点儿害处,他可不会像他父亲那样容易宽恕别人。总的说来,卡斯伯特是一个气量更加宽宏的人,不过他虽然显得更加敏感,但是却少了许多勇气。
他们沿着山坡上的路走着,安琪尔先前的感觉又在心中出现了——和他自己相比,无论他们具有什么样的优势,他们都没有见过也没有经历过真正的生活。也许,他们和许多别的人一样,发表意见的机会多于观察的机会。他们和他们的同事们一起在风平浪静的潮流中随波逐流,对在潮流之外起作用的各种复杂力量谁也没有充分的认识。他们谁也看不出局部的真理同普遍的真理之间有什么区别;也不知道他们在教会和学术的发言中,内心世界所说的和外部世界正在想的是完全不同的一回事。
“我想你现在一心想的就是农业了,别的什么也不想了,是不是,我的朋友?”费利克斯带着悲伤和严肃的神情,透过眼镜看着远方的田野,在说完了其它的事情后对他的弟弟说。“因此,我们只能尽力而为了。不过我还是劝你千万努力,尽可能不要放弃了道德理想。当然,农业生产就是意味着外表的粗俗;但是,高尚的思想无论怎样也可以和简朴的生活结合在一起呀。”
“当然可以,”安琪尔说。“如果我可以班门弄斧地说一句话,这不是在一千九百年以前就被证明了的吗?费利克斯,为什么你要以为我可能放弃高尚思想和道德理想呢?”
“啊,从你写的信中,从你和我们谈话的口气中——我猜想——这只是猜想——你正在慢慢地丧失理解力。你有没有这种感觉,卡斯伯特?”
“听着,费利克斯,”安琪尔冷冷地说。“你知道,我们都相处得非常好;我们各自做各自的事;不过如果说到理解力的话,我倒觉得你作为一个踌躇满志的教条主义者,最好不要管我的事,还是先问问你自己的事怎么样了。”
他们转身下山,回家吃午饭,午饭没有固定的时间,他们的父亲和母亲什么时候结束了上午在教区的工作,就什么时候吃饭。克莱尔先生和克莱尔太太不是自私自利的人,最后还要考虑的是下午来拜访的人方不方便;但是在这件事上,三个儿子却非常一致,希望他们的父母多少能适合一点儿现代观念。
他们走路走得肚子饿了,安琪尔饿得尤其厉害,他现在是在户外工作的人,已经习惯了在奶牛场老板的简陋饭桌上吃那些丰富的廉价食物。但是两个老人谁也没有回家,直到几个儿子等得不耐烦了,他们才走进门来。原来两个只顾别人的老人,一心劝说他们教区里几个生病的教民吃饭,自相矛盾地要把他们囚禁在肉体的牢狱里①,而把他们自己吃饭的事全给忘了。
 
①囚禁在肉体的牢狱里(keep imprisoned in the flesh),意为活在世上。基督教要求人死后上天堂,以求灵魂的解脱,因此把肉体和现世看作牢狱。

一家人围着桌子坐下来,几样素朴的冷食摆在他们的面前。安琪尔转身去找克里克太太送给他的血肠,他已经吩咐按照在奶牛场烤血肠的方法把它们好好地烤一烤,他希望他的父亲和母亲能像他自己一样,非常喜欢这种加了香料的美味血肠。
“啊!你是在找血肠吧,我亲爱的孩子,”克莱尔的母亲问。“不过,我想在你知道了理由以后,你不会在乎吃饭没有血肠吧?我想你的父亲和我都是不在乎的。我向你的父亲提议,把克里克太太好意送来的礼物送给一个人的孩子们了,那人得了震颤性谵妄病,不能挣钱了;你父亲同意了,认为他们会很高兴的;所以我们就把血肠送给他们了。”
“当然不会,”安琪尔快活地说,回头去找蜜酒。
“我尝过了,那蜜酒的酒精含量太高,”他的母亲接着说,“这种蜜酒作饮料是不合适的,不过有人生了急病,它倒和红酒、白兰地一样地有效;所以,我把它收进我的药柜里去了。”
“我们吃饭是从来不喝酒的,这是规矩,”他的父亲补充说。
“但是我怎样对克里克太太说呢?”安琪尔说。
“当然实话实说,”他的父亲说。
“我倒愿意对她说,我们非常喜欢她的蜜酒和血肠。她是那种友好、快活一类的人,我一回去,她肯定就要立即问我的。”
“既然我们没有吃,你就不能那样说,”克莱尔先生明明白白地说。
“啊——不那么说好了;不过那种蜜酒倒是值得一点一点品尝呢。”
“你说什么呀?”卡斯伯特和费利克斯一齐问。
“哦——这是在泰波塞斯使用的说法,”安琪尔脸上一红,回答说。他觉得他的父母不近人情是不对的,但是他们的做法却是对的,所以就没有再说话。
 

