This experience is interesting. Sometimes it seems pretty pointless, but then I think I’ve made a commitment to see it through. Not sure anybody cares about that, but hey. It is growing more difficult for a number of reasons:
- When playing around with a classic, less isn’t more; MORE is MORE. Since I tend to be wordy, I didn’t think this would be hard, but it’s becoming that way because the werewolf parts are more numerous.
- Sustaining the Thomas Hardy voice continues to be challenging; sometimes I think I pull if off, but most of the time, I think, “Who am I kidding?”
- It’s still tough finding time to work on this crazy project, and some of the chapters are REALLY long – like this one.
So, what am I going to do? Well, I have an idea or three: 1. Work on the chapters every day and publish whatever bits and pieces I complete whether or not the chapter is finished. (Hence the “chapter 4.2” designation.) 2. Because this is a WORK in PROGRESS/WIP/rOUgh DrAFt, I will publish the post without thorough revising and editing; that will come later. 3. Truck on.
When they had passed the little town of Stourcastle, dumbly somnolent under its thick brown thatch, they reached higher ground. Still higher, on their left, the elevation called Bulbarrow, well-nigh the highest in South Wessex, swelled into the sky, engirdled by its earthen trenches. From hereabout the long road was fairly level for some distance onward. They mounted in front of the waggon, and Abraham grew reflective.
“Tess!” he said in a preparatory tone, after a silence.
“Bain’t you glad that we’ve become gentlefolk?”
“Not particular glad.”
“But you be glad that you ‘m going to marry a gentleman?”
“What?” said Tess, lifting her face.
“That our great relation will help ‘ee to marry a gentleman.”
“I? Our great relation? We have no such relation. What has put that into your head?”
“I heard ’em talking about it up at Rolliver’s when I went to find father. There’s a rich lady of our family out at Trantridge, and mother said that if you claimed kin with the lady, she’d put ‘ee in the way of marrying a gentleman.”
His sister became abruptly still, and lapsed into a pondering silence. Abraham talked on, rather for the pleasure of utterance than for audition, so that his sister’s abstraction was of no account. He leant back against the hives, and with upturned face made observations on the stars and the moon that had grown full. He asked if Tess gave notion to the stories about humans who turned into wolves when the moon peered from the heavens as it did just then.
“I heard some say that such men as those whose shapes shift to wolves stay as such if they fail to find the clothes they was wearin’ when they turned. What do ‘ee say to that?”
Tess’s thoughts, impatient with the subject of rich kin who would advance her prospects of marriage, converged upon her brother’s queries. With hopes of discouraging his idle dreams of moneyed relatives, she determined to corroborate Abraham’s hearsays.
“Ah yes, Brother. ‘Ee speak of Bisclavret of Breton.”
“Bisclavret? I’ve not heard that name. Was he one of them wolfmen?”
“So the Norman legend says.”
“And did he do evil deeds like attacking villagers? Eating some and blighting others?”
“Some storytellers claim he was like the garwolves of Brittany who indulged in those night-time pursuits, but most accounts tell of his loyalty to the French ruler:
A handsome knight, an able man,
He was, and acted like, a noble man.
His lord the King held him dear,
And so did his neighbors far and near.”
“A knight that was monster-like? I never hee’rd such a thing as that.”
“Well, perhaps ‘ee should know that the d’Urberloupes’ ancestors are said to have some association with the Bisclavret line! Be it through the knight’s line or his lady’s, no one knows for a surety.”
Abraham’s eyes widened and he sat right straight, sidling closer to Tess.
“What? Not so certain ‘ee want to be related to a beast, even though he be titled and rich?” his sister jibed, hoping to put an end to his aspirations for the family through her.
“But Tess, ‘ee don’t really believe these tales. ‘Ee just working on giving me a good scare.
“Maybe so, Abraham,” Tess answered, smiling at her brother’s endeavor to ease his nerves with lightened banter. “I must tell ‘ee that if that legend be true, it would be a nobler heritage to be the Bisclaret’s progeny than that of his lady, for she was a deceitful wife indeed.”
“Are ‘ee saying we’d be better off being related to a monster than to a falsehearted woman? How so, Tess?”
“As the story goes, Bisclaret left his beloved a few days of the month when the full moon made its appearance. But the misfortunate shape-shifter spent that time hunting the animals of the forest, not the herds of sheep or the likes of men.
But when the inquisitive wife demanded her husband disclose the details of his absence, she learned of his curse and was sickened by it. So she provoked him to divulge how he returned to his human form, hence resuming his life as a loyal knight and a loving husband.”
Spellbound, Abraham turned to Tess, “And how did he go and do that?”