|Your link to over 200,000 educational videos||40,000
|Over 1 Million Blogs||Thousands
|Greatest Speeches (multimedia)|
|Today's News & Analysis||Create your
|Free English as
TV & radio
COPYRIGHT 2013 International Education Institute,
ATTN: Ken Harvey, 2027 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick
WA 99336, USA
the First: The Maiden
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.
night t'ee," said the man
with the basket.
night, Sir John," said the
pedestrian, after another pace or two,
halted, and turned round.
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."
said the parson.
before that--near a month
what might your meaning be in
calling me 'Sir John' these different times,
when I be plain Jack Durbeyfield,
parson rode a step or two nearer.
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
am Parson Tringham, the
antiquary, of Stagfoot Lane. Don't
really know, Durbeyfield, that you are the
lineal representative of the ancient
and knightly family of the d'Urbervilles, who
derive their descent from Sir Pagan
d'Urberville, that renowned knight who came from
Normandy with William the
Conqueror, as appears by Battle Abbey Roll?"
heard it before, sir!"
Throw up your chin a moment, so that I
catch the profile of your face better.
Yes, that's the d'Urberville nose and
chin--a little debased. Your
ancestor was one of the twelve knights
who assisted the Lord of Estremavilla in
Normandy in his conquest of
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
You declined a little in Oliver
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
short," concluded the parson,
decisively smacking his leg with his switch,
"there's hardly such another
family in England."
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
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'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.
I resolved not to disturb
you with such a useless piece of information,"
said he. "However,
our impulses are too strong
for our judgement sometimes. I thought you might
perhaps know something of it
all the while."
have heard once or twice,
'tis true, that my family had seen better days
afore they came to
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-granfer 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
don't live anywhere. You are
extinct--as a county family."
the mendacious family
chronicles call extinct in the male line--that
is, gone down--gone under."
where do we lie?"
Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill: rows and
rows of you in your vaults, with your effigies
where be our family mansions and
No lands neither?"
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."
shall we ever come into our own
I can't tell!"
had I better do about it,
sir?" asked Durbeyfield, after a pause.
nothing; except chasten
yourself with the thought of 'how are the mighty
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."
you'll turn back and have a quart
of beer wi' me on the strength o't, Pa'son
a very pretty brew in tap at The Pure
Drop--though, to be sure, not so good as at
thank you--not this evening,
You've had enough
parson rode on his way, with doubts as to his
discretion in retailing this
curious bit of lore.
was gone Durbeyfield 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
The latter, on seeing
him, held up his hand, and the lad quickened his
pace and came near.
take up that basket! I want 'ee
to go on an errand for me."
lath-like stripling frowned. "Who
be you, then, John Durbeyfield, to order me
about and call me 'boy?' You know
my name as well as I know yours!"
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--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.
stood before Durbeyfield, and
contemplated his length from crown to toe.
"Sir John d'Urberville--that's who I am,"
"That is if knights
were baronets--which they be. "Tis recorded in
history all about me. Dost
know of such a place, lad, as
I've been there to Greenhill
under the church of that city
a city, the place I mean;
leastwise 'twaddn' when I was there--'twas a
little one-eyed, blinking sort
you mind the place, boy, that's
not the question before us. Under the church of
that there parish lie my
ancestors--hundreds of 'em--in coats of mail and
jewels, in gr't lead coffins
weighing tons and tons. There's not a man in the
county o' South-Wessex that's
got grander and nobler skillentons in his family
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
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."
lad stood in a dubious attitude,
Durbeyfield put his hand in his pocket, and
produced a shilling, one of the
chronically few that he possessed.
for your labour, lad."
a difference in the young man's
estimate of the position.
John. Thank 'ee.
Anything else I can do for 'ee, Sir
at hwome that I should like
for supper,--well, lamb's fry if they can get
it; and if they can't, black-pot;
and if they can't get that, well chitterlings
took up the basket, and as he set
out the notes of a brass band were heard from
the direction of the village.
"Not on account o'
women's club-walking, Sir
your da'ter is one o' the
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
departed, and Durbeyfield 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.
village of Marlott lay amid the
north-eastern undulations of the beautiful Vale
of Blakemore or Blackmoor
aforesaid, and engirdled and secluded region,
for the most part untrodden as
yet by tourist or landscape-painter, though
within a four hours' journey from
It is a
vale whose acquaintance is best
made by viewing it from the summits of the hills
that surround it--except
perhaps during the droughts of summer.
An unguided ramble into its recesses in
bad weather is apt to engender
dissatisfaction with its narrow, tortuous, and
fertile and sheltered tract of
country, in which the fields are never brown and
the springs never dry, is
bounded on the south by the bold chalk ridge
that embraces the prominences of
Hambledon Hill, Bulbarrow, Nettlecombe-Tout,
Dogbury, High Stoy, and Bubb Down.
The traveller from the coast, who, after
plodding northward for a score of
miles over calcareous downs and corn-lands,
suddenly reaches the verge of one
of these escarpments, is surprised and delighted
to behold, extended like a map
beneath him, a country differing absolutely from
that which he has passed
him the hills are open,
the sun blazes down upon fields so large as to
give an unenclosed character to
the landscape, the lanes are white, the hedges
low and plashed, the atmosphere
colourless. Here, in the valley, the world seems
to be constructed upon a
smaller and more delicate scale; the fields are
mere paddocks, so reduced that
from this height their hedgerows appear a
network of dark green threads
overspreading the paler green of the grass.
The atmosphere beneath is languorous, and
is so tinged with azure that
what artists call the middle distance partakes
also of that hue, while the
horizon beyond is of the deepest ultramarine.
Arable lands are few and limited; with
but slight exceptions the
prospect is a broad rich mass of grass and
trees, mantling minor hills and
dales within the major. Such
is the Vale
district is of historic, no less than
of topographical interest. The
known in former times as the Forest of White
Hart, from a curious legend of
King Henry III's reign, in which the killing by
a certain Thomas de la Lynd of
a beautiful white hart which the king had run
down and spared, was made the
occasion of a heavy fine. In
and till comparatively recent times, the country
was densely wooded. Even
now, traces of its earlier condition are
to be found in the old oak copses and irregular
belts of timber that yet
survive upon its slopes, and the hollow-trunked
trees that shade so many of its
forests have departed, but some old
customs of their shades remain. Many,
however, linger only in a metamorphosed or
The May-Day dance, for instance, was to
discerned on the afternoon under notice, in the
guise of the club revel, or
"club-walking," as it was there called.
It was an
interesting event to the younger
inhabitants of Marlott, though its real interest
was not observed by the
participators in the ceremony. Its
singularity lay less in the retention of a
custom of walking in procession and
dancing on each anniversary than in the members
being solely women. In
men's clubs such celebrations were, though
expiring, less uncommon; but either the natural
shyness of the softer sex, or a
sarcastic attitude on the part of male
relatives, had denuded such women's
clubs as remained (if any other did) or this
their glory and consummation. The
club of Marlott alone lived to uphold the
local Cerealia. It had walked for hundreds of
years, if not as benefit-club, as
votive sisterhood of some sort; and it walked
banded ones were all dressed in white
gowns--a gay survival from Old Style days, when
cheerfulness and May-time were
synonyms--days before the habit of taking long
views had reduced emotions to a
monotonous average. Their
exhibition of themselves was in a processional
march of two and two round the
parish. Ideal and real clashed slightly as the
sun lit up their figures against
the green hedges and creeper-laced house-fronts;
for, though the whole troop
wore white garments, no two whites were alike
among them. Some approached pure
blanching; some had a bluish pallor; some worn
by the older characters (which
had possibly lain by folded for many a year)
inclined to a cadaverous tint, and
to a Georgian style.
addition to the distinction of a white
frock, every woman and girl carried in her right
hand a peeled willow wand, and
in her left a bunch of white flowers. The
peeling of the former, and the
selection of the latter, had been an operation
of personal care.
were a few middle-aged and even
elderly women in the train, their silver-wiry
hair and wrinkled faces, scourged
by time and trouble, having almost a grotesque,
certainly a pathetic,
appearance in such a jaunty situation.
In a true view, perhaps, there was more
to be gathered and told of each
anxious and experienced one, to whom the years
were drawing nigh when she
should say, "I have no pleasure in them," than
of her juvenile
comrades. But let the elder be passed over here
for those under whose bodices
the life throbbed quick and warm.
girls formed, indeed, the
majority of the band,and their heads of
luxuriant hair reflected in the
sunshine every tone of gold, and black, and
brown. Some had beautiful eyes,
others a beautiful nose, others a beautiful
mouth and figure: few, if any, had
difficulty of arranging their
lips in this crude exposure to public scrutiny,
an inability to balance their
heads, and to dissociate self-consciousness from
their features, was apparent
in them, and showed that they were genuine
country girls, unaccustomed to many
each and all of them were warmed
without by the sun, so each had a private little
sun for her soul to bask in;
some dream, some affection, some hobby, at least
some remote and distant hope
which, though perhaps starving to nothing, still
lived on, as hopes will. They
they were all cheerful, and many of them merry.
round by The Pure Drop Inn, and
were turning out of the high road to pass
through a wicket-gate into the
meadows, when one of the women said--
Why, Tess Durbeyfield, if there isn't thy
father riding hwome in a carriage!"
member of the band turned her head
at the exclamation. She was a fine and handsome
girl--not handsomer than some
others, possibly--but her mobile peony mouth and
large innocent eyes added
eloquence to colour and shape. She
a red ribbon in her hair, and was the only one
of the white company who could
boast of such a pronounced adornment. As
she looked round Durbeyfield was seen moving
along the road in a chaise
belonging to the The Pure Drop, driven by a
frizzle-headed brawny damsel with
her gown-sleeves rolled above her elbows.
This was the cheerful servant of that
establishment, who, in her part of
factotum, turned groom and ostler at times.