Clare, restless, went out into the dusk when evening drew on, she who had won him having retired to her chamber.

The night was as sultry as the day. There was no coolness after dark unless on the grass. Roads, garden-paths, the house-fronts, the barton-walls were warm as hearths, and reflected the noontide temperature into the noctambulist's face.

He sat on the east gate of the dairy-yard, and knew not what to think of himself. Feeling had indeed smothered judgment that day.

Since the sudden embrace, three hours before, the twain had kept apart. She seemed stilled, almost alarmed, at what had occurred, while the novelty, unpremeditation, mastery of circumstance disquieted him - palpitating, contemplative being that he was. He could hardly realize their true relations to each other as yet, and what their mutual bearing should be before third parties thenceforward.

Angel had come as pupil to this dairy in the idea that his temporary existence here was to be the merest episode in his life, soon passed through and early forgotten; he had come as to a place from which as from a screened alcove he could calmly view the absorbing world without, and, apostrophizing it with Walt Whitman--

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, How curious you are to me!--

resolve upon a plan for plunging into that world anew. But, behold, the absorbing scene had been imported hither. What had been the engrossing world had dissolved into an uninteresting outer dumb-show; while here, in this apparently dim and un-impassioned place, novelty had volcanically started up, as it had never, for him, started up elsewhere.

Every window of the house being open Clare could hear across the yard each trivial sound of the retiring household. That dairy-house, so humble, so insignificant, so purely to him a place of constrained sojourn that he had never hitherto deemed it of sufficient importance to be reconnoitred as an object of any quality whatever in the landscape; what was it now? The aged and lichened brick gables breathed forth `Stay!' The windows smiled, the door coaxed and beckoned, the creeper blushed confederacy. A personality within it was so far-reaching in her influence as to spread into and make the bricks, mortar, and whole overhanging sky throb with a burning sensibility. Whose was this mighty personality? A milkmaid's.

It was amazing, indeed, to find how great a matter the life of the obscure dairy had become to him. And though new love was to be held partly responsible for this it was not solely so. Many besides Angel have learnt that the magnitude of lives is not as to their external displacements, but as to their subjective experiences. The impressionable peasant leads a larger, fuller, more dramatic life than the pachydermatous king. Looking at it thus he found that life was to be seen of the same magnitude here as elsewhere.

Despite his heterodoxy, faults, and weaknesses, Clare was a man with a conscience. Tess was no insignificant creature to toy with and dismiss; but a woman living her precious life - a life which, to herself who endured or enjoyed it, possessed as great a dimension as the life of the mightiest to himself. Upon her sensations the whole world depended to Tess; through her existence all her fellow-creatures existed, to her. The universe itself only came into being for Tess on the particular day in the particular year in which she was born.

This consciousness upon which he had intruded was the single opportunity of existence ever vouchsafed to Tess by an unsympathetic First Cause - her all; her every and only chance. How then should he look upon her as of less consequence than himself; as a pretty trifle to caress and grow weary of; and not deal in the greatest seriousness with the affection which he knew that he had awakened in her - so fervid and so impressionable as she was under her reserve; in order that it might not agonize and wreck her?

To encounter her daily in the accustomed manner would be to develop what had begun. Living in such close relations, to meet meant to fall into endearment; flesh and blood could not resist it; and, having arrived at no conclusion as to the issue of such a tendency, he decided to hold aloof for the present from occupations in which they would be mutually engaged. As yet the harm done was small.

