Tess of the DUrbervilles
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Harvey Landy
Chapter 36

The next morning, Angel tries to convince himself that the previous night did not happen, but Tess tells him that every word she relayed was the truth. Upon hearing that Tess’ baby has died but that the man is still alive, Angel is outraged again. Tess tries to bring up the possibility of divorce, but Angel says that he cannot because this is not a good enough reason. This revelation is devastating to Tess who had thought this would be the final escape for Angel and sees what a horrible situation she has dragged Angel into. She admits to trying to kill herself last night, and Angel makes her promise that she will not attempt to do so anymore.

Angel leaves for the flour-mill, and Tess’ only company is the woman housekeeper. Tess keeps an eye out for Angel’s return and prepares earnestly for his reception. Seeing her act in such a manner, Angel reproaches her and tells her that she must not act like his servant if she is his wife. Angel is extremely cold towards her, showing not even a fraction of affection for the woman he was so devoted to only a few nights ago.

The next day, Angel tells her that he has thought about the future and that for the sake of appearances, they must stay together for a while before parting, though it is not out of any emotion that they do so. He says he cannot stay with her, for fear of despising her. Tess, by now, is resigned to her awful fate, though inwardly she cannot understand Angel’s reaction. Angel is afraid that the secret might be revealed at some point in the future, but Tess feels that in so many years from now and in a difference location, who would reproach them? But she is silent. She resolves to go home, and Angel says that as soon as he is settled, he will write to her.

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