Durbeyfield, leaning back, and with
his eyes closed luxuriously, was waving his hand
above his head, and singing in
a slow recitative--
clubbists tittered, except the girl
called Tess-- in whom a slow heat seemed to rise
at the sense that her father
was making himself foolish in their eyes.
tired, that's all," she
said hastily, "and he has got a lift home,
because our own horse has to
thy simplicity, Tess,"
said her companions. "He's got his market-nitch.
here; I won't walk another inch
with you, if you say any jokes about him!" Tess
cried, and the colour upon
her cheeks spread over her face and neck.
In a moment her eyes grew moist, and her
glance drooped to the
that they had really
pained her they said no more, and order again
Tess's pride would not allow her to turn
head again, to learn what her father's meaning
was, if he had any; and thus she
moved on with the whole body to the enclosure
where there was to be dancing on
By the time the spot was
reached she has recovered her equanimity, and
tapped her neighbour with her
wand and talked as usual.
Durbeyfield at this time of her life
was a mere vessel of emotion untinctured by
The dialect was on her tongue to some
despite the village school: the characteristic
intonation of that dialect for
this district being the voicing approximately
rendered by the syllable UR,
probably as rich an utterance as any to be found
in human speech. The pouted-up
deep red mouth to which this syllable was native
had hardly as yet settled into
its definite shape, and her lower lip had a way
of thrusting the middle of her
top one upward, when they closed together after
her childhood lurked in her
aspect still. As she walked along today, for all
her bouncing handsome
womanliness, you could sometimes see her twelfth
year in her cheeks, or her
ninth sparkling from her eyes; and even her
fifth would flit over the curves of
her mouth now and then.
knew, and still fewer considered
small minority, mainly
strangers, would look long at her in casually
passing by, and grow momentarily
fascinated by her freshness, and wonder if they
would ever see her again: but
to almost everybody she was a fine and
picturesque country girl, and no more.
was seen or heard further of
Durbeyfield in his triumphal chariot under the
conduct of the ostleress, and
the club having entered the allotted space,
As there were no men in the company the
danced at first with each other, but when the
hour for the close of labour drew
on, the masculine inhabitants of the village,
together with other idlers and
pedestrians, gathered round the spot, and
appeared inclined to negotiate for a
these on-lookers were three young men
of a superior class, carrying small knapsacks
strapped to their shoulders, and
stout sticks in their hands. Their general
likeness to each other, and their
consecutive ages, would almost have suggested
that they might be, what in fact
they were, brothers. The
eldest wore the
white tie, high waistcoat, and thin-brimmed hat
of the regulation curate; the
second was the normal undergraduate; the
appearance of the third and youngest
would hardly have been sufficient to
characterize him; there was an uncribbed,
uncabined aspect in his eyes and attire,
implying that he had hardly as yet
found the entrance to his professional groove.
That he was a desultory tentative student
of something and everything
might only have been predicted of him.
three brethren told casual
acquaintance that they were spending their
Whitsun holidays in a walking tour
through the Vale of Blackmoor, their course
being southwesterly from the town
of Shaston on the north-east. dh They leant over
the gate by the highway, and
inquired as to the meaning of the dance and the
white-frocked maids. The
two elder of the brothers were plainly
not intending to linger more than a moment, but
the spectacle of a bevy of
girls dancing without male partners seemed to
amuse the third, and make him in
no hurry to move on. He
knapsack, put it, with his stick, on the
hedge-bank, and opened the gate.
you going to do,
Angel?" asked the eldest.
inclined to go and have a fling
Why not all of us--just for a
minute or two--it will not detain us long?"
nonsense!" said the
in public with a
troop of country hoydens--suppose we should be
along, or it will be dark before we get
to Stourcastle, and there's no place we can
sleep at nearer than that; besides,
we must get through another chapter of A
COUNTERBLAST TO AGNOSTICISM before we
turn in, now I have taken the trouble to bring
right--I'll overtake you and
Cuthbert in five minutes; don't stop; I give my
word that I will, Felix."
elder reluctantly left him and
walked on, taking their brother's knapsack to
relieve him in following, and the
youngest entered the field.
a thousand pities," he
said gallantly, to two or three of the girls
nearest him, as soon as there was
a pause in the dance. "Where are your partners,
not left off work yet,"
answered one of the boldest. "They'll be here by
and by. Till
then, will you be one, sir?"
what's one among so many!"
than none. 'Tis melancholy
work facing and footing it to one of your own
sort, and no clipsing and colling
at all. Now,
pick and choose."
be so for'ard!" said
a shyer girl.
man, thus invited, clanged them
over, and attempted some discrimination; but, as
the group were all so new to
him, he could not very well exercise it. He took
almost the first that came to
hand, which was not the speaker, as she had
expected; nor did it happen to be
skeletons, monumental record, the d'Urberville
lineaments, did not help Tess in
her life's battle as yet, even to the extent of
attracting to her a
dancing-partner over the heads of the commonest
peasantry. So much for Norman
blood unaided by Victorian lucre.
of the eclipsing girl, whatever it
was, has not been handed down; but she was
envied by all as the first who
enjoyed the luxury of a masculine partner that
such was the force of example that the
village young men, who had not hastened to enter
the gate while no intruder was
in the way, now dropped in quickly, and soon the
couples became leavened with
rustic youth to a marked extent, till at length
the plainest woman in the club
was no longer compelled to foot it on the
masculine side of the figure.
church clock struck, when suddenly the
student said that he must leave--he had been
forgetting himself-- he had to
join his companions. As he
fell out of
the dance his eyes lighted on Tess Durbeyfield,
whose own large orbs wore, to
tell the truth, the faintest aspect of reproach
that he had not chosen
too, was sorry then that, owing
to her backwardness, he had not observed her;
and with that in his mind he left
account of his long delay he started in
a flying-run down the lane westward, and had
soon passed the hollow and mounted
the next rise.
He had not yet overtaken
his brothers, but he paused to get breath, and
looked back. He could see the
white figures of the girls in the green
enclosure whirling about as they had
whirled when he was among them. They
seemed to have quite forgotten him already.
them, except, perhaps, one. This
white shape stood apart by the hedge
her position he knew it to
be the pretty maiden with whom he had not
as the matter was, he yet
instinctively felt that she was hurt by his
oversight. He wished that he had
asked her; he wished that he had inquired her
was so modest, so expressive, she had
looked so soft in her thin white gown that he
felt he had acted stupidly.
it could not be helped, and
turning, and bending himself to a rapid walk, he
dismissed the subject from his
Tess Durbeyfield, she did not so
easily dislodge the incident from her
She had no spirit to dance again for a
time, though she might have had plenty of
partners; but ah! they did not speak
so nicely as the strange young man had done. 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 answered her
would-be partner in the
remained with her comrades till dusk,
and participated with a certain zest in the
dancing; though, being heart-whole
as yet, she enjoyed treading a measure purely
for its own sake; little divining
when she saw "the soft torments, the bitter
sweets, the pleasing pains,
and the agreeable distresses" of those girls who
had been wooed and won,
what she herself was capable of in that kind.
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.
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.
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
saw her lie do'--own in yon'--der green
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.
bless thy diment eyes! And
thy waxen cheeks!
And thy cherry mouth! And
thy Cubit's thighs! And
every bit o' thy blessed body!"
this invocation the rocking and the
singing would recommence, 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.
interior, in spite 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, what a step! 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
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.
Mrs Durbeyfield 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 Durbeyfield, 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, 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, Mrs Durbeyfield regarding her
daughter the while. Even
now, when burdened with a young family,
Joan Durbeyfield was a passionate lover of tune. No
ditty floated into Blackmoor Vale from the
outer world but Tess's mother caught up its
notation in a week.
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
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."
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,
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.
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
(Mrs Durbeyfield habitually spoke the
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
I've been away?" Tess
anything to do with father's
making such a mommet of himself in thik carriage
this afternoon? Why did
felt inclined to sink into the
ground with shame!"
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
days we was made Knights o' the Royal Oak, our
real name being d'Urberville!
... 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."
of that. Will
it 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 telling me the
whole pedigree of the matter."
father now?" asked Tess
mother gave irrelevant information by
way of answer: "He called to see the doctor
today in Shaston. It is not
consumption at all, it seems. It is
round his heart, 'a says. There,
like this." Joan Durbeyfield, as she spoke,
curved a sodden thumb and
forefinger to the shape of the letter C, and
used the other forefinger as a
pointer, "'At the present moment,' he says to
your father, 'your heart is
enclosed all round there, and all round there;
this space is still open,' 'a
says. 'As soon as it do meet, so,'"--Mrs
Durbeyfield closed her fingers
into a circle complete--"'off you will go like a
shadder, Mr Durbeyfield,'
'a says. 'You
mid last ten years; you
mid go off in ten months, or ten days.'"
Her father possibly to go behind the
cloud so soon, notwithstanding this sudden
where IS father?" she asked
mother put on a deprecating look. "Now
don't you be bursting out
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
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,
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
said the latter touchily,
"I be not agreed. I have been waiting for 'ee to
bide and keep house while
I go fetch him."
see, it would be no use."
