He looked at her imploringly, as if he would willingly have taken a lie from her lips, knowing it to be one, and have made of it, by some sort of sophistry, a valid denial. However, she only repeated--
`It is true.'
`Is he living?' Angel then asked.
`The baby died.'
`But the man?'
`He is alive.'
A last despair passed over Clare's face.
`Is he in England?'
He took a few vague steps.
`My position - is this,' he said abruptly. `I thought - any man would have thought - that by giving up all ambition to win a wife with social standing, with fortune, with knowledge of the world, I should secure rustic innocence as surely as I should secure pink cheeks; but - However, I am no man to reproach you, and I will not.'
Tess felt his position so entirely that the remainder had not been needed. Therein lay just the distress of it; she saw that he had lost all round.
`Angel - I should not have let it go on to marriage with you if I had not known that, after all, there was a last way out of it for you; though I hoped you would never------'
Her voice grew husky.
`A last way?'
`I mean, to get rid of me. You can get rid of me.'
`By divorcing me.'
`Good heavens - how can you be so simple! How can I divorce you?'
`Can't you - now I have told you? I thought my confession would give you grounds for that.'
`O Tess - you are too, too - childish - unformed - crude, I suppose! I don't know what you are. You don't understand the law - you don't understand!'
`What - you cannot?'
`Indeed I cannot.'
A quick shame mixed with the misery upon his listener's face.
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