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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6节 第五十二章 【
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第二天凌晨两三点钟的时候,天仍然一片漆黑,住在大道旁边的人就听到了马车的辘辘声,从睡梦中给吵醒了,马车的辘辘声时断时续,一直持续到天亮——每年这个月的第一个礼拜是一个特殊的礼拜,每年在这个时候都要听到马车的吵闹声,就好像在这个月的第三个礼拜一定会听到杜鹃的叫声一样。这些声音都是大搬家的前奏,是那些为迁走的家庭搬运物品的空马车和搬家队走过去的声音;因为被雇用的人通常都是由雇主派车把他们接到目的地。由于搬家的事要在一天内搬完,所以半夜刚过马车的辘辘声就响了起来,为的是要在六点钟把马车赶到搬家人的门口,一到那儿,他们就立即动手把要搬走的东西装上车。
但是苔丝和她母亲的家却没有热心的农场主为她们派来马车和搬家的人。她们都是妇道人家,不是正式的庄稼汉,也没有特别需要她们的地方,因此不能免费运送任何东西,不得不自己花钱雇马车。
苔丝向窗外看去,只见那天早晨天色阴沉沉的,刮着风,但是没有下雨,雇的马车也来了,她这才放下心来。圣母节这天下雨是搬家的人永远也忘不了的鬼天气;天一下雨,家具淋湿了,被褥淋湿了,衣服也淋湿了,最后弄得许多人生病。苔丝的母亲、丽莎·露和亚伯拉罕已经醒了,不过更小的几个孩子仍然睡着,没有人去叫醒他们。醒来的四个人在暗淡的灯光下吃了早饭,就动手往车上装东西。
装马车的时候有一两个友善的邻居过来帮忙,气氛还有几分高兴。几件大的家具放好以后,又用床和被褥在车上弄了一个圆形的窝儿,预备在路上让琼·德北菲尔德和几个小孩子坐。
东西装上车以后,她们又等了许久,拉车的马才备好了牵过来,因为马车到了以后,马就从车上卸下来了;一直耽误到两点钟,人马才一起上路;做饭的锅吊在车轴上,德北菲尔德太太和孩子们坐在马车顶上,把钟放在腿上抱着,防止马车在猛烈颠簸时把机件震坏了;马车猛地晃一下,钟就敲一下,或敲一下半。苔丝和妹妹跟在马车旁边走着,一直走出了村子才上车。
她们在早上和头天晚上曾经到几户邻居家里告别,这时候他们也前来为她们送行,祝她们走好运,不过在他们秘密的心底里,却没有想到好运会降临在这样一个家庭里,其实德北菲尔德这家人除了对自己而外,对任何人都不会有什么损害。马车不久上了土坡,随着地势的增高,风也随着路面和土壤的变化而变得更加寒冷了。
那天是四月六日,德北菲尔德家的马车在路上遇见了许多其它的马车,都是马车上装着家具,家具上坐着全家人;这种装载的方法近来似乎成了不变的原则,大概它的独特性对于农村种庄稼的人就像蜂窠对于蜜蜂一样。装车的基础部分是家里的碗柜,碗柜上有发亮的把手,手指头印儿和沾在上面的厚厚油垢;它按照平常的摆法被竖在车前面重要的位置上,对着拉车的马的尾巴;那个碗柜就像一个约柜①,搬运的时候要恭恭敬敬地才行。
 