She knew what her mother's objection
Durbeyfield'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
the COMPLEAT FORTUNE-TELLER
to the outhouse," Joan continued, rapidly wiping
her hands, and donning
COMPLEAT FORTUNE-TELLER was an old
thick volume, which lay on a table at her elbow,
so worn by pocketing that the
margins had reached the edge of the type. Tess
took it up, and her mother
going to hunt up her shiftless husband
at the inn was one of Mrs Durbeyfield's still
extant enjoyments in the muck and
muddle of rearing children. To
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. A sort
of halo, an occidental glow, came over
life then. Troubles and other realities took on
themselves a meta-physical
impalpability, sinking to mere mental phenomena
for serene contemplation, and
no longer stood as pressing concretions which
chafed body and soul. The youngsters,
not immediately within sight, seemed rather
bright and desirable appurtenances
than otherwise; the incidents of daily life were
not without humorousness and
jollity in their aspect there. She
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
being left alone with the younger
children, went first to the outhouse with the
fortune-telling book, and stuffed
it into the thatch. A
fetichistic fear of this grimy volume on the
part of her mother prevented her
ever allowing it to stay in the house all night,
and hither it was brought back
whenever it had been consulted. Between
mother, with her fast-perishing lumber of
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.
along the garden path Tess mused
on what the mother could have wished to
ascertain from the book on this
She guessed the recent
ancestral discovery to bear upon it, but did not
divine that it solely
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
was an interval of four years
and more between Tess and the next of the
family, the two who had filled the
gap having died in their infancy, and this lent
her a deputy-maternal attitude
when she was alone with her juniors. Next in
juvenility to Abraham came two
more girls, Hope and Modesty; then a boy of
three, and then the baby, who had
just completed his first year.
young souls were passengers in
the Durbeyfield ship--entirely dependent on the
judgement of the two
Durbeyfield adults for their pleasures, their
necessities, their health, even
their existence. If the heads of the Durbeyfield
household chose to sail into
difficulty, disaster, starvation, disease,
degradation, death, thither were
these half-dozen little captives under hatches
compelled to sail with them--six
helpless creatures, who had never been asked if
they wished for life on any
terms, much less if they wished for it on such
hard conditions as were involved
in being of the shiftless house of Durbeyfield.
Some people would like to know whence the
poet whose philosophy is in
these days deemed as profound and trustworthy as
his song is breezy and pure,
gets his authority for speaking of "Nature's
later, and neither father nor
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.
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.
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
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. Abraham,
his parents, seemed to have been limed and
caught by the ensnaring inn.
go myself," she said.
then went to bed, and Tess,
locking them all in, started on her way up the
dark 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.
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
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.
But there were also local customers who
the same wish; and where there's a will there's
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.
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
The stage of mental comfort to which they
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
Durbeyfield, 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
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
Durbeyfield--Lard--how you frightened me!--I
thought it might be some gaffer
sent by Gover'ment."
Durbeyfield was welcomed with glances
and nods by the remainder of the conclave, and
turned to where her husband
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 at Kingsbere- sub-Greenhill,
and finer skillentons than any
man in Wessex!"
something to tell 'ee that's
come into my head about that--a grand projick!"
whispered his cheerful
John, don't 'ee see
nudged him, while he,
looking through her as through a window-pane,
went on with his recitative.
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."
told 'ee what's happened to us,
I suppose?" asked Mrs Durbeyfield.
a way. D'ye think there's any
money hanging by it?"
that's the secret," said
Joan Durbeyfield sagely. "However, 'tis well to
be kin to a coach, even if
you don't ride in 'en." She
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'Urberville."
that?" said Sir
repeated the information. "That
lady must be our relation," she said. "And my
projick is to send Tess
to claim kin."
a lady of the name, now you
mention it," said Durbeyfield.
"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
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.
rich, and she'd be sure to
take notice o' the maid," continued Mrs
Durbeyfield; "and 'twill be a
very good thing.
I don't see why two
branches o' one family should not be on visiting
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
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
be sure to win the
lady--Tess would; and likely enough 'twould lead
to some noble gentleman
In short, I know it."
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."
says the maid herself to
She don't know there is any such
But it would
certainly put her in the way of a grand
marriage, and she won't say nay to
she's tractable at bottom. Leave
her to me."
this conversation had been private,
sufficient of its import reached the
understandings of those around to suggest
to them that the Durbeyfields had weightier
concerns to talk of now than common
folks had, and that Tess, their pretty eldest
daughter, had fine prospects in
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
"But Joan Durbeyfield must mind that she
don't get green malt in floor." It
was a local phrase which had a peculiar meaning,
and there was no reply.
conversation became inclusive, and
presently other footsteps were heard crossing
the room below.
a few private friends asked
in tonight to keep up club-walking at my own
landlady had rapidly re-used the formula
she kept on hand for intruders before she
recognized that the newcomer was Tess.
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
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
home together, Tess holding one
arm of her father, and Mrs Durbeyfield the
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 of Sir John's constitution made
mountains of his petty sins in this
reaching the fresh air he 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 Durbeyfield
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--
a fam--ily vault at
be so silly, Jacky,"
said his wife. "Yours is not the only family
that was of 'count in wold
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. Thank
God, I was never of no family,
and have nothing to be ashamed of in that way!"
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."
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."
shall be all right in an hour or
two," said Durbeyfield.
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
man can't go," she said
to her eldest daughter, whose great eyes had
opened the moment her mother's
hand touched the door.
up in bed, lost in a vague
interspace between a dream and this information.
somebody must go," she
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
Durbeyfield looked unequal to the
"Some young feller,
perhaps, would go?
One of them who were
so much after dancing with 'ee yesterday," she
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."
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.
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 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
tiger springing from a lair; of
that which resembled a giant's head.
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 or
Bealbarrow, 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
he said in a preparatory
tone, after a silence.
you glad that we've become
be glad that you 'm going to
marry a gentleman?"
said Tess, lifting her
great relation will help 'ee
to marry a gentleman."
Our great relation? We
such relation. What has put that into your
'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
sister became abruptly still, and
lapsed into a pondering silence. Abraham
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, whose cold pulses
were beating amid the black
hollows above, in serene dissociation from these
two wisps of human life. He
asked how far away those twinklers were,
and whether God was on the other side of them.
But ever and anon his childish prattle
recurred to what impressed his
imagination even more deeply than the wonders of
creation. If Tess were made
rich by marrying a gentleman, would she have
money enough to buy a spyglass so
large that it would draw the stars as near to
her as Nettlecombe-Tout?
renewed subject, which seemed to have
impregnated the whole family, filled Tess with
mind that now!" she
say the stars were worlds,
know; but I think so. They
sometimes seem to be like the apples on
Most of them splendid
and sound--a few blighted."
we live on--a splendid one
or a blighted one?"
very unlucky that we didn't
pitch on a sound one, when there were so many
more of 'em!"
like that REALLY, Tess?"
said Abraham, turning to her much impressed, on
reconsideration of this rare
"How would it have
been if we had pitched on a sound one?"
father wouldn't have coughed
and creeped about as he does, and wouldn't have
got too tipsy to go on this
journey; and mother wouldn't have been always
washing, and never getting
would have been a rich lady
ready-made, and not have had to be made rich by
marrying a gentleman?"
don't--don't talk of that any
his reflections Abraham soon grew
was not skilful in the
management of a horse, but she thought that she
could take upon herself the
entire conduct of the load for the present, and
allow Abraham to go to sleep if
he wished to do so. She made him a sort of nest
in front of the hives, in such
a manner that he could not fall, and, taking the
reins into her own hands,
jogged on as before.
required but slight attention,
lacking energy for superfluous movements of any
no longer a companion to distract her,
Tess fell more deeply into reverie than ever,
her back leaning against the
hives. The mute procession past her shoulders of
trees and hedges became
attached to fantastic scenes outside reality,
and the occasional heave of the
wind became the sigh of some immense sad soul,
conterminous with the universe
in space, and with history in time.
examining the mesh of events in her
own life, she seemed to see the vanity of her
father's pride; the gentlemanly
suitor awaiting herself in her mother's fancy;
to see him as a grimacing
personage, laughing at her poverty, and her
shrouded knightly ancestry.
Everything grew more and more extravagant, and
she no longer knew how time
passed. A sudden jerk shook her in her seat, and
Tess awoke from the sleep into
which she, too, had fallen.
a long way further on than when
she had lost consciousness, and the waggon had
hollow groan, unlike anything she had ever
heard in her life, came from the front, followed
by a shout of "Hoi
lantern hanging at her waggon had gone out,
but another was shining in her face--much
brighter than her own had been.
Something terrible had happened. The
harness was entangled with an object which
blocked the way.
consternation Tess jumped down, and
discovered the dreadful truth. The groan has
proceeded from her father's poor
horse Prince. The morning mail-cart, with its
two noiseless wheels, speeding
along these lanes like an arrow, as it always
did, had driven into her slow and
unlighted equipage. The pointed shaft of the
cart had entered the breast of the
unhappy Prince like a sword, and from the wound
his life's blood was spouting
in a stream, and falling with a hiss into the
despair Tess sprang forward and put
her hand upon the hole, with the only result
that she became splashed from face
to skirt with the crimson drops. Then she stood
helplessly looking on. Prince
also stood firm and motionless as long as he
could; till he suddenly sank down
in a heap.
time the mail-cart man had joined
her, and began dragging and unharnessing the hot
form of Prince. But he was
already dead, and, seeing that nothing more
could be done immediately, the
mail-cart man returned to his own animal, which
on the wrong side," he
am bound to go on with the
mail-bags, so that the best thing for you to do
is bide here with your
send somebody to help you as
soon as I can. It is getting daylight, and you
have nothing to fear."
mounted and sped on his way; while Tess
stood and waited.
The atmosphere turned
pale, the birds shook themselves in the hedges,
arose, and twittered; the lane
showed all its white features, and Tess showed
hers, still whiter. The
huge pool of blood in front of her was
already assuming the iridescence of coagulation;
and when the sun rose a
hundred prismatic hues were reflected from it.
Prince lay alongside still and
stark; his eyes half open, the hole in his chest
looking scarcely large enough
to have let out all that had animated him.
my doing--all mine!"
the girl cried, gazing at the spectacle.
"No excuse for me--none.
What will mother and father live on now?
She shook the child, who had slept
through the whole disaster. "We
can't go on with our load--Prince is killed!"
Abraham realized all, the furrows of
fifty years were extemporized on his young face.
danced and laughed only
yesterday!" she went on to herself. "To think
that I was such a
because we be on a blighted
star, and not a sound one, isn't it, Tess?"
murmured Abraham through his
silence they waited through an interval
which seemed endless. At length a sound, and an
approaching object, proved to
them that the driver of the mail-car had been as
good as his word. A farmer's
man from near Stourcastle came up, leading a
strong cob. He was harnessed to
the waggon of beehives in the place of Prince,
and the load taken on towards
evening of the same day saw the empty
waggon reach again the spot of the accident.
