Writing My Life

Now and Then

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… a TESS cover-up …

Hello loyal followers who are sticking with me in spite of my crazy idea of mashing up Tess of the d’Urbervilles. I know the progress has been slow, but it will pick up here. Any moment. I think.

I have lots to do: finish “splicing” chapter 4 – which is looking good because it fills in with werewolf back-story AND foreshadows creepy plot-twists. I hope to post it tomorrow night, and chapter 5 on Friday-ish. No “pinky-swear,” but that’s the hope. I also need to review ALL the chapters written thus far with an eye for more revising and editing!!!

In the meantime, however, YOU are in for a T.R.E.A.T. because I am unveiling a POSSIBLE cover for the IMPOSSIBLE book! Are you ready? And excited? Hold on now. It’s coming in stages, but I think you will enjoy the journey.

Step 1. Finding the inspiration:

From I-Google's "Art of the Day," I discovered "The Black Brunswicker" by John Everett Millais

Step 2. Finding a willing artist:

Enter My Quiet Mind Art ~ John Cooke, husband of my sweet friend and colleague, Tiffany Cooke!

Step 3. John’s initial ideas:

Step 4. John’s experiments:

Good Doggie!


Tess: a wisp of a girl!












Step 5. Almost there:

Rather Gothic, don't you think?

Step 6. The Final Cover by Monsier John Cooke


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… chapter IV of TESS of the d’URBERLOUPS: A MashUp Novel …

I read once where fans of Charles Dickens would sit on dock sides waiting for the newest episodes of his latest novel. Published in English newspapers, each chapter had to cross the Atlantic before American readers could learn the fate of David Copperfield or Little Dorsett. So if the 4 or 5 people who follow the d’Urberloupes are tired of waiting at their computers for chapter 4, I apologize. Profusely.

Hardy’s version of this chapter is VERY LONG, and because I love the author’s writing, it is hard for me to delete any of his great descriptions and deep reflections. Consequently, this mash-up version of chapter 4 is even LONGER. As a result, this post is just the first half of the fourth chapter.

Chapter IV

Road to Rolliver's

Rolliver’s inn, the single alehouse at this end of the long and broken village, could only boast of an off-licence; hence, as nobody could legally drink on the premises, the amount of overt accommodation for consumers was strictly limited to a little board about six inches wide and two yards long, fixed to the garden palings by pieces of wire, so as to form a ledge. On this board thirsty strangers deposited their cups as they stood in the road and drank, and threw the dregs on the dusty ground to the pattern of Polynesia, and wished they could have a restful seat inside.

Thus the strangers. But there were also local customers who felt the same wish; and where there’s a will there’s a way.

In a large bedroom upstairs, the window of which was thickly curtained with a great woollen shawl lately discarded by the landlady Mrs Rolliver, were gathered on this evening nearly a dozen persons, all seeking beatitude; all old inhabitants of the nearer end of Marlott, and frequenters of this retreat. Not only did the distance to the The Pure Drop, the fully-licensed tavern at the further part of the dispersed village, render its accommodation practically unavailable for dwellers at this end; but the far more serious question, the quality of the liquor, confirmed the prevalent opinion that it was better to drink with Rolliver in a corner of the housetop than with the other landlord in a wide house.

A gaunt four-post bedstead which stood in the room afforded sitting-space for several persons gathered round three of its sides; a couple more men had elevated themselves on a chest of drawers; another rested on the oak-carved “cwoffer”; two on the wash-stand; another on the stool; and thus all were, somehow, seated at their ease. The stage of mental comfort to which they had arrived at this hour was one wherein their souls expanded beyond their skins, and spread their personalities warmly through the room. In this process the chamber and its furniture grew more and more dignified and luxurious; the shawl hanging at the window took upon itself the richness of tapestry; the brass handles of the chest of drawers were as golden knockers; and the carved bedposts seemed to have some kinship with the magnificent pillars of Solomon’s temple.

Mrs Durbeylou, having quickly walked hitherward after parting from Tess, opened the front door, crossed the downstairs room, which was in deep gloom, and then unfastened the stair-door like one whose fingers knew the tricks of the latches well. Her ascent of the crooked staircase was a slower process, and her face, as it rose into the light above the last stair, encountered the gaze of all the party assembled in the bedroom.

“—-Being a few private friends I’ve asked in to keep up club-walking at my own expense,” the landlady exclaimed at the sound of footsteps, as glibly as a child repeating the Catechism, while she peered over the stairs. “Oh, ’tis you, Mrs Durbeylou–Lard–how you frightened me!–I thought it might be some gaffer sent by Gover’ment.”

