Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Chapter 34 - Summary

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      Angel and Tess drove along the road and reached Wellbridge. They stood near the house wherein they were to spend a few days. It was once the property and seat of a d’Urberville—but now a ferm-house. They were in absolute possession of the house for the time being. But the old habitation somewhat depressed his bride. They washed their hands in one basin and Clare touched hers under the water. “Which are my fingers and which are yours?” he said, looking up. “They are very much mixed.” “They are all yours”, said she, very prettily, and tried to be happier than she was. They went into the ancient, parlor to tea, and here they shared their first common meal alone. Only a woman from a neighboring cottage was there to minister their few wants. They sat on over the tea-table waiting for their luggage, which the dairyman had promised to send before it grew dark. But evening began to close in, and the luggage did not arrive. It soon began to rain. “That cock knew the weather was going to change” said Claire. The woman who had attended upon them had gone home for the night. Looking at Tess’s serious face, Clare said, “Tess, you are not a bit cheerful this evening—not at all as you used to be.... I wonder if you really love me, after all?” The words brought tears in her eyes and he felt very sorry saying so. There was a knock at the door. Clare went out. He returned to the room with a small package in his hand. The packet has been brought by a special messenger, who had arrived at Talbothays from. Emminster Vicarage immediately after the departure of the married couple. He had followed them here to deliver it into their hands. The packet was sealed and directed in his father’s hand to “Mrs. Angel Clare”. “It is a little wedding-present for you, Tess”, said he, handing it to her. She asked him to open it. Inside was a ease of morocco leather, on the top of which lay a note and a keynote was for Clare, which said a jewel case was being sent for his wife, ease which his godmother had left for the use of his wife. Unlocking the ease, they found it to contain a necklace, with pendant, bracelets, and car-rings and sonic other small ornaments. They were remarkable pieces of jewelry, all of diamonds, “less, put them on, put them on!” And he turned from the fire to help her. She donned them on. “My heavens”, said Clare, “how beautiful you are!” She sat down with the jewels upon her, and they began to conjecture as to where Jonathan could possibly be with their luggage. Shortly after this, they began supper. Then entered Jonathan with the luggage. He had been very late. Giving the reasons for being late, he told Clare that he perhaps remembered the cock’s afternoon crow. Many interpretations were given to the cock’s crow, but then Retty Priddle tried to drown herself. Jonathan told the whole unhappy story to Clare but Tess also listened to it. Retty was taken out of water by the waterman who was on his way home. Then Jonathan told them that Marian was found dead drunk. It seemed as if the maids had all gone out of their minds, he observed “And Izz”, asked Tess. “Izz is about house as usual”, he told them. All these incidents delayed him. After depositing the luggage, Jonathan climbed his cart and rode away. The girls’ story completely upset her. She felt that she had deserved worse — yet she was the chosen one. It was wicked of her to take all without paying. She would pay to the uttermost farthing — she would tell, there and then. This final determination she came to when she looked into the fire, he holding her hand. “Do you remember what we said to each other this morning about telling our faults?” he asked abruptly, finding that she was still not in her spirits. “I want to make a confession to you, love.” With these words, Clare began his narrative of confession. He began thus, “I did not mention it because I was afraid of endangering my chance of you, darling, the great prize of my life—my Fellowship I call you I was going to tell you—a month ago—at the time you agreed to be mine, but I could not: I thought I would tell you yesterday, to give you a chance at least of escaping me. But I did not... But I must now I see you sitting there so solemnly I wonder if you will forgive me?” he then told her of that time of his life when tossed about by doubts and difficulties he plunged into forty cight-hours dissipation with a stranger. “Happily I awoke almost immediately to a sense of my folly”, he continued. I would have no more to say to her, and I came home. I have never repeated the offense... Do you forgive me?” “O, Angel I am almost glad — because now you can forgive me! I have not made my confession. I have a confession, too—remember, I said so”. Their hands were still joined. Pressing her forehead against his temple she began her story of her acquaintance with Alec d’Urberville and its results.

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