Tess of the D'Urbervilles Phase V: "The Woman Pays," Chapter Thirty-Seven Summary
That night, Tess wakes up when she hears a noise on the stairs.
It's Angel: he's having another sleepwalking episode.
He comes into her room, and stands over her bed, murmuring, "Dead, dead, dead!" and sounding very, very sad.
She's not afraid of him, even though he doesn't know what he's doing.
Then he murmurs, "My poor, poor Tess – my dearest, darling Tess! So sweet, so good, so true!" (37.8).
Now she really doesn't want to wake him up. He hasn't murmured sweet nothings to her in days, and she's missed it.
Then it becomes clear that he's dreaming that she is dead, and he picks up her body and carries her downstairs, and out the door.
He carries down towards the river, and Tess remembers the time he carried her, and the other three dairymaids, across the flood.
There's a small footbridge over the river, which is running high because of the recent rain. The bridge is narrow and Tess is a little nervous as he carries her across it – more for his sake than for her own, of course. But they reach the far side safely.
He carries her to a ruined abbey, and puts her down in an empty stone coffin without a lid, and kisses her mouth.
Then he lies down on the ground and falls asleep.
She's afraid they'll both freeze to death if they stay there, but she doesn't want to embarrass him by waking him up.
So she takes him by the arm and leads him back to the house.
The next morning, it's clear that he has no recollection of any of it.
She thinks about telling him, but doesn't want to embarrass him or make him angry.
He had ordered a carriage the day before to come and pick her up after breakfast, and it arrives promptly.
They swing by the Talbothays dairy, because Angel needs to wrap things up with Dairyman Crick, and they have to pretend everything is okay between them while they're there.
Afterwards, Angel tells her that he'll let her know where he's going as soon as he's decided, and that eventually he might come back to her. But she shouldn't try to come to him. It's totally a "don't call us, we'll call you" kind of conversation.
He says that she can write him if she's sick or needs anything, but that he hopes that won't happen. He's certainly not encouraging her to write love letters.
He gives her an envelope of money, and advises her to put it in the bank.
Then he helps her climb back in the carriage, and sends her on her way back to her parents' house.
He watches the carriage disappear, totally miserable because, of course, he still loves her.