TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES meets SECRETARY
In the workhouse, games of dominance and submission give young Marian and Valentine the comforting illusion of control. But when they are hired as a maid and footman to a master who turns their game violently against them, they must draw the line between servitude and surrender—confronting their repressed desires along the way.
14th February 1867
I wasn’t sure whether to address you by first name or last, after everything that has happened.
Even this solution seems wrong—“friend” is too familiar, surely. A presumptuous claim to make on you. And yet, it is woefully inadequate in describing your claim on me.
The tailoring shop is open now, and I’m busy sewing, but my mind drifts often to Valor Rise—to Mr. Bornholdt’s death, and the part I played in it. I’d be ashamed, if I still believed in perfect justice. But if I am a blight upon ordered society, it is society’s order that has made me so. My victim had power enough to take away nearly all my choices; it is not my fault the one choice he left me was fatal to him.
Not that I’m at peace. When I imagine you, utterly alone because of my crime, the guilt is terrible—worse than any jealousy. So, tell me you found someone else who cares for you. Tell me she’s as good as I meant to be—that she’s better.
As I preach honesty, I’ll admit I’m not entirely well. I live as if every person were police and my wrongdoings were written right across my face. I stick myself with pins as often as whatever cloth I’m aiming for.
But don’t pity me. I almost deserve this. The way some women long to be rescued, I have always longed to be captured.