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第3节 第四十九章 【
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苔丝这封言词恳切的信,已经按时寄到了环境清幽的牧师公馆,摆在了早饭桌上。牧师公馆地处西边的峡谷;那儿的空气柔和,土地肥沃,和燧石山农场比起来,那儿只要稍加耕种,庄稼就能够长出来;对于那儿的人,苔丝也似乎觉得不同(其实完全是一样的)。安琪尔远涉重洋,带着沉重的心情到异国它乡开拓事业,因此经常给父亲写信,把自己不断变化的地址告诉他,所以他嘱咐苔丝把写给他的信寄给他的父亲转寄,完全是为了保险起见。
“喂,”老克莱尔先生看过信封,回头对妻子说,“安琪尔写信说他要回家一趟,如果他在下个月底动身离开里约,我想这封信也许会催他快点动身,因为我相信这封信一定是他妻子寄来的。”他一想起安琪尔的妻子,不禁深深地叹了口气;于是他在这封信上重新写了地址,立即寄给了安琪尔。
“亲爱的儿子呀,希望你能平安地回家来!”克莱尔太太低声说。“我这一辈子都感到他被亏待了。尽管他不信教,但是你也应该把他送到剑桥去,和你对待他的两个哥哥那样,给他同样的机会。他在那儿受到合适的影响,也许他的思想就慢慢改变了,说不定还会当牧师呢。无论进教会,还是不进教会,那样待他才公平一些。”
关于他们的儿子,克莱尔太太就说了这样几句伤心的话,埋怨她的丈夫。她也不是经常说这些抱怨的话;因为她是一个既虔诚又体贴的人,而且她也知道,关于这件事,她的丈夫也怀疑自己是不是有偏见,所以心里难过。她常常听见他在晚上睡不着觉,不停地祈祷,以此来压抑自己的叹息。这位冷酷的福音教徒把他另外两个儿子送去接受了大学教育,不过没有把他不信教的小儿子也同样送去。但是,即使到了现在,他也不认为自己有什么不对,要是安琪尔接受了大学教育,虽然不是很有可能,但是他有可能用他学到的知识批驳他一生热情宣传的主义,而他的另外两个儿子不同,都和他一样当了牧师。他一方面为两个信教的儿子在脚下垫上垫脚石,另一方面又以同样的方法褒奖不信教的儿子,他认为这和他一贯的信念、他的地位、他的希望是不一致的。尽管如此,他仍然爱着安琪尔①这个名字叫错了的儿子,心里头为没有把他送进大学暗暗难过,就像亚伯拉罕一样,当他把注定要死的儿子以撒带到山上时②,心里也不能不为儿子感到痛苦。他在内心里产生出来的后悔,比他的妻子说出的抱怨要痛苦得多。
 
①安琪尔(Angel),意为天使,但安琪尔不信教,不愿当牧师,所以人与名不符。
②见《圣经·创世纪》第二十二章。上帝要考验亚伯拉罕,要他把儿子带到山上献祭,于是亚伯拉罕把儿子带到上帝指定的山上,绑在祭坛上,拿刀杀儿子,这时上帝的使者才制止了他。

