The sea was near at hand, but not intrusive; it murmured, and he thought it was the pines; the pines murmured in precisely the same tones, and he thought they were the sea.
Where could Tess possibly be, a cottage-girl, his young wife, amidst all this wealth and fashion? The more he pondered, the more was he puzzled. Were there any cows to milk here? There certainly were no fields to till. She was most probably engaged to do something in one of these large houses; and he sauntered along, looking at the chamber-windows and their lights going out one by one, and wondered which of them might be hers.
Conjecture was useless, and just after twelve o’clock he entered and went to bed. Before putting out his light he re-read Tess’s impassioned letter. Sleep, however, he could not—so near her, yet so far from her—and he continually lifted the window-blind and regarded the backs of the opposite houses, and wondered behind which of the sashes she reposed at that moment.
He might almost as well have sat up all night. In the morning he arose at seven, and shortly after went out, taking the direction of the chief post-office. At the door he met an intelligent postman coming out with letters for the morning delivery.
“Do you know the address of a Mrs Clare?” asked Angel. The postman shook his head.
Then, remembering that she would have been likely to continue the use of her maiden name, Clare said—
“Of a Miss Durbeyfield?”
This also was strange to the postman addressed.
“There’s visitors coming and going every day, as you know, sir,” he said; “and without the name of the house ’tis impossible to find ’em.”
One of his comrades hastening out at that moment, the name was repeated to him.
“I know no name of Durbeyfield; but there is the name of d’Urberville at The Herons,” said the second.
“That’s it!” cried Clare, pleased to think that she had reverted to the real pronunciation. “What place is The Herons?”
“A stylish lodging-house. ’Tis all lodging-houses here, bless ’ee.”
Clare received directions how to find the house, and hastened thither, arriving with the milkman. The Herons, though an ordinary villa, stood in its own grounds, and was certainly the last place in which one would have expected to find lodgings, so private was its appearance. If poor Tess was a servant here, as he feared, she would go to the back-door to that milkman, and he was inclined to go thither also. However, in his doubts he turned to the front, and rang.
The hour being early, the landlady herself opened the door. Clare inquired for Teresa d’Urberville or Durbeyfield.
Tess, then, passed as a married woman, and he felt glad, even though she had not adopted his name.
“Will you kindly tell her that a relative is anxious to see her?”