Mrs Durbeylou was welcomed with glances and nods by the remainder of the conclave, and turned to where her husband sat. He was humming absently to himself, in a low tone: “I be as good as some folks here and there! I’ve got a great family vault near t’Kingsbere- sub-Greenhill, and finer skillentons than any man er wolf in Wessex! Heh, heh, heh.”

“I’ve something to tell ‘ee that’s come into my head about that–a grand projick!” whispered his cheerful wife. “Here, John, don’t ‘ee see me?” She nudged him, while he, looking through her as through a window-pane, went on with his recitative.

“Hush! Don’t ‘ee sing so loud, my good man,” said the landlady; “in case any member of the Gover’ment should be passing, and take away my licends.”

“He’s told ‘ee what’s happened to us, I suppose?” asked Mrs Durbeylou.

“Yes–in a way. D’ye think there’s any money hanging by it?”

“Ah, that’s the secret,” said Joan Durbeylou sagely. “However, ’tis well to be kin to a coach, even if you don’t ride in ‘en.” She dropped her public voice, and continued in a low tone to her husband: “I’ve been thinking since you brought the news that there’s a great rich lady out by Trantridge, on the edge o’ The Chase, of the name of d’Urberloupes.”

“Hey–what’s that?” said Sir John.

She repeated the information. “That lady must be our relation,” she said. “And my projick is to send Tess to claim kin.”

“There is a lady of the name, now you mention it,” said Durbeylou. “Pa’son Tringham didn’t think of that. But she’s nothing beside we–a junior branch of us, no doubt, hailing long since King Norman’s day.”

While this question was being discussed neither of the pair noticed, in their preoccupation, that little Abraham had crept into the room, and was awaiting an opportunity of asking them to return.

“She is rich, and she’d be sure to take notice o’ the maid,” continued Mrs Durbeylou; “and ’twill be a very good thing. I don’t see why two branches o’ one family should not be on visiting terms.”

“Yes; and we’ll all claim kin!” said Abraham brightly from under the bedstead. “And we’ll all go and see her when Tess has gone to live with her; and we’ll ride in her coach and wear black clothes!”

“How do you come here, child? What nonsense be ye talking! Go away, and play on the stairs till father and mother be ready! … Well, Tess ought to go to this other member of our family. She’d be sure to win the lady–Tess would; and likely enough ‘twould lead to some noble gentleman marrying her. In short, I know it.”


“I tried her fate in the Fortune-Teller, and it brought out that very thing! … You should ha’ seen how pretty she looked today; her skin is as sumple as a duchess’s.”

“What says the maid herself to going?”

“I’ve not asked her. She don’t know there is any such lady-relation yet. But it would certainly put her in the way of a grand marriage, and she won’t say nay to going.”

“Tess is queer.”

“But she’s tractable at bottom. Leave her to me.”

Though this conversation had been private, sufficient of its import reached the understandings of those around to suggest to them that the Durbeylous had weightier concerns to talk of now than common folks had, and that Tess, their pretty eldest daughter, had fine prospects, if not a lamentable purpose in store.

“Tess is a fine figure o’ fun, as I said to myself today when I zeed her vamping round parish with the rest,” observed one of the elderly boozers in an undertone. “But Joan Durbeylou must mind that she don’t get green malt in floor.” It was a local phrase which had a peculiar warning for the light-minded mother to guard her daughter’s maidenhood against those who would rob Tess of that which is most valued.

The conversation became inclusive, and presently other footsteps were heard crossing the room below.

“—-Being a few private friends asked in tonight to keep up club-walking at my own expense.” The landlady had rapidly re-used the formula she kept on hand for intruders before she recognized that the newcomer was Tess.

Even to her mother’s gaze the girl’s young features looked sadly out of place amid the alcoholic vapours which floated here as no unsuitable medium for wrinkled middle-age; and hardly was a reproachful flash from Tess’s dark eyes needed to make her father and mother rise from their seats, hastily finish their ale, and descend the stairs behind her, Mrs Rolliver’s caution following their footsteps.

“No noise, please, if ye’ll be so good, my dears; or I mid lose my licends, and be summons’d, and I don’t know what all! ‘Night t’ye!”

They went home together, Tess holding one arm of her father, and Mrs Durbeylou the other. He had, in truth, drunk very little–not a fourth of the quantity which a systematic tippler could carry to church on a Sunday afternoon without a hitch in his eastings of genuflections; but the weakness and  aches growing in his limbs made mountains of Sir John’s petty sins in this kind. On reaching the fresh air he peered up at the lunar lozenge glowing down upon the staggering trio. The father’s distorted gaze noted the shine radiated from a moon not yet full.