①约柜(Ark of the Covenant),指装有十块摩西十戒的石碑的柜子。见《圣经·民数记》第十章及其它章。

在这些搬家的人当中,有的快活,有的悲伤,有的停在客栈的门口,到了吃饭的时候,德北菲尔德一家老小也把马车停在一家旅馆的门口,给马喂料,让人吃饭。
休息的时候,苔丝的眼睛看见有一辆马车的顶上坐着一群妇女,她们正在从车上到车下地互相传递着一个装三品特酒的大酒杯喝酒;那辆马车和苔丝的马车停在同一个旅馆里,不过距离稍为远一点。苔丝的眼睛随着那只被传来传去的大酒杯看到了车上,发现有一双她熟悉的手把那酒杯接了过去。于是苔丝向那辆马车走过去。
“玛丽安!伊茨!”苔丝大声喊,因为车上坐的正是她们两个,她们现在正和她们住的那一家人一起搬迁。“你们今天也搬家,和大家一样是不是?”
她们说她们正和大家一样搬家。在燧石山农场生活太苦了,她们几乎没有通知格罗比就走了,如果他愿意,让他到法庭告她们好了。她们告诉了苔丝她们的去处,苔丝也把自己的去处告诉了她们。
玛丽安伏身在马车装的物品上,低声和苔丝说话。“你知道跟着你的那位绅士吧?你猜得出我说的是谁,他到燧石山农场来找过你,问你是不是回家了。既然我们知道你不想见他,我们就没有告诉他你去了哪儿。”
“噢——可是我已经见到他了!”苔丝嘟哝着说。“他找着我了。”
“他知道你现在去哪儿吗?”
“我想他知道。”
“你的丈夫回来了吗?”
“没有。”
这时两辆马车的车夫已经从客栈出来了,赶着苔丝就告别了她的朋友,回到自己的马车上,于是两辆马车就往相反的方向走了。玛丽安和伊茨决定和她们住的那家耕地的农民一起走,他们坐的马车油漆得发亮,用三匹高头大马拉着,马具上的铜饰闪亮耀眼;而德北菲尔德太太一家人坐的这辆马车却是一个吱吱作响的木头架子,几乎承受不了上面负载的重物;这是一辆自从造出来就没有油漆过的马车,只有两匹马拉着。这是一种强烈的对比,表示出两家的明显差别,说明由兴旺发达的农场主来接和没有雇主来接而只好自己雇车是不同的。
路很远——一天要走完这些路确实太远了——两匹马要拉着车走完这些路也极其不易。尽管他们动身非常早,但是等到他们走到一处高地的坡上,天色已经是下午很晚的时候了,那处高地是被称作青山的那块高地的组成部分。两匹马站在那儿撒尿喘气的时候,苔丝看了看四周。在那座山下,正好在他们的前面,就是他们前往的那个半死不活的小镇金斯伯尔,那儿埋着她父亲的祖先的枯骨,她的父亲经常提到他的这些祖先,夸耀得让人厌烦不过。金斯伯尔,在全世界可能被当作德北菲尔德家族老家的地点中,就只有这个地点了,因为他们在那儿足足住了五百年。
这时只见一个人从郊外向他们走来,那个人看出是搬家的马车,就加快了他的脚步。
“我想,你就是德北菲尔德太太吧?”他对苔丝的母亲说,那时她已经下了车,想步行走完剩下的路。
她点点头。“我要是关心我的权利的话,我得说我就是新近故去的穷贵族约翰·德北菲尔德爵士的遗孀;我们正在问我丈夫祖宗的领地去。”
“哦?好,这我可不知道;不过如果你是德北菲尔德太太的话,我来这儿是要告诉你,你要的房子已经租给别人了。我们今天早晨才收到你的信,知道你们要来——但这时候已经太晚了。不过你们在别处也找得到住处,这是没有问题的。”
来人也注意到苔丝的脸,只见她听到这个消息,脸顿时变得一片灰白。她的母亲也露出绝望的神情。“我们现在怎么办呢,苔丝?”她痛苦地对苔丝说。“这就是你祖先的故土对我们的欢迎了!还是让我们到前面找一找吧。”
她们走进了小镇里,尽量去找住房。苔丝的母亲和妹妹丽莎·露出去打听住处,苔丝则留在马车的旁边照顾小孩子。一个小时过后,琼寻找住处一无所获,回到了马车的旁边,赶车的车夫说,车上的东西一定要卸下来,因为拉车的马都快累死了,而且当天晚上他至少还得往回走一段路。
