用户名: 密码: 验证码:    注册 | 忘记密码?
主页 |英文小说 |双语传记 |双语戏剧 |双语文史哲 |双语儿童文学 |双语科技 |经典英译 |其他双语名著
当前位置:主页 > 英国小说 > 德伯家的苔丝 > 第4章 The Consequence后果
第29节 第四十一章 【
   已开启划词功能

让我们从前面叙述的冬天的事情转而叙述现在十月的一天吧,这是安琪尔和苔丝分手八个多月以后。我们发现苔丝的情形完全改变了;她不再是把箱子和小盒子交给别人搬运的新娘子了,我们看见的是她自己孤零零地挽着篮子,自己搬运包裹,和她以前没有做新娘子时完全一样了。在此之前,她的丈夫为了让她过得舒服一点而给准备了宽裕的费用,但是现在她只剩下了一个瘪了的钱袋。
在她再次离开马洛特村她的家后,整个春天和夏天她都是在体力上没有太大的压力下度过的,主要是在离黑荒原谷以西靠近布莱底港的地方做些奶场上的工作,那个地方离她的故乡和泰波塞斯一样的远。她宁愿这样自食其力。在精神上,她仍然停留在一种完全停滞的状态中,她做的一些机械性的工作不仅没有消除这种状态,相反助长了这种状态。她的意识仍然在从前那个奶牛场里,在从前那个季节里,仍然在从前她在那儿遇见的温柔的情人面前——她的这个情人,她一伸手刚要抓住他,拥有他,他就像幻象中的人影不见了。
奶牛场里的杂工到奶量减少的时候就不需要了,因为她没有找到和在泰波塞斯奶牛场一样的第二份正式工作,所以她只能做一个编外的临时工。但是,由于收获的季节现在已经开始了,所以她只要从牧场转到有庄稼的地方,就可以找到大量的工作,这种情况一直继续到收获结束。
在克莱尔原来给她的那笔五十镑钱里,她从中扣除一半给了她的父母,算是对父母养育之恩的报答,如今她只剩下二十五镑了,到如今她还只用了一点儿。但是现在到了倒霉的雨季,在这期间,她只好动用她剩下的那些金币了。
她真舍不得把那些金币用了。那些金币是安琪尔交到她手上的,又新又亮,是他为她从银行里取出来的。这些金币他抚摸过,因此它们就成了神圣的纪念品了——这些金币除了他们两个人接触过,似乎还没有其它的历史——用掉这些金币就如同把圣物扔掉。可是她不得不动用这些金币,只好让这些金币一个一个从她的手中消失了。
她不得不经常写信,把自己的地址告诉母亲,但是她把自己的境遇隐瞒了。当她的钱快要用完的时候,她母亲写来的一封信送到了她的手上。她的母亲告诉她,她们家陷入了非常艰难的境地;秋雨已经把屋顶淋透了,屋顶需要完全重盖;但是由于上一次盖屋顶的钱还没有付账,所以这次别人就不给盖了。还有,楼上的横梁和天花板也需要修理,这些花费加上上一次的账单,一共是二十五镑的数目。既然她的丈夫是一个有钱人,不用说现在已经回来了,她能不能给他们寄去这笔钱呢?
