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当前位置:主页 > 英国小说 > 德伯家的苔丝 > 第4章 The Consequence后果
第18节 第三十章 【
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在逐渐减弱的光线中,他们沿着那条穿过草场的平坦的道路走着,那片草场在灰蒙蒙的暮色里延伸出去好几英里,一直延伸到了爱敦荒原上那些幽暗陡峭的山坡尽头。在山坡的顶上,长着一簇簇一片片枞树,树梢有高有低,看上去就像一个个带有雉堞的塔楼,高耸在正面墙壁是黑色的一个个魔堡之上。
他们坐在一起,沉浸在相互接近的感觉里,所以好久他们都没有说话,在他们的沉默中,只有身后高大铁罐里的牛奶发出的咣噹咣噹的响声。他们走的是一条非常僻静的小路,棒子树结的果实还留在树枝上,等着从果壳里掉出来,黑莓也还一大串一大串的挂在树枝上。每次从树下经过,他都要挥起鞭子缠住一串果实,把它们摘下来,送给他的同伴。
不久,沉闷的天空开始落下最初的雨点,表示天气真正要下雨了,白天沉闷的空气也变成了一阵阵微风,从他们的面前吹过。河流和湖泊上水银一样的光泽慢慢消失了;它们原先是一面宽大的明镜,现在泛出阵阵涟漪,变成了没有光泽的铅皮。但是这种景象没有影响苔丝,她仍然还在那儿出神。她的脸本来是一种天然的淡红色,现在被秋天的太阳晒成了淡褐色,上面落满了雨点,颜色变得更深了;她的头发由于挤奶时受到奶牛肚子的压迫,现在已经松散开了,乱七八糟地从头上戴的白色帽檐里披散下来,让雨水淋得又粘又湿,后来简直比海草强不了多少。
“我想我不应该来的,”她看着天空低声说。
“天下雨了,真是对不起,”他说。“但是有你在这儿,我别提有多高兴了!”
在雨水密织的雨帘里,远处的爱敦荒原逐渐消失不见了。傍晚越来越暗,道路上的十字路口有一些栅栏门,为了安全起见,他们赶车的速度比走路的速度快不了多少。天气也变得更加凉了。
“我担心你会受凉的,你的胳膊和肩膀上什么也没有,”他说。“向我靠紧些吧,这样雨水也许就不会淋得太厉害了。要是我没有感到这场雨水也许对我有些好处,我就要感到更难受了。”
她悄悄地向他靠得近了些,他就把两大块用来为牛奶罐遮太阳的帆布拉过来,把他们遮盖起来。苔丝两手拉住帆布,不让帆布从她和他身上滑下去,因为克莱尔双手空不出来。
“我们现在都好啦。啊——还是不行!有些雨水流进我的脖子了,流进你脖子里的雨水一定更多了。这样好多了。你的双臂就像被雨水打湿的大理石,苔丝。在帆布上擦擦吧。现在好啦,只要你坐着不动,你就淋不到雨水了。好了,亲爱的——关于我提出的问题——那个长期拖而不决的问题现在怎么样啊?”
过了一会儿,他听到的唯一回答只是马蹄踏在布满雨水的道路上的叭嗒声,以及他们身后牛奶罐里牛奶的晃荡声,
“你还记得你说的话吧?”
“记得,”她回答说。
“在我们回家前你得回答我,记住啊。”
“好吧。”
后来他就不再说什么了。他们继续往前走着,一座查理王时代庄园的残余部分显露在夜色里,他们把车从旁边赶了过去,不久就把它抛在后面了。
“这座庄园,”为了让她高兴,他说,“是一个很有意味的古迹了——属于古代诺曼家族府邸中的一个,这个家族从前在这个郡很有影响,名字叫德贝维尔。我每次从他们的住宅经过,我就不由得想起他们来。一个显赫的家族灭绝了,即使它是一个显赫的凶狠霸道的封建家族,也是有些叫人伤感的。”
“是的,”苔丝说。
他们在苍茫的夜色中慢慢地向一个地点走去,就在那个地点的附近,有一点儿微弱的亮光照明着;白天,那个地方不时在深绿色的背景里冒出一道白色的蒸气,说明那个地方是这个幽僻的世界同现代生活相联系的一个断断续续的联接点。在一天里,现代生活有三四次把它的蒸气触角伸展到这个地方,同本地的生活发生接触,然后又很快缩回它的触角,仿佛它同它接触的生活格格不入似的。
他们走到了那道微弱光线的地方,原来光线是从一个小火车站里一盏冒烟的油灯中发出来的,和天上的星星比起来,它真是小得可怜,可是它对泰波塞斯的奶牛场和人类来说,虽然同天上的星星相比是那样寒酸,但是它要比天上的星星重要得多。车上的牛奶罐在雨中被卸了下来,苔丝在附近一棵冬青树下找了一个避雨的地方。
接着传来了火车开来的咝咝声,火车几乎是悄悄地在湿漉漉的铁轨上滑动的,牛奶也被一罐一罐地搬进了火车的车厢里。火车头上的灯光闪了一下,照出了苔丝·德北菲尔德的身影,她正一动也不动地站在一棵大冬青树下。同蒸汽机的曲柄和轮子相比,没有什么比这个不通世故的姑娘更叫人感到异样的了,她光着胳膊,脸和头发湿淋淋的,像一只暂时蹲着不动的老实的豹子一样,身上穿的印花布裙子说不出是什么时代的款式,棉布帽子也耷拉在额头上。
她上了车,坐在情人的旁边,她热烈的天性有时表现得既沉默又温顺;他们又用车上的帆布把自己的头和耳朵包裹起来,转身在已经变得很深沉的夜色中往回走了。苔丝是一个十分敏感的人,所以她刚才和物质文明的漩涡接触了几分钟,这种接触就留在她的思想里了。
“明天早晨伦敦人在吃早饭的时候就可以喝这些牛奶了,是不是?”她问。“他们都是我们从来没有见过的陌生人,是不是?”
“不错——我想他们明天就可以喝这些牛奶了。不过他们喝的和我们送的牛奶有些不同。他们喝的牛奶的含量被降低了,免得他们被喝醉了。”
“他们都是高贵的绅士、贵妇、外国大使、千夫长①、太太小姐、还有孩子,他们都从来没有看见过一头奶牛,是不是?”
 
