Phase the Seventh: Fulfilment
55. CHAPTER LV
At eleven o'clock that night, having secured a bed at
one of the hotels and telegraphed his address to his
father immediately on his arrival, he walked out into
the streets of Sandbourne. It was too late to call on
or inquire for any one, and he reluctantly postponed
his purpose till the morning. But he could not retire
to rest just yet.
This fashionable watering-place, with its eastern and
its western stations, its piers, its groves of pines,
its promenades, and its covered gardens, was, to Angel
Clare, like a fairy place suddenly created by the
stroke of a wand, and allowed to get a little dusty.
An outlying eastern tract of the enormous Egdon Waste
was close at hand, yet on the very verge of that tawny
piece of antiquity such a glittering novelty as this
pleasure city had chosen to spring up. Within the
space of a mile from its outskirts every irregularity
of the soil was prehistoric, every channel an
undisturbed British trackway; not a sod having been
turned there since the days of the Caesars. Yet the
exotic had grown here, suddenly as the prophet's gourd;
and had drawn hither Tess.
By the midnight lamps he went up and down the winding
way of this new world in an old one, and could discern
between the trees and against the stars the lofty
roofs, chimneys, gazebos, and towers of the numerous
fanciful residences of which the place was composed.
It was a city of detached mansions; a Mediterranean
lounging-place on the English Channel; and as seen now
by night it seemed even more imposing than it was.
The sea was near at hand, but not intrusive; it
murmured, and he thought it was the pines; the pines
murmured in precisely the same tones, and he thought
they were the sea.
Where could Tess possibly be, a cottage-girl, his young
wife, amidst all this wealth and fashion? The more he
pondered the more was he puzzled. Were there any cows
to milk here? There certainly were no fields to till.
She was most probably engaged to do something in one of
these large houses; and he sauntered along, looking at
the chamber-windows and their lights going out one by
one; and wondered which of them might be hers.