Prince had lain there in the ditch since
the morning; but the place of
the blood-pool was still visible in the middle
of the road, though scratched
and scraped over by passing vehicles. All that
was left of Prince was now
hoisted into the waggon he had formerly hauled,
and with his hoofs in the air,
and his shoes shining in the setting sunlight,
he retracted the eight or nine
miles to Marlott.
gone back earlier.
How to break the news was more than she
was a relief to her tongue to
find from the faces of her parents that they
already knew of their loss, though
this did not lessen the self-reproach which she
continued to heap upon herself
for her negligence.
very shiftlessness of the household
rendered the misfortune a less terrifying one to
them than it would have been
to a thriving family, though in the present case
it meant ruin, and in the
other it would only have meant inconvenience.
In the Durbeyfield countenances there was
nothing of the red wrath that
would have burnt upon the girl from parents more
ambitious for her welfare.
Nobody blamed Tess as she blamed herself.
was discovered that the knacker and
tanner would give only a very few shillings for
Prince's carcase because of his
decrepitude, Durbeyfield rose to the occasion.
said he stoically, "I
won't sell his old body. When we d'Urbervilles
was knights in the land, we
didn't sell our chargers for cat's meat.
Let 'em keep their shillings. He've
served me well in his lifetime, and
I won't part from him now."
harder the next day in digging a
grave for Prince in the garden than he had
worked for months to grow a crop for
his family. When the hole was ready, Durbeyfield
and his wife tied a rope round
the horse and dragged him up the path towards
it, the children following in
Abraham and 'Liza-Lu
sobbed, Hope and Modest discharged their griefs
in loud blares which echoed
from the walls; and when Prince was tumbled in
they gathered round the grave. The
bread-winner had been taken away from
them; what would they do?
gone to heaven?" asked
Abraham, between the sobs. Then
Durbeyfield began to shovel in the earth, and
the children cried anew. All
Her face was dry and pale, as though she
regarded herself in the light of a murderess.
haggling business, which had mainly
depended on the horse, became disorganized
Distress, if not penury, loomed in the
was what was
locally called a slack-twisted fellow; he had
good strength to work at times;
but the times could not be relied on to coincide
with the hours of requirement;
and, having been unaccustomed to the regular
toil of the day-labourer, he was
not particularly persistent when they did so
meanwhile, as the one who had dragged
her parents into this quagmire, was silently
wondering what she could do to
help them out of it; and then her mother
broached her scheme.
take the ups wi' the downs,
Tess," said she; "and never could your high
blood have been found out
at a more called-for moment. You
try your friends. Do ye know that there is a
very rich Mrs d'Urberville living
on the outskirts o' The Chase, who must be our
must go to her and claim kin, and ask for
some help in our trouble."
shouldn't care to do that,"
"If there is such a
lady, 'twould be enough for us if she were
friendly--not to expect her to give
could win her round to do
anything, my dear. Besides, perhaps there's more
in it than you know of. I've
heard what I've heard, good-now."
oppressive sense of the harm she had
done led Tess to be more deferential than she
might otherwise have been to the
maternal wish; but she could not understand why
her mother should find such
satisfaction in contemplating an enterprise of,
to her, such doubtful profit.
Her mother might have made inquiries, and have
discovered that this Mrs
d'Urberville was a lady of unequalled virtues
But Tess's pride made the part of poor
relation one of particular distaste to her.
rather try to get work," she
you can settle it,"
said his wife, turning to where he sat in the
"If you say she ought to go, she will
like my children going and
making themselves beholden to strange kin,"
"I'm the head of the noblest branch o'
the family, and I ought to live up to it."
reasons for staying away were worse to
Tess than her own objections to going.
"Well, as I killed the horse, mother,"
she said mournfully,
"I suppose I ought to do something. I don't mind
going and seeing her, but
you must leave it to me about asking for help.
And don't go thinking about her making a
match for me--it is
silly." "Very well said, Tess!" observed her
I had such a thought?"
it is in your mind, mother.
But I'll go."
early next day she walked to the
hill-town called Shaston, and there took
advantage of a van which twice in the
week ran from Shaston eastward to Chaseborough,
passing near Trantridge, the
parish in which the vague and mysterious Mrs
d'Urberville had her residence.
Durbeyfield's route on this memorable
morning lay amid the north-eastern undulations
of the Vale in which she had
been born, and in which her life had unfolded.
The Vale of Blackmoor was to her
the world, and its inhabitants the races
the gates and stiles of Marlott she had
looked down its length in the wondering days of
infancy, and what had been
mystery to her then was not much less than
mystery to her now. She had seen
daily from her chamber-window towers, villages,
faint white mansions; above all
the town of Shaston standing majestically on its
height; its windows shining
like lamps in the evening sun. She
hardly ever visited the place, only a small
tract even of the Vale and its
environs being known to her by close inspection. Much
less had she been far outside the valley. Every
contour of the surrounding hills was as
personal to her as that of her relatives' faces;
but for what lay beyond her
judgment was dependent on the teaching of the
village school, where she had
held a leading place at the time of her leaving,
a year or two before this
early days she had been much loved
by others of her own sex and age, and had used
to be seen about the village as
one of three--all nearly of the same
year--walking home from school side by
side; Tess the middle one--in a pink print
pinafore, of a finely reticulated
pattern, worn over a stuff frock that had lost
its original colour for a
nondescript tertiary--marching on upon long
stalky legs, in tight stockings
which had little ladder-like holes at the knees,
torn by kneeling in the roads
and banks in search of vegetable and mineral
treasures; her then earth-coloured
hair handing like pot-hooks; the arms of the two
outside girls resting round
the waist of Tess; her arms on the shoulders of
the two supporters.
grew older, and began to see how
matters stood, she felt quite a Malthusian
towards her mother for thoughtlessly
giving her so many little sisters and brothers,
when it was such a trouble to
nurse and provide for them. Her
intelligence was that of a happy child: Joan
Durbeyfield was simply an
additional one, and that not the eldest, to her
own long family of waiters on
However, Tess became
humanely beneficent towards the small ones, and
to help them as much as
possible she used, as soon as she left school,
to lend a hand at haymaking or
harvesting on neighbouring farms; or, by
preference, at milking or
butter-making processes, which she had learnt
when her father had owned cows;
and being deft-fingered it was a kind of work in
which she excelled.
seemed to throw upon her young
shoulders more of thefamily burdens, and that
Tess should be the representative
of the Durbeyfields at the d'Urberville mansion
came as a thing of course. In
this instance it must be admitted that the
Durbeyfields were putting their
fairest side outward.
alighted from the van at Trantridge
Cross, and ascended on foot a hill in the
direction of the district known as
The Chase, on the borders of which, as she had
been informed, Mrs
d'Urberville's seat, The Slopes, would be found. It was
not a manorial home in the ordinary
sense, with fields, and pastures, and a
grumbling farmer, out of whom the owner
had to squeeze an income for himself and his
family by hook or by crook. It was
more, far more; a country-house built
for enjoyment pure and simple, with not an acre
of troublesome land attached to
it beyond what was required for residential
purposes, and for a little fancy
farm kept in hand by the owner, and tended by a
crimson brick lodge came first in
sight, up to its eaves in dense evergreens.
Tess thought this was the mansion itself
till, passing through the side
wicket with some trepidation, and onward to a
point at which the drive took a
turn, the house proper stood in full view.
It was of recent erection--indeed almost
new--and of the same rich red
colour that formed such a contrast with the
evergreens of the lodge. Far
behind the corner of the house--which
rose like a geranium bloom against the subdued
colours around--stretched the
soft azure landscape of The Chase--a truly
venerable tract of forest land, one
of the few remaining woodlands in England of
undoubted primaeval date, wherein
Druidical mistletoe was still found on aged
oaks, and where enormous yew-trees,
not planted by the hand of man grew as they had
grown when they were pollarded
for bows. All
this sylvan antiquity,
however, though visible from The Slopes, was
outside the immediate boundaries
of the estate.
on this snug property was
bright, thriving, and well kept; acres of
glass-houses stretched down the
inclines to the copses at their feet.
Everything looked like money--like the
last coin issued from the Mint. The
stables, partly screened by Austrian
pines and evergreen oaks, and fitted with every
late appliance, were as
dignified as Chapels-of-Ease. On the
extensive lawn stood an ornamental tent, its
door being towards her.
Tess Durbeyfield stood at gaze, in a
half-alarmed attitude, on the edge of the gravel
sweep. Her feet had brought
her onward to this point before she had quite
realized where she was; and now
all was contrary to her expectation.
thought we were an old family; but
this is all new!" she said, in her artlessness. She
wished that she had not fallen in so
readily with her mother's plans for "claiming
kin," and had endeavoured
to gain assistance nearer home.
as they at first called themselves--who owned
all this, were a somewhat unusual
family to find in such an old-fashioned part of
Parson Tringham had spoken truly when he
that our shambling John Durbeyfield was the only
really lineal representative
of the old d'Urbervillefamily existing in the
county, or near it; he might have
added, what he knew very well, that the
Stoke-d'Urbervilles were no more
d'Urbervilles of the true tree then he was
himself. Yet it must be admitted
that this family formed a very good stock
whereon to regraft a name which sadly
wanted such renovation.
Mr Simon Stoke, latterly deceased,
had made his fortune as an honest merchant (some
said money-lender) in the
North, he decided to settle as a county man in
the South of England, out of
hail of his business district; and in doing this
he felt the necessity of
recommencing with a name that would not too
readily identify him with the smart
tradesman of the past, and that would be less
commonplace than the original
bald stark words. Conning for an hour in the
British Museum the pages of works
devoted to extinct, half-extinct, obscured, and
ruined families appertaining to
the quarter of England in which he proposed to
settle, he considered that
D'URBERVILLE looked and sounded as well as any
of them: and d'Urberville
accordingly was annexed to his own name for
himself and his heirs
Yet he was not an
extravagant-minded man in this, and in
constructing his family tree on the new
basis was duly reasonable in framing his
inter-marriages and aristocratic
links, never inserting a single title above a
rank of strict moderation.
work of imagination poor Tess and
her parents were naturally in ignorance--much to
their discomfiture; indeed,
the very possibility of such annexations was
unknown to them; who supposed
that, though to be well-favoured might be the
gift of fortune, a family name
came by nature.
still stood hesitating like a bather
about to make his plunge, hardly knowing whether
to retreat or to persevere,
when a figure came forth from the dark
triangular door of the tent. It was
that of a tall young man, smoking.
