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当前位置:主页 > 英国小说 > 德伯家的苔丝 > 第6章 皈依 The Woman Pays
第4节 第五十章 【
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在钟声敲响十点的时候,苔丝就在春分时节寒冷的黑夜里上路了,她要在清冷的星光中走完十五英里的路程。在人迹稀少的地方,黑夜对于一声不响的夜行人来说不是危险,而是一种保护;苔丝知道这一点,所以就专门拣她在白天害怕的最近的路走;不过在那个时候,路上没有拦路打劫的,加上她一心挂念着母亲的病,所以也就不怕鬼怪了。她就这样一英里接着一英里地走,上了山又下山,终于走到了野牛坟;大约半夜时分,她站在野牛坟的高地上向下面一片昏冥的深渊望去,只见山谷里一片黑暗,在山谷的另一边,就是她出生的地方。她在高地上已经走了大约五英里的路,然后再在低地上走十或十一英里的路,她就走完这次回家的全部路程了。在她下山的时候,那条蜿蜒而下的山路刚好在暗淡的星光下可以看清。她走了不久,就走到了同山上完全不同的土壤上了,那种不同可以用脚踩出来,用鼻子闻出来。这就是黑荒原谷的粘质土壤地带,在谷内这一部分,收税的卡子路一直没有延伸进来。在这些难以耕种的土地上,迷信的流行倒是经久不衰。这儿曾经是一片森林,在这种夜色朦胧的时刻,似乎遥远的和最近的融合在一起,表现出某些旧日的特点,所有的树林和高高的树篱,也显得威严可怖。这儿是追猎公鹿的地方,也是通过针刺和投水而验明女巫的地方,当你从这儿走过的时候,还有一些绿色的精灵嘲笑你,吓唬你;——人们现在仍然相信,这几遍地都是妖怪和精灵。
苔丝从纳特伯利的乡村酒店经过时,酒店的招牌嘎吱嘎吱地响着,回应着她走路的脚步声,村子里没有人,除了她谁也不会听见。在苔丝的想象里,她看见茅屋里的人,肌腱松弛了,肌肉放松了,躺在黑暗的屋顶下,盖着小紫花格子的被子,正在蓄积体力,等到第二天早晨汉姆布莱顿的山顶刚染上朝霞,他们就要起来从事新的一天的劳动了。
在凌晨三点钟的时候,她终于走完了蜿蜒曲折的篱路的最后一段弯路,进入马洛特村;她走过乡村会社游行时她第一次见到安琪尔·克莱尔的地方;那一次他没有和她跳舞,苔丝至今仍然还有一种失望的感觉。在她的母亲住的那座房屋的方向,她看见有一缕亮光。亮光是从卧室的窗户里透出来的,亮光的前面有一根树枝不住地摇动,弄得亮光似乎在向她眨眼一样。等到她能够看清房屋轮廓的时候——屋顶是用她的钱新盖的——她立刻想起了旧日的所有情景。这座屋子是她的身体和生命的一部分;天窗上的斜坡,山墙上的石灰,烟囱顶上的破砖,都和她有着某种共同的特点。在她看来,这一切东西都带有一种模糊不清的特点,意味着她的母亲病倒了。
她轻轻地打开门,没有惊动任何人;楼下的房间是空的,陪伴她母亲的邻居走到楼梯口小声告诉她说,德北菲尔德太太现在虽然睡着了,但是还不见好转。苔丝给自己做了早饭吃了,接着就在她母亲房间里看护她的母亲。
她在早晨见到了孩子们,他们一个个都像是被人拉长了的样子;虽然她离开家只有一年多一点的时间,但是他们的成长却是叫人吃惊的。她现在必须一心一意照顾他们了,因此自己的忧愁也就顾不上了。
她父亲的身体还是同过去一样,害着那种叫不上名字的病,像往常一样坐在椅子里。不过苔丝回来后的这一天,他却特别有精神。他说他想出来一个过生活的办法了,苔丝问他是什么办法。
“我想,我们给英国这一带所有的考古学家都寄一封信去,”他说,“请他们寄钱来维持我的生活。我敢肯定他们会把我的要求当成一件富有浪漫精神、艺术趣味和恰当不过的事来做。他们花了大量的钱去保护古代遗迹,去发掘人的骨头之类的东西;如果他们知道了我这个活古董,他们一定会更加觉得有意思的。最好是有一个人去一个个告诉他们,说现在就有一个活古董生活在他们中间,他们却没有重视他!这件事是特林汉姆牧师发现的,如果他还活着,我敢担保他一定会去办这件事的。”
苔丝急于处理目前一些紧急事情,顾不上和她的父亲去争论他的伟大计划,她虽然接济过家里几次,但家里的状况并没有多大的改善。当她把家里的事情弄妥当了,这才开始注意外面的事情。那时已经到了栽种和播种的季节,村子里的人许多园子和租种的公地都已经耕种过了,可是德北菲尔德家的园子和租种的公地还荒着。她一了解,不觉大吃一惊,原来他们家把做种的土豆全吃光了,——这真是一个只顾眼前不顾将来的错误了。她尽快地弄到一些她能够弄到的别的作物种子,过了几天,她父亲身体也好多了。苔丝又哄又劝,她父亲才出来照看园子:而她自己则去耕种她家租种的离村子有二百码远的一块公地。
她被束缚在病房里已经有了一些时日,加上她母亲的病已经有了好转,所以她也愿意出去种地。剧烈的运动可以使人的思想放松。她家租种的那块地在高处那块干燥开阔的圈地中间,那片圈地里大约有四五十块租种地,种地的白天做完了雇工的活儿,晚上就到租种地里忙碌。挖地通常在六点钟开始,要一直干到天黑或者月亮上来的时候。在那个时候,许多租种地里开始烧毁一堆堆野草和垃圾,天气干燥,正适合把它们烧掉。
有一天,天气晴朗,苔丝和丽莎·露一起在自己的租种地里干活,那天邻居们也在那块圈地里,他们一直干到傍晚,干到落日的最后一道余晖洒在那些把圈地分成一块块租种地的白色界桩上。太阳落了,黄昏来了,大家点燃租种地里的茅草和卷心菜的菜根,地里冒出来一阵阵火光,浓烟被风一吹,租种地的轮廓时明时暗。火光亮起来的时候,大团大团的浓烟被风吹得贴地滚动,在火光的映照下变成了半透明的发光体,把干活的人相互遮挡起来;这时候,白天是墙晚上是光的“云柱”①的意思,就可以领会了。
 
