Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Chapter 13 - Summary

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      The news of Tess return spread quickly. In the afternoon, several young girls of Marlott, former school fellows and friends of Tess, came to meet her. They came to meet her in all curiosity particularly because Alec d’Urberville had a reputation as a reckless gallant and heart-breaker. They wondered how Tess could deal with him. They sat in her room talking all about her. As a result of their admiration, Tess’s mother felt flattered and invited them to stay for tea. In the gay company Tess, also felt happy for some time. Her face became bright and she answered the various inquiries in a manner of superiority. But soon the sense of her guilt came back to her mind and she became quiet. On Monday morning when she woke up in her bed, her depression was very great. The innocent younger children breathed around her peacefully but she saw before her a long and stony highway which she had to tread without help and sympathy. She was so unhappy that she could have hidden herself in a tomb. After a few weeks she felt a little better and started going to Church. But she always took a back seat to be as much out of observation as possible. Yet people could observe her and whispered about her. She grew sick at heart and felt that she could come to church no more. Now, her bedroom which she shared with some of the children became more and more the place of her shelter. There quite often she watched winds and snows and rains. She went out only after dark, and out in the woods she felt least lonely. She did not fear shadows but wanted to avoid all mankind. And yet she felt that the lovely and innocent things of nature accused her. When she walked among the sleeping birds in the hedges “She looked upon herself as a figure of Guilt intruding into the haunts of Innocence”. But it was all her psychology. She had no doubt broken an accepted social law, but there was no such law known to the surroundings.

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