He had an
almost swarthy complexion, with
full lips, badly moulded, though red and smooth,
above which was a well-groomed
black moustache with curled points, though his
age could not be more than
three-or four-and-twenty. Despite
touches of barbarism in his contours, there was
a singular force in the
gentleman's face, and in his bold rolling eye.
Beauty, what can I do for
you?" said he, coming forward. And perceiving
that she stood quite
confounded: "Never mind me. I am Mr
d'Urberville. Have you come to see me
or my mother?"
embodiment of a d'Urberville and a
namesake differed even more from what Tess had
expected than the house and
grounds had differed. She
had dreamed of
an aged and dignified face, the sublimation of
all the d'Urberville lineaments,
furrowed with incarnate memories representing in
hieroglyphic the centuries of
her family's and England's history. But
she screwed herself up to the work in hand,
since she could not get out of it,
to see your mother, sir."
afraid you cannot see her--she
is an invalid," replied thepresent
representative of the spurious house;
for this was Mr Alec, the only son of the lately
deceased gentleman. "Cannot
I answer your purpose? What is
the business you wish to see her about?"
business--it is--I can
hardly say what!"
"Oh no. Why,
sir, if I tell you, it will
sense of a certain ludicrousness in
her errand was now so strong that,
notwithstanding her awe of him, and her
general discomfort at being here, her rosy lips
curved towards a smile, much to
the attraction of the swarthy Alexander.
"It is so
very foolish," she
stammered; "I fear can't tell you!"
mind; I like foolish
again, my dear," said
asked me to come," Tess
continued; "and, indeed, I was in the mind to do
so myself likewise. But I
did not think it would be like this. I
came, sir, to tell you that we are of the same
family as you."
I mean d'Urbervilles."
names are worn away to
Durbeyfield; but we have several proofs that we
Antiquarians hold we are,--and--and we
an old seal, marked with a ramping lion on a
shield, and a castle over him. And we
have a very old silver spoon, round in
the bowl like a little ladle, and marked with
the same castle.
But it is so worn that mother uses it to
argent is certainly my
crest," said he blandly. "And
my arms a lion rampant."
mother said we ought to make
ourselves beknown to you--as we've lost our
horse by a bad accident, and are
the oldest branch o' the family."
kind of your mother, I'm
I, for one, don't regret her
looked at Tess as he
spoke, in a way that made her blush a little.
"And so, my pretty girl, you've come on a
friendly visit to us, as
suppose I have," faltered
Tess, looking uncomfortable again.
no harm in it.
Where do you live? What are you?"
him brief particulars; and
responding to further inquiries told him that
she was intending to go back by
the same carrier who had brought her.
"It is a
long while before he returns
past Trantridge Cross. Supposing we walk round
the grounds to pass the time, my
wished to abridge her visit as much as
possible; but the young man was pressing, and
she consented to accompany
conducted her about the lawns,
and flower-beds, and conservatories; and thence
to the fruit-garden and
greenhouses, where he asked her if she liked
said Tess, "when they
D'Urberville began gathering specimens of
fruit for her, handing them back to her as he
stooped; and, presently,
selecting a specially fine product of the
"British Queen" variety, he
stood up and held it by the stem to her mouth.
she said quickly,
putting her fingers between his hand and her
would rather take it in my own
he insisted; and in a
slight distress she parted her lips and took it
spent some time wandering
desultorily thus, Tess eating in a half-pleased,
half-reluctant state whatever
d'Urberville offered her. When
consume no more of the strawberries he filled
her little basket with them; and
then the two passed round to the rose trees,
whence he gathered blossoms and
gave her to put in her bosom. She
like one in a dream, and when she could affix no
more he himself tucked a bud
or two into her hat, and heaped her basket with
others in the prodigality of
his bounty. At last, looking at his watch, he
said, "Now, by the time you
have had something to eat, it will be time for
you to leave, if you want to
catch the carrier to Shaston. Come here, and
I'll see what grub I can
d'Urberville took her back to the
lawn and into the tent, where he left her, soon
reappearing with a basket of
light luncheon, which he put before her himself. It was
evidently the gentleman's wish not to
be disturbed in this pleasant TETE-A-TETE by the
mind my smoking?" he
at all, sir."
watched her pretty and unconscious
munching through the skeins of smoke that
pervaded the tent, and Tess
Durbeyfield did not divine, as she innocently
looked down at the roses in her
bosom, that there behind the blue narcotic haze
was potentially the
"tragic mischief" of her drama--one who stood
fair to be the
blood-red ray in the spectrum of her young life. She
had an attribute which amounted to a
disadvantage just now; and it was this that
caused Alec d'Urberville's eyes to
rivet themselves upon her. It was
luxuriance of aspect, a fulness of growth, which
made her appear more of a
woman than she really was. She
inherited the feature from her mother without
the quality it denoted. It had
troubled her mind occasionally, till
her companions had said that it was a fault
which time would cure.
had finished her lunch. "Now I
am going home, sir," she
do they call you?" he
asked, as he accompanied her along the drive
till they were out of sight of the
Durbeyfield, down at
say your people have lost
him!" she answered,
her eyes filling with tears as she gave
particulars of Prince's death. "And I
don't know what to do for father
on account of it!"
think if I cannot do
My mother must find a berth
for you. But,
Tess, no nonsense about
'd'Urberville';--'Durbeyfield' only, you
know--quite another name."
for no better, sir," said
she with something of dignity.
moment--only for a moment--when they
were in the turning of the drive, between the
tall rhododendrons and conifers,
before the lodge became visible, he inclined his
face towards her as if--but,
no: he thought better of it, and let her go.
Had she perceived this meeting's import
might have asked why she was doomed to be seen
and coveted that day by the
wrong man, and not by some other man, the right
and desired one in all
respects--as nearly as humanity can supply the
right and desired; yet to him
who amongst her acquaintance might have
approximated to this kind, she was but
a transient impression, half forgotten.
ill-judged execution of the
well-judged plan of things the call seldom
produces the comer, the man to love
rarely coincides with the hour for loving.
Nature does not often say "See!" to her
poor creature at a
time when seeing can lead to happy doing; or
reply "Here!" to a
body's cry of "Where?" till the hide-and-seek
has become an irksome,
We may wonder whether at
the acme and summit of the human progress these
anachronisms will be corrected
by a finer intuition, a close interaction of the
social machinery than that
which now jolts us round and along; but such
completeness is not to be
prophesied, or even conceived as possible.
Enough that in the present case, as in
millions, it was not the two
halves of a perfect whole that confronted each
other at the perfect moment; a
missing counterpart wandered independently about
the earth waiting in crass
obtuseness till the late time came. Out
of which maladroit delay sprang
catastrophes, and passing-strange destinies.
d'Urberville got back to the tent he
sat down astride on a chair reflecting, with a
pleased gleam in his face. Then
he broke into a loud laugh.
What a funny thing! Ha-ha-ha!
And what a crumby girl!"
down the hill to Trantridge
Cross, and inattentively waited to take her seat
in the van returning from
Chaseborough to Shaston. She
know what the other occupants said to her as she
entered, though she answered
them; and when they had started anew she rode
along with an inward and not an
her fellow-travellers addressed
her more pointedly than any had spoken before:
"Why, you be quite a
such roses in early
became aware of the spectacle she
presented to their surprised vision: roses at
her breasts; roses in her hat;
roses and strawberries in her basket to the
blushed, and said confusedly that the flowers
had been given to her. When
passengers were not looking she stealthily
removed the more prominent blooms
from her hat and placed them in basket, where
she covered them with her
handkerchief. Then she fell to reflecting again,
and in looking downwards a
thorn of the rose remaining in her breast
accidentally pricked her chin. Like
all the cottagers in Blackmoor Vale, Tess was
steeped in fancies and
prefigurative superstitions; she thought this an
ill omen--the first she had
noticed that day.
travelled only so far as Shaston,
and there were several miles of pedestrian
descent from that mountain-town into
the vale of Marlott. Her
advised her to stay here for the night, at the
house of a cottage-woman they
knew, if she should feel too tired to come on;
and this Tess did, not
descending to her home till the following
entered the house she perceived in
a moment from her mother's triumphant manner
that something had occurred in the
I know all about it! I told
'ee it would be all right, and now
I've been away?
What has?" said Tess rather wearily.
mother surveyed the girl up and down
with arch approval, and went on banteringly: "So
you've brought 'em
you know, mother?"
remembered that there would have
been time for this.
say--Mrs d'Urberville says--that
she wants you to look after a little fowl-farm
which is her hobby. But
this is only her artful way of getting
'ee there without raising your hopes.
She's going to own 'ee as kin--that's the
didn't see her."
somebody, I suppose?"
he own 'ee?"
called me Coz."
knew it! Jacky--he
called her Coz!" cried Joan to
"Well, he spoke to his
mother, of course, and she do want 'ee there."
don't know that I am apt at
tending fowls," said the dubious Tess.
don't know who is apt. You've
be'n born in the business, and brought
up in it. They
that be born in a
business always know more about it than any
'prentice. Besides, that's only
just a show of something for you to do, that you
midn't feel beholden."
altogether think I ought to
go," said Tess thoughtfully. "Who wrote the
you let me look at it?"
d'Urberville wrote it. Here
letter was in the third person, and
briefly informed Mrs Durbeyfield that her
daughter's services would be useful
to that lady in the management of her
poultry-farm, that a comfortable room
would be provided for her if she could come, and
that the wages would be on a
liberal scale if they liked her.
all!" said Tess.
couldn't expect her to throw her
arms round 'ee, an' to kiss and to coll 'ee all
looked out of the window.
rather stay here with father
and you," she said.
rather not tell you why, mother;
indeed, I don't quite know why."
afterwards she came in one evening
from an unavailing search for some light
occupation in the immediate
Her idea had been to get
together sufficient money during the summer to
purchase another horse. Hardly
had she crossed the threshold before
one of the children danced across the room,
saying, "The gentleman's been
mother hastened to explain, smiles
breaking from every inch of her person.