①云柱(pillar of a cloud),见《圣经·出埃及记》第十三章第十七至二十一节。

夜色越来越浓,有些男人和女人就放下地里的活儿回家了,不过大多数人还是留在地里,想把手里的活儿干完,苔丝虽然叫她的妹妹回去了,但是她自己还留在地里。她当时拿着叉子在烧着野草的租种地里干活,那把叉子有四个发亮的齿,碰到土里的石头和硬土块,就发出叮当的响声。有时候她全身都笼罩在火堆燃起的烟雾里,有时候身上一点儿烟雾也没有,只有火堆燃起的黄铜色火光照着她。今天她的穿着也有点儿奇怪,是一副惹人眼目的样子;她穿的一件袍子已经洗得发白,袍子的外面罩一件黑色的短上装,给人总的感觉她既像是一个参加婚礼的人,也像是一个送葬的人。在她背后稍远一点儿的妇女,在昏暗中看得见她们身上穿的白色裙子和灰白的脸,只有她们偶尔被火光照亮的时候,才能看见她们的全身。
在西边,光秃秃的棘树的枝条像铁丝一样,结成树篱,形成一块块田地的边界,在低矮的灰白天色里十分显眼。木星高悬在空中,好像一朵盛开的黄水仙,它是那样明亮,差不多能够照出影子来。天上还有几颗叫不出名字的小星星。远处有一只狗在叫,偶尔也听见车轮在干燥的路面上嘎吱嘎吱地碾过。
因为天色还不晚,工人们手中的叉子挣③直响;那时的空气虽然清冷刺骨,但是已经有了春天的细语,鼓舞了种地的人。在那个地方,在那个时刻,在哗剥直响的火堆里,在忽明忽暗的离奇的神秘里,有一种东四使大家和苔丝都喜欢待在地里。在冬天的霜冻里,夜色就像魔鬼,在夏天的温暖里,夜色就像情人,而在这种三月的天气里,夜色却像镇静剂一样。
当时谁也没有去看自己周围的伙伴。大家的眼睛都盯着地面,看着刚翻开的被火光照亮的地面。因此,苔丝一边翻着泥块,一边痴情地唱着短小的歌曲,不过现在她对克莱尔会来听她唱歌已经不抱希望了,过了好久,她才注意到有一个人在她的附近干活——她看见那个人穿着粗布长衫,和她一样在租种地里翻地,她以为那个人是她父亲请来帮她干活的。当那个人挖得离她更近了些,她看他看得更清楚了。有时候烟雾把他们隔开,烟雾一飘走,他们又能互相看见了,不过烟雾又把他们和其他的人隔开了。
苔丝没有和她一起干活的这个人说话,他也没有和她说话。她也没有多想一想,只记得白天他不在地里,知道他不是马洛特村里的人;近几年来她时常离家,有时长期离家,所以她不认识那个人也不足为怪。他挖地挖得离她越来越近了,近得她可以清楚地看见他及子上的铁饭像她叉子上的铁齿一样闪光。当她把一把枯草扔到火堆上的时候,她看见他在对面也在做同样的事。火光一亮,她看见了德贝维尔的那张脸。
她万万没有想到会在这儿见到他,他的样子也非常古怪,身上穿着只有最古板的农民才穿的打褶粗布长衫,他这种极其好笑的样子使她心里感到阵阵发悚。德贝维尔发出一声低低的长笑。
“如果我想开玩笑,我就要说,这多么像伊甸乐园啊!”他歪着头看着她,想入非非地说。
“你说什么呀?”苔丝有气无力地问。
“一个爱说笑话的人,一定要说我们两个人的情景就像在伊甸乐园里一样了。你是夏娃,我就是另外那个人,装扮成一个下等动物来诱惑你。我相信神学的时候,很熟悉弥尔顿描写的那个场面。有一段这样说——
“女王,路已铺好,并不太长,
就在一排桃金娘的那边……
……要是你接受
我的指引,我马上就带你去。”
“那么带路吧,”夏娃回答。①
 
