Phase the Seventh: Fulfilment
58. CHAPTER LVIII
The night was strangely solemn and still. In the small
hours she whispered to him the whole story of how he
had walked in his sleep with her in his arms across the
Froom stream, at the imminent risk of both their lives,
and laid her down in the stone coffin at the ruined
abbey. He had never known of that till now.
"Why didn't you tell me next day?" he said. "It might
have prevented much misunderstanding and woe."
"Don't think of what's past!" said she. "I am not
going to think outside of now. Why should we! Who
knows what tomorrow has in store?"
But it apparently had no sorrow. The morning was wet
and foggy, and Clare, rightly informed that the
caretaker only opened the windows on fine days,
ventured to creep out of their chamber, and explore the
house, leaving Tess asleep. There was no food on the
premises, but there was water, and he took advantage of
the fog to emerge from the mansion, and fetch tea,
bread, and butter from a shop in a little place two
miles beyond, as also a small tin kettle and spirit-lamp,
that they might get fire without smoke. His re-entry
awoke her; and they breakfasted on what he had brought.
They were indisposed to stir abroad, and the day
passed, and the night following, and the next, and
next; till, almost without their being aware, five days
had slipped by in absolute seclusion, not a sight or
sound of a human being disturbing their peacefulness,
such as it was. The changes of the weather were their
only events, the birds of the New Forest their only
company. By tacit consent they hardly once spoke of
any incident of the past subsequent to their
wedding-day. The gloomy intervening time seemed to
sink into chaos, over which the present and prior times
closed as if it never had been. Whenever he suggested
that they should leave their shelter, and go forwards
towards Southampton or London, she showed a strange
unwillingness to move.
"Why should we put an end to all that's sweet and
lovely!" she deprecated. "What must come will come."
And, looking through the shutter-chink: "All is trouble
outside there; inside here content."