对于安琪尔和苔丝这场不幸的婚姻,老两口责备的也是自己。要是安琪尔不是注定了要做一个农场主,他就没有机会同一个乡下姑娘结缘了。他们并不十分清楚儿子和媳妇是什么原因分开的,也不知道他们是什么时间分开的。他们最初还以为是发生了什么严重的憎恶感,但是儿子在后来写给他们的信中,偶尔也提到要回家接他的妻子;从信中的话看来,他们希望他们的分离并不是像当初那样绝望,永远不能和好。儿子还告诉他们,说苔丝住在她的娘家,他们顾虑重重,不知道怎样改变他们的处境,所以就决定不过问这件事。
就在这个时候,苔丝希望读到她的信的那个人,正骑在一头骡子的背上,望着一望无垠的广阔原野,从南美大陆的内地往海岸走去。他在这块陌生土地上的经历是悲惨的。他到达那儿后不久,就大病了一场,至今还没有完全痊愈,因此他差不多慢慢地把在这儿经营农业的希望放弃了,尽管他留下来的可能性已经很小,但是还没有把自己思想的改变告诉他的父母。
在克莱尔之后,还有大批的农业工人听了可以在这儿过安逸独立生活的宣传,弄昏了头脑,成群结队地来到这里,在这儿受苦受难,面黄肌瘦,甚至丢了性命。他看见从英国农场来的母亲,怀里抱着婴儿,一路艰难地跋涉,当孩子不幸染上热病死了,做母亲的就停下来,用空着的双手在松软的地上挖一个坑,然后再用同样的天然工具把婴儿埋进坑里,滴一两滴眼泪,又继续朝前跋涉。
安琪尔本来没有打算到巴西来,而是想到英国北部或东部的农场去。他是带着一种绝望的心情到这个地方来的,因为当时英国农民中出现的一场巴西运动,恰好和他要逃避自己过去生活的愿望不谋而合。
他在国外的这段生活,使他在思想上成熟了十二年。现在吸引他的人生中有价值的东西,不是人生的美丽,而是人生的悲苦。既然他早就不相信旧的神秘主义体系,现在他也就开始不相信过去的道德评价了。他认为过去的道德评价需要重新修正。什么样的男人才是一个有道德的男人呢?再问得更确切些,什么样的女人才是有道德的女人呢?一个人品格的美丑,不仅仅在于他取得的成就,也在于他的目的和动机;他的真正的历史,不在于已经做过的事,而在于一心要做的事。
那么,对苔丝应该怎样看呢?
一旦用上面的眼光看待她,他就对自己匆忙下的判断后悔,心里开始感到难受起来。他是永远把她抛弃了呢,还是暂时把她抛弃了呢?他再也说不出永远抛弃她的话来了,既然说不出这种话来,那就是说现在他在精神上接受她了。
他越来越喜欢对苔丝的回忆,那个时候正是苔丝住在陵石山农场的时候,但在那时候,苔丝还没有觉得应该大胆把她的境况和感情告诉他,打动他。那时候他感到非常困惑,在困惑之中,他没有仔细研究她为什么不给他写信的动机,而她的温顺和沉默也被他错误地理解了。要是他能够理解的话,她的沉默中又有多少话要说啊!——她之所以沉默,是她要严格遵守他现在已经忘记了的吩咐,虽然她天生了一副无所畏惧的性格,但是却没有维护自己的权利,而承认了他的宣判在各个方面都是正确的,因此只好一声不响地低头认错。
在前面提到的安模尔骑着骡子穿越巴西腹地的旅行中,另外还有一个人骑着骡子和他同路。安琪尔的这个同伴也是英国人,虽然他是从英国的另一地区来的,但是目的都是一样。他们情绪低落,精神状态都不好,就在一起谈一些家事。诚心换诚心。人们往往有一种奇怪的倾向,愿意向不熟悉的人吐露自己不愿向熟悉的朋友吐露的家庭琐事,所以他们骑着骡子一面走路的时候,安琪尔就把自己婚姻中令人悲伤的问题对他的同伴讲了。