①千夫长(centurions),古代罗马下级军官的官衔,苔丝的时代没有这种人,表明苔丝对农村以外的知识所知不多。下文克莱尔也提千夫长,是对苔丝的一种调笑。

“哦,是的;也许是的;尤其是千夫长。”
“他们对我们是什么人也不知道的啦?也不知道牛奶是从哪儿来的啦?他们也想不到我们走了好远的路,今天夜里冒雨穿过荒野把牛奶送到车站,好让他们明天早晨喝上牛奶,是不是?”
“我们并不是完全为了这些宝贵的伦敦人送牛奶的;我们送牛奶也有点儿为我们自己——为了那个让人焦虑的问题,我想,亲爱的苔丝,这个问题你会让我放心的。好啦,请允许我这样说,你知道,你已经属于我了;我是说你的心。是不是这样的?”
“你知道得像我一样清楚的。啊,是的——是的!”
“既然你的心答应了,为什么你不答应嫁给我呢?”
“我唯一的理由也是为了你啊——只是为了一个问题,我还有些话同你说——”
“我能够认为完全是为了我的幸福,也为了我事业的方便吗?”
“啊,是的;是为了你的幸福和事业上的方便。但是在我来这儿以前——我想——”
“好啦,我本来就是为了自己的幸福和事业的方便才向你求婚的。假如我在英国或者在殖民地拥有一个大农场,你做我的妻子就有无限的价值了;也比娶一个出身在全国都是最高贵门户的女子好得多。所以请你——请你,亲爱的苔丝,你一定要消除心里的那种想法,以为嫁给我会妨碍了我。”
“但是我的过去。我要让你知道我的过去——你一定要让我告诉你——你要是知道了,就不会像现在这样喜欢我了。”
“如果你想说,那你就说吧,最亲爱的。那一定是珍贵的历史。是呀,你要说我于某年某月某日出生,等等——”
“我生于马洛特村,”她说,借用了他说的几个字,尽管那几个字也是随随便便说出来的。“我在那儿长大。我离开学校的时候,受了六年的标准教育,他们都说我很能干,应该当一个好教员。但是我家里出现了一些麻烦事;我的父亲不太勤劳,又喜欢喝点儿酒。”
“好啦,好啦。可怜的孩子!这有什么新奇啊。”他把她更紧地搂在自己的怀里。
“后来——还有一些非常不同寻常的事——是与我有关的。我——我——”
苔丝的呼吸急促起来。
“好啦,最亲爱的。这没有关系的。”
“我——我——不姓德北菲尔德,而是姓德贝维尔——和我们刚才走过去的那座老房子的当年主人是一家。还有——我们都衰败了。”
“姓德贝维尔!——真的吗?这就是所有的麻烦事吗,亲爱的苔丝?”
“是的,”她含糊其辞地说。
“好啦——我知道了这个为什么就要减少对你的爱呢?”
“我听奶牛场老板说你痛恨老门户啊。”
他笑了起来。
“好啦,在某种意义上说,这是真的。我的确痛恨血统高于一切的贵族原则,也的确认为,作为一个理性的人,我们应该尊重的血统只能是那些有理性有道德的人的精神血统,与祖先的血统毫无关系。不过我特别对你说的这件事感兴趣——你想不出我多么地感兴趣呢!难道你对自己这个显赫的家世不感兴趣吗?”
“不。我倒觉得悲伤——尤其是我来到这儿以后,听人说到这儿许多山林田地过去都是我们家的,我倒觉得悲伤。不过,有些山林田地属于莱蒂家里,有些属于玛丽安家里,因此我也不特别觉得这有什么用处了。”
“不错——现在是这儿土地的佃户而过去是它们主人的人,多得让人感到吃惊呢,有时候我在想,为什么某一派的政治家不利用这种情形;不过他们好像不知道这种情形……我还想知道,为什么我看不出你的名字同德贝维尔有相同的地方,也查考不出有什么明显衰败的地方。原来这就是你焦虑不安的秘密啊!”
她没有把她的秘密讲出来。她的勇气在最后一刻消失了,她担心他会埋怨她没有早点告诉他;她自我保护的力量比她想坦白的勇气大得多。