就在这时候,克莱尔的银行差不多刚好给苔丝寄了三十镑钱来,情形既是那样窘迫,所以她一收到那三十镑钱,就把她母亲需要的二十镑钱寄了去。在剩下的那十镑钱里,她又用了一些置办了几件冬衣,虽然严冬就在眼前,而她剩下的钱却是不多了。当她用完了最后一个金币的时候,她就只好考虑安琪尔给她说过的一句话了,当她需要钱的时候就去找她的父亲。
但是苔丝越是思考这个办法,她越是犹豫起来。因为克莱尔的缘故,她产生了一种情绪,敏感,自尊,不必要的羞耻,无论叫它们什么,这种情绪让她把她和丈夫分居的事向自己的父母隐瞒起来,也阻止她去找她丈夫的父亲,去告诉他说,她已经花光了她的丈夫给她留下的一笔数目可观的钱。大概他们已经瞧不起她了;现在像叫化子一样,不是更让他们瞧不起吗!这样考虑的结果,就是这位牧师的媳妇决不能让她公公知道了她目前的状况。
她对同她丈夫的父亲通信感到犹豫,心想这种犹豫也许随着时间的流逝就会减弱;可是她对于自己的父母刚好相反。她结婚以后,回到父母家里住了几天,接着就离开了,给他们留下的印象是她最终找她丈夫去了;从那时到现在,她从来没有动摇自己等丈夫回来的信心,在无望中生出希望,她的丈夫到巴西去只是短暂的,此后她就会回来接她,或者写信让她去找他;总之,他们不久就会向他们的家庭和世界表现出和好如初的情形。她至今仍然抱有这个希望。她的父母用这次露脸的婚姻掩盖他们第一次的失败以后,再让她的父母知道她是一个弃妇,知道她接济了他们之后,现在全靠她自己的双手谋生,这的确太让人难堪了。
她又想起了那一副珠宝。克莱尔把它们存在哪儿,她并不知道,这无关紧要,即使在她的手里,她也只能使用它们,而不能变卖它们。即便它们完全属她所有,她用实质上根本就不属于她的名份去拥有它们,这也未免太卑鄙了。
与此同时,她丈夫的日子也决不是没有遭受磨难。就在此时,他在靠近巴西的克里提巴的粘土地里,淋了几场雷雨,加上受了许多其它的苦难,病倒了,发着高烧,同时和他一起受难的还有许多其他英国农场主和农业工人,他们也都是因为巴西政府的种种许诺被哄骗到这儿来的。他们依据了那种毫无根据的假设,既然在英国的高原上耕田种地,身体能够抵挡住所有的天气时令,自然也能同样抵挡巴西平原上的气候,却不知道英国的天气是他们生来就习惯了的天气,而巴西的气候却是他们突然遭遇的气候。
我们还是回来叙述苔丝的故事吧。就是在这个时候她用完了最后的一个金币,也没有另外的金币来填补这些金币的空位,而且因为季节的关系,她也发现要找到一个工作极其地困难。她并不知道在生活的任何领域里,有智力、有体力、又健康、又肯干的人总是缺少的,因此她并没有想到去找一个室内的工作;她害怕城镇,害怕大户人家,害怕有钱的和世故的人,害怕除农村以外所有的人。黑色的忧患①是从上流社会来的。那个社会,也许比她根据自己一点儿经验所以为的那样要好一些。但是她没有这方面的证明,因此在这种情形下,她的本能就是避免接触这个社会。
 