①见弥尔顿《失乐园》第九章六二六至六三一行。

“等等。我亲爱的亲爱的苔丝,我只能把这些话向你说出来,这都是你以为的或者想说的话,但这样说不是真实的,因为你把我想得太坏了。”
“我从来没有说过你是撒旦,也没有想过你是撒旦。我根本就没有那样看待你。除非你惹恼了我,我都能冷静地看待你。怎么,你到这儿来挖地完全是为了我吗?”
“完全是为了你。为了来看看你;别的什么也没有。我来这儿的路上,看见有件长衫挂在那儿出售,就头了芽上,免得被你认出来。我到这儿来,就是为了阻止你像这样干活。”
“但是我自己愿意这样干活——也是为我的父亲干活。”
“你在那个地方的合同期满了吗?”
“满了。”
“你以后到哪儿去呢?到你亲爱的丈夫那儿去吗?”
她简直受不了这种令人难堪的话。
“啊——我不知道!”她痛苦地说。“我没有丈夫了!”
“说得完全对——你的意思不错。但是你还有朋友呀,我已经下了决心,不管你怎么想,我也要让你过上舒服日子。你回家的时候,你就会看见我给你们送去了什么。”
“啊,阿历克,我希望你什么东西也不要送给我!你的东西我也不会要!我不愿意要你的东西——要你的东西是不对的!”
“说得对!”他轻佻地喊着说。“要是我对一个女人像对你一样心疼的话,我是不会看着她受苦而不帮助她的。”
“但是我的日子过得也不错!我的困难只是——只是——根本不是生活问题!”
她转过身去,拼命地挖起地来,眼泪流到锄头把上,又从锄头的把上流到地里。
“关于孩子们——你的弟弟和妹妹,”他接着说。“我也一直在为他们考虑。”
苔丝的心战栗了——他正在触她心中的痛处,猜到了她主要的烦恼。自从回家以来,她就怀着热烈的感情在为这些孩子们操心。
“你的母亲要是不能恢复过来,总得有个人照顾他们吧;因为,我想你的父亲是没有多大用处的,是不是?”
“有我帮助他,他能管用的。他一定能管用的!”
“还有我的帮助。”
“不要你的帮助,先生!”
“你他妈的不是太糊涂吗!”德贝维尔叫起来。“唉,你的父亲认为我们是一家呀,他会感到很满意的啊!”
“他不会的。我已经实话告诉他了。”
“那你更加糊涂了!”
德贝维尔生气地从她的身边退到树篱的边上,在那儿把身上乔装打扮的长衫脱了下来,揉成一团扔进了火里,转身走了。
苔丝也无法继续挖下去了,只感到心神不定,不知道他是不是回到她父亲家里去了。她就用手拿着锄头,向家里走去。
她走到离家还有二十码远的地方,有一个妹妹向她走来。
“啊,苔丝——你看怎么办吧!丽莎·露正在哭,家里挤了一大堆人,妈妈倒是大见好了,可是他们却说父亲已经死了啊!”
这个孩子只知道这件事重要,但是不知道这件事悲惨;她站在那儿,睁着一双大眼睛看着苔丝,她看见苔丝听了她的话后脸上出现的神情,就说——
“喂,苔丝,我们是不是再也不能和父亲说话了啊?”
“可是父亲只不过是一点儿小病啊!”苔丝慌慌张张地喊着说。
丽莎·露也来了。
“他刚才跌倒的,给妈妈看病的大夫说,没有办法救了,他的心都叫油长满了。”
不错;德北菲尔德夫妇互相把位置变换了;快死的人脱离了危险,生小病的人倒死了。这件事比听起来的意义要严重得多。她的父亲活着的时候,他的价值和他个人成就的关系并不大,或者说也许没有多大价值,但是他的价值在他的个人以外。他是三辈人中的最后一辈,他们租住的房屋和宅基地的典约就到他这里为止。转租土地的农场主早就垂涎他们的房子,想把房子租给他的长工住,那时他的长工正缺少住的地方。而且,终身典房人几乎和小自由保产人一样在村子里不受欢迎,所以租期一到,就绝不让他们再租了。
因此,当年的德贝维尔家,现在的德北菲尔德家看着不幸的命运降临在他们的头上,毫无疑问,在他们还是郡中望族的时候,也肯定制造了许多次不幸的命运,或许还要更为严重,让它们降临在那些和他们现在一样的没有土地的人的身上。天下的一切事情,彼此消长,盛衰交替,本来就是这样不断变化的啊。
 