“当然,”蒙在鼓里的克莱尔继续说,“我的确希望知道,你纯粹是出生在一个长期受苦、默默无闻和在英国档案和世家中没有记载的家庭,而不是出生在一个为了一己之私而牺牲多数人利益使自己得势的少数家庭。但是因为我爱上了你,所以我也学坏了,苔丝(他大笑着说),我也变得自私了。为了你的缘故,我喜欢你的出身。社会的势利是没有办法了,我要按照我的意思让你变成一个博学的女子,然后再做我的妻子就能被人接受了,你的德贝维尔后裔的身分也要变得大不一样了。我的母亲,可怜的人,也会因此而看重你了。苔丝,从今天起,你应该把你的姓改过来,改成德贝维尔。”
“我宁肯要另外一个姓。”
“但是你一定要改过来,最亲爱的!天啦,有许多家财百万的暴发户要是拥有了这个姓,都要高兴得跳起来呢!顺便说一句,有一个混账东西就冒用了这个姓——我是在什么地方听说来着?——我想他就住在猎苑的附近。哦,我曾经给你说过,他就是侮辱我父亲的那个家伙。多么奇怪的巧合啊!”
“安琪尔,我想我还是不要姓那个姓的好!也许,那个姓不吉利。”
她激动起来。
“好啦,苔瑞莎·德贝维尔,我娶了你,姓了我的姓,因此你也就不必姓你的姓啦!秘密已经说出来了,你就不能再拒绝我了吧?”
“如果你肯定娶我做妻子能够让你幸福,你觉得你的确希望娶了我,非常非常——”
“我当然非常希望,最亲爱的!”
“我的意思是说,要是你非常想娶了我,而且不娶我就不能活下去,不管我有什么过失都要娶了我,这就使我感到我应该答应你。”
“你答应了,你已经亲口答应我了,我听见了!你永远永远是我的了。”
他紧紧地拥抱着她,吻她。
“是的。”
她刚把话说完,就突然大哭起来,哭得那样地悲伤,好像肝肠断了一样。苔丝决不是一个歇斯底里的姑娘,他大吃一惊。
“你为什么要哭呢,最亲爱的?”
“我也说不清——完全说不清!——我太高兴了,因为我想到——想到我是你的了,能够让你幸福!”
“但是你哭的样子,不大像是高兴的样子啊,我的苔丝!”
“我的意思是说——我哭是因为我毁了我的誓言呀!我说过我死也不嫁给你的。”
“可是,如果你爱我,你愿意我做你的丈夫吗?”
“愿意,愿意,愿意!不过,啊,有时候我想我还是没有出生的好!”
“啊,我亲爱的苔丝,要是我不知道你这样激动,不知道你这样地不懂事,我就要说,你说的话不大中听呢。你要是真喜欢我,你怎么会有那种愿望呢?你喜欢我吗?我希望你能用某种方式证明这一点。”
“我要做的已经做了,还能怎样证明呢?”她大声说,一脸的柔情蜜意。“这样会不会证明得多一些?”
她说着就紧紧地搂着克莱尔的脖子,克莱尔也是第一次才知道一个像苔丝那样爱他的感情热烈的女人,用她全部的爱情和全部的感情吻他是怎样的滋味。
“现在——你相信我了吧?”她满脸通红地擦着眼泪问。
“相信了。我从来就没有真正怀疑过——从来没有!”
他们就这样在暗夜里走着,在帆布里面紧紧地挤在一块儿。拉车的马自个儿走着,雨继续落在他们身上。她已经答应他了。她也许一开始就答应他了。一切生灵都有“寻求快乐的本性”,人类都要受到这种巨大的力量的支配,就像上下起伏的潮水推动海草一样,这种力量不是研究社会道德的空洞文章控制得了的。
“我得写信告诉我的母亲,”她说。“你不会反对我写这封信吧?”
“当然不会,亲爱的孩子。对我来说,你真是一个孩子,苔丝,在这个时候写信给你的母亲是再合适不过的,我要是反对就不对了,你连这个也不知道。你的母亲住在什么地方?”
“住在同一个地方——马洛特村。在布莱克原野谷的边上。”
“哦,那么这个夏天前我们是见过面了——”
“是的;是在草地上跳舞见过面的;不过那次你没有和我跳舞。啊,我真希望对我们那不会是不吉利的兆头!”
 