①黑色的忧患(Black care),见罗马诗人贺拉斯《颂歌》第三章第一节第四十行。

布莱底港以西有一些小奶牛场,在春天和夏天,苔丝在那儿做过临时挤奶女工,而现在这些奶牛场已经不需要人手了。到泰波塞斯去,要是奶牛场老板仅仅出于同情,大概也不会不给她一个位置;从前在那儿的生活虽然舒服,但是她不能回去了。现在和过去倒了过来,这太不能令人忍受了;她要是回去,也许会引来对她所崇拜的丈夫的责备。她无法忍受他们的同情,更不愿看见他们在那儿相互低声耳语,议论她的奇怪处境;只要他们能够把知道的她的事情藏在心里,她差不多还是可以面对那儿熟悉她环境的每一个人。正是他们在背后对她的相互议论,使她这个敏感的人退缩了。苔丝无法解释这中间的差异,但是知道她感觉到了这一点。
现在,她正在向本都中部一个高地农场走去。她收到玛丽安写给她的一封信,那封信几经辗转才送到她的手上,推荐她到那个农场去。玛丽安不知道怎么知道了她已经同丈夫分居了——大概是从伊茨·休特那儿听说的——这个好心的喝上了酒的姑娘,以为苔丝陷入了困境,就急忙写信给她从前的这位老朋友,告诉她的老朋友,说她离开奶牛场后就到了这个高原农场上,如果她真的还是像从前一样出来工作的话,那儿还有几个工作位置,希望能在那个农场上同她见面。
冬日的白昼一天天变短了,她开始放弃了得到她丈夫宽恕的所有希望:她有了野生动物的性情,走路的时候全凭直觉,而从不加思考——她要一步步一点点地把自己同多事的过去割断,把自己的身分消除,从来也不想某些事件或偶然性可能让人很快发现她的踪迹,这种发现对她自己的幸福却是很重要的。
在她孤独的处境中,自然有许多困难,而其中她的容貌惹人注意却不能算是最小的。在克莱尔的影响下,她除了原先的天然魅力,现在又增添了优雅的举止。她最初穿着准备结婚穿的服装,那些对她偶然的注目倒还没有引起什么麻烦的事情,但是当她的衣服穿破以后不得不穿上农妇的服装时,就不只一次有人当面对她说出粗鲁的话来。不过,一直到十一月一个特别的下午,还没有引起人身侵犯的恐惧。
她宁愿到布莱底河的西部农村去,也不愿到她现在去的那个高地农场,因为别的不说,西部农村那儿离她丈夫的父亲的家也要近些。她在那个地方寻找工作,没有人认识她,她还想,她也许有一天打定了主意,会去拜访牧师住宅,想到这些她就感到高兴。不过一旦决定了到比较高和干燥的地方去找工作,她就转身向东,一直朝粉新屯的村子走去,并打算在那儿过夜。
漫长的篱路没有变化,由于冬日的白昼迅速缩短,不知不觉就到了黄昏。她走到一个山顶,往下看见那条下山的篱路,弯弯曲曲地伸展出去,时隐时现,这时候,她听见背后传来了脚步声,不一会儿,就有一个人走到了跟前。那个人走到苔丝的身边说——“晚上好,我漂亮的姑娘。”苔丝客气地回答了他的问话。
那时候地上的景物都差不多昏暗了,但是天空的余光还能照出她的脸。那个人转过身来,使劲地盯着她看。
“哎呀,没错,这不是特兰里奇的那个乡下野姑娘吗——做过德贝维尔少爷的朋友,是不是?那个时候我住在那儿,不过我现在不在那儿住了。”
苔丝认出他来了,他就是那个在酒店里对她说粗话被克莱尔打倒的有钱的村夫。她不禁痛苦得全身一阵痉挛,没有答理他的话。
“你老实地承认吧,那天我在镇里说的话是真的,尽管你那个情人听了发脾气——喂,我狡猾的野姑娘,是不是?我那天挨了打,你应该请我原谅才对,你想想吧。”
苔丝仍然没有答理他。她那被追逼的灵魂似乎只有逃跑一条路。她突然抬脚飞跑起来,连头也不回,沿着那条路一直跑到一个栅栏门前,那个门打开着,通向一块人造林地。她一头跑进这块林地,一直跑进了这块林地的深处,感到安全了,不会被发现了,她才停下来。
脚下的树叶已经干枯了,在这块落叶林中间,长着一些冬青灌木,它们稠密的树叶足可以挡风。她把一些枯叶扫到一起,堆成一大堆,在中间扒出一个窝来。苔丝爬进了这个窝里。
她这样睡觉自然是断断续续的;她总觉得听见了奇怪的声音,但是她又劝自己说,那些声音只不过是由风引起的。她想到了她的丈夫,当她在这儿受冻的时候,他大概正在地球另一边某个温暖的地方吧。苔丝问自己,在这个世界上还有没有另外一个像她一样的可怜人?她还想到了自己虚度了的光阴,就说:“凡事都是虚空。”①她机械地反复地念叨着这句话,念到后来,才想到这句话对于现代社会已经不合适了。早在两千多年以前,所罗门已经想到了;而她自己虽然不是思想家,但是她想到的还要深刻些。如果一切只是虚空,那么谁还在乎呢?唉,一切比虚空还糟糕——冤屈,惩罚,苛求,死亡。想到这儿,安琪尔·克莱尔的妻子把手举到自己的额头上,摸着额头上的曲线,摸着眼眶的边缘,可以摸到柔嫩皮肤下的骨头,她边摸边想,总有一天这儿只剩下白骨的。“真希望现在就是一片白骨,”她说。
 