His gait was sufficiently unsteady to incline the row of three at one moment as if they were marching to London, and at another as if they were marching to Bath–which produced a comical effect, frequent enough in families on nocturnal homegoings; and, like most comical effects, not quite so comic after all. The two women valiantly disguised these forced excursions and countermarches as well as they could from Durbeylou their cause, and from Abraham, and from themselves; and so they approached by degrees their own door, the head of the family bursting suddenly into his former refrain as he drew near, as if to fortify his soul at sight of the smallness of his present residence–

“I’ve got a fam–ily vault near t’Kingsbere! My name is as good a one as any there is in this county.

“Hush–don’t be so silly, Jacky,” said his wife. “Yours is not the only family that was of ‘count in wold days. Look at the Anktells, and Horseys, and the Tringhams themselves–gone to seed a’most as much as you–though you was bigger folks then they, that’s true. And tangled more with lupine lore any o’them as well. Thank God, I was never of no family that laid claim to any riches or fine skillentons that best lay buried. I have nothing to be ashamed of in that way!”

“Don’t you be so sure o’ that. From you nater ’tis my belief you’ve disgraced yourselves more than any o’ us, and was kings and queens outright at one time.”

Tess turned the subject by saying what was far more prominent in her own mind at the moment than thoughts of her ancestry–“I am afraid father won’t be able to take the journey with the beehives tomorrow so early.”

“I? I shall be all right in an hour or two,” said Durbeylou.

It was eleven o’clock before the family were all in bed, and two o’clock next morning was the latest hour for starting with the beehives if they were to be delivered to the retailers in Casterbridge before the Saturday market began, the way thither lying by bad roads over a distance of between twenty and thirty miles, and the horse and waggon being of the slowest. At half-past one Mrs Durbeyfield came into the large bedroom where Tess and all her little brothers and sisters slept.

“The poor man can’t go,” she said to her eldest daughter, whose great eyes had opened the moment her mother’s hand touched the door.

Tess sat up in bed, lost in a vague interspace between a dream and this information.

“But somebody must go,” she replied. “It is late for the hives already. Swarming will soon be over for the year; and it we put off taking ’em till next week’s market the call for ’em will be past, and they’ll be thrown on our hands.”

Mrs Durbeylou looked unequal to the emergency. “Some young feller, perhaps, would go? One of them who were so much after dancing with ‘ee yesterday,” she presently suggested.

“O no–I wouldn’t have it for the world!” declared Tess proudly. “And letting everybody know the reason–such a thing to be ashamed of! I think I could go if Abraham could go with me to kip me company.”

Her mother at length agreed to this arrangement. Little Abraham was aroused from his deep sleep in a corner of the same apartment, and made to put on his clothes while still mentally in the other world. Meanwhile Tess had hastily dressed herself; and the twain, lighting a lantern, went out to the stable. The rickety little waggon was already laden, and the girl led out the horse Prince, only a degree less rickety than the vehicle.

The poor creature looked wonderingly round at the night, at the lantern, at their two figures, as if he could not believe that at that hour, when every living thing was intended to be in shelter and at rest, he was called upon to go out and labour. They put a stock of candle-ends into the lantern, hung the latter to the off-side of the load, and directed the horse onward, walking at his shoulder at first during the uphill parts of the way, in order not to overload an animal of so little vigour. To cheer themselves as well as they could, they made an artificial morning with the company of the setting moon, the lantern, some bread and butter, and their own conversation, the real morning being far from come. Abraham, as he more fully awoke (for he had moved in a sort of trance so far), began to talk of the strange shapes assumed by the various dark objects against the sky; of this tree that looked like a raging wolf springing from a lair; of that branch which resembled lengthening fangs.

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… chapter III of Tess of the d’Urberloupes: a MashUp Novel …

Note to the fine readers of this work-in-progress: The greater part of Thomas Hardy’s TESS first appeared in the GRAPHIC newspaper, but other chapters were published as “episodic sketches” in the FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW and the NATIONAL OBSERVER. These publications were “more especially addressed to adult readers” probably because of the “suggestive” content, which shocked readers of that era. Even today, TESS occupies a place on the list of “Most Frequently Banned Books” because of its sensuality.

This “honor” rather surprises me as Hardy’s innuendos are are rather mild compared to today’s licentious mores, or they are so obscured in his lengthy sentences and complex word choices that many do not recognize the sexual connotations!

While I don’t plan on exposing those provocative references beyond what Hardy has already written, I will add more danger and craziness to them with my introduction of wolves into Wessex!

Chapter III

Sketch of cottage courtesy of Fliker!

