Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Chapter 44 - Summary

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      It had been long that Clare had gone and he had not written the letter. He had promised that he would write from time to time about his whereabouts. Why had he not done then? Was he really indifferent or was he ill? The tale of Izz had stung her very sharply. She could not make out what to do. If she had to write him anything it was to send through his parents. Why should not she go to them, ask them about his condition and a help for her own self. Deciding it, a fortnight later, when the snow had gone, on a Sunday morning at about four, she left for Emminster. Marian and Izz who were very much interested in her excursion wished her best of luck. She had clothed herself in her best simple clothes and had given her a touch of toilet by which she had again turned out to be the charming damsel of Talbothays. Her friends were sure that she would easily hypnotize his parents.

      Keeping the vale of Blackmoor on her right, she steered her way through Eintcocks, Dogbury hill, Cross-in-Hand and Long-Ash Lane. The second half of journey was through Benvill Lane. When she reached Emminister, it was noon. She hid her coarse shoes in a bush and put on the new pair given by Angel. She pressed the call-button thrice but there was no answer except the ringing of the bell. Perhaps all had gone to the Church. Angel had told her that on Sunday, even the servants also went to Church. She returned to the Church because it had become necessary to wait till the service was over. But as she reached the Churchyard gate the people began pouring out and Tess found herself in the midst of them. She quickened her paces towards the high road she had come on; but after her, she heard some footsteps. As they drew near, she came to know that they were engaged in earnest discourses. A lady was going ahead. Seeing her they began to talk about the ill-marriage of Angel. She came to know that they were Angel’s brothers. They overpassed her to meet the lady and suddenly they stopped at the bush and took out Tess’s rough boots. They thought that it was a trick of some cheat, who by showing himself bare footed would excite the pity of some generous man and would get a new pair. They took those boots away to be handed over to the needy. Tess, who knew the indifference of Angel’s brothers, who had now come to know the ideas of that family about her, and who had guessed that she would not be able to get help from them, could not summon courage to make a call. Tears began to run down her face and she resumed her journey back to Flint Comb-Ash. She grieved for herself but more did she grieve for those rough boots which saved her from the chill of frosty lands. In utter frustration, her journey was rather a meander than a march. For long seven miles, she did not stop, till she reached the village or townlet of Evershead. Tess, looking down the street, perceived that the place seemed quite deserted. An old woman informed her that some Christian man was there in barn preaching. Tess forwarded towards the bam. The voice of the preacher heard somewhat familiar. He was saying that once he was the greatest sinner and had scoffed. And he, very badly insulted a clergyman who wanted to set him right. But after some time by the grace of Heaven, the circumstances so contrived that he was then a convert before them, the aim of whose life was to show the ignorant the right path. Tess forwarded to a comer to the face of the preacher, and when she saw him she was stunned, he was none but her seducer, Alec d’Urberville.

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