In Chapter LI Tess’ family needs to move and Alec offers her the old cottage to stay in. She of course refuses. She gets angry and sends a letter to Angel saying he was too cruel to her.
It’s the morning of LadyDay (April 6), and the weather is dry (seems this is an important detail to those who would have to move on this day). Hardy describes the moving day as normally be exciting to those moving. However, for the Durbeyfield family there is no farmer waiting for them and they need to pay for the wagon to move them, and it’s not a nice wagon at that.
Along the way they run into Marian and Izz who left farmer Groby with little notice. After exchanging pleasantries they tell Tess that Alec had been around looking for her and that they didn’t tell him where she has gone. For all there problems, they are good girls who look out for Tess. But she tells them that he found her anyway. The girls also asked about Angel, and are informed that he’s still not back. We’re given the impression that they are off to a better place, at least based on their colorful and well-adorned wagon.
It’s now getting quite late in the day as they approach Greenhill, Tess sees the “half-dead townlet of their pilgrimage, Kingsbere.” The location where their ancestors are laid to rest for 500 years.
When they arrive they are approached by a man who asks if they are the Durbeyfields and then promptly informs them that they do not have rooms for them at the Inn that night. But he’s sure they’ll find something. Yea, right!
Of course they do not find a place to say and the wagon driver wants to go home. Joan and Tess set up some of their furniture near the church that their ancestors are buried in for the younger children to sleep on. This might actually be an adventure for the little kids, not so much for the adults. After setting everything up, Joan takes a dig at Tess, “O, Tess, what’s the use of your playing at marrying gentleman, if it leaves us like this.” Seriously???
We find out that Joan is not a fan of Alec, but I don’t think this will stop her from taking help from him. But in this case he just shows up and asks for Tess and is directed to the church.
Inside Tess finds the d’Urberville tombs were not well cared for, perhaps a sign of what has happened to their family condition now. She also finds Alec waiting for her. “I saw you come in, “ he said smiling, “and got up there not to interrupt your meditations. A family gathering, is it not, with these old fellows under us here? Listen.” Nope, not creepy at all!
Alec goes on to say that he, even as a fake d’Urberville, can do more for her then her dead ancestors. Tess tells him to go away, he responds by saying he’ll look for her mother and they both know that she will accept his offer. Tess is left alone in the church wishing she was with her dead family.
Meanwhile Marian and Izz Huett settle into life at their new farm. They are concerned about Tess and Angel, specifically about the impact that Alec could have on the relationship between them. A month later when they hear word that Angel is returning home they send a letter to him. It was probably pretty clear to someone of the period, but looking at it in 2013 it seems a bit cryptic.
“Look to your Wife if you do love her as much as she do love you. For she is sore put to by an Enemy in the shape of a Friend. Sir, there is one near her who ought to be Away. A woman should not be try’d beyond her Strength, and continual dropping will wear away a Stone-ay, more-a Diamond.
From Two Well-Wishers”
That letter concludes the 6th phase of the book.
Phase 7 is: Fulfillment