Tess of the d'Urbervilles eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 439 pages of information about Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
mile, ascending and descending till she came to Bulbarrow, and about midnight looked from that height into the abyss of chaotic shade which was all that revealed itself of the vale on whose further side she was born.  Having already traversed about five miles on the upland, she had now some ten or eleven in the lowland before her journey would be finished.  The winding road downwards became just visible to her under the wan starlight as she followed it, and soon she paced a soil so contrasting with that above it that the difference was perceptible to the tread and to the smell.  It was the heavy clay land of Blackmoor Vale, and a part of the Vale to which turnpike-roads had never penetrated.  Superstitions linger longest on these heavy soils.  Having once been forest, at this shadowy time it seemed to assert something of its old character, the far and the near being blended, and every tree and tall hedge making the most of its presence.  The harts that had been hunted here, the witches that had been pricked and ducked, the green-spangled fairies that “whickered” at you as you passed;—­the place teemed with beliefs in them still, and they formed an impish multitude now.

At Nuttlebury she passed the village inn, whose sign creaked in response to the greeting of her footsteps, which not a human soul heard but herself.  Under the thatched roofs her mind’s eye beheld relaxed tendons and flaccid muscles, spread out in the darkness beneath coverlets made of little purple patchwork squares, and undergoing a bracing process at the hands of sleep for renewed labour on the morrow, as soon as a hint of pink nebulosity appeared on Hambledon Hill.

At three she turned the last corner of the maze of lanes she had threaded, and entered Marlott, passing the field in which as a club-girl she had first seen Angel Clare, when he had not danced with her; the sense of disappointment remained with her yet.  In the direction of her mother’s house she saw a light.  It came from the bedroom window, and a branch waved in front of it and made it wink at her.  As soon as she could discern the outline of the house—­newly thatched with her money—­it had all its old effect upon Tess’s imagination.  Part of her body and life it ever seemed to be; the slope of its dormers, the finish of its gables, the broken courses of brick which topped the chimney, all had something in common with her personal character.  A stupefaction had come into these features, to her regard; it meant the illness of her mother.

She opened the door so softly as to disturb nobody; the lower room was vacant, but the neighbour who was sitting up with her mother came to the top of the stairs, and whispered that Mrs Durbeyfield was no better, though she was sleeping just then.  Tess prepared herself a breakfast, and then took her place as nurse in her mother’s chamber.

In the morning, when she contemplated the children, they had all a curiously elongated look; although she had been away little more than a year, their growth was astounding; and the necessity of applying herself heart and soul to their needs took her out of her own cares.

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.