Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Chapter 56 - Summary

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      Mrs. Brooks, the householder lady at the Herons, and owner of all the handsome furniture, heard fragments of the conversation between Tess and Clare. It aroused her curiosity. She ascended the stairs softly and stood close to the door of Tess’s room. From the room there came sounds- ’O-O-O!’ Then a silence, then a heavy sigh, and again - ’O-O-O!’ The landlady looked through the keyhole and saw that the notes of unspeakable despair came from Tess’s lips. ‘What’s the matter!’ Alec’s voice came from the adjoining room. “And then my dear, dear husband came home to me....My little sisters and brothers and my mother’s needs—they were the things you moved me by...and you said my husband would never come back—never;....And then he came back! Now he is gone. Gone a second time, and I have lost him now for ever....” She continued: “And he is dying—he looks as if he is dying!...My own true husband will never, never-O God - I can’t bear this! - I cannot!” There were more and sharper words from the man. Soon she saw the form of Tess passing to the gate on her way into the street. She was fully dressed now in the walking costume of a well-to-do young lady but a veil was drawn over her hat. Mrs. Brooks had not been able to catch any word of farewell between her tenants at the door above. She went into the back room which was her own apartment; and continued her sewing there. Tess did not return, nor did the gentleman ring his bell. Mrs. Brooks wondered at the situation. As she pondered, her eyes glanced casually over the ceiling till they were arrested by a spot in the middle of its white surface which she had never noticed there before. She saw it closely, and it was red. She fancied it was a blood stain. She went upstairs but could not attempt the handle. She felt nervous. She brought one of the workmen and begged him to come in and go upstairs with her; she feared something had happened to one of her lodgers. He opened the doors, entered a step or two, and came back almost instantly with a rigid face. ‘My good God, the gentleman in bed is dead! I think he has been hurt with a knife a lot of blood has run down upon the floor!’ The alarm was soon given. In a quarter of an hour the news that a gentleman who was a temporary visitor to the town had been stabbed in his bed, spread through every street and villa of the popular watering-place.

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