“好吧——就卸在这儿吧!”琼不顾一切地说。“我总会找到一个栖身的地方。”
马车已经拉到了教堂墓地的墙角下,停在一个别人看不见的地方,车夫把车上装的可怜东西卸下来,堆在地上。卸完车,琼付了车钱,这样她差不多把她最后的一个先令都花光了。车夫离开他们走了,再也用不着继续同他们打交道,因此车夫心里非常高兴。这是一个干燥的夜晚,车夫猜想他们晚上冻不着。
苔丝绝望地看着那一堆家具。春天傍晚清冷的太阳,好像含有恶意似地照射着那些坛坛罐罐,照射着一丛丛在微风中索索发抖的枯草,照射着碗柜的铜把手,照射到他们所有的孩子都睡过的那个摇篮上,照射在那座被擦得发亮的钟面上,太阳照射着所有这一切,这一切闪现着责备的亮光,好像在说,这些室内的物品,怎么会被扔到露天里来了。周围是当年的德北菲尔德家的园林,现在变成了山丘斜坡,被分割成一小块一块的围场,那块绿草菁菁的地基,表明当年那儿建造过德北菲尔德家的府邸;从这儿向外延伸出去的爱敦荒原一片苍茫,从前它一直属于德北菲尔德家的产业。紧靠身边的是教堂的一条走道,也叫做德北菲尔德走道,在一旁冷冷地看着他们。
“我们家族的墓室不是完全保有的地产吗?”苔丝的母亲把教堂和教堂墓地又重新观察了一番,转回来说。“啊,当然是的,孩子们,我们就在这儿住下了,一直住到在你们祖先的故土上找到房子为止!喂,苔丝,丽莎,还有亚伯拉罕,都过来帮忙。我们要先给几个小的弄一个睡觉的地方,然后我们再出去看一看。”
苔丝没精打采地过去帮忙,用了一刻钟的时间,才把那张四柱床从那一堆杂物中拖出来,然后把它摆放在教堂的南墙边,那儿是德北菲尔德走道的一部分,下面是她们家族的巨大墓室。在四柱床的床帐上方,是一个带许多花饰的美丽窗户,窗户是由许多块玻璃做成的,大概是十五世纪的东西。那个窗户也被称为德北菲尔德窗户;在窗户的上半部分可以看到家徽一样的装饰,同德北菲尔德家保存的古印和汤匙上的装饰一模一样。
琼把帷帐围在床的四周,做成了一个绝妙的帐篷,把那些小孩子安顿进去。“如果实在没有办法,我们也只好在那儿睡一个晚上了,”德北菲尔德太太说,“让我们再想想办法,给孩子们买点儿东西吃吧!啊,苔丝,要是我们流落到这步田地,你还要老想着嫁给一个绅士,这有什么用啊!”
她又由丽莎·露和亚伯拉罕陪着,走上了那条把教堂和小镇分开的篱路。他们一走进街道,就看见一个骑马的人在上下打量他们。“啊——我正在找你们呐!”他骑着马向他们走过来说。“这倒真是一家人聚集在这个历史地点了!”
来人是阿历克·德贝维尔。“苔丝在吗?”他问。
琼本人对他没有好感。她粗略地向教堂的方向指了指,就朝前走了。德贝维尔对琼说,他刚才听说他们正在找房子,万一他们要是找不到住处的话,他再来看他们。在他们走了以后,德贝维尔就骑着马向一个客栈走去,但不一会儿又步行着从客栈里走了出来。
在这段时间里,苔丝陪着床上的那几个孩子,和他们说了一会儿话,看见当时没有什么可以使他们更舒服的事情做,就到教堂的四周走一走,那时候夜幕正在降临,教堂墓地也开始变得苍茫起来。教堂的门没有锁,她就走了进去,这是她一生中第一次走进这个教堂。那张床摆放在那个窗户的下面,在窗户的里面,就是他们家族的墓室,已经有好几百年的历史了。墓室的上面有华盖,是一种祭坛式样,很朴素;上面的雕刻残破了;青铜饰品已经从框子里脱落了,框子上留下一些洞眼,就像沙岩上圣马丁鸟的窝一样。苔丝的家族已经从社会上灭绝了,但是在她见到的在所有残存下来的东西中,没有比这儿残破凄凉的景象更厉害的了。
她走到一块黑色的石碑前面,石碑上面刻着花体文字:
 