She plunged into the chilly equinoctial darkness as the clock struck ten, for her fifteen miles' walk under the steely stars. In lonely districts night is a protection rather than a danger to a noiseless pedestrian, and knowing this Tess pursued the nearest course along by-lanes that she would almost have feared in the day time; but marauders were wanting now, and spectral fears were driven out of her mind by thoughts of her mother. Thus she proceeded mile after mile, ascending and descending till she came to Bulbarrow, and about midnight looked from that height into the abyss of chaotic shade which was all that revealed itself of the vale on whose further side she was born. Having already traversed about five miles on the upland she had now some ten or eleven in the lowland before her journey would be finished. The winding road downwards became just visible to her under the wan starlight as she followed it, and soon she paced a soil so contrasting with that above it that the difference was perceptible to the tread and to the smell. It was the heavy clay land of Blackmoor Vale, and a part of the Vale to which turnpike-roads had never penetrated. Superstitions linger longest on these heavy soils. Having once been forest, at this shadowy time it seemed to assert something of its old character, the far and the near being blended, and every tree and tall hedge making the most of its presence. The harts that had been hunted here, the witches that had been pricked and ducked, the green-spangled fairies that `whickered' at you as you passed; the place teemed with beliefs in them still, and they formed an impish multitude now.

At Nuttlebury she passed the village inn, whose sign creaked in response to the greeting of her footsteps, which not a human soul heard but herself. Under the thatched roofs her mind's eye beheld relaxed tendons and flaccid muscles, spread out in the darkness beneath coverlets made of little purple patchwork squares, and undergoing a bracing process at the hands of sleep for renewed labour on the morrow, as soon as a hint of pink nebulosity appeared on Hambledon Hill.

At three she turned the last corner of the maze of lanes she had threaded, and entered Marlott, passing the field in which, as a club-girl, she had first seen Angel Clare, when he had not danced with her; the sense of disappointment remained with her yet. In the direction of her mother's house she saw a light. It came from the bedroom window, and a branch waved in front of it and made it wink at her. As soon as she could discern the outline of the house - newly thatched with her money - it had all its old effect upon Tess's imagination. Part of her body and life it ever seemed to be; the slope of its dormers, the finish of its gables, the broken courses of brick which topped the chimney, all had something in common with her personal character. A stupefaction had come into these features, to her regard; it meant the illness of her mother.

She opened the door so softly as to disturb nobody; the lower room was vacant, but the neighbour who was sitting up with her mother came to the top of the stairs, and whispered that Mrs Durbeyfield was no better, though she was sleeping just then. Tess prepared herself a breakfast, and then took her place as nurse in her mother's chamber.

In the morning, when she contemplated the children, they had all a curiously elongated look; although she had been away little more than a year their growth was astounding; and the necessity of applying herself heart and soul to their needs took her out of her own cares.