安琪尔这位陌生的同伴,比他到过更多的国家,见过更多的人物;在他宽阔的胸怀着来,这类超越社会常规的事情,对于家庭生活似乎非同小可,其实只不过是一些高低不平的起伏,有如连绵不断的山川峡谷对于整个地球的曲线。他对这件事情的看法和安琪尔的截然不同;认为苔丝过去的历史对于她未来的发展无足轻重。他明白地告诉安琪尔,他离开她是错误的。
第二天他们遭遇了一场雷雨,都一起被雨淋得透湿。安琪尔的同伴染上了热病,一病不起,在礼拜末的时候死了。克莱尔等了几个小时,掩埋了他,然后又上了路。
他对于这位心怀坦荡的同伴,除了一个普通的名字而外一无所知,但是他随便评说的几句话,他一死反而变成了至理名言,对克莱尔的影响超过了所有哲学家合乎逻辑的伦理学观点。和他一比,他不禁为自己的心地狭窄感到羞愧。于是他的自相矛盾之处就像潮水一样涌上了他的心头。他以前顽固地褒扬希腊的异教文化,贬抑基督教的信仰;在希腊的异教文明里,一个人因为受到强暴才屈服并不一定就丧失了人格。无疑他憎恨童贞的丧失,他这种憎恨是他和神秘主义的信条一起继承来的,但是如果童贞的丧失是因为欺骗的结果,那他认为这种心理至少就应该加以修正了。他心里悔恨起来。他又想起了伊获·休特说的话,这些话他从来就没有真正忘记过。他问伊茨是不是爱他,伊茨回答说爱他。他又问她是不是比苔丝更爱他?她回答说不。苔丝可以为他献出自己的生命,而她却做不到。
他又想起了苔丝在结婚那一天的神情。她的眼睛对他表达出多少深情啊;她多么用心地听他说话啊,仿佛他说的话就是神说的话!在他们坐在壁炉前的那个可怕的夜晚,当她那纯朴的灵魂向他表白自己的过去时,她的脸在炉火的映衬下看起来多么可怜啊,因为她想不到他会翻脸无情,不再爱她、呵护她。
他就这样从一个批评她的人变成了一个为她辩护的人。因为苔丝的缘故,他对自己说了许多愤世嫉俗的话,但是一个人不能总是作为一个愤世嫉俗的人活在世上,所以他就不再那样了。他错误地愤世嫉俗,这是因为他只让普遍原则影响自己,而不管特殊的情形。
不过这种理论未免有些陈旧;早在今天以前,做情人的和做丈夫的已经超越了这种理论。克莱尔对苔丝一直冷酷,这是用不着怀疑的。男人们对他们爱的和爱过的女人常常过于冷酷;女人们对男人也是如此。但是这些冷酷同产生这些冷酷的宇宙冷酷比起来,它们还算得上温柔;这种冷酷就像地位对于性情,手段对于目的,今天对于昨天,未来对于现在。
他对苔丝的家族历史产生的热情,也就是对专横的德贝维尔家族产生的热情——他以前瞧不起这个家族,认为它气数已尽——现在又让他的感情激动起来。这类事情具有政治上的价值和想象上的价值,他以前为什么不知道这两种价值之间的区别呢?从想象的价值看,她的德贝维尔家世的历史意义十分重大;它在经济上一钱不值,但它对一个富于梦想的人,对于一个感叹盛衰枯荣的人来说,却是最有用的材料。事实上,可怜的苔丝在血统和姓氏方面与众不同的那一点特点,很快就要被人遗忘了,她在血统上同金斯伯尔的大理石碑和铅制棺材之间的联系,就要湮没无闻。时光就是这样残酷地把他的浪漫故事给粉碎了。他一次又一次地回想起她的面貌,他觉得现在他可以从中看出一种尊严的闪光,而那种尊严也一定是她的祖先有过的;他的幻觉使他产生出一种情绪,这是他从前感到在血管里奔流着的情绪,而现在剩下的只是一种痛苦感觉了。
尽管苔丝的过去并非白璧无瑕,但是像她这样一个女人现有的优点,也能胜过她的同伴们的新鲜美丽。以法莲人拾取的葡萄,不是胜过亚比以谢新摘的葡萄吗?①
 
