Tess of the D'Urbervilles
by Thomas Hardy
Tess of the D'Urbervilles Phase VI: "The Convert," Chapter Fifty Summary
- Tess walks all the way back to Marlott, and passes all the old scenes of her childhood on her way.
- She arrives in the middle of the night, and opens the door of the family house as quietly as she can so that she won't wake anybody up.
- The next morning, her father tells her of his bright idea to get money without having to work: he'll send a letter around to all the historians in the area, and ask them to contribute money to a fund to save the D'Urbervilles. He figures they'd be happy to do it, since the D'Urbervilles are such an important old family.
- Tess doesn't argue with him, but persuades him to start working in the garden so that they'll have something to eat that summer.
- She herself starts working in an additional garden plot that they rented from a landowner nearby.
- The extra plot has tough soil, and requires a lot of digging and weeding to get it ready for planting.
- Tess works on it every evening. After spending all day indoors taking care of her sick mother, it's a relief to work outside, even after dark.
- There are a lot of plots close together, and various other families work there in the evenings, too.
- One evening, Tess and 'Liza-Lu are working together at dusk. It's chilly, but there's enough warmth still in the air that they're happy to continue working.
- Tess sings to herself (the ballads that Angel prefers), and notices that a man working the plot next to theirs is slowly working his way closer to her.
- After a while, Tess realizes that it's Alec.
- Alec asks after her husband, and she bitterly answers that she doesn't have one.
- He then offers his help again, and again she refuses.
- He offers to help her family, and she refuses that, too.
- He leaves in a huff, and Tess is too agitated to continue working.
- When she gets home, the house is in an uproar – she assumes that her mother must be dead, but their mother is on the mend. It's their father. He died suddenly of a heart attack.
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