Her father's ill-health was of the same indefinite kind, and he sat in his chair as usual. But the day after her arrival he was unusually bright. He had a rational scheme for living, and Tess asked him what it was.

`I'm thinking of sending round to all the old antiqueerians in this part of England,' he said, `asking them to subscribe to a fund to maintain me. I'm sure they'd see it as a romantical, artistical, and proper thing to do. They spend lots o' money in keeping up old ruins, and finding the bones o'things, and such like; and living remains must be more interesting to 'em still, if they only knowed of me. Would that somebody would go round and tell 'em what there is living among 'em, and they thinking nothing of him! If Pa'son Tringham, who discovered me, had lived, he'd ha done it, I'm sure.'

Tess postponed her arguments on this high project till she had grappled with pressing matters in hand, which seemed little improved by her remittances. When indoor necessities had been cased she turned her attention to external things. It was now the season for planting and sowing; many gardens and allotments of the villagers had already received their spring tillage; but the garden and the allotment of the Durbeyfields were behindhand. She found, to her dismay, that this was owing to their having eaten all the seed potatoes,-that last lapse of the improvident. At the earliest moment she obtained what others she could procure, and in a few days her father was well enough to see to the garden, under Tess's persuasive efforts: while she herself undertook the allotment-plot which they rented in a field a couple of hundred yards out of the village.

She liked doing it after the confinement of the sick chamber, where she was not now required by reason of her mother's improvement. Violent motion relieved thought. The plot of ground was in a high, dry open enclosure, where there were forty or fifty such pieces, and where labour was at its briskest when the hired labour of the day had ended. Digging began usually at six o'clock, and extended indefinitely into the dusk or moonlight. Just now heaps of dead weeds and refuse were burning on many of the plots, the dry weather favouring their combustion.

One fine day Tess and 'Liza-Lu worked on here with their neighbours till the last rays of the sun smote flat upon the white pegs that divided the plots. As soon as twilight succeeded to sunset the flare of the couch-grass and cabbage-stalk fires began to light up the allotments fitfully, their outlines appearing and disappearing under the dense smoke as wafted by the wind. When a fire glowed, banks of smoke, blown level along the ground, would themselves become illuminated to an opaque lustre, screening the workpeople from one another; and the meaning of the `pillar of a cloud,' which was a wall by day and a light by night, could be understood.

As evening thickened some of the gardening men and women gave over for the night, but the greater number remained to get their planting done, Tess being among them, though she sent her sister home. It was on one of the couch-burning plots that she laboured with her fork, its four shining prongs resounding against the stones and dry clods in little clicks. Sometimes she was completely involved in the smoke of her fire; then it would leave her figure free, irradiated by the brassy glare from the heap. She was oddly dressed to-night, and presented a somewhat staring aspect, her attire being a gown bleached by many washings, with a short black jacket over it, the effect of the whole being that of a wedding and funeral guest in one. The women further back wore white aprons, which, with their pale faces, were all that could be seen of them in the gloom, except when at moments they caught a flash from the flames.

Westward, the wiry boughs of the bare thorn hedge which formed the boundary of the field rose against the pale opalescence of the lower sky. Above, Jupiter hung like a full-blown jonquil, so bright as almost to throw a shade. A few small nondescript stars were appearing elsewhere. Iii the distance a dog barked, and wheels occasionally rattled along the dry road.

Still the prongs continued to click assiduously, for it was not late-, and though the air was fresh and keen there was a whisper of spring in it that cheered the workers on. Something in the place, the hour, the crackling fires, the fantastic mysteries of light and shade, made others as well as Tess enjoy being there. Nightfall, which in the frost of winter comes as a fiend and in the warmth of summer as a lover, came as a tranquillizer on this March day.

Nobody looked at his or her companions. The eyes of all were on the soil as its turned surface was revealed by the fires. Hence as Tess stirred the clods, and sang her foolish little songs with scarce now a hope that Clare would ever hear them, she did not for a long time notice the person who worked nearest to her - a man in a long smockfrock who, she found, was forking the same plot as herself, and whom she supposed her father had sent there to advance the work. She became more conscious of him when the direction of his digging brought him closer. Sometimes the smoke divided them; then it swerved, and the two were visible to each other but divided from all the rest.

Tess did not speak to her fellow-worker, nor did he speak to her. Nor did she think of him further than to recollect that he had not been there when it was broad daylight, and that she did not know him as any one of the Marlott labourers, which was no wonder, her absences having been so long and frequent of late years. By-and-by he dug so close to her that the fire-beams were reflected as distinctly from the steel prongs of his fork as from her own. On going up to the fire to throw a pitch of dead weeds upon it, she found that he did the same on the other side. The fire flared up, and she beheld the face of d'Urberville.

