Tess of the DUrbervilles
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Harvey Landy
Chapter 4
Summary

Rolliver’s Inn, without a proper liquor license, remains on alert for the authorities each night it serves its customers. The liquor at the Pure Drop Inn, on the other side of town, is less appealing, thus drawing in a steady patronage at Rolliver’s for both taste and location. When Mrs. Durbeyfield arrives, she scares the landlady who thinks it is an authority. She heads quickly over to her husband and tells him that she has heard of a family out in Trantridge by the name of d’Urberville, and she hopes to send Tess over to them to claim kin and better their own situation. Just then, Abraham arrives and is delighted to hear that Tess might offer them a better livelihood. Mrs. Durbeyfield reveals that she consulted the fortune-teller and indeed a noble gentleman will marry Tess, though she has not asked Tess if she is willing to go claim kin with the d’Urbervilles. Jack thinks she will be unwilling, calling her "queer."

Just then, Tess arrives and the family makes their way home late that night. Her father, although not inebriated, is still in no condition to make a journey to Casterbridge to deliver a load of beehives. The only alternative is for Tess to go, with Abraham accompanying her, and soon, their horse Prince is hitched up and ready for the trip. As they drive along, Abraham wonders if the stars are worlds, both unlucky and lucky. Tess agrees but says sadly that their world is an unlucky one. Both soon grow weary from the long journey, and Tess falls asleep.

Suddenly, she is jerked awake with the horrible discovery that she has steered the horse incorrectly and killed him! Tess is stunned that she has also killed her family’s livelihood, for without Prince, her father has no business. They wait for a wagon to come and fetch them.

When Tess arrives back home, she is overwhelmed by guilt and grief. Jack Durbeyfield refuses to sell Prince’s dead body, saying that the d’Urbervilles deserve more than this and buries him properly. The family grieves the loss of their breadwinner, none more than Tess, who considers herself not too far from a murderess.

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