①凡事都是虚空(All is vanity),见《圣经·传道书》第一章第二节。大卫的儿子所罗门说:“虚空的虚空。”传道者说:“虚空的虚空!凡事都是虚空。”

正在她胡思乱想的时候,她听见树叶中又出现了一种奇怪的声音。这也许是风声;可是现在几乎没有风呀。有时候是一种颤动的声音,有时候是一种拍打声音,有时候是一种喘气和咯咯的声音。很快,她确信这些声音是某种野外的动物发出来的,她还听出来,有些声音是从头顶上的树枝丛里发出来的,随着那些声音还有沉重的物体掉到地上的声音。如果她当时所处的境遇是比她现在更好的境遇,她一定要张惶失措的;但是,只要不是人类,现在她是不害怕了。
天色终于破晓了。天色大亮后不久,树林里也变亮了。
在世界上这个充满活力的时候,天上使人放心的平凡的光明已经变得强烈了,她立刻从那一堆树叶中爬了出来,大着胆子查看了一下四周。接着,她看见了一直闹得她紧张不安的东西了。这片她暂借栖身的树林子,从山上延伸到她现在所处的地点,形成了一个尖端,树林在这儿便足尽头,树篱外面便是耕地。在那些树下,有几只山鸡四下里躺着,它们华丽的羽毛上沾着斑斑血迹;有些山鸡已经死了,有些山鸡还在无力地拍打着翅膀,有些山鸡瞪着天空,有些山鸡还在扑打着,有些山鸡乱扭着,有些山鸡伸直了身子躺在地上——所有的山鸡都在痛苦地扭动着,不过那几只幸运的山鸡除外,它们在夜里流血过多,再也无力坚持了,已经结束了它们的痛苦。
苔丝立刻明白了这是怎么回事。这群山鸡都是在昨天被一群打猎的人赶到这个角落里未的;那些被枪弹打死掉在地上的,或者在天黑前断了气的,都被打猎的找着了,拿走了,许多受了重伤的山鸡逃走了,躲藏起来,或者飞进了稠密的树枝里,在夜晚勉强挣扎着,直到血流尽了,才一只一只地掉到地上;苔丝听见的就是它们掉下来的声音。
过去她曾偶尔看见过那些猪鸟的人,他们在树篱中间搜寻,在灌木丛里窥视,比划着他们的猎枪,穿着奇怪的服装,眼睛里带着嗜血的凶光。她曾经听人说过,他们那时候似乎粗鲁野蛮,但不是一年到头都是这样,其实他们都是一些十分文明的人,只是在秋天或冬天的几个星期里,才像马来半岛上的居民那样杀气腾腾,一味地杀害生灵——他们猎杀的这些与人无害的羽毛生物,都是为了满足他们这种杀生嗜好而预先用人工培养出来的——那个时候,他们对大自然芸芸众生中比他们弱小的生灵,竟是那样地粗野,那样地残酷。
苔丝对这些和自己一样的受难者,不由得动了恻隐之心,她首先想到的是结束那些还活着的山鸡的痛苦,所以她就把那些她能找到的山鸡都一个个扭断了脖子,免得它们继续受罪;她把它们都弄死了,扔在原地,等那些打猎的人再来找它们——他们大概还会来的——第二次来寻找那些山鸡。
“可怜的小东西一看见你们这样受苦,还能说我是天底下最痛苦的人吗?”她大声说,在她轻轻地把山鸡弄死的时候,眼泪流了下来。“我可是一点儿肉体的痛苦也没有受到啊!我没有缺胳膊少腿,没有流血,我还有两只手挣衣服穿,挣饭吃呀。”她于是为那天夜里自己的颓丧感到羞愧了。她的羞愧实在是没有根据的,只不过在毫无自然基础的人为的社会礼法面前,她感到自己是一个罪人罢了。
 

From the foregoing events of the winter-time let us press on to an October day, more than eight months subsequent to the parting of Clare and Tess. We discover the latter in changed conditions; instead of a bride with boxes and trunks which others bore, we see her a lonely woman with a basket and a bundle in her own porterage, as at an earlier time when she was no bride; instead of the ample means that were projected by her husband for her comfort through this probationary period, she can produce only a flattened purse.