But it was not easy to carry out the resolution never to approach her. He was driven towards her by every heave of his pulse.

He thought he would go and see his friends. It might be possible to sound them upon this. In less than five months his term here would have ended, and after a few additional months spent upon other farms he would be fully equipped in agricultural knowledge, and in a position to start on his own account. Would not a farmer want a wife, and should a farmer's wife be a drawing-room wax-figure, or a woman who understood farming? Notwithstanding the pleasing answer returned to him by the silence he resolved to go his journey.

One morning when they sat down to breakfast at Talbothays Dairy some maid observed that she had not seen anything of Mr Clare that day.

`O no,' said Dairyman Crick. `Mr Clare has gone hwome to Emminster to spend a few days wi' his kinsfolk.'

For four impassioned ones around that table the sunshine of the morning went out at a stroke, and the birds muffled their song. But neither girl by word or gesture revealed her blankness.

`He's getting on towards the end of his time wi' me,' added the dairyman, with a phlegm which unconsciously was brutal; `and so I suppose he is beginning to see about his plans elsewhere.'

`How much longer is he to bide here?' asked Izz Huett, the only one of the gloom-stricken bevy who could trust her voice with the question.

The others waited for the dairyman's answer as if their lives hung upon it; Retty, with parted lips, gazing on the table-cloth, Marian with heat added to her redness, Tess throbbing and looking out at the meads.

`Well, I can't mind the exact day without looking at my memorandum-book,' replied Crick, with the same intolerable unconcern. `And even that may be altered a bit. He'll bide to get a little practice in the calving out at the straw-yard, for certain. He'll hang on till the end of the year I should say.'

Four months or so of torturing ecstasy in his society - of `pleasure girdled about with pain'. After that the blackness of unutterable night.

At this moment of the morning Angel Clare was riding along a narrow lane ten miles distant from the breakfasters, in the direction of his father's vicarage at Emminster, carrying, as well as he could, a little basket which contained some black-puddings and a bottle of mead, sent by Mrs Crick, with her kind respects, to his parents. The white lane stretched before him, and his eyes were upon it; but they were staring into next year, and not at the lane. He loved her; ought he to marry her? Dared he to marry her? What would his mother and his brothers say? What would he himself say a couple of years after the event? That would depend upon whether the germs of staunch comradeship underlay the temporary emotion, or whether it were a sensuous joy in her form only, with no substratum of everlastingness.

His father's hill-surrounded little town, the Tudor church-tower of red stone, the clump of trees near the vicarage, came at last into view beneath him, and he rode down towards the well-known gate. Casting a glance in the direction of the church before entering his home, he beheld standing by the vestry-door a group of girls, of ages between twelve and sixteen, apparently awaiting the arrival of some other one, who in a moment became visible; a figure somewhat older than the school-girls, wearing a broad-brimmed hat and highly-starched cambric morning-gown, with a couple of books in her hand.

Clare knew her well. He could not be sure that she observed him; he hoped she did not, so as to render it unnecessary that he should go and speak to her, blameless creature that she was. An overpowering reluctance to greet her made him decide that she had not seen him. The young lady was Miss Mercy Chant, the only daughter of his father's neighbour and friend, whom it was his parents quiet hope that he might wed some day. She was great at Antinomianism and Bible-classes, and was plainly going to hold a class now. Clare's mind flew to the impassioned, summer steeped heathens in the Var Vale, their rosy faces court-patched with cow-droppings; and to one the most impassioned of them all.

It was on the impulse of the moment that he had resolved to trot over to Emminster, and hence had not written to apprise his mother and father, aiming, however, to arrive about the breakfast hour, before they should have gone out to their parish duties. He was a little late, and they had already sat down to the morning meal. The group at table jumped up to welcome him as soon as be entered. They were his father and mother, his brother the Reverend Felix - curate at a town in the adjoining county, home for the inside of a fortnight - and his other brother, the Reverend Cuthbert, the classical scholar, and Fellow and Dean of his College, down from Cambridge for the long vacation. His mother appeared in a cap and silver spectacles, and his father looked what in fact he was - an earnest, God-fearing man, somewhat gaunt, in years about sixty-five, his pale face lined with thought and purpose. Over their heads hung the picture of Angel's sister, the eldest of the family, sixteen years his senior, who had married a missionary and gone out to Africa.