In the diminishing daylight they went along the level roadway through the meads, which stretched away into gray miles, and were backed in the extreme edge of distance by the swarthy and abrupt slopes of Egdon Heath. On its summit stood clumps and stretches of fir-trees, whose notched tips appeared like battlemented towers crowning black-fronted castles of enchantment.

They were so absorbed in the sense of being close to each other that they did not begin talking for a long while, the silence being broken only by the clucking of the milk in the tall cans behind them. The lane they followed was so solitary that the hazel nuts had remained on the boughs till they slipped from their shells, and the blackberries hung in heavy clusters. Every now and then Angel would fling the lash of his whip round one of these, pluck it off, and give it to his companion.

The dull sky soon began to tell its meaning by sending down herald-drops of rain, and the stagnant air of the day changed into a fitful breeze which played about their faces. The quicksilvery glaze on the rivers and pools vanished; from broad mirrors of light they changed to lustreless sheets of lead, with a surface like a rasp. But that spectacle did not affect her preoccupation. Her countenance, a natural carnation slightly embrowned by the season, had deepened its tinge with the beating of the rain-drops; and her hair, which the pressure of the cows' flanks had, as usual, caused to tumble down from its fastenings and stray beyond the curtain of her calico bonnet, was made clammy by the moisture, till it hardly was better than seaweed.

`I ought not to have come, I suppose,' she murmured, looking at the sky.

`I am sorry for the rain,' said he. `But how glad I am to have you here!'

Remote Egdon disappeared by degrees behind the liquid gauze. The evening grew darker, and the roads being crossed by gates it was not safe to drive faster than at a walking pace. The air was rather chill.

`I am so afraid you will get, cold, with nothing upon your arms and shoulders,' he said. `Creep close to me, and perhaps the drizzle won't hurt you much. I should be sorrier still if I did not think that the rain might be helping me.'

She imperceptibly crept closer, and he wrapped round them both a large piece of sail-cloth, which was sometimes used to keep the sun off the milk-cans. Tess held it from slipping off him as well as herself, Clare's hands being occupied.

`Now we are all right again. Ah - no we are not! It runs down into my neck a little, and it must still more into yours. That's better. Your arms are like wet marble, Tess. Wipe them in the cloth. Now, if you stay quiet, you will not get another drop. Well, dear - about that question of mine - that long-standing question?'

The only reply that he could hear for a little while was the smack of the horse's hoofs on the moistening road, and the cluck of the milk in the cans behind them.

`Do you remember what you said?'

`I do,' she replied.

`Before we get home, mind.'

