In chapter XXXVI Tess and Angel struggle to figure out what to do and finally decide that Tess will return to her family.
After 1 AM Angel has a bit of a sleep walking incident. He walks into Tess’ room murmuring “Dead! dead! dead! He then moves over her and again says Dead, dead, dead! He wraps her up in a sheet like a shroud, picks her up and carriers her out of the room. Meanwhile, he his now saying “My poor, poor Tess-my dearest, darling Tess! So sweet, so good, so true!” and “My wife-dead, dead!” and kisses her.
I don’t know about you, but if my husband who was pissed at me started carrying me in his sleep and saying that he was dead, I would be a little freaked out. Tess is not, she knows he wont hurt her and seems to like that he is holding her like he used to. Of course she does consider that if they fall down the stairs together it would be desirable.
He carries her outside, over a river (no, she wouldn’t mind if they both fell off into the water) and to a church and places her in a coffin. Creeped out yet?
Angel lays down next to the coffin and falls back to sleep. Tess, because she is cold, decides she needs to wake up Angel and go back to the house. Back at the house they both go to bed and Angel seems to be unaware of the events.
The next morning Angel shows no signs of remembering what happened and Tess doesn’t tell him. He seems to sense that something might have happened, but is focused on the day. After breakfast they packed up and left, making a stop at the Crick’s house along the way. Although they pretended to be a happy couple, Mrs. Crick was not fooled.
After a while of driving the carriage stopped near Nuttlebury so that Tess could continue to her parents. Angel explains the conditions to Tess:
There is no anger between us, though there is that which I cannot endure at present. I will try to bring myself to endure it. I will let you know where I go to as soon as I know myself. And if I can bring myself to bear it-if it is desirable, possible-I will come to you. But until I come to you it will be better that you should not try to come to me.
They discuss these conditions and Angel does agree that Tess could write to him, just not come to him until he is ready. And then Tess gives the line that Ana gave to Christian:
I agree to the conditions, Angel; because you know best what my punishment ought to be; only-only-don’t make it more than I can bear!
Hardy tells us that if Tess had fought at this point, things might have been different, but she doesn’t. Instead, Angel gives Tess some money and takes the jewelry to have it secured at the bank. With that they say goodbye, she gets back in the carriage and they go their separate ways. Angel did look to see if she would look back to him, but being depressed and feeling suicidal she couldn’t do it. The chapter ends with, “When Tess had passed over the crest of the hill he turned to go his own way, and hardly knew that he loved her still.”
Wow, how did people read depressing crap like this. I at least can take a few days away from the book to prevent myself from getting infected with Tess’ mood. And no, I’m not much of a fan of Angel either!