After again leaving Marlott, her home, she had got through the spring and summer without any great stress upon her physical powers, the time being mainly spent in rendering light irregular service at dairy-work near Port-Bredy to the west of the Black-moor Valley, equally remote from her native place and from Talbothays. She preferred this to living on his allowance. Mentally she remained in utter stagnation, a condition which the mechanical occupation rather fostered than checked. Her consciousness was at that other dairy, at that other season, in the presence of the tender lover who had confronted her there - he who, the moment she had grasped him to keep for her own, had disappeared like a shape in a vision.

The dairy-work lasted only till the milk began to lessen, for she had not met with a second regular engagement as at Talbothays, but had done duty as a supernumerary only. However, as harvest was now beginning, she had simply to remove from the pasture to the stubble to find plenty Of further occupation, and this continued till harvest was done.

Of the five-and-twenty pounds which had remained to her of Clare's allowance, after deducting the other half of the fifty as a contribution to her parents for the trouble and expense to which she had put them, she had as vet spent but little. But there now followed an unfortunate interval of wet weather, during which she was obliged to fall back upon her sovereigns.

She could not bear to let them go. Angel had put them into her hand, had obtained them bright and new from his bank for her; his touch had consecrated them to souvenirs of himself - they appeared to have had as yet no other history than such as was created by his and her own experiences - and to disperse them was like giving away relics. But she had to do it, and one by one they left her hands.

She had been compelled to send her mother her address from time to time, but she concealed her circumstances. When her money had almost gone a letter from her mother reached her. Joan stated that they were in dreadful difficulty; the autumn rains had gone through the thatch of the house, which required entire renewal; but this could not be done because the previous thatching had never been paid for. New rafters and a new ceiling upstairs also were required, which, with the previous bill, would amount to a sum of twenty pounds. As her husband was a man of means, and had doubtless returned by this time, could she not send them the money?

Tess had thirty pounds coming to her almost immediately from Angel's bankers, and, the case being so deplorable, as soon as the sum was received she sent the twenty as requested. Part of the remainder she was obliged to expend in winter clothing, leaving only a nominal sum for the whole inclement season at hand. When the last pound had gone, a remark of Angel's that whenever she required further resources she was to apply to his father, remained to be considered.

But the more Tess thought of the step the more reluctant was she to take it. The same delicacy, pride, false shame, whatever it may be called, on Clare's account, which had led her to hide from her own parents the prolongation of the estrangement, hindered her in owning to his that she was in want after the fair allowance he had left her. They probably despised her already; how much more they would despise her in the character of a mendicant! The consequence was that by no effort could the parson's daughter-in-law bring herself to let him know her state.

Her reluctance to communicate with her husband's parents might, she thought, lessen with the lapse of time; but with her own the reverse obtained. On her leaving their house after the short visit subsequent to her marriage they were under the impression that she was ultimately going to join her husband; and from that time to the present she had done nothing to disturb their belief that she was awaiting his return in comfort, hoping against hope that his journey to Brazil would result in a short stay only, after which he would come to fetch her, or that he would write for her to join him; in any case that they would soon present a united front to their families and the world. This hope she still fostered. To let her parents know that she was a deserted wife, dependent, now that she had relieved their necessities, on her own hands for a living, after the éclat of a marriage which was to nullify the collapse of the first attempt, would be too much indeed.

The set of brilliants returned to her mind. Where Clare had deposited them she did not know, and it mattered little, if it were true that she could only use and not sell them. Even were they absolutely hers it would be passing mean to enrich herself by a legal title to them which was not essentially hers at all.