古德贝维尔家族之墓

苔丝不像红衣主教那样能够阅读教会拉丁文,但是她知道这儿是她祖坟的墓门,墓里面埋的是她的父亲举杯歌咏的那些身材高大的骑士。
她默默地想着,转身走了出去,从一个祭坛式墓室旁边经过;那个墓室是最古老的一个,她看见墓室上还蜷伏着一个人形。在苍茫的暮色中,苔丝刚才没有加以注意,现在她要不是奇怪地想到那个人形在动,她也不会注意到。当她走到那个人形的跟前时,她立即看出来那是一个活人。这儿并不是她一个人,她顿时吓得两腿发软,就要晕了过去,这时才认出那个人形是德贝维尔。
他从墓顶上跳下来,扶住苔丝。
“我看见你进来的,”他笑着说,“我爬到那儿去,是怕打搅了你的沉思默想。是不是全家人在这儿和地下的老古董聚会啊?听着。”
他用他的脚后跟使劲地跺着地面,从下面发出空洞洞的回声。
“我敢保证,这才会使他们受到一点儿震动!”他继续说。“你以为我只是这些石像中的一个吧。可是不是的。一朝天子一朝臣啊。我这个冒牌的德贝维尔现在伸出一根小手指,也比地下那些世世代代的武士更能帮上你的忙——现在吩咐我好了。我能为你做些什么呢?”
“你给我走开!”苔丝低声说。
“我要走开的——我去找你的母亲,”他温和地说。但是他从她的身边走过的时候,小声对她说:“记住,你总有客气的一天的!”
德贝维尔走了以后,她伏在墓门口说——
“我为什么没有躺在这个墓门的里面呢?”
与此同时,玛丽安和伊茨正和那个耕地的人一起,带着他们的物品向迦南的福地走去,其实这儿是另外一些家庭的埃及,他们就在这天的早晨才刚刚离去。但是这两个女孩子并没有老是把她们要去的地方放在心上。她们谈的是关于安琪尔,克莱尔和苔丝的事,谈的是苔丝的那个追着她不放的情人,那个情人同她过去的历史她们已经猜出了一些,也听到了一些。
“看来她仿佛以前不认识他似的,”玛丽安说。“既然她以前受过他的骗,那现在的情形就完全不同了。要是他再把她勾引走了,那她就万分可怜了。伊茨呀,克莱尔先生对于我们已经没有什么了;我们为什么不成全他们两个呢?为什么不去弥合他们的争吵呢?要是他知道了苔丝在这儿遭受的罪,知道了有人在追求她,他也许就要回来照顾他的妻子了。”
“我们怎样才能让他知道呢?”
她们一路上思考着这件事,走到了目的地;但是她们刚到一个新地方,忙忙碌碌地安置新家,所以这件事就被放下来了。但是当她们安顿好了,这已经是一个月以后的事了,虽然她们没有听到苔丝的什么消息,但是听说克莱尔快要回来了。听说了这个消息,又引发了她们对他的旧情,但是她们也要光明正大地为苔丝作点事。玛丽安打开她和伊茨一起花钱买的墨水瓶,互相商量着写了一封信。
尊敬的先生——如果你像她爱你一样还爱着她的话,请你来爱护你的妻子吧。因为她现在正受到一个装作朋友的敌人的诱惑。先生,有一个应该远远离开她的人,现在跟她在一起了。对女人的考验不应该超过她的承受能力,水滴石穿——莫说是石头——就是钻石也会滴穿呀。
两个好心人
她们把这封给安琪尔·克莱尔的信寄到了爱敏寺的牧师住宅,这是她们从前听说的和他有关的地方。她们把信寄走了以后,继续为她们的侠义行动感到高兴,同时,她们又歇斯底里地唱起歌来,一边唱一边哭着。
 

During the small hours of the next morning, while it was still dark, dwellers near the highways were conscious of a disturbance of their night's rest by rumbling noises, intermittently continuing till daylight - noises as certain to recur in this particular first week of the month as the voice of the cuckoo in the third week of the same. They were the preliminaries of the general removal, the passing of the empty waggons and teams to fetch the goods of the migrating families; for it was always by the vehicle of the farmer who required his services that the hired man was conveyed to his destination. That this might be accomplished within the day was the explanation of the reverberation occurring so soon after midnight, the aim of the carters being to reach the door of the outgoing households by six o'clock, when the loading of their movables at once began.

