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Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Tess of the D'Urbervilles


by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D'Urbervilles Phase IV: "The Consequence," Chapter Thirty-Three Summary

  • Angel wants to spend a day with Tess, just the two of them, before they get married. It'll be their last day as an engaged couple.
  • So they go shopping together on Christmas Eve.
  • Angel leaves Tess briefly in front of an inn (inns doubled as bars in those days).
  • While she's waiting, a couple of men pass by.
  • One of them is from Trantridge (the town where Alec D'Urberville lives), and he recognizes her.
  • He's starting to say so, when Angel comes back.
  • Angel sees the horrified expression on Tess's face, and punches the guy in the jaw.
  • The guy staggers back, and says that it must be a mistake—it must be some other girl, forty miles off.
  • Angel realizes that he overreacted, and gives the guy a few shillings for a bandage.
  • Tess is depressed by the incident, and asks if it would be possible to postpone the wedding.
  • Angel says no, and Tess is silent the whole way home. She's thinking that they're going to move hundreds of miles away, where no one who knew her before could possibly ever see her.
  • That night, Tess gets woken up by the sound of a scuffle from Angel's room overhead.
  • She runs upstairs, and he tells her that he was having a dream that he was fighting that guy again, and was beating up his suitcase in his sleep.
  • Tess makes up her mind at last: since she can't bring herself to tell him her history in person, she writes it all down in a letter, seals it up, and tiptoes upstairs and pokes it under Angel's door.
  • The next morning, she meets him downstairs as usual, and he kisses her as usual.
  • Even when they're alone, he doesn't allude to the letter. Could he have read it?
  • She peeps into his room that afternoon, and doesn't see the note. He must have read it, and he must have forgiven her.
  • The last few days before the wedding slip by.
  • The morning of their wedding, she begins to suspect that he never got the letter.
  • She slips up to his room, and finds the corner of the letter sticking out from under his carpet. It must have gone under the rug when she stuck it under the door. He never saw it.
  • She burns the letter in her room, and pulls Angel aside downstairs.
  • She wants to tell him all of her faults now, before they are married, so that he can never blame her for not telling him later.
  • But Angel says that he doesn't want to hear them, since that they'll have plenty of time to talk over both of their faults later on, after they're married. She has to be "perfect" on her wedding day.
  • He promises that he'll confess his own faults later, too.
  • They have to take a coach to the church, because it's a long way off and it's the middle of winter.
  • Because the Dairyman's cart is open, they've rented a closed coach from a local inn. It's old and rickety.
  • There aren't very many people at the church to watch the ceremony, because they hadn't advertised it by publishing the banns (see the historical context note for Chapter Thirty-Two).
  • Tess repeats her vows in a low voice, and they are married.
  • Angel knows that she loves him, but he doesn't realize that she'd lie down in front of a cart and get run over repeatedly for him.
  • After the service, Tess stares for a while at the old coach—she thinks it looks familiar.
  • Angel assumes that it's because it reminds her of the legend of the D'Urberville coach, but she's never heard it before.
  • Angel doesn't want to tell her the whole story, since it's pretty gloomy. But he gives the bare bones of it: some member of the D'Urberville family committed some horrible crime in the family coach and, after that, members of the family have a vision of the coach whenever… but that's as far as Angel gets with the story.
  • Tess asks whether it's when they've committed a crime, or when they're about to die, that D'Urbervilles see the coach?
  • Angel doesn't answer, and kisses her.
  • They get back to the dairy, and Tess manages to get a few minutes by herself to calm down.
  • As they leave the dairy, all the workers and Mr. and Mrs. Crick line up to say good-bye.
  • Angel kisses each in turn as a formal farewell, and the dairymaids get all agitated. But Angel doesn't notice.
  • As they're starting to leave through the gate, a rooster crows.
  • Hearing a rooster crow in the afternoon, apparently, is bad luck, and they hurry away as Dairyman Crick threatens to ring the bird's neck.

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