Meanwhile her husband's days had been by no means free from trial. At this moment he was lying ill of fever in the clay lands near Curitiba in Brazil, having been drenched with thunder-storms and persecuted by other hardships, in common with all the English farmers and farm-labourers who, just at this time, were deluded into going thither by the promises of the Brazilian Government, and by the baseless assumption that those frames which, ploughing and sowing on English Liplands, had resisted all the weathers to whose moods they had been born, could resist equally well all the weathers by which they were surprised on Brazilian plains.

To return. Thus it happened that when the last of Tess's sovereigns had been spent she was unprovided with others to take their place, while on account of the season she found it increasingly difficult to get employment. Not being aware of the rarity of intelligence, energy, health, and willingness in any sphere of life, she refrained from seeking an indoor occupation; fearing towns, large houses, people of means and social sophistication, and of manners other than rural. From that direction of gentility Black Care had come. Society might be better than she supposed from her slight experience of it. But she had no proof of this, and her instinct in the circumstances was to avoid its purlieus.

The small dairies to the west, beyond Port-Bredy, in which she had served as supernumerary milkmaid during the spring and summer required no further aid. Room would probably have been made for her at Talbothays, if only out of sheer compassion; but comfortable as her life had been there she could not go back. The anti-climax would be too intolerable; and her return might bring reproach upon her idolized husband. She could not have borne their pity, and their whispered remarks to one another upon her strange situation; though she would almost have faced a knowledge of her circumstances by every individual there, so long as her story had remained isolated in the mind of each. It was the interchange of ideas about her that made her sensitiveness wince. Tess could not account for this distinction; she simply knew that she felt it.

She was now on her way to an upland farm in the centre of the county, to which she had been recommended by a wandering letter which had reached her from Marian. Marian had somehow heard that Tess was separated from her husband - probably through Izz Huett - and the good-natured and now tippling girl, deeming Tess in trouble, had hastened to notify to her former friend that she herself had gone to this upland spot after leaving the dairy, and would like to see her there, where there was room for other hands, if it was really true that she worked again as of old.

With the shortening of the days all hope of obtaining her husband's forgiveness began to leave her: and there was something of the habitude of the wild animal in the unreflecting instinct with which she rambled on - disconnecting herself by littles from her eventful past at every step, obliterating her identity, giving no thought to accidents or contingencies which might make a quick discovery of her whereabouts by others of importance to her own happiness, if not to theirs.

Among the difficulties of her lonely position not the least was the attention she excited by her appearance, a certain bearing of distinction, which she had caught from Clare, being superadded to her natural attractiveness. Whilst the clothes lasted which had been prepared for her marriage, these casual glances of interest caused her no inconvenience, but as soon as she was compelled to don the wrapper of a fieldwoman, rude words were addressed to her more than once; but nothing occurred to cause her bodily fear till a particular November afternoon.

She had preferred the country west of the River Brit to the upland farm for which she was now bound, because, for one thing, it was nearer to the home of her husband's father; and to hover about that region unrecognized, with the notion that she might decide to call at the Vicarage some day, gave her pleasure. But having once decided to try the higher and drier levels, she pressed back eastward, marching afoot towards the village of Chalk-Newton, where she meant to pass the night.

The lane was long and unvaried, and, owing to the rapid shortening of the days, dusk came upon her before she was aware. She had reached the top of a hill down which the lane stretched its serpentine length in glimpses, when she heard footsteps behind her back, and in a few moments she was overtaken by a man. He stepped up alongside Tess and said--

`Good-night, my pretty maid': to which she civilly replied.

The light still remaining in the sky lit up her face, though the landscape was nearly dark. The man turned and stared hard at her.

`Why, surely, it is the young wench who was at Trantridge awhile - young Squire d'Urberville's friend? I was there at that time, though I don't live there now.'

She recognized in him the well-to-do boor whom Angel had knocked down at the inn for addressing her coarsely. A spasm of anguish shot through her, and she returned him no answer.

`Be honest enough to own it, and that what I said in the town was true, though your fancy-man was so up about it - hey, my sly one? You ought to beg my pardon for that blow of his, considering.'