But to Tess and her mother's household no such anxious farmer sent his team. They were only women; they were not regular labourers; they were not particularly required anywhere; hence they had to hire a waggon at their own expense, and got nothing sent gratuitously.

It was a relief to Tess, when she looked out of the window that morning, to find that though the weather was windy and louring, it did not rain, and that the waggon had come. A wet Lady-Day was a spectre which removing families never forgot; damp furniture, damp bedding, damp clothing accompanied it, and left a train of ills.

Her mother, 'Liza-Lu, and Abraham were also awake, but the younger children were let sleep on. The four breakfasted by the thin light, and the `house-ridding' was taken in hand.

It proceeded with some cheerfulness, a friendly neighbour or two assisting. When the large articles of furniture had been packed in position a circular nest was made of the beds and bedding, in which Joan Durbeyfield and the young children were to sit through the journey. After loading there was a long delay before the horses were brought, these having been unharnessed during the ridding; but at length, about two o'clock, the whole was under way, the cooking-pot swinging from the axle of the waggon, Mrs Durbeyfield and family at the top, the matron having in her lap, to prevent injury to its works, the head of the clock, which, at any exceptional lurch of the waggon, struck one, or one-and-a-half, in hurt tones. Tess and the next eldest girl walked alongside till they were out of the village.

They had called on a few neighbours that morning and the previous evening, and some came to see them off, all wishing them well, though, in their secret hearts, hardly expecting welfare possible to such a family, harmless as the Durbeyfields were to all except themselves. Soon the equipage began to ascend to higher ground, and the wind grew keener with the change of level and soil.

The day being the sixth of April, the Durbeyfield waggon met many other waggons with families on the summit of the load, which was built on a wellnigh unvarying principle, as peculiar, probably, to the rural labourer as the hexagon to the bee. The groundwork of the arrangement was the family dresser, which, with its shining handles, and finger-marks, and domestic evidences thick upon it, stood importantly in front, over the tails of the shaft-horses, in its erect and natural position, like some Ark of the Covenant that they were bound to carry reverently.

Some of the households were lively, some mournful; some were stopping at the doors of wayside inns; where, in due time, the Durbeyfield menagerie also drew up to bait horses and refresh the travellers.

During the halt Tess's eyes fell upon a three-pint blue mug, which was ascending and descending through the air to and from the feminine section of a household, sitting on the summit of a load that had also drawn up at a little distance from the same inn. She followed one of the mug's journeys upward, and perceived it to be clasped by hands whose owner she well knew. Tess went towards the waggon.

`Marian and Izz!' she cried to the girls, for it was they, sitting with the moving family at whose house they had lodged. `Are you house-ridding to-day, like everybody else?'

They were, they said. It had been too rough a life for them at Flintcomb-Ash, and they had come away, almost without notice, leaving Groby to prosecute them if he chose. They told Tess their destination, and Tess told them hers.

Marian leant over the load, and lowered her voice. `Do you know that the gentleman who follows 'ee - you'll guess who I mean - came to ask for 'ee at Flintcomb after you had gone? We didn't tell'n where you was, knowing you wouldn't wish to see him.'

`Ah - but I did see him!' Tess murmured. `He found me.'

`And do he know where you be going?'

`I think so.'

`Husband come back?'

`No.'

She bade her acquaintance good-bye - for the respective carters had now come out from the inn - and the two waggons resumed their journey in opposite directions; the vehicle whereon sat Marian, Izz, and the ploughman's family with whom they had thrown in their lot, being brightly painted, and drawn by three powerful horses with shining brass ornaments on their harness; while the waggon on which Mrs Durbeyfield and her family rode was a creaking erection that would scarcely bear the weight of the superincumbent load; one which had known no paint since it was made, and drawn by two horses only. The contrast well marked the difference between being fetched by a thriving farmer and conveying oneself whither no hirer waited one's coming.