①见《圣经·士师记》第八章第二节。

这样说来克莱尔是旧情萌发了,这也为苔丝一往情深的倾诉铺平了道路,就在那时候,他的父亲已经把苔丝写给他的信转寄去了;不过因为他住在遥远的内地,这封信要很长时间才能寄到他的手上。
就在这时候,写信的人心想,安琪尔读了她的信就会回来,不过她的希望有时大,有时小。她的希望变小的原因是她生活中当初导致他们分离的事实没有改变——而且永远也不能改变。当初她在他的身边都没有使他回心转意,现在她不在他身边,那他就更不会回心转意了。尽管如此,她心里头想的还是一个深情的问题,就是他一旦回来了,她怎样做他才最高兴。她唉声叹气起来,后悔自己当初在他弹竖琴的时候没有多注意一下,记住他弹的是什么曲子,也后悔自己没有更加仔细地问问他,记住在那些乡下姑娘唱的民谣里,他最喜欢哪几首。她间接地问过跟着伊茨从泰波塞斯来到燧石山农场的阿比·西丁,碰巧他还记得,他们在奶牛场工作时,他们断断续续地唱的让奶牛出奶的那些歌曲,克莱尔似乎最喜欢《丘比特的花园》、《我有猎苑,我有猎犬》和《天色刚破晓》;好像不太喜欢《裁缝的裤子》和《我长成了一个大美人》①,虽然这两首歌也很不错。
 
①以上歌曲都是十九世纪英国流行的民歌。

苔丝现在心中的愿望就是把这几首民歌唱好。她一有空就悄悄地练习,特别注意练习《天色刚破晓》那首歌:
起床吧,起床吧,起床吧!
去为你的爱人来一束花,
花园里面种有花,
美丽的鲜花都开啦。
斑鸠小鸟成双成对,
在枝头忙着建筑小巢,
五月里起得这样早,
天色才刚刚破晓。
在这种寒冷的天气里,只要其他的姑娘们不在她的身边,她就唱这些歌曲,就是铁石心肠的人听了,也会被她感动。每当想到他也许终究不会来听她唱歌,她就泪流满面,歌曲里那些纯朴痴情的词句,余音不断,仿佛在讽刺唱歌人的痛苦的心。
苔丝一直沉浸在幻想的美梦里,似乎已经忘记了岁月的流转;似乎忘记了白天的时间已经越来越长,也似乎忘记了圣母节已经临近,不久紧接而来的就是旧历圣母节,她在这儿的工期也就结束了。
但是在那个结账的日子完全到来之前,发生了一件事情,让苔丝思考起完全不同的问题来。有一天晚上,她在那座小屋里像平常一样和那一家人在楼下的房间里坐着,这时传来敲门声,问苔丝在不在这儿。苔丝从门口望去,看见门外有一个人影站在落日的余晖里,看她身材的高矮像个妇女,看她身材的肥瘦又像一个孩子,她在暗淡的光线里还没有认出是谁,那个人就开口喊了一声“苔丝”!
“哎呀——是丽莎·露吗?”苔丝用吃惊的语气问。她在一年多前离开家的时候,她还是一个孩子,现在猛然长成了这么高的个子,连丽莎自己也不知道是怎么一回事。因为长高了,以前她穿在身上嫌长的袍子,现在已经显得短了,一双腿也露在袍子的外面;她的手和胳膊也似乎感到拘谨,这说明她还没有处世的经验。
“是我,我跑了一整天了,苔丝!”丽莎用不带感情的郑重口气说,“我到处找你;我都给累坏了。”
“家里出什么事了吗?”
“妈妈病得很重,医生说她快要死了,爸爸的身体也很不好,还说他这样的高贵人家像奴隶一样地去干活太不像话;我们也不知道怎么办好。”
苔丝听后愣了半天,才想起来让丽莎·露进门坐下。丽莎·露坐下以后,吃了一点儿点心,苔丝这时也打定了主意。看来她是非立即回家不可了。她的合同要到旧历圣母节也就是四月六日才能到期,但也没有几天了,所以她决定立刻大胆动身回家。
要是当晚就动身,她们可以提前十二个小时回到家里,但是她的妹妹太累了,不等到明天走不了这样远的路。所以苔丝就跑到玛丽安和伊茨住的地方,把发生的事情告诉她们,并请她们在农场主的面前好好地替她解释。她又回来给丽莎做了晚饭,然后再把她安顿在自己的床上睡了,才开始收拾自己的行李,尽量地把自己的东西都装进一个柳条篮子里,告诉丽莎明天早上走,自己动身上路了。
 

The appeal duly found its way to the breakfast-table of the quiet Vicarage to the westward, in that valley where the air is so soft and the soil so rich that the effort of growth requires but superficial aid by comparison with the tillage at Flintcomb-Ash, and where to Tess the human world seemed so different (though it was much the same). It was purely for security that she had been requested by Angel to send her communications through his father, whom he kept pretty well informed of his changing addresses in the country he had gone to exploit for himself with a heavy heart.