`I'll try.'

He said no more then. As they drove on the fragment of an old manor house of Caroline date rose against the sky, and was in due course passed and left behind.

`That,' he observed, to entertain her, is an interesting old place - one of the several seats which belonged to an ancient Norman family formerly of great influence in this county, the d'Urbervilles. I never pass one of their residences without thinking of them. There is something very sad in the extinction of a family of renown, even if it was fierce, domineering, feudal renown.'

`Yes,' said Tess.

They crept along towards a point in the expanse of shade just at hand at which a feeble light was beginning to assert its presence, a spot where, by day, a fitful white streak of steam at intervals upon the dark green background denoted intermittent moments of contact between their secluded world and modern life. Modern life stretched out its steam feeler to this point three or four times a day, touched the native existences, and quickly withdrew its feeler again, as if what it touched had been uncongenial.

They reached the feeble light, which came from the smoky lamp of a little railway station; a poor enough terrestrial star, yet in one sense of more importance to Talbothays Dairy and mankind than the celestial ones to which it stood in such humiliating contrast. The cans of new milk were unladen in the rain, Tess getting a little shelter from a neighbouring holly tree.

Then there was the hissing of a train, which drew up almost silently upon the wet rails, and the milk was rapidly swung can by can into the truck. The light of the engine flashed for a second upon Tess Durbeyfield's figure, motionless under the great holly tree. No object could have looked more foreign to the gleaming cranks and wheels than this unsophisticated girl, with the round bare arms, the rainy face and hair, the suspended attitude of a friendly leopard at pause, the print gown of no date or fashion, and the cotton bonnet drooping on her brow.

She mounted again beside her lover, with a mute obedience characteristic of impassioned natures at times, and when they had wrapped themselves up over head and ears in the sail-cloth again, they plunged back into the now thick night. Tess was so receptive that the few minutes of contact with the whirl of material progress lingered in her thought.

`Londoners will drink it at their breakfasts to-morrow, won't they?' she asked. `Strange people that we have never seen.'

`Yes - I suppose they will. Though not as we send it. When its strength has been lowered, so that it may not get up into their heads.'

`Noble men and noble women, ambassadors and centurions, ladies and tradeswomen, and babies who have never seen a cow.'

`Well, yes; perhaps; particularly centurions.'

`Who don't know anything of us, and where it comes from; or think how we two drove miles across the moor to-night in the rain that it might reach 'em in time?'

`We did not drive entirely on account of these precious Londoners; we drove a little on our own - on account of that anxious matter which you will, I am sure, set at rest, dear Tess. Now,-permit me to put it in this way. You belong to me already, you know; your heart, I mean. Does it not?'

`You know as well as I. O yes - yes!'

`Then, if your heart does, why not your hand?'

`My only reason was on account of you - on account of a question. I have something to tell you--'

`But suppose it to be entirely for my happiness, and my worldly convenience also?'

`O yes; if it is for your happiness and worldly convenience. But my life before I came here - I want------'

`Well, it is for my convenience as well as my happiness. If I have a very large farm, either English or colonial, you will be invaluable as a wife to me; better than a woman out of the largest mansion in the country. So please - please, dear Tessy, disabuse your mind of the feeling that you will stand in my way.'

`But my history. I want you to know it - you must let me tell you - you will not like me so well!'

`Tell it if you wish to, dearest. This precious history then. Yes, I was born at so and so, Anno Domini--'

`I was born at Marlott,'she said, catching at his words as a help, lightly as they were spoken. `And I grew up there. And I was in the Sixth Standard when I left school, and they said I had great aptness, and should make a good teacher, so it was settled that I should be one. But there was trouble in my family; father was not very industrious, and he drank a little.'

`Yes, yes. Poor child! Nothing new.' He pressed her more closely to his side.

`And then - there is something very unusual about it - about me. I - I was--'

Tess's breath quickened.

`Yes, dearest. Never mind.'

`I - I - am not a Durbeyfield, but a d'Urberville - a descendant of the same family as those that owned the old house we passed. And - we are all gone to nothing!'

`A d'Urberville! - Indeed! And is that all the trouble, dear Tess?'

`Yes,' she answered faintly.

`Well - why should I love you less after knowing this?'

`I was told by the dairyman that you hated old families.'

He laughed.