The unexpectedness of his presence, the grotesqueness of his appearance in a gathered smockfrock, such as was now worn only by the most old-fashioned of the labourers, had a ghastly comicality that chilled her as to its bearing. D'Urberville emitted a low long laugh.

`If I were inclined to joke I should say, How much this seems like Paradise!' he remarked whimsically, looking at her with an inclined head.

`What do you say?' she weakly asked.

`A jester might say this is just like Paradise. You are Eve, and I am the old Other One come to tempt you in the disguise of an inferior animal. I used to be quite up in that scene of Milton's when I was theological. Some of it goes--

"Empress, the way is ready, and not long,
Beyond a row of myrtles...
... If thou accept
My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon."
"Lead then," said Eve.

And so on. My dear, dear Tess, I am only putting this to you as a thing that you might have supposed or said quite untruly, because you think so badly of me.'
`I never said you were Satan, or thought it. I don't think of you in that way at all. My thoughts of you are quite cold, except when you affront me. What, did you come digging here entirely because of me?'

`Entirely. To see you; nothing more. The smockfrock, which I saw hanging for sale as I came along, was an after-thought, that I mightn't be noticed. I come to protest against your working like this.'

`But I like doing it - it is for my father.'

`Your engagement at the other place is ended?'

`Yes.'

`Where are you going to next? To join your dear husband?'

She could not bear the humiliating reminder.

`O - I don't know!' she said bitterly. `I have no husband!'

`It is quite true - in the sense you mean. But you have a friend, and I have determined that you shall be comfortable in spite of yourself. When you get down to your house you will see what I have sent there for you.'

`O, Alec, I wish you wouldn't give me anything at all! I cannot take it from you! I don't like - it is not right!'

`It is right!' he cried lightly. `I am not going to see a woman whom I feel so tenderly for as I do for you, in trouble without trying to help her.'

`But I am very well off! I am only in trouble about - about - not about living at all!'

She turned, and desperately resumed her digging, tears dripping upon the fork-handle and upon the clods.

`About the children - your brothers and sisters,' he resumed. `I've been thinking of them.'

Tess's heart quivered - he was touching her in a weak place. He had divined her chief anxiety. Since returning home her soul had gone out to those children with an affection that was passionate.

`If your mother does not recover, somebody ought to do something for them; since your father will not be able to do much, I suppose?'

`He can with my assistance. He must!'

`And with mine.'

`No, sir!'

`How damned foolish this is!' burst out d'Urberville. `Why, he thinks we are the same family; and will be quite satisfied!'

`He don't. I've undeceived him.'

`The more fool you!'

D'Urberville in anger retreated from her to the hedge, where he pulled off the long smockfrock which had disguised him; and rolling it up and pushing it into the couch-fire, went away.

Tess could not get on with her digging after this; she felt restless; she wondered if he had gone back to her father's house; and taking the fork in her hand proceeded homewards.

Some twenty yards from the house she was met by one of her sisters.

`O, Tessy - what do you think! 'Liza-Lu is a-crying, and there's a lot of folk in the house, and mother is a good deal better, but they think father is dead!'

The child realized the grandeur of the news; but not as yet its sadness; and stood looking at Tess with round-eyed importance, till, beholding the effect produced upon her, she said

`What, Tess, shan't we talk to father never no more?'

`But father was only a little bit ill!' exclaimed Tess distractedly.

'Liza-Lu came up.

`He dropped down just now, and the doctor who was there for mother said there was no chance for him, because his heart was growed in.'

Yes; the Durbeyfield couple had changed places; the dying one was out of danger, and the indisposed one was dead. The news meant even more than it sounded. Her father's life had a value apart from his personal achievements, or perhaps it would not have had much. It was the last of the three lives for whose duration the house and premises were held under a lease; and it had long been coveted by the tenant-farmer for his regular labourers, who were stinted in cottage accommodation. Moreover, `leviers' were disapproved of in villages almost as much as little freeholders, because of their independence of manner, and when a lease determined it was never renewed.

Thus the Durbeyfields, once d'Urbervilles, saw descending upon them the destiny which, no doubt, when they were among the Olympians of the county, they had caused to descend many a time, and severely enough, upon the heads of such landless ones as they themselves were now. So do flux and reflux - the rhythm of change - alternate and persist in everything under the sky.