`Now,' said old Mr Clare to his wife, when he had read the envelope,'if Angel proposes leaving Rio for a visit home at the end of next month, as he told us that he hoped to do, I think this may hasten his plans; for I believe it to be from his wife.' He breathed deeply at the thought of her; and the letter was redirected to be promptly sent on to Angel.

`Dear fellow, I hope he will get home safely,' murmured Mrs Clare. `To my dying day I shall feel that he has been ill-used. You should have sent him to Cambridge in spite of his want of faith, and given him the same chance as the other boys had. He would have grown out of it under proper influence, and perhaps would have taken Orders after all. Church or no Church, it would have been fairer to him.'

This was the only wall with which Mrs Clare ever disturbed her husband's peace in respect of their sons. And she did not vent this often; for she was as considerate as she was devout, and knew that his mind too was troubled by doubts as to his `justice in this matter. Only too often had she heard him lying awake at night, stifling sighs for Angel with prayers. But the uncompromising Evangelical did not even now hold that he would have been justified in giving his son, an unbeliever, the same academic advantages that he had given to the two others, when it was possible, if not probable, that those very advantages might have been used to decry the doctrines which he had made it his life's mission and desire to propagate, and the mission of his ordained sons likewise. To put with one hand a pedestal under the feet of the two faithful ones, and with the other to exalt the unfaithful by the same artificial means, he deemed to be alike inconsistent with his convictions, his position, and his hopes. Nevertheless, he loved his misnamed Angel, and in secret mourned over this treatment of him as Abraham might have mourned over the doomed Isaac while they went up the hill together. His silent self-generated regrets were far bitterer than the reproaches which his wife rendered audible.

They blamed themselves for this unlucky marriage. If Angel had never been destined for a farmer he would never have been thrown with agricultural girls. They did not distinctly know what had separated him and his wife, nor the date on which the separation had taken place. At first they had supposed it must be something of the nature of a serious aversion. But in his later letters he occasionally alluded to the intention of coming home to fetch her; from which expressions they hoped the division might not owe its origin to anything so hopelessly permanent as that. He had told them that she was with her relatives, and in their doubts they had decided not to intrude into a situation which they knew no way of bettering.

The eyes for which Tess's letter was intended were gazing at this time on a limitless expanse of country from the back of a mule which was bearing him from the interior of the South-American Continent towards the coast. His experiences of this strange land had been sad. The severe illness from which he had suffered shortly after his arrival had never wholly left him, and he had by degrees almost decided to relinquish his hope of farming here, though, as long as the bare possibility existed of his remaining, he kept this change of view a secret from his parents.

The crowds of agricultural labourers who had come out to the country in his wake, dazzled by representations of easy independence, had suffered, died, and wasted away. He would see mothers from English farms trudging along with their infants in their arms, when the child would be stricken with fever and would die; the mother would pause to dig a hole in the loose earth with her bare hands, would bury the babe therein with the same natural grave-tools, shed one tear, and again trudge on.

Angel's original intention had not been emigration to Brazil, but a northern or eastern farm in his own country. He had come to this place in a fit of desperation, the Brazil movement among the English agriculturists having by chance coincided with his desire to escape from his past existence.

During this time of absence he had mentally aged a dozen years. What arrested him now as of value in life was less its beauty than its pathos. Having long discredited the old systems of mysticism, he now begin to discredit the old appraisements of morality. He thought they wanted readjusting. Who was the moral man? Still more pertinently, who was the moral woman? The beauty or ugliness of a character lay not only in its achievements, but in its aims and impulses; its true history lay, not among things done, but among things willed.