As for Tess Durbeylou, she did not so easily dislodge the incident from her consideration. She had no spirit to dance again for a long time, though she might have had plenty of partners; but ah! they did not speak so nicely nor delight and cloud Tess’s heart and mind as the strange young man had done. If asked, she could not explain with any clarity the allure and the fear that quickened her pulsating blood and disturbed the hackles on her neck.

Was it the urbane conversation or the limpid state of his countenance that turned her attentions? And did his transient scrutiny raise her pique or was there more behind his cursory glance that tortured her thinking?

It was not till the rays of the sun had absorbed the young stranger’s retreating figure on the hill that she shook off her temporary sadness and vexation to answer her would-be partner in the affirmative.

She remained with her comrades till dusk, and participated with a certain zest in the dancing; though, the struggles and wrangles of the lads for her hand in a jig were an amusement to her–no more; and when they became fierce she rebuked them.

She might have stayed even later, but the incident of her father’s odd appearance and manner returned upon the girl’s mind to make her anxious, and wondering what had become of him she dropped away from the dancers and bent her steps towards the end of the village at which the parental cottage lay.

While yet many score yards off, other rhythmic sounds than those she had quitted became audible to her; sounds that she knew well–so well. They were a regular series of thumpings from the interior of the house, occasioned by the violent rocking of a cradle upon a stone floor, to which movement a feminine voice kept time by singing, in a vigorous gallopade, the favourite ditty of “The Wessex Wolf and the Spotted Cow”—

“The maid replied, ‘Kind sir,’ she cried.

‘I’ve lost my spotted cow.’

“No longer weep, no longer mourn

Your cow’s not lost my dear,

I saw her lie do’–own in yon’–der green gro’–ove;

Come, love!’ and I’ll tell’ you where!’

“And in the gro’–ve, the night drew nigh,

Then brightly shone the moon,

First the light and then my cry;

The shape-shift came too soon.

The cradle-rocking and the song would cease simultaneously for a moment, and an explanation at highest vocal pitch would take the place of the melody.

“God bless thy diment eyes! And thy waxen cheeks! And thy cherry mouth! And thy Cubit’s thighs! And every bit o’ thy blessed body! Don’t ye go cryin’ now. No wolves will steal you away from your mum. Your cradle’s safe, and that’s a promise.

After this invocation the rocking and the singing would recommence, and the “The Wessex Wolf and the Spotted Cow’ proceed as before. So matters stood when Tess opened the door, and paused upon the mat within it surveying the scene.

The interior of the cottage, and the peculiarity of the melody, struck upon the girl’s senses with an unspeakable dreariness. From the holiday gaieties of the field–the white gowns, the nosegays, the willow-wands, the whirling movements on the green, the flash of gentle sentiment towards the stranger–to the yellow melancholy of this one-candled spectacle and the discordant reminders of a once dormant legend, what a step! Tess questioned why her mother would now be singing about the wolves of Wessex; creatures that came from Normandy with William the Conquerer. Besides the jar of contrast there came to her a chill self-reproach that she had not returned sooner, to help her mother in these domesticities, instead of indulging herself out-of-doors.

There stood her mother amid the group of children, as Tess had left her, hanging over the Monday washing-tub, which had now, as always, lingered on to the end of the week. Out of that tub had come the day before–Tess felt it with a dreadful sting of remorse–the very white frock upon her back which she had so carelessly greened about the skirt on the damping grass–which had been wrung up and ironed by her mother’s own hands.

As usual, Mrs Durbeylou was balanced on one foot beside the tub, the other being engaged in the aforesaid business of rocking her youngest child. The cradle-rockers had done hard duty for so many years, under the weight of so many children, on that flagstone floor, that they were worn nearly flat, in consequence of which a huge jerk accompanied each swing of the cot, flinging the baby from side to side like a weaver’s shuttle, as Mrs Durbeylou, excited by her song, trod the rocker with all the spring that was left in her after a long day’s seething in the suds.

Nick-knock, nick-knock, went the cradle; the candle-flame stretched itself tall, and began jigging up and down; the water dribbled from the matron’s elbows, and the song galloped on to the end of the verse where both cow and maiden were devoured by the shape-shifting wolf. Mrs Durbeylou regarded her daughter the while.

There still faintly beamed from the woman’s features something of the freshness, and even the prettiness, of her youth; rendering it probable that the personal charms which Tess could boast of were in main part her mother’s gift, and therefore unknightly, unhistorical, and uninfected. That was the observation of the county and the belief of the mother and father.

“I’ll rock the cradle for ‘ee, mother,” said the daughter gently. “Or I’ll take off my best frock and help you wring up? I thought you had finished long ago.”

