Tess of the d'Urbervilles
PHASE THE FOURTH: The Consequence
Clare, restless, went out into the dusk when evening drew on, she who had won
him having retired to her chamber.
The night was as sultry as the day. There was no coolness after dark unless on
the grass. Roads, garden-paths, the house-fronts, the barton-walls were warm as
hearths, and reflected the noontime temperature into the noctambulist's face.
He sat on the east gate of the dairy-yard, and knew not what to think of himself.
Feeling had indeed smothered judgement that day.
Since the sudden embrace, three hours before, the twain had kept apart. She
seemed stilled, almost alarmed, at what had occurred, while the novelty,
unpremeditation, mastery of circumstance disquieted him--palpitating,
contemplative being that he was. He could hardly realize their true relations to
each other as yet, and what their mutual bearing should be before third parties
Angel had come as pupil to this dairy in the idea that his temporary existence
here was to be the merest episode in his life, soon passed through and early
forgotten; he had come as to a place from which as from a screened alcove he
could calmly view the absorbing world without, and, apostrophizing it with Walt
Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, How curious you are to
resolve upon a plan for plunging into that world anew. But behold, the absorbing
scene had been imported hither. What had been the engrossing world had
dissolved into an uninteresting outer dumb-show; while here, in this apparently
dim and unimpassioned place, novelty had volcanically started up, as it had
never, for him, started up elsewhere.
Every window of the house being open Clare could hear across the yard each
trivial sound of the retiring household. The dairy-house, so humble, so
insignificant, so purely to him a place of constrained sojourn that he had never
hitherto deemed it of sufficient importance to be reconnoitred as an object of any
quality whatever in the landscape; what was it now? The aged and lichened brick
gables breathed forth "Stay!" The windows smiled, the door coaxed and
beckoned, the creeper blushed confederacy. A personality within it was so far-
reaching in her influence as to spread into and make the bricks, mortar, and
whole overhanging sky throb with a burning sensibility. Whose was this mighty
personality? A milkmaid's. It was amazing, indeed, to find how great a matter the
life of the obscure dairy had become to him. And though new love was to be held
partly responsible for this it was not solely so. Many besides Angel have learnt
that the magnitude of lives is not as to their external displacements, but as to
their subjective experiences. The impressionable peasant leads a larger, fuller,
more dramatic life than the pachydermatous king. Looking at it thus he found that
life was to be seen of the same magnitude here as elsewhere.