The distance was great - too great for a day's journey - and it was with the utmost difficulty that the horses performed it. Though they had started so early it was quite late in the afternoon when they turned the flank of an eminence which formed part of the upland called Greenhill. While the horses stood to stale and breathe themselves Tess looked around. Under the hill, and just ahead of them, was the half-dead townlet of their pilgrimage, Kingsbere, where lay those ancestors of whom her father had spoken and sung to painfulness: Kingsbere, the spot of all spots in the world which could be considered the d'Urbervilles' home, since they had resided there for full five hundred years.

A man could be seen advancing from the outskirts towards them, and when he beheld the nature of their waggon-load he quickened his steps.

`You be the woman they call Mrs Durbeyfield, I reckon?' he said to Tess's mother, who had descended to walk the remainder of the way.

She nodded. `Though widow of the late Sir John d'Urberville, poor nobleman, if I cared for my rights; and returning to the domain of his forefathers.'

`Oh? Well, I know nothing about that; but if you be Mrs Durbeyfield, I am sent to tell 'ee that the rooms you wanted be let. We didn't know you was coming till we got your letter this morning - when 'twas too late. But no doubt you can get other lodgings somewhere.'

The man had noticed the face of Tess, which had become ash-pale at his intelligence. Her mother looked hopelessly at fault. `What shall we do now, Tess?' she said bitterly. `Here's a welcome to your ancestors' lands! However, let's try further.'

They moved on into the town, and tried with all their might, Tess remaining with the waggon to take care of the children whilst her mother and 'Liza-Lu made inquiries. At the last return of Joan to the vehicle, an hour later, when her search for accommodation had still been fruitless, the driver of the waggon said the goods must be unloaded, as the horses were half-dead, and he was bound to return part of the way at least that night.

`Very well - unload it here,' said Joan recklessly. `I'll get shelter somewhere.'

The waggon had drawn up under the churchyard wall, in a spot screened from view, and the driver, nothing loth, soon hauled down the poor heap of household goods. This done she paid him, reducing herself to almost her last shilling thereby, and he moved off and left them, only too glad to get out of further dealings with such a family. It was a dry night, and he guessed that they would come to no harm.

Tess gazed desperately at the pile of furniture. The cold sunlight of this spring evening peered invidiously upon the crocks and kettles, upon the bunches of dried herbs shivering in the breeze, upon the brass handles of the dresser, upon the wicker-cradle they had all been rocked in, and upon the well-rubbed clock-case all of which gave out the reproachful gleam of indoor articles abandoned to the vicissitudes of a roofless exposure for which they were never made. Round about were deparked hills and slopes - now cut up into little paddocks - and the green foundations that showed where the d'Urberville mansion once had stood; also an outlying stretch of Egdon Heath that had always belonged to the estate. Hard by, the aisle of the church called the d'Urberville Aisle looked on imperturbably.

`Isn't your family vault your own freehold?' said Tess's mother, as she returned from a reconnoitre of the church and graveyard. Why of course 'tis, and that's where we will camp, girls, till the place of your ancestors finds us a roof! Now Tess and 'Liza and Abraham, you help me. We'll make a nest for these children, and then we'll have another look round.'

Tess listlessly lent a hand, and in a quarter of an hour the old four-post bedstead was dissociated from the heap of goods, and erected under the south wall of the church, the part of the building known as the d'Urberville Aisle, beneath which the huge vaults lay. Over the tester of the bedstead was a beautifully traceried window, of many lights, its date being the fifteenth century. It was called the d'Urberville Window, and in the upper part could be discerned heraldic emblems like those on Durbeyfield's old seal and spoon.

Joan drew the curtains round the bed so as to make an excellent tent of it, and put the smaller children inside. `If it comes to the worst we can sleep there too, for one night,'she said. `But let us try further on, and get something for the dears to eat! O, Tess, what's the use of your playing at marrying gentlemen, if it leaves us like this!'

Accompanied by 'Liza-Lu and the boy she again ascended the little lane which secluded the church from the townlet. As soon as they got into the street they beheld a man on horseback gazing up and down. `Ah - I'm looking for you!' he said, riding up to them. `This is indeed a family gathering on the historic spot!'