Mrs d'Urberville's son had called on
horseback, having been riding by
chance in the direction of Marlott. He
had wished to know, finally, in the name of his
mother, if Tess could really
come to manage the old lady's fowl-farm or not;
the lad who had hitherto
superintended the birds having proved
untrustworthy. "Mr d'Urberville says
you must be a good girl if you are at all as you
appear; he knows you must be
worth your weight in gold. He is
much interested in 'ee--truth to tell."
seemed for the moment really pleased
to hear that she had won such high opinion from
a stranger when, in her own
esteem, she had sunk so low.
very good of him to think
that," she murmured; "and if I was quite sure
how it would be living
there, I would go any-when."
"He is a
mighty handsome man!"
think so," said Tess
there's your chance, whether or
no; and I'm sure he wears a beautiful diamond
said little Abraham,
brightly, from the window-bench; "and I seed it!
and it did twinkle when
he put his hand up to his mistarshers.
Mother, why did our grand relation keep
on putting his hand up to his
that child!" cried Mrs
Durbeyfield, with parenthetic admiration.
to show his diamond
ring," murmured Sir John, dreamily, from his
think it over," said Tess,
leaving the room.
she's made a conquest o' the
younger branch of us, straight off," continued
the matron to her husband,
"and she's a fool if she don't follow it up."
quite like my children going
away from home," said the haggler.
"As the head of the family, the rest
ought to come to me."
let her go, Jacky,"
coaxed his poor witless wife. "He's
struck wi' her--you can see that. He called her
marry her, most likely, and make a lady
of her; and then she'll be what her forefathers
Durbeyfield had more conceit than
energy or health, and this supposition was
pleasant to him.
perhaps, that's what young Mr
d'Urberville means," he admitted; "and sure
enough he mid have
serious thoughts about improving his blood by
linking on to the old line. Tess,
the little rogue!
And have she really paid 'em a visit to
an end as this?"
Tess was walking thoughtfully
among the gooseberry-bushes in the garden, and
over Prince's grave. When
she came in her mother pursued her
what be you going to do?"
"I wish I
had seen Mrs
d'Urberville," said Tess.
you mid as well settle it.
Then you'll see her soon enough."
father coughed in his chair.
know what to say!"
answered the girl restlessly. "It
is for you to decide. I
killed the old
horse, and I suppose I ought to do something to
get ye a new one.
But--but--I don't quite like Mr
children, who had made use of this idea
of Tess being taken up by their wealthy kinsfolk
(which they imagined the other
family to be) as a species of dolorifuge after
the death of the horse, began to
cry at Tess's reluctance, and teased and
reproached her for hesitating.
won't go--o--o and be made a
la--a--dy of!--no, she says she wo--o--on't!"
they wailed, with square
we shan't have a nice
new horse, and lots o' golden money to buy
And Tess won't look pretty in her best
mother chimed in to the same tune: a
certain way she had of making her labours in the
house seem heavier than they
were by prolonging them indefinitely, also
weighed in the argument. Her
father alone preserved an attitude of
go," said Tess at last.
mother could not repress her
consciousness of the nuptial Vision conjured up
by the girl's consent.
such a pretty maid as 'tis, this is a
it is a chance for earning
is no other kind of
had better say nothing of
that silly sort about parish." Mrs Durbeyfield
did not promise.
She was not quite sure that she did not
proud enough, after the visitor's remarks, to
say a good deal.
was arranged; and the young girl
wrote, agreeing to be ready to set out on any
day on which she might be
was duly informed that Mrs
d'Urberville was glad of her decision, and that
a spring-cart should be sent to
meet her and her luggage at the top of the Vale
on the day after the morrow,
when she must hold herself prepared to start.
Mrs d'Urberville's handwriting seemed
Durbeyfield doubtingly. "It might have been a
carriage for her own
last taken her course Tess was
less restless and abstracted, going about her
business with some self-assurance
in the thought of acquiring another horse for
her father by an occupation which
would not be onerous. She
had hoped to
be a teacher at the school, but the fates seemed
to decide otherwise. Being
mentally older than her mother she did not
regard Mrs Durbeyfield's matrimonial
hopes for her in a serious aspect for a moment.
The light-minded woman had been
discovering good matches for her
daughter almost from the year of her birth.
morning appointed for her departure
Tess was awake before dawn--at the marginal
minute of the dark when the grove
is still mute, save for one prophetic bird who
sings with a clear-voiced
conviction that he at least knows the correct
time of day, the rest preserving
silence as if equally convinced that he is
mistaken. She remained upstairs
packing till breakfast-time, and then came down
in her ordinary week-day
clothes, her Sunday apparel being carefully
folded in her box.
mother expostulated. "You will
never set out to see your folks without dressing
up more the dand than
"But I am
going to work!" said
yes," said Mrs
Durbeyfield; and in a private tone, "at first
there mid be a little
pretence o't.... But I think it will be wiser of
'ee to put your best side
outward," she added.
well; I suppose you know
best," replied Tess with calm abandonment.
please her parent the girl put
herself quite in Joan's hands, saying
serenely--"Do what you like with me,
Durbeyfield was only too delighted at
First she fetched a
great basin, and washed Tess's hair with such
thoroughness that when dried and
brushed it looked twice as much as at other
tied it with a broader pink ribbon than
usual. Then she put upon her the white frock
that Tess had worn at the
club-walking, the airy fulness of which,
supplementing her enlarged COIFFURE,
imparted to her developing figure an amplitude
which belied her age, and might
cause her to be estimated as a woman when she
was not much more than a child.
declare there's a hole in my
stocking-heel!" said Tess.
mind holes in your
stockings--they don't speak! When I was a maid,
so long as I had a pretty
bonnet the devil might ha' found me in heels."
mother's pride in the girl's appearance
led her to step back, like a painter from his
easel, and survey her work as a
zee yourself!" she
is much better than you
was t'other day."
looking-glass was only large enough
to reflect a very small portion of Tess's person
at one time, Mrs Durbeyfield
hung a black cloak outside the casement, and so
made a large reflector of the
panes, as it is the wont of bedecking cottagers
to do. After
this she went downstairs to her
husband, who was sitting in the lower room.
tell 'ee what 'tis,
Durbeyfield," said she exultingly; "he'll never
have the heart not to
love her. But
whatever you do, don't zay
too much to Tess of his fancy for her, and this
chance she has got. She is such
an odd maid that it mid zet her against him, or
against going there, even
all goes well, I shall certainly
be for making some return to pa'son at Stagfoot
Lane for telling us--dear, good
as the moment for the girl's
setting out drew nigh, when the first excitement
of the dressing had passed
off, a slight misgiving found place in Joan
Durbeyfield's mind. It
prompted the matron to say that she would
walk a little way--as far as to the point where
the acclivity from the valley
began its first steep ascent to the outer world. At the
top Tess was going to be met with the
spring-cart sent by the Stoke-d'Urbervilles, and
her box had already been
wheeled ahead towards this summit by a lad with
trucks, to be in readiness.
their mother put on her bonnet the
younger children clamoured to go with her.
want to walk a little-ways wi'
Sissy, now she's going to marry our
gentleman-cousin, and wear fine
said Tess, flushing and
turning quickly, "I'll hear no more o' that! Mother,
how could you ever put such stuff
into their heads?"
work, my dears, for our rich
relation, and help get enough money for a new
horse," said Mrs Durbeyfield
father," said Tess,
with a lumpy throat.
my maid," said Sir John,
raising his head from his breast as he suspended
his nap, induced by a slight
excess this morning in honour of the occasion.
"Well, I hope my young
friend will like such a comely sample of his own
tell'n, Tess, that being sunk, quite,
from our former grandeur, I'll sell him the
title--yes, sell it--and at no
less than a thousand
pound!" cried Lady Durbeyfield.
take a thousand
I'll take less, when I come
to think o't.
He'll adorn it better than
a poor lammicken feller like myself can.
Tell'n he shall hae it for a hundred.
But I won't stand upon trifles--tell'n he
shall hae it for fifty--for
Yes, twenty pound--that's
Dammy, family honour is
family honour, and I won't take a penny less!"
eyes were too full and her voice too
choked to utter the sentiments that were in her. She
turned quickly, and went out.
girls and their mother all walked
together, a child on each side of Tess, holding
her hand, and looking at her
meditatively from time to time, as at one who
was about to do great things; her
mother just behind with the smallest; the group
forming a picture of honest
beauty flanked by innocence, and backed by
simple-souled vanity. They
followed the way till they reached the
beginning of the ascent, on the crest of which
the vehicle from Trantridge was
to receive her, this limit having been fixed to
save the horse the labour of
the last slope.
Far away behind the
first hills the cliff-like dwellings of Shaston
broke the line of the ridge.
Nobody was visible in the elevated road which
skirted the ascent save the lad
whom they had sent on before them, sitting on
the handle of the barrow that
contained all Tess's worldly possessions.
here a bit, and the cart will
soon come, no doubt," said Mrs Durbeyfield. "Yes,
I see it yonder!"
come--appearing suddenly from behind
the forehead of the nearest upland, and stopping
beside the boy with the
mother and the children
thereupon decided to go no farther, and bidding
them a hasty goodbye Tess bent
her steps up the hill.
her white shape draw near to the
spring-cart, on which her box was already
before she had quite reached it another
vehicle shot out from a clump of trees on the
summit, came round the bend of the
road there, passed the luggage-cart, and halted
beside Tess, who looked up as
if in great surprise.
mother perceived, for the first time,
that the second vehicle was not a humble
conveyance like the first, but a
spick-and-span gig or dog-cart, highly varnished
The driver was a young man of three-or
four-and-twenty, with a cigar between his teeth;
wearing a dandy cap, drab
jacket, breeches of the same hue, white
neckcloth, stick-up collar, and brown
driving-gloves--in short, he was the handsome,
horsey young buck who had
visited Joan a week or two before to get her
answer about Tess.