Her mother bore Tess no ill-will for leaving the housework to her single-handed efforts for so long; indeed, Joan seldom upbraided her thereon at any time, feeling but slightly the lack of Tess’s assistance whilst her instinctive plan for relieving herself of her labours lay in postponing them. Tonight, however, she was even in a blither mood than usual. There was a dreaminess, a pre-occupation, an exaltation, in the maternal look which the girl could not understand.

“Well, I’m glad you’ve come,” her mother said, as soon as the last note had passed out of her, “I want to go and fetch your father; but what’s more’n that, I want to tell ‘ee what have happened. Y’ll be fess enough, my poppet, when th’st know!” (Mrs Durbeylou habitually spoke the West Saxon dialect; her daughter, who had passed the Sixth Standard in the National School under a London-trained mistress, spoke two languages: the dialect at home, more or less; ordinary English abroad and to persons of quality.)

“Since I’ve been away?” Tess asked.


“Had it anything to do with father’s making such a mommet of himself in thik carriage this afternoon? Why did ‘er? I felt inclined to sink into the ground with shame!”

“That wer all a part of the larry! We’ve been found to be the greatest gentlefolk in the whole county–reaching all back long before Oliver Grumble’s time–to the days of the Pagan Turks–with monuments, and vaults, and crests, and “scutcheons, and the Lord knows what all. In Saint Charles’s days we was made Knights o’ the Royal Oak, our real name being d’Urberloups! … Don’t that make your bosom plim? ‘Twas on this account that your father rode home in the vlee; not because he’d been drinking, as people supposed.”

“I’m glad of that. But if we are of those gentlefolk – d’Urberloups –  do we not own a portion of the folklores that come with the family name? Stories akin to the ditty you were singing when I crossed the threshold? Will knowin’ this truly do us any good, mother? ”

“O yes! ‘Tis thoughted that great things may come o’t. No doubt a mampus of volk of our own rank will be down here in their carriages as soon as ’tis known. Your father learnt it on his way hwome from Shaston, and he has been telnling me the whole pedigree of the matter – exceptin’ fer the d”Urberloups’ bond w’ the Barcarlet’s. as those stories are nothin’ to us, Tess. Tales o’them Norman werewolves are for scarin’ children and low volk.

“Where is father now?” asked Tess suddenly.

Her mother gave irrelevant information by way of answer: “He called to see the doctor today in Shaston. It is not the ale only that’s causin’ his forgettin’ things; it seems. It is vessels in his heart that are hardenin’, ‘a says ‘You mid last ten years; you mid go off in ten months, or ten days, but yer mind will be more absent with each day that passes.'”

Tess looked alarmed. Her father possibly to go behind the eternal cloud so soon, notwithstanding this sudden greatness! She mourned, too, his dulling mind that failed to take measure of his goings and comings, or what he said and did not say to his wife and children, his friends, neighbors, and business folk. Never was he a man to count on, her father, but this amnesia of his expunged any semblance of dependability.

“But where is father?” she asked again.

Her mother put on a deprecating look. “Now don’t you be bursting out angry! The poor man–he felt so rafted after his uplifting by the pa’son’s news–that he went up to Rolliver’s half an hour ago. He do want to get up his strength for his journey tomorrow with that load of beehives, which must be delivered, family or no. He’ll have to start shortly after twelve tonight, as the distance is so long.”

“Get up his strength!” said Tess impetuously, the tears welling to her eyes. “O my God! Go to a public-house to get up his strength! And you as well agreed as he, mother! You know he’ll not remember to water his ale, and the drink will drowse him so’s he can’t drive the cart.

Her rebuke and her mood seemed to fill the whole room, and to impart a cowed look to the furniture, and candle, and children playing about, and to her mother’s face.

“No,” said the latter touchily, “I be not agreed. I have been waiting for ‘ee to bide and keep house while I go fetch him.”

“I’ll go.”

“O no, Tess. You see, it would be no use.”

Tess did not expostulate. She knew what her mother’s objection meant. Mrs Durbeylou‘s jacket and bonnet were already hanging slily upon a chair by her side, in readiness for this contemplated jaunt, the reason for which the matron deplored more than its necessity.

This going to hunt up her shiftless husband at the inn was one of Mrs Durbeylou‘s still extant enjoyments in the muck and muddle of rearing children. To discover him at Rolliver’s, to sit there for an hour or two by his side and dismiss all thought and care of the children during the interval, made her happy. She thought too of sharing the day’s news with the patrons of the tavern. A sort of halo, an occidental glow, came over life then. She felt a little as she had used to feel when she sat by her now wedded husband in the same spot during his wooing, shutting her eyes to his defects of character, and regarding him only in his ideal presentation as lover.