How, then, about Tess?

Viewing her in these lights, a regret for his hasty judgment began to oppress him. Did he reject her eternally, or did he not? He could no longer say that he would always reject her, and not to say that was in spirit to accept her now.

This growing fondness for her memory coincided in point of time with her residence at Flintcomb-Ash, but it was before she had felt herself at liberty to trouble him with a word about her circumstances or her feelings. He was greatly perplexed; and in his perplexity as to her motives in withholding intelligence he did not inquire. Thus her silence of docility was misinterpreted. How much it really said if he had understood! - that she adhered with literal exactness to orders which he had given and forgotten; that despite her natural fearlessness she asserted no rights, admitted his judgment to be in every respect the true one, and bent her head dumbly thereto.

In the before-mentioned journey by mules through the interior of the country, another man rode beside him. Angel's companion was also an Englishman, bent on the same errand, though he came from another part of the island. They were both in a state of mental depression, and they spoke of home affairs. Confidence begat confidence. With that curious tendency evinced by men, more especially when in distant lands, to entrust to strangers details of their lives which they would on no account mention to friends, Angel admitted to this man as they rode along the sorrowful facts of his marriage.

The stranger had sojourned in many more lands and among many more peoples than Angel; to his cosmopolitan mind such deviations from the social norm, so immense to domesticity, were no more than are the irregularities of vale and mountain-chain to the whole terrestrial curve. He viewed the matter in quite a different light from Angel; thought that what Tess had been was of no importance beside what she would be, and plainly told Clare that he was wrong in coming away from her.

The next day they were drenched in a thunder-storm. Angel's companion was struck down with fever, and died by the week's end. Clare waited a few hours to bury him, and then went on his way.

The cursory remarks of the large-minded stranger, of whom he knew absolutely nothing beyond a commonplace name, were sublimed by his death, and influenced Clare more than all the reasoned ethics of the philosophers. His own parochialism made him ashamed by its contrast. His inconsistencies rushed upon him in a flood. He had persistently elevated Hellenic Paganism at the expense of Christianity; yet in that civilization an illegal surrender was not certain disesteem. Surely then he might have regarded that abhorrence of the un-intact state, which he had inherited with the creed of mysticism, as at least open to correction when the result was due to treachery. A remorse struck into him. The words of Izz Huett, never quite stilled in his memory, came back to him. He had asked Izz if she loved him, and she had replied in the affirmative. Did she love him more than Tess did? No, she had replied; Tess would lay down her life for him, and she herself could do no more.

He thought of Tess as she had appeared on the day of the wedding. How her eyes had lingered upon him; how she had hung upon his words as if they were a god's! And during the terrible evening over the hearth, when her simple soul uncovered itself to his, how pitiful her face had looked by the rays of the fire, in her inability to realize that his love and protection could possibly be withdrawn.

Thus from being her critic he grew to be her advocate. Cynical things he had uttered to himself about her; but no man can be always a cynic and live; and he withdrew them. The mistake of expressing them had arisen from his allowing himself to be influenced by general principles to the disregard of the particular instance.

But the reasoning is somewhat musty; lovers and husbands have gone over the ground before to-day. Clare had been harsh towards her; there is no doubt of it. Men are too often harsh with women they love or have loved; women with men. And yet these harshnesses are tenderness itself when compared with the universal harshness out of which they grow; the harshness of the position towards the temperament, of the means towards the aims, of to-day towards yesterday, of hereafter towards to-day.

The historic interest of her family - that masterful line of d'Urbervilles - whom he had despised as a spent force, touched his sentiments now. Why had he not known the difference between the political value and the imaginative value of these things? In the latter aspect her d'Urberville descent was a fact of great dimensions; worthless to economics, it was a most useful ingredient to the dreamer, to the moralizer on declines and falls. It was a fact that would soon be forgotten - that bit of distinction in poor Tess's blood and name, and oblivion would fall upon her hereditary link with the marble monuments and leaded skeletons at Kingsbere. So does Time ruthlessly destroy his own romances. In recalling her face again and again, he thought now that he could see therein a flash of the dignity which must have graced her grand-dames; and the vision sent that aura through his veins which he had formerly felt, and which left behind it a sense of sickness.