Old Mr Clare was a clergyman of a type which, within the last twenty years, has wellnigh dropped out of contemporary life. A spiritual descendant in the direct line from Wycliff, Huss, Luther, Calvin; an Evangelical of the Evangelicals, a Conversionist, a man of Apostolic simplicity in life and thought, he had in his raw youth made up his mind once for all on the deeper questions of existence, and admitted no further reasoning on them thenceforward. He was regarded even by those of his own date and school of thinking as extreme; while, on the other hand, those totally opposed to him were unwillingly won to admiration for his thoroughness, and for the remarkable power he showed in dismissing all question as to principles in his energy for applying them. He loved Paul of Tarsus, liked St John, hated St James as much as he dared, and regarded with mixed feelings Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. The New Testament was less a Christiad than a Pauliad to his intelligence - less an argument than an intoxication. His creed of determinism was such that it almost amounted to a vice, and quite amounted, on its negative side, to a renunciative philosophy which had cousinship with that of Schopenhauer and Leopardi. He despised the Canons and Rubric, swore by the Articles, and deemed himself consistent through the whole category which in a way he might have been. One thing he certainly was - sincere.

To the aesthetic, sensuous, pagan pleasure in natural life and lush womanhood which his son Angel had lately been experiencing in Var Vale, his temper would have been antipathetic in a high degree, had he either by inquiry or imagination been able to apprehend it. Once upon a time Angel had been so unlucky as to say to his father, in a moment of irritation, that it might have resulted far better for mankind if Greece had been the source of the religion of modern civilization, and not Palestine; and his father's grief was of that blank description which could not realize that there might lurk a thousandth part of a truth, much less a half truth or a whole truth, in such a proposition. He had simply preached austerely at Angel for some time after. But the kindness of his heart was such that he never resented anything for long, and welcomed his son to-day with a smile which was as candidly sweet as a child's.

Angel sat down, and the place felt like home; yet he did not so much as formerly feel himself one of the family gathered there. Every time that he returned hither he was conscious of this divergence, and since he had last shared in the Vicarage life it had grown even more distinctly foreign to his own than usual. Its transcendental aspirations - still unconsciously based on the geocentric view of things, a zenithal paradise, a nadiral hell - were as foreign to his own as if they had been the dreams of people on another planet. Latterly he had seen only Life, felt only the great passionate pulse of existence, unwarped, uncontorted, untrammelled by those creeds which futilely attempt to check what wisdom would be content to regulate.

On their part they saw a great difference in him, a growing divergence from the Angel Clare of former times. It was chiefly a difference in his manner that they noticed just now, particularly bis brothers. He was getting to behave like a farmer; he flung his legs about; the muscles of his face had grown more expressive; his eyes looked as much information as his tongue spoke, and more. The manner of the scholar had nearly disappeared; still more the manner of the drawing-room young man. A prig would have said that he had lost culture, and a prude that he had become coarse. Such was the contagion of domiciliary fellowship with the Talbothays nymphs and swains.

After breakfast he walked with his two brothers, non-evangelical, well-educated, hall-marked young men, correct to their remotest fibre; such unimpeachable models as are turned out yearly by the lathe of a systematic tuition. They were both somewhat shortsighted, and when it was the custom to wear a single eyeglass and string they wore a single eyeglass and string; when it was the custom to wear a double glass they wore a double glass; when it was the custom to wear spectacles they wore spectacles straightway, all without reference to the particular variety of defect in their own vision. When Wordsworth was enthroned they carried pocket copies; and when Shelley was belittled they allowed him to grow dusty on their shelves. When Correggio's Holy Families were admired, they admired Correggio's Holy Families; when he was decried in favour of Velasquez, they sedulously followed suit without any personal objection.

If these two noticed Angel's growing social ineptness, he noticed their growing mental limitations. Felix seemed to him all Church; Cuthbert all College. His Diocesan Synod and Visitations were the main-springs of the world to the one; Cambridge to the other. Each brother candidly recognized that there were a few unimportant scores of millions of outsiders in civilized society, persons who were neither University men nor churchmen; but they were to be tolerated rather than reckoned with and respected.