Tess, being left alone with the younger children, went first to the outhouse with the fortune-telling book her mother studied upon occasion. The skeptical daughter stuffed this grimy volume into the thatch as it were the woman’s fetish that prevented her ever allowing it to stay in the house all night, and hither it was brought back whenever it had been consulted. Between the mother, with her fast-perishing lumber of superstitions, folk-lore, dialect, and orally transmitted ballads, and the daughter, with her trained National teachings and Standard knowledge under an infinitely Revised Code, there was a gap of two hundred years as ordinarily understood. When they were together the Jacobean and the Victorian ages were juxtaposed.

Returning along the garden path Tess mused on what the mother could have wished to ascertain from the book on this particular day. She guessed the recent ancestral discovery to bear upon it, but did not divine that it solely concerned herself. Dismissing this, however, she busied herself with sprinkling the linen dried during the daytime, in company with her nine-year-old brother Abraham, and her sister Eliza-Louisa of twelve and a half, call “‘Liza-Lu,” the youngest ones being put to bed.
It grew later, and neither father nor mother reappeared. Tess looked out of the door, and took a mental journey through Marlott. The village was shutting its eyes. Candles and lamps were being put out everywhere: she could inwardly behold the extinguisher and the extended hand.

Her mother’s fetching simply meant one more to fetch. Tess began to perceive that a man in indifferent health, who proposed to start on a journey before one in the morning, ought not to be at an inn at this late hour celebrating his ancient blood.

“Abraham,” she said to her little brother, “do you put on your hat–you bain’t afraid?–and go up to Rolliver’s, and see what has gone wi’ father and mother.”

The boy jumped promptly from his seat, and opened the door, and the night swallowed him up. Half an hour passed yet again; neither man, woman, nor child returned. Tess opened the door and peered down the lane, hoping for a glance of her brother escorting home his wayward parents. Though the near-full moon lit the path, she saw shadows only. An involuntary shutter shook her senses as thoughts of the d’Urberloupes’ cabalistic ancestry intruded upon her search.

“Nonsense,” she muttered.  “Abraham seems to have been limed and caught by that ensnaring inn. I must go myself.”

‘Liza-Lu then went to bed, and Tess, locking them all in, started on her way up the shadowy and crooked lane or street not made for hasty progress; a street laid out before inches of land had value, and when one-handed clocks sufficiently subdivided the day.


… Tess of the d’Urberloups, the MashUP … Phase the First; Chapter I …

Note to the reader: Go HERE to read the prologue – if you want to, that is.

If you have not experienced a “mash-up” novel, then I feel I must warn you that such books include the author’s original prose EXCEPT where the “collaborating” author adds or substitutes different ideas. My revisions SHOULD reflect Hardy’s tone and style, and the events – though wacky and weird – will be included as if VERY plausible.

Just in case you can’t differentiate MY writing from Mr. Hardy’s (LOL), I will bold my bold attempts to write like the genius. And because this is a work-in-progress (wip), I will only include scenes where I tamper with the writing and occassionally link those together with summaries of the UNtouched pages. We’ll see how that goes.

Phase the First: Country Girl

Chapter 1

Written by Thomas Hardy and Thomasina HardLY

On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore or Blackmoor. The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line. He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular. An empty egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off. Presently he was met by an elderly parson astride on a gray mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune.

“Good night t’ee,” said the man with the basket.

“Good night, Sir John,” said the parson.

The pedestrian, after another pace or two, halted, and turned round.

“Now, sir, begging your pardon; we met last market-day on this road about this time, and I said “Good night,” and you made reply ‘Good night, Sir John,’ as now.”

“I did,” said the parson.

“And once before that–near a month ago.”

“I may have.”

“Then what might your meaning be in calling me ‘Sir John’ these different times, when I be plain Jack Durbeyfield Durbeylou, the haggler?”

The parson rode a step or two nearer.

“It was only my whim,” he said; and, after a moment’s hesitation: “It was on account of a discovery I made some little time ago, whilst I was hunting up pedigrees for the new county history. I am Parson Tringham, the antiquary, of Stagfoot Lane. Don’t you really know, Durbeylou, that you are the lineal representative of the ancient and knightly family of the d’Uberwolves d’Urberloups, who derive their descent from Sir Pagan d’Uberwolves d’Urberloups, that renowned knight who came from Normandy with William the Conqueror, as appears by Battle Abbey Roll?”

“Never heard it before, sir!”

“Well it’s true. Throw up your chin a moment, so that I may catch the profile of your face better. Yes, that’s the d’Uberwolf d’Urberloups nose, mashed pushed in there a bit and nostrils somewhat flared flaring.  Ah, the chin, too, prominent-like because of the under-bite, another characteristic of the d’Uberwolves d’Urberloups.

