The clergyman explained that, as far as he was aware, it had quite died out of knowledge, and could hardly bc said to be known at all. His own investigations had begun on a day in the preceding spring when, having been engaged in tracing the vicissitudes of the d'Urberville family, he had observed Durbeyfield's name on his waggon, and had thereupon been led to make inquiries about his father and grandfather till he had no doubt on the subject.
`At first I resolved not to disturb you with such a useless piece of information,' said he. `However, our impulses are too strong for our judgment sometimes. I thought you might perhaps know something of it all the while.'
`Well, I have heard once or twice, `tis true, that my family had seen better days afore they came to Blackmoor. But I took no notice o't, thinking it to mean that we had once kept two horses where we now keep only one. I've got a wold silver spoon, and a wold graven seal at home, too; but, Lord, what's a spoon and seal?... And to think that I and these noble d'Urbervilles were one flesh all the time. 'Twas said that my gr't-grandfer had secrets, and didn't care to talk of where he came from... And where do we raise our smoke, now, parson, if I may make so bold; I mean, where do we d'Urbervilles live?'
`You don't live anywhere. You are extinct - as a county family.'
`Yes - what the mendacious family chronicles call extinct in the male line - that is, gone down - gone under.'
`Then where do we lie?'
`At Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill: rows and rows of you in your vaults, with your effigies under Purbeck-marble canopies.'
`And where be our family mansions and estates?'
`You haven't any.'
`Oh? No lands neither?'
`None; though you once had 'em in abundance, as I said, for your family consisted of numerous branches. In this county there was a seat of yours at Kingsbere, and another at Sherton, and another at Milipond, and another at Lullstead, and another at Wellbridge.'
`And shall we ever come into our own again?'
`Ah - that I can't tell!'
`And what had I better do about it, sir?' asked Durbeyfield, after a pause.
`Oh - nothing, nothing; except chasten yourself with the thought of "how are the mighty fallen". It is a fact of some interest to the local historian and genealogist, nothing more. There are several families among the cottagers of this county of almost equal lustre. Good night.'
`But you'll turn back and have a quart of beer wi' me on the strength o't, Pa'son Tringham? There's a very pretty brew in tap at The Pure Drop - though, to be sure, not so good as at Rolliver's.'
`No, thank you - not this evening, Durbeyfield. You've had enough already.' Concluding thus the parson rode on his way, with doubts as to his discretion in retailing this curious bit of lore.
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