Despite her not inviolate past, what still abode in such a woman as Tess out valued the freshness of her fellows. Was not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abi-ezer?

So spoke love renascent, preparing the way for Tess's devoted outpouring, which was then just being forwarded to him by his father; though owing to his distance inland it was to be a long time in reaching him.

Meanwhile the writer's expectation that Angel would come in response to the entreaty was alternately great and small. What lessened it was that the facts of her life which had led to the parting had not changed - could never change; and that, if her presence had not attenuated them, her absence could not. Nevertheless she addressed her mind to the tender question of what she could do to please him best if he should arrive. Sighs were expended on the wish that she had taken more notice of the tunes he played on his harp, that she had inquired more curiously of him which were his favourite ballads among those the country-girls sang. She indirectly inquired of Amby Seedling, who had followed Izz from Talbothays, and by chance Amby remembered that, amongst the snatches of melody in which they had indulged at the dairyman's, to induce the cows to let down their milk, Clare had seemed to like `Cupid's Gardens', `I have parks, I have hounds', and `The break o' the day'; and had seemed not to care for `The Tailor's Breeches', and `Such a beauty I did grow', excellent ditties as they were.

To perfect the ballads was now her whimsical desire. She practised them privately at odd moments, especially' The break o' the day':

Arise, arise, arise!
And pick your love a posy,
All o' the sweetest flowers
That in the garden grow.
The turtle doves and sma' birds
In every bough a-building,
So early in the May-time
At the break o' the day!

It would have melted the heart of a stone to hear her singing these ditties, whenever she worked apart from the rest of the girls in this cold dry time; the tears running down her cheeks all the while at the thought that perhaps he would not, after all, come to hear her, and the simple silly words of the songs resounding in painful mockery of the aching heart of the singer.
Tess was so wrapt up in this fanciful dream that she seemed not to know how the season was advancing; that the days had lengthened, that Lady-Day was at hand, and would soon be followed by Old Lady-Day, the end of her term here.

But before the quarter-day had quite come something happened which made Tess think of far different matters. She was at her lodging as usual one evening, sitting in the downstairs room with the rest of the family, when somebody knocked at the door and inquired for Tess. Through the doorway she saw against the declining light a figure with the height of a woman and the breadth of a child, a tall, thin, girlish creature whom she did not recognize in the twilight till the girl said `Tess!'

`What - is it 'Liza-Lu?' asked Tess, in startled accents. Her sister, whom a little over a year ago she had left at home as a child, had sprung up by a sudden shoot to a form of this presentation, of which as yet Lu seemed herself scarce able to understand the meaning. Her thin legs, visible below her once long frock, now short by her growing, and her uncomfortable hands and arms, revealed her youth and inexperience.

`Yes, I have been traipsing about all day, Tess,' said Lu, with unemotional gravity, `a-trying to find 'ee; and I'm very tired.'

`What is the matter at home?'

`Mother is took very bad, and the doctor says she's dying, and as father is not very well neither, and says 'tis wrong for a man of such a high family as his to slave and drave at common labouring work, we don't know what to do.'

Tess stood in reverie a long time before she thought of asking 'Liza-Lu to come in and sit down. When she had done so, and 'Liza-Lu was having some tea, she came to a decision. It was imperative that she should go home. Her agreement did not end till Old Lady-Day, the sixth of April, but as the interval thereto was not a long one she resolved to run the risk of starting at once.

To go that night would be a gain of twelve hours; but her sister was too tired to undertake such a distance till the morrow. Tess ran down to where Marian and Izz lived, informed them of what had happened, and begged them to make the best of her case to the farmer. Returning, she got Lu a supper, and after that, having tucked the younger into her own bed, packed up as many of her belongings as would go into a withy basket, and started, directing Lu to follow her next morning.