“Show me your fingers, Sir John,” insisted the parson as he took the dazed haggler’s hand into his own. “Now look at that, will you? See the middle and index fingers are of the same length, man. Is it so with your left?”

John examined his fingers and nodded. “What does this mean, sir, if ye don’t do not mind me asking’?”

Your ancestor was one of the twelve knights who assisted the Lord of Estremavilla in Normandy in his conquest of Glamorganshire. If you’ve no knowledge of that piece of history, then I don’t not imagine you have heard the legends of the d’Urberloups’ heredity.

“No sir, can’t says that I have, but had I known I was one of them, I’d of paid better attention to them stories. How ’bouts ye share these here legends and a quart of beer wi’ me 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, but I’ll tell you this: it is said the d’Urberloups’ line traces back to Bisclavaret. So, my good man, in spite of the former greatness of your ancestors – – -“

“Greatness, Sir? You mean lands and such?”

“In their day, yes. Branches of your family held manors over all this part of England; their names appear in the Pipe Rolls in the time of King Stephen. In the reign of King John one of them was rich enough to give a manor to the Knights Hospitallers; and in Edward the Second’s time your forefather Brian was summoned to Westminster to attend the great Council there. You declined a little in Oliver Cromwell’s time, but to no serious extent, and in Charles the Second’s reign you were made Knights of the Royal Oak for your loyalty. Aye, there have been generations of Sir Johns among you, and if knighthood were hereditary, like a baronetcy, as it practically was in old times, when men were knighted from father to son, you would be Sir John now. And if the legends of Bisclavaret are based on any truths, you would also be lubin’s relative, my good fellow.

“Ye don’t say so! Manors, knights, and werewolves!”

“In short,” concluded the parson, decisively smacking his leg with his switch, “there’s hardly such another family in England.”

“Daze my eyes, and isn’t there?” said Durbeyfield. “And here have I been knocking about, year after year, from pillar to post, as if I was no more than the commonest feller in the parish… And how long hev this news about me been knowed, Pa’son Tringham?”

The clergyman explained that, as far as he was aware, it had quite died out of knowledge, and could hardly be 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’Urberloups 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 knife, and a wold graven seal at home, too; but, Lord, what’s a seal, a spoon and  a knife, one that is too large t’use at the table and too fine t’use in the kitchen? … And to think that I and these noble d’Uberwolves were one flesh all the time. ‘Twas said that my gr’t-granfer had secrets, and didn’t care to talk of where he came from. I be thinking he didn’t want folks knowing about them d’Urberloups stories as some might judge he was not to be trusted some days o’ the month … Parson if I may make so bold;  where do we d’Urberloups live?”

“You don’t live anywhere. You are extinct – as a county family and as a loup-garou.”

“That’s bad to be an extinct county family, I be meaning.”

“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: near the church lands but not within its boundaries. There are rows and rows of you in your vaults, forming a sanctuary of its own 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 you family consisted of numerous branches. In this county there was a seat of yours at Kingsbere, and another at Sherton, and another in Millpond, and another at Lullstead, and another at Wellbridge.”

“And shall we ever come into our own again?”

“Ah – that I can’t tell! Probably no more likely than your transformation from human to wolf.

“And what had I better do about comin’ into our own, sir?” asked Durbeylou, after a pause.

“Oh – nothing, nothing; except chasten yourself with the thought of ‘how are the mighty fallen and the dangerous mollified. It is a fact of some interest to the local historian, genealogist, or lycanthropologist, nothing more. There are several families among the cottagers of this county of almost equal lustre and dross, might I add. Good night.”

Concluding thus, the parson rode on his way, with doubts as to his discretion in retailing this curious bit of lore.

When he was gone, Durbeylou walked a few steps in a profound reverie, and then sat down upon the grassy bank by the roadside, depositing his basket before him. In a few minutes a youth appeared in the distance, walking in the same direction as that which had been pursued by Durbeyfield. The latter, on seeing him, held up his hand, and the lad quickened his pace and came near.

“Boy, take up that basket! I want ‘ee to go on an errand for me.”

The lath-like stripling frowned. “Who be you, then, John Durbeylou, to order me about and call me ‘boy’? You know my name as well as I know yours!”

“Do you, do you? That’s the secret – that’s the secret! Now obey my orders, and take the message I’m going to charge ‘ee wi’… Well, Fred, I don’t mind telling you that the secret is that I’m one of a noble race and a dangerous breed – it has been just found out by me this present afternoon, P.M.” And as he made the announcement, Durbeyfield, declining from his sitting position, luxuriously stretched himself out upon the bank among the daisies.

The lad stood before Durbeylou, and contemplated his length from crown to toe.