It was Alec d'Urberville. `Where is Tess?' he asked.

Personally Joan had no liking for Alec. She cursorily signified the direction of the church, and went on, d'Urberville saying that he would see them again, in case they should be still unsuccessful in their search for shelter, of which he had just heard. When they had gone d'Urberville rode to the inn, and shortly after came out on foot.

In the interim Tess, left with the children inside the bedstead, remained talking with them awhile, till, seeing that no more could be done to make them comfortable just then, she walked about the churchyard, now beginning to be embrowned by the shades of nightfall. The door of the church was unfastened, and she entered it for the first time in her life.

Within the window under which the bedstead stood were the tombs of the family, covering in their dates several centuries. They were canopied, altar-shaped, and plain; their carvings being defaced and broken; their brasses torn from the matrices, the rivet-holes remaining like martin-holes in a sand-cliff. Of all the reminders that she had ever received that her people were socially extinct there was none so forcible as this spoliation.

She drew near to a dark stone on which was inscribed:

Ostium sepalchri antiquae familiae d'Urberbille.
Tess did not read Church-Latin like a Cardinal, but she knew that this was the door of her ancestral sepulchre, and that the tall knights of whom her father had chanted in his cups lay inside.
She musingly turned to withdraw, passing near an altar-tomb, the oldest of them all, on which was a recumbent figure. In the dusk she had not noticed it before, and would hardly have noticed it now but for an odd fancy that the effigy moved. As soon as she drew close to it she discovered all in a moment that the figure was a living person; and the shock to her sense of not having been alone was so violent that she was quite overcome, and sank down nigh to fainting, not however till she had recognized Alec d'Urberville in the form.

He leapt off the slab and supported her.

`I saw you come in,' he said smiling, `and got up there not to interrupt your meditations. A family gathering, is it not, with these old fellows under us here? Listen.'

He stamped with his heel heavily on the floor; whereupon there arose a hollow echo from below.

`That shook them a bit, I'll warrant!' he continued. `And you thought I was the mere stone reproduction of one of them. But no. The old order changeth. The little finger of the sham d'Urberville can do more for you than the whole dynasty of the real underneath... . Now command me. What shall I do?'

`Go away!' she murmured.

`I will - I'll look for your mother,' said he blandly. But in passing her he whispered: `Mind this; you'll be civil yet!'

When he was gone she bent down upon the entrance to the vaults, and said--

`Why am I on the wrong side of this door!'

In the meantime Marian and Izz Huett had journeyed onward with the chattels of the ploughman in the direction of their land of Canaan - the Egypt of some other family who had left it only that morning. But the girls did not for a long time think of where they were going. Their talk was of Angel Clare and Tess, and Tess's persistent lover, whose connection with her previous history they had partly heard and partly guessed ere this.

`'Tisn't as though she had never known him afore,' said Marian. `His having won her once makes all the difference in the world. 'Twould be a thousand pities if he were to tole her away again. Mr Clare can never be anything to us, Izz; and why should we grudge him to her, and not try to mend this quarrel? If he could only know what straits she's put to, and what's hovering round, he might come to take care of his own.'

`Could we let him know?'

They thought of this all the way to their destination; but the bustle of re-establishment in their new place took up all their attention then. But when they were settled, a month later, they heard of Clare's approaching return, though they had learnt nothing more of Tess. Upon that, agitated anew by their attachment to him, yet honourably disposed to her, Marian uncorked the penny ink-bottle they shared, and a few lines were concocted between the two girls.

HONOUR'D SIR - Look to your Wife if you do love her as much as she do love you. For she is sore put to by an Enemy in the shape of a Friend. Sir, there is one near her who ought to be Away. A woman should not be try'd beyond her Strength, and continual dropping will wear away a Stone - ay, more - a Diamond.

FROM TWO WELL-WISHERS.

This they addressed to Angel Clare at the only place they had ever heard him to be connected with, Emminster Vicarage; after which they continued in a mood of emotional exaltation at their own generosity, which made them sing in hysterical snatches and weep at the same time.