Phase the Seventh: Fulfilment
57. CHAPTER LVII
Meanwhile Angel Clare had walked automatically along
the way by which he had come, and, entering his hotel,
sat down over the breakfast, staring at nothingness.
He went on eating and drinking unconsciously till on a
sudden he demanded his bill; having paid which he took
his dressing-bag in his hand, the only luggage he had
brought with him, and went out.
At the moment of his departure a telegram was handed to
him--a few words from his mother, stating that they
were glad to know his address, and informing him that
his brother Cuthbert had proposed to and been accepted
by Mercy Chant.
Clare crumpled up the paper, and followed the route to
the station; reaching it, he found that there would be
no train leaving for an hour and more. He sat down to
wait, and having waited a quarter of an hour felt that
he could wait there no longer. Broken in heart and
numbed, he had nothing to hurry for; but he wished to
get out of a town which had been the scene of such an
experience, and turned to walk to the first station
onward, and let the train pick him up there.
The highway that he followed was open, and at a little
distance dipped into a valley, across which it could be
seen running from edge to edge. He had traversed the
greater part of this depression, and was climbing the
western acclivity, when, pausing for breath, he
unconsciously looked back. Why he did so he could not
say, but something seemed to impel him to the act. The
tape-like surface of the road diminished in his rear as
far as he could see, and as he gazed a moving spot
intruded on the white vacuity of its perspective.
It was a human figure running. Clare waited, with a
dim sense that somebody was trying to overtake him.
The form descending the incline was a woman's, yet so
entirely was his mind blinded to the idea of his wife's
following him that even when she came nearer he did not
recognize her under the totally changed attire in which
he now beheld her. It was not till she was quite close
that he could believe her to be Tess.