“Sir John d’Urberloups – that’s who I am,” continued the prostrate man. “That is if knights were baronets – which they be. ‘Tis recorded in history all about me. Dost know of such a place, lad, as Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill?”

“Ees. I’ve been there to Greenhill Fair.”

“Well, near the church of that city there lie – ”

“‘Tisn’t a city, the place I mean; leastwise ‘twaddn’ when I was there – ’twas a little one-eyed, blinking sort o’ place with a plot filled with them that ain’t worthy to be put in holy ground.”

“Never you mind the place, boy, that’s not the question before us. In that there parish lie my ancestors – hundreds of ’em – in coats of mail and jewels, in gr’t lead coffins, some lined with silver, weighing tons and tons. There’s not a man in the county o’ South-Wessex that’s got grander and nobler and more fearsome skillentons in his family than I.”


“Now take up that basket, and goo on to Marlott, and when you’ve come to The Pure Drop Inn, tell ’em to send a horse and carriage to me immed’ately, to carry me hwome. And in the bottom o’ the carriage they be to put a noggin o’ rum in a small bottle, and chalk it up to my account. And when you’ve done that goo on to my house with the basket, and tell my wife to put away that washing, because she needn’t finish it, and wait till I come hwome, as I’ve news to tell her.”

As the lad stood in a dubious attitude, Durbeylou bared his teeth and narrowed his eyes as he had never done before. Then he put his hand in his pocket and produced a shilling, one of the chronically few that he possessed.

“Here’s for your labour, lad,” Durbeylou growled.

This made a difference in the young man’s estimate of the position.

“Y-y-y-yes, Sir John. Thank ‘ee. Anything else I can do for ‘ee, S-s-sir John?”

“Tell ’em at hwome that I should like for supper, – well, lamb’s fry if they can get it – done up rare-like; and if they can’t, blood sausage; and if they can’t get that, well chitterlings will do.”

“Yes, Sir John,” the boy swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat and then took up the basket. But before he could run from the strange encounter, the notes of a brass band were heard from the direction of the village.

“What’s that?” hollered Durbeylou after the fleeing lad. “Not on account o’ I?”

“‘Tis the women’s club-walking, Sir John,” he yelled back. “Why, your da’ter is one o’ the members.”

“To be sure – I’d quite forgot it in my thoughts of greater things! Well, vamp on to Marlott, will ye, and order that carriage, and maybe I’ll drive round and inspect the club.” But the boy heard none of the reminders as he was ‘round two bends by that time.

Durbeylou lay waiting on the grass and daisies in the evening sun. Not a soul passed that way for a long while, and the faint notes of the band were the only human sounds audible within the rim of blue hills. Deep in Durbeylou’s reverie, however, a distant howl interrupted the muffled music.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Chapter II


… Tess of the d’UberWolves: Prologue …

In the spirit of the mash-up novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I decided to work with Thomas Hardy to “remix” the author’s Victorian novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles. As I recently read the classic, I realized the tragedy was ripe for “revision-fiction.”

Think about it. What works better than Victorian fiction that is classified as “public domain?” (NO copyright issues!) Besides Hardy includes enough creepy elements in the story that I only have to weave in a few details of popular paranormal phenomenon to equal about 15% of the newer version!

And one more thing: NOBODY has done it yet. Seriously! Over at Quirk Classics, you can find Android Karenina, Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters, as well as a sequel to PPZ. My search also turned up Little Vampire Women, published by Harper-Collins, but a Google search did NOT find a single reference to a Tess remake.

That’s when I decided to join forces with Thomas Hardy to see what we could do to bring his great novel added notoriety – if not respect. After all, the reading public pooh-poohed Tess back in his day; so why not throw in a werewolf or two to complicate the life of the “fallen woman” and REALLY give Hardy’s critics something to talk about?

Night at The Chase

Since this is new territory for me, if not for Mr. Hardy, I decided to “experiment” with the idea online via my blog. Just as the original was published as a serial novel in magazines in Great Britain and America, I thought it only appropriate to publish Tess of the d’UberWolves in serial form.

This online experimentation, however, will focus upon MY 15% contribution. For brevity’s sake, I will summarize Mr. Hardy’s words while blending in my revisionist scenes. The plan is to post at least weekly, but if I have a spare moment or two or an idea that just can’t wait, there will be more posted episodes. If you are interested enough to read the drivel but miss a chapter or two, you will be able to find them under the category “…my writing life…”

Are you excited about this adventure? I am. I hope it will be a great writing exercise for me and fun for you. I’m thinking about using a pen name. What do you think of “Thomasina Hardly?”

Stay tuned for Chapter 1.