`Well, it is true, in one sense. I do hate the aristocratic principle of blood before everything, and do think that as reasoners the only pedigrees we ought to respect are those spiritual ones of the wise and virtuous, without regard to corporeal paternity. But I am extremely interested in this news - you can have no idea how interested I am! Are not you interested yourself in being one of that well-known line?'

`No. I have thought it sad - especially since coming here, and knowing that many of the hills and fields I see once belonged to my father's people. But other hills and fields belonged to Retty's people, and perhaps others to Marian's, so that I don't value it particularly.'

`Yes - it is surprising how many of the present tillers of the soil were once owners of it, and I sometimes wonder that a certain school of politicians don't make capital of the circumstance; but they don't seem to know it... . I wonder that I did not see the resemblance of your name to d'Urberville, and trace the manifest corruption. And this was the carking secret!'

She had not told. At the last moment her courage had failed her, she feared his blame for not telling him sooner; and her instinct of self-preservation was stronger than her candour.

`Of course,' continued the unwitting Clare, `I should have been glad to know you to be descended exclusively from the long-suffering, dumb, unrecorded rank and file of the English nation, and not from the self-seeking few who made themselves powerful at the expense of the rest. But I am corrupted away from that by my affection for you, Tess [he laughed as he spoke], and made selfish likewise. For your own sake I rejoice in your descent. Society is hopelessly snobbish, and this fact of your extraction may make an appreciable difference to its acceptance of you as my wife, after I have made you the well-read woman that I mean to make you. My mother too, poor soul, will think so much better of you on account of it. Tess, you must spell your name correctly - d'Urberville - from this very day.'

`I like the other way rather best.'

`But you must, dearest! Good heavens, why dozens of mushroom millionaires would jump at such a possession! By the bye, there's one of that kidney who has taken the name - where have I heard of him? - Up in the neighbourhood of The Chase, I think. Why, he is the very man who had that rumpus with my father I told you of. What an odd coincidence!'

`Angel, I think I would rather not take the name! It is unlucky, perhaps!'

She was agitated.

`Now then, Mistress Teresa d'Urberville, I have you. Take my name, and so you will escape yours! The secret is out, so why should you any longer refuse me?'

`If it is sure to make you happy to have me as your wife, and you feel that you do wish to marry me, very, very much------'

`I do, dearest, of course!'

`I mean, that it is only your wanting me very much, and being hardly able to keep alive without me, whatever my offences, that would make me feel I ought to say I will.'

`You will - you do say it, I know! You will be mine for ever and ever.'

He clasped her close and kissed her.

`Yes!'

She had no sooner said it than she burst into a dry hard sobbing, so violent that it seemed to rend her. Tess was not a hysterical girl by any means, and he was surprised.

`Why do you cry, dearest?'

`I can't tell - quite! - I am so glad to think - of being yours, and making you happy!'

`But this does not seem very much like gladness, my Tessy!'

`I mean - I cry because I have broken down in my vow! I said I would die unmarried!'

`But, if you love me you would like me to be your husband?'

`Yes, yes, yes! But O, I sometimes wish I had never been born!'

`Now, my dear Tess, if I did not know that you are very much excited, and very inexperienced, I should say that remark was not very complimentary. How came you to wish that if you care for me? Do you care for me? I wish you would prove it in some way.'

`How can I prove it more than I have done?' she cried, in a distraction of tenderness. `Will this prove it more?'

She clasped his neck, and for the first time Clare learnt what an impassioned woman's kisses were like upon the lips of one whom she loved with all her heart and soul, as Tess loved him.

`There - now do you believe?' she asked, flushed, and wiping her eyes.

`Yes. I never really doubted - never, never!'

So they drove on through the gloom, forming one bundle inside the sail-cloth, the horse going as he would, and the rain driving against them. She had consented. She might as well have agreed at first. The `appetite for joy' which pervades all creation, that tremendous force which sways humanity to its purpose, as the tide sways the helpless weed, was not to be controlled by vague lucubrations over the social rubric.

`I must write to my mother,' she said. `You don't mind my doing that?'

`Of course not, dear child. You are a child to me, Tess, not to know how very proper it is to write to your mother at such a time, and how wrong it would be in me to object. Where does she live?'

`At the same place - Marlott. On the further side of Blackmoor Vale.'

`Ah, then I have seen you before this summer--'

`Yes; at that dance on the green; but you would not dance with me. O, I hope that is of no ill-omen for us now!'