Durbeyfield clapped her hands like a
she looked down, then stared
she be deceived as to the
meaning of this?
the gentleman-kinsman who'll
make Sissy a lady?" asked the youngest child.
the muslined form of Tess could
be seen standing still, undecided, beside this
turn-out, whose owner was
talking to her. Her seeming indecision was, in
fact, more than indecision: it
She would have preferred
the humble cart.
The young man
dismounted, and appeared to urge her to ascend.
She turned her face down the hill to her
relatives, and regarded the little
group. Something seemed to quicken her to a
determination; possibly the thought
that she had killed Prince. She
stepped up; he mounted beside her, and
immediately whipped on the horse. In a
moment they had passed the slow cart
with the box, and disappeared behind the
shoulder of the hill.
Tess was out of sight, and the
interest of the matter as a drama was at an end,
the little ones' eyes filled
with tears. The youngest child said, "I wish
poor, poor Tess wasn't gone
away to be a lady!" and, lowering the corners of
his lips, burst out
crying. The new point of view was infectious,
and the next child did likewise,
and then the next, till the whole three of them
were tears also in Joan Durbeyfield's
eyes as she turned to go home. But by
the time she had got back to the village she was
passively trusting to the
favour of accident. However, in bed that night
she sighed, and her husband
asked her what was the matter.
don't know exactly," she
was thinking that perhaps
it would ha' been better if Tess had not gone."
ye to have thought of that
'tis a chance for the maid ----
Still, if 'twere the doing again, I wouldn't let
her go till I had found out
whether the gentleman is really a good-hearted
young man and choice over her as
ought, perhaps, to ha' done
that," snored Sir John.
Durbeyfield always managed to find
consolation somewhere: "Well, as one of the
genuine stock, she ought to
make her way with 'en, if she plays her trump
And if he don't marry her afore he will
that he's all afire wi' love
for her any eye can see."
her trump card?
Her d'Urberville blood, you mean?"
stupid; her face--as 'twas
mounted beside her, Alec
d'Urberville drove rapidly along the crest of
the first hill, chatting
compliments to Tess as they went, the cart with
her box being left far
still, an immense
landscape stretched around them on every side;
behind, the green valley of her
birth, before, a gray country of which she knew
nothing except from her first
brief visit to Trantridge. Thus
reached the verge of an incline down which the
road stretched in a long
straight descent of nearly a mile.
since the accident with her father's
horse Tess Durbeyfield, courageous as she
naturally was, had been exceedingly
timid on wheels; the least irregularity of
motion startled her. She
began to get uneasy at a certain
recklessness in her conductor's driving.
go down slow, sir, I
suppose?" she said with attempted unconcern.
looked round upon her, nipped
his cigar with the tips of his large white
centre-teeth, and allowed his lips
to smile slowly of themselves.
Tess," he answered, after
another whiff or two, "it isn't a brave bouncing
girl like you who asks
that? Why, I always go down at full gallop.
There's nothing like it for raising your
perhaps you need not now?"
said, shaking his head, "there
are two to be reckoned with. It is
me alone. Tib
had to be considered, and
she has a very queer temper."
I fancy she looked round at me in a very
way just then.
Didn't you notice
try to frighten me, sir,"
said Tess stiffly.
any living man can manage this horse I
can: I won't say any living man can do it--but
if such has the power, I am
you have such a horse?"
may you ask it!
It was my fate, I suppose. Tib has killed
chap; and just after I bought her she nearly
killed me. And then, take my word
for it, I nearly killed her. But
touchy still, very touchy; and one's life is
hardly safe behind her sometimes."
just beginning to descend; and it
was evident that the horse, whether of her own
will or of his (the latter being
the more likely), knew so well the reckless
performance expected of her that
she hardly required a hint from behind.
down, they sped, the wheels humming
like a top, the dog-cart rocking right and left,
its axis acquiring a slightly
oblique set in relation to the line of progress;
the figure of the horse rising
and falling in undulations before them.
Sometimes a wheel was off the ground, it
seemed, for many yards;
sometimes a stone was sent spinning over the
hedge, and flinty sparks from the
horse's hoofs outshone the daylight. The
aspect of the straight road enlarged with their
advance, the two banks dividing
like a splitting stick; one rushing past at each
blew through Tess's white muslin
to her very skin, and her washed hair flew out
was determined to show no open fear, but
she clutched d'Urberville's rein-arm.
touch my arm!
We shall be thrown out if you do! Hold on
round my waist!"
grasped his waist, and so they reached
thank God, in spite of your
fooling!" said she, her face on fire.
that's temper!" said
you need not let go your hold
of me so thanklessly the moment you feel
yourself our of danger."
not considered what she had been
doing; whether he were man or woman, stick or
stone, in her involuntary hold on
him. Recovering her reserve she sat without
replying, and thus they reached the
summit of another declivity.
then, again!" said
"Show more sense, do, please."
people find themselves on
one of the highest points in the county, they
must get down again," he
loosened rein, and away they went a
second time. D'Urberville turned his face to her
as they rocked, and said, in
playful raillery: "Now then, put your arms round
my waist again, as you
did before, my Beauty."
said Tess independently,
holding on as well as she could without touching
put one little kiss on those
holmberry lips, Tess, or even on that warmed
cheek, and I'll stop--on my
honour, I will!"
surprised beyond measure, slid
farther back still on her seat, at which he
urged the horse anew, and rocked
her the more.
nothing else do?" she cried
at length, in desperation, her large eyes
staring at him like those of a wild
dressing her up so prettily
by her mother had apparently been to lamentable
dear Tess," he replied.
don't know--very well; I don't
mind!" she panted miserably.
rein, and as they slowed he was on
the point of imprinting the desired salute,
when, as if hardly yet aware of her
own modesty, she dodged aside. His
being occupied with the reins there was left him
no power to prevent her
damn it--I'll break both our
necks!" swore her capriciously passionate
"So you can go from your word like that,
you young witch, can you?"
well," said Tess,
"I'll not more since you be so determined! But
I--thought you would be
kind to me, and protect me, as my kinsman!"
don't want anybody to kiss me,
sir!" she implored, a big tear beginning to roll
down her face, and the
corners of her mouth trembling in her attempts
not to cry.
"And I wouldn't ha' come if I had
inexorable, and she sat still, and
d'Urberville gave her the kiss of mastery.
No sooner had he done so than she flushed
with shame, took out her
handkerchief, and wiped the spot on her cheek
that had been touched by his
ardour was nettled at the
sight, for the act on her part had been
mighty sensitive for a
cottage girl!" said the young man.
no reply to this remark, of
which, indeed, she did not quite comprehend the
drift, unheeding the snub she
had administered by her instinctive rub upon her
had, in fact, undone the kiss, as far as
such a thing was physically possible.
With a dim sense that he was vexed she
looked steadily ahead as they
trotted on near Melbury Down and Wingreen, till
she saw, to her consternation,
that there was yet another descent to be
shall be made sorry for
that!" he resumed, his injured tone still
remaining, as he flourished the
"Unless, that is, you
agree willingly to let me do it again, and no
sighed. "Very well, sir!" she
me get my hat!"
moment of speaking her hat had blown
off into the road, their present speed on the
upland being by no means slow.
D'Urberville pulled up, and said he would get it
for her, but Tess was down on
the other side.
turned back and picked up the article.
prettier with it off, upon
my soul, if that's possible," he said,
contemplating her over the back of
"Now then, up
was in place and tied, but Tess had
not stepped forward.
sir," she said, revealing
the red and ivory of her mouth as her eye lit in
defiant triumph; "not
again, if I know it!"
won't get up beside
five or six miles yet to
care if 'tis dozens. Besides,
the cart is behind."
Now, tell me--didn't you make that hat
off on purpose?
I'll swear you
strategic silence confirmed his
d'Urberville cursed and swore at her,
and called her everything he could think of for
the trick. Turning the horse
suddenly he tried to drive back upon her, and so
hem her in between the gig and
the hedge. But he could not do this short of
ought to be ashamed of yourself
for using such wicked words!" cried Tess with
spirit, from the top of the
hedge into which she had scrambled.
"I don't like 'ee at all! I
hate and detest you! I'll go back to mother, I
bad temper cleared up at
sight of hers; and he laughed heartily.
like you all the
better," he said.
there be peace.
I'll never do it any
more against your will. My
life upon it
Tess could not be induced to
did not, however, object to
his keeping his gig alongside her; and in this
manner, at a slow pace, they
advanced towards the village of Trantridge.
From time to time d'Urberville exhibited
a sort of fierce distress at
the sight of the tramping he had driven her to
undertake by his
She might in truth have safely
trusted him now; but he had forfeited her
confidence for the time, and she kept
on the ground progressing thoughtfully, as if
wondering whether it would be
wiser to return home. Her
however, had been taken, and it seemed
vacillating even to childishness to
abandon it now, unless for graver reasons.
How could she face her parents, get back
her box, and disconcert the
whole scheme for the rehabilitation of her
family on such sentimental grounds?
minutes later the chimneys of The
Slopes appeared in view, and in a snug nook to
the right the poultry-farm and
cottage of Tess' destination.
community of fowls to which Tess had
been appointed as supervisor, purveyor, nurse,
surgeon, and friend, made its
headquarters in an old thatched cottage standing
in an enclosure that had once
been a garden, but was now a trampled and sanded
house was overrun with ivy, its chimney
being enlarged by the boughs of the parasite to
the aspect of a ruined tower.
