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.