They were both dutiful and attentive sons, and were regular in their visits to their parents. Felix, though an offshoot from a far more recent point in the devolution of theology than his father, was less self-sacrificing and disinterested. More tolerant than his father of a contradictory opinion, in its aspect as a danger to its holder, he was less ready than his father to pardon it as a slight to his own teaching. Cuthbert was, upon the whole, the more liberal-minded, though, with greater subtlety, he had not so much heart.

As they walked along the hillside Angel's former feeling revived in him - that whatever their advantages by comparison with himself, neither saw or set forth life as it really was lived. Perhaps, as with many men, their opportunities of observation were not so good as their opportunities of expression. Neither had an adequate conception of the complicated forces at work outside the smooth and gentle current in which they and their associates floated. Neither saw the difference between local truth and universal truth; that what the inner world said in their clerical and academic hearing was quite a different thing from what the outer world was thinking.

`I suppose it is farming or nothing for you now, my dear fellow,' Felix was saying, among other things, to his youngest brother, as he looked through his spectacles at the distant fields with sad austerity. `And, therefore, we must make the best of it. But I do entreat you to endeavour to keep as much as possible in touch with moral ideals. Farming, of course, means roughing it externally; but high thinking may go with plain living, nevertheless.'

`Of course it may,' said Angel. `Was it not proved nineteen hundred years ago - if I may trespass upon your domain a little? Why should you think, Felix, that I am likely to drop my high thinking and my moral ideals?'

`Well, I fancied, from the tone of your letters and our conversation - It may be fancy only - that you were somehow losing intellectual grasp. Hasn't it struck you, Cuthbert?'

`Now, Felix,' said Angel drily, `we are very good friends, you know; each of us treading our allotted circles; but if it comes to intellectual grasp, I think you, as a contented dogmatist, had better leave mine alone, and inquire what has become of yours.'

They returned down the hill to dinner, which was fixed at any time at which their father's and mother's morning work in the parish usually concluded. Convenience as regarded afternoon callers was the last thing to enter into the consideration of unselfish Mr and Mrs Clare; though the three sons were sufficiently in unison on this matter to wish that their parents would conform a little to modern notions.

The walk had made them hungry, Angel in particular, who was now an outdoor man, accustomed to the profuse dapes inemptae of the dairyman's somewhat coarsely-laden table. But neither of the old people had arrived, and it was not till the sons were almost tired of waiting that their parents entered. The self-denying pair had been occupied in coaxing the appetites of some of their sick parishioners, whom they, somewhat inconsistently, tried to keep imprisoned in the flesh, their own appetites being quite forgotten.

The family sat down to table, and a frugal meal of cold viands was deposited before them. Angel looked round for Mrs Crick's black-puddings, which he had directed to be nicely grilled, as they did them at the dairy, and of which he wished his father and mother to appreciate the marvellous herbal savours as highly as he did himself.

`Ah! you are looking for the black-puddings, my dear boy,' observed Clare's mother. `But I am sure you will not mind doing without them, as I am sure your father and I shall not, when you know the reason. I suggested to him that we should take Mrs Crick's kind present to the children of the man who can earn nothing just now because of his attacks of delirium tremens; and lie agreed that it would be a great pleasure to them; so we did.'

`Of course,' said Angel cheerfully, looking round for the mead.

`I found the mead so extremely alcoholic,' continued his mother, `that it was quite unfit for use as a beverage, but as valuable as rum or brandy in an emergency; so I have put it in my medicine-closet.'

`We never drink spirits at this table, on principle,' added his father.

`But what shall I tell the dairyman's wife?' said Angel.

`The truth, of course,' said his father.

`I rather wanted to say we enjoyed the mead and the blackpuddings very much. She is a kind, jolly sort of body, and is sure to ask me directly I return.'

`You cannot, if we did not,' Mr Clare answered lucidly.

`AH - no; though that mead was a drop of pretty tipple.'

`A what?' said Cuthbert and Felix both.

`Oh--'tis an expression they use down at Talbothays,' replied Angel, blushing. He felt that his parents were right in their practice if wrong in their want of sentiment, and said no more.