“But you sinned enough to marry him first!”
“Yes, yes; that’s where my misery do lie! But I thought he could get rid o’ me by law if he were determined not to overlook it. And O, if you knew—if you could only half know how I loved him—how anxious I was to have him—and how wrung I was between caring so much for him and my wish to be fair to him!”
Tess was so shaken that she could get no further, and sank, a helpless thing, into a chair.
“Well, well; what’s done can’t be undone! I’m sure I don’t know why children o’ my bringing forth should all be bigger simpletons than other people’s—not to know better than to blab such a thing as that, when he couldn’t ha’ found it out till too late!” Here Mrs Durbeyfield began shedding tears on her own account as a mother to be pitied. “What your father will say I don’t know,” she continued; “for he’s been talking about the wedding up at Rolliver’s and The Pure Drop every day since, and about his family getting back to their rightful position through you—poor silly man!—and now you’ve made this mess of it! The Lord-a-Lord!”
As if to bring matters to a focus, Tess’s father was heard approaching at that moment. He did not, however, enter immediately, and Mrs Durbeyfield said that she would break the bad news to him herself, Tess keeping out of sight for the present. After her first burst of disappointment Joan began to take the mishap as she had taken Tess’s original trouble, as she would have taken a wet holiday or failure in the potato-crop; as a thing which had come upon them irrespective of desert or folly; a chance external impingement to be borne with; not a lesson.
Tess retreated upstairs and beheld casually that the beds had been shifted, and new arrangements made. Her old bed had been adapted for two younger children. There was no place here for her now.
The room below being unceiled she could hear most of what went on there. Presently her father entered, apparently carrying in a live hen. He was a foot-haggler now, having been obliged to sell his second horse, and he travelled with his basket on his arm. The hen had been carried about this morning as it was often carried, to show people that he was in his work, though it had lain, with its legs tied, under the table at Rolliver’s for more than an hour.
“We’ve just had up a story about—” Durbeyfield began, and thereupon related in detail to his wife a discussion which had arisen at the inn about the clergy, originated by the fact of his daughter having married into a clerical family. “They was formerly styled ‘sir’, like my own ancestry,” he said, “though nowadays their true style, strictly speaking, is ‘clerk’ only.” As Tess had wished that no great publicity should be given to the event, he had mentioned no particulars. He hoped she would remove that prohibition soon. He proposed that the couple should take Tess’s own name, d’Urberville, as uncorrupted. It was better than her husbands’s. He asked if any letter had come from her that day.