Still no answer came from Tess. There seemed only one escape for her hunted soul. She suddenly took to her heels with the speed of the wind, and, without looking behind her, ran along the road till she came to a gate which opened directly into a plantation. Into this she plunged, and did not pause till she was deep enough in its shade to be safe against any possibility of discovery.

Under foot the leaves were dry, and the foliage of some holly bushes which grew among the deciduous trees was dense enough to keep off draughts. She scraped together the dead leaves till she had formed them into a large heap, making a sort of nest in the middle. Into this Tess crept.

Such sleep as she got was naturally fitful; she fancied she heard strange noises, but persuaded herself that they were caused by the breeze. She thought of her husband in some vague warm clime on the other side of the globe, while she was here in the cold. Was there another such a wretched being as she in the world? Tess asked herself; and, thinking of her wasted life, said, `All is vanity.' She repeated the words mechanically, till she reflected that this was a most inadequate thought for modern days. Solomon had thought as far as that more than two thousand years ago; she herself, though not in the van of thinkers, had got much further. If all were only vanity, who would mind it? All was, alas, worse than vanity - injustice, punishment, exaction, death. The wife of Angel Clare put her hand to her brow, and felt its curve, and the edges of her eye-sockets perceptible under the soft skin, and thought as she did so that a time would come when that bone would be bare. `I wish it were now,' she said.

In the midst of these whimsical fancies she heard a new strange sound among the leaves. It might be the wind; yet there was scarcely any wind. Sometimes it was a palpitation, sometimes a flutter; sometimes it was a sort of gasp or gurgle. Soon she was certain that the noises came from wild creatures of some kind, the more so when, originating in the boughs overhead, they were followed by the fall of a heavy body upon the ground. Had she been ensconced here under other and more pleasant conditions she would have become alarmed; but, outside humanity, she had at present no fear.

Day at length broke in the sky. When it had been day aloft for some little while it became day in the wood.

Directly the assuring and prosaic light of the world's active hours had grown strong she crept from under her hillock of leaves, and looked around boldly. Then she perceived what had been going on to disturb her. The plantation wherein she had taken shelter ran down at this spot into a peak, which ended it hitherward, outside the hedge being arable ground. Under the trees several pheasants lay about, their rich plumage dabbled with blood; some were dead, some feebly twitching a wing, some staring up at the sky, some pulsating quickly, some contorted, some stretched out - all of them writhing in agony, except the fortunate ones whose tortures had ended during the night by the inability of nature to bear more.

Tess guessed at once the meaning of this. The birds had been driven down into the corner the day before by some shooting-party; and while those that had dropped dead under the shot, or had died before nightfall, had been searched for and carried off, many badly wounded birds had escaped and hidden themselves away, or risen among the thick boughs, where they had maintained their position till they grew weaker with loss of blood in the night-time, when they had fallen one by one as she had heard them.

She had occasionally caught glimpses of these men in girlhood, looking over hedges, or peering through bushes, and pointing their guns, strangely accoutred, a bloodthirsty light in their eyes. She had been told that, rough and brutal as they seemed just then, they were not like this all the year round, but were, in fact, quite civil persons save during certain weeks of autumn and winter, when, like the inhabitants of the Malay Peninsula, they ran amuck, and made it their purpose to destroy life - in this case harmless feathered creatures, brought into being by artificial means solely to gratify these propensities - at once so unmannerly and so unchivalrous towards their weaker fellows in Nature's teeming family.

With the impulse of a soul who could feel for kindred sufferers as much as for herself, Tess's first thought was to put the still living birds out of their torture, and to this end with her own hands she broke the necks of as many as she could find, leaving them to lie where she had found them till the gamekeepers should come - as they probably would come - to look for them a second time.

`Poor darlings - to suppose myself the most miserable being on earth in the sight o' such misery as yours!' she exclaimed, her tears running down as she killed the birds tenderly. `And not a twinge of bodily pain about me! I be not mangled, and I be not bleeding, and I have two hands to feed and clothe me.' She was ashamed of herself for her gloom of the night, based on nothing more tangible than a sense of condemnation under an arbitrary law of society which had no foundation in Nature.