The lower rooms were entirely given over to the
birds, who walked about them
with a proprietary air, as though the place had
been built by themselves, and
not by certain dusty copyholders who now lay
east and west in the
The descendants of these
bygone owners felt it almost as a slight to
their family when the house which
had so much of their affection, had cost so much
of their forefathers' money,
and had been in their possession for several
generations before the
d'Urbervilles came and built here, was
indifferently turned into a fowl-house
by Mrs Stoke-d'Urberville as soon as the
property fell into hand according to
law. "'Twas good enough for Christians in
grandfather's time," they
wherein dozens of infants had
wailed at their nursing now resounded with the
tapping of nascent chicks. Distracted
hens in coops occupied spots where
formerly stood chairs supporting sedate
agriculturists. The chimney-corner and
once blazing hearth was now filled with inverted
beehives, in which the hens
laid their eggs; while out of doors the plots
that each succeeding householder
had carefully shaped with his spade were torn by
the cocks in wildest fashion.
garden in which the cottage stood was
surrounded by a wall, and could only be entered
through a door.
had occupied herself about an
hour the next morning in altering and improving
the arrangements, according to
her skilled ideas as the daughter of a professed
poulterer, the door in the
wall opened and a servant in white cap and apron
had come from the manor-house.
d'Urberville wants the fowls as
usual," she said; but perceiving that Tess did
not quite understand, she
explained, "Mis'ess is a old lady, and blind."
before her misgiving at the news
could find time to shape itself she took, under
her companion's direction, two
of the most beautiful of the Hamburghs in her
arms, and followed the
maid-servant, who had likewise taken two, to the
adjacent mansion, which,
though ornate and imposing, showed traces
everywhere on this side that some
occupant of its chambers could bend to the love
of dumb creatures--feathers
floating within view of the front, and hen-coops
standing on the grass.
sitting-room on the ground-floor,
ensconced in an armchair with her back to the
light, was the owner and mistress
of the estate, a white-haired woman of not more
than sixty, or even less,
wearing a large cap. She had the mobile face
frequent in those whose sight has
decayed by stages, has been laboriously striven
after, and reluctantly let go,
rather than the stagnant mien apparent in
persons long sightless or born blind.
Tess walked up to this lady with her feathered
charges--one sitting on each
are the young woman come to
look after my birds?" said Mrs d'Urberville,
recognizing a new
hope you will be kind
to them. My
bailiff tells me you are
quite the proper person. Well, where are they?
Ah, this is Strut! But he
hardly so lively today, is he? He is
alarmed at being handled by a stranger, I
Phena too--yes, they are a little
frightened--aren't you, dears? But
will soon get used to you."
old lady had been speaking Tess
and the other maid, in obedience to her
gestures, had placed the fowls
severally in her lap, and she had felt them over
from head to tail, examining
their beaks, their combs, the manes of the
cocks, their winds, and their claws.
Her touch enabled her to recognize them in a
moment, and to discover if a
single feather were crippled or draggled.
She handled their crops, and knew what
they had eaten, and if too little
or too much; her face enacting a vivid pantomime
of the criticisms passing in
that the two girls had brought in
were duly returned to the yard, and the process
was repeated till all the pet
cocks and hens had been submitted to the old
Cochins, Brahmas, Dorkings, and such other sorts
as were in fashion just
then--her perception of each visitor being
seldom at fault as she received the
bird upon her knees.
reminded Tess of a Confirmation, in
which Mrs d'Urberville was the bishop, the fowls
the young people presented,
and herself and the maid-servant the parson and
curate of the parish bringing
them up. At
the end of the ceremony Mrs
d'Urberville abruptly asked Tess, wrinkling and
twitching her face into
undulations, "Can you whistle?"
could whistle like most other country
girls, though the accomplishment was one which
she did not care to profess in
However, she blandly
admitted that such was the fact.
will have to practise it
I had a lad who did it very
well, but he has left. I want
whistle to my bullfinches; as I cannot see them
I like to hear them, and we
teach 'em airs that way. Tell her where the
cages are, Elizabeth. You
must begin tomorrow, or they will go back
in their piping. They have been neglected these
d'Urberville whistled to 'em this
morning, ma'am," said Elizabeth.
lady's face creased into furrows of
repugnance, and she made no further reply.
reception of Tess by her fancied
kinswoman terminated, and the birds were taken
back to their quarters. The
girl's surprise at Mrs d'Urberville's
manner was not great; for since seeing the size
of the house she had expected
no more. But
she was far from being
aware that the old lady had never heard a word
of the so-called kinship. She
gathered that no great affection flowed
between the blind woman and her son. But in
that, too, she was mistaken. Mrs
d'Urberville was not the first mother
compelled to love her offspring resentfully, and
to be bitterly fond.
of the unpleasant initiation of
the day before, Tess inclined to the freedom and
novelty of her new position in
the morning when the sun shone, now that she was
once installed there; and she
was curious to test her powers in the unexpected
direction asked of her, so as
to ascertain her chance of retaining her post.
As soon as she was alone within
the walled garden she sat herself down on a
coop, and seriously screwed up her
mouth for the long-neglected practice.
She found her former ability to have
generated to the production of a
hollow rush of wind through the lips, and no
clear note at all.
remained fruitlessly blowing and
blowing, wondering how she could have so grown
out of the art which had come by
nature, till she became aware of a movement
among the ivy-boughs which cloaked
the garden-wall no less then the cottage.
Looking that way she beheld a form
springing from the coping to the
was Alec d'Urberville, whom she
had not set eyes on since he had conducted her
the day before to the door of
the gardener's cottage where she had lodgings.
honour!" cried he,
"there was never before such a beautiful thing
in Nature or Art as you
look, 'Cousin' Tess ('Cousin' had a faint ring
of mockery). I have been
watching you from over the wall--sitting like
IM-patience on a monument, and
pouting up that pretty red mouth to whistling
shape, and whooing and whooing,
and privately swearing, and never being able to
produce a note.
Why, you are quite cross because you
"I may be
cross, but I didn't
I understand why you are trying--those
bullies! My mother wants you to
carry on their musical education. How
selfish of her! As if attending to these curst
cocks and hens here were not
enough work for any girl. I
refuse, if I were you."
wants me particularly to do
it, and to be ready by tomorrow morning."
then--I'll give you a lesson or
you won't!" said Tess,
withdrawing towards the door.
I don't want to touch
stand on this side of the
wire-netting, and you can keep on the other; so
you may feel quite safe. Now,
look here; you screw up your lips too
harshly. There 'tis--so."
the action to the word, and
whistled a line of "Take, O take those lips
the allusion was lost upon Tess.
try," said d'Urberville.
attempted to look reserved; her face
put on a sculptural severity. But he
persisted in his demand, and at last, to get rid
of him, she did put up her
lips as directed for producing a clear note;
laughing distressfully, however,
and then blushing with vexation that she had
encouraged her with "Try
quite serious, painfully serious
by this time; and she tried--ultimately and
unexpectedly emitting a real round
sound. The momentary pleasure of success got the
better of her; her eyes
enlarged, and she involuntarily smiled in his
I have started you--you'll go on
beautifully. There--I said I would not come near
you; and, in spite of such
temptation as never before fell to mortal man,
I'll keep my word. ... Tess, do
you think my mother a queer old soul?"
know much of her yet,
find her so; she must be, to
make you learn to whistle to her bullfinches.
I am rather out of her books just now,
but you will be quite in favour
if you treat her live-stock well. Good morning.
If you meet with any difficulties and
want help here, don't go to the
bailiff, come to me."
It was in
the economy of this REGIME that
Tess Durbeyfield had undertaken to fill a place. Her
first day's experiences were fairly
typical of those which followed through many
A familiarity with Alec d'Urberville's
presence--which that young man carefully
cultivated in her by playful dialogue,
and by jestingly calling her his cousin when
they were alone--removed much of
her original shyness of him, without, however,
implanting any feeling which
could engender shyness of a new and tenderer
kind. But she was more pliable
under his hands than a mere companionship would
have made her, owing to her
unavoidable dependence upon his mother, and,
through that lady's comparative
helplessness, upon him.
found that whistling to the
bullfinches in Mrs d'Urberville's room was no
such onerous business when she
had regained the art, for she had caught from
her musical mother numerous airs
that suited those songsters admirably. A
far more satisfactory time than when she
practised in the garden was this
whistling by the cages each morning.
Unrestrained by the young man's presence
she threw up her mouth, put her
lips near the bars, and piped away in easeful
grace to the attentive listeners.
d'Urberville slept in a large four-post
bedstead hung with heavy damask curtains, and
the bullfinches occupied the same
apartment, where they flitted about freely at
certain hours, and made little
white spots on the furniture and upholstery.
Once while Tess was at the window where
the cages were ranged, giving
her lesson as usual, she thought she heard a
rustling behind the bed. The
old lady was not present, and turning
round the girl had an impression that the toes
of a pair of boots were visible below
the fringe of the curtains. Thereupon
whistling became so disjointed that the
listener, if such there were, must
have discovered her suspicion of his presence.
She searched the curtains every morning
after that, but never found
anybody within them. Alec
had evidently thought better of his freak to
terrify her by an ambush of that
village has its idiosyncrasy, its
constitution, often its own code of morality.
The levity of some of the younger women
in and about Trantridge was
marked, and was perhaps symptomatic of the
choice spirit who ruled The Slopes
in that vicinity.
The place had also a
more abiding defect; it drank hard. The
staple conversation on the farms around was on
the uselessness of saving money;
and smockfrocked arithmeticians, leaning on
their ploughs or hoes, would enter
into calculations of great nicety to prove that
parish relief was a fuller
provision for a man in his old age than any
which could result from savings out
of their wages during a whole lifetime.
pleasure of these philosophers
lay in going every Saturday night, when work was
done, to Chaseborough, a
decayed market-town two or three miles distant;
and, returning in the small
hours of the next morning, to spend Sunday in
sleeping off the dyspeptic
effects of the curious compounds sold to them as
beer by the monopolizers of
the once independent inns.
long time Tess did not join in the
weekly pilgrimages. But under pressure from
matrons not much older than
herself--for a field-man's wages being as high
at twenty-one as at forty,
marriage was early here--Tess at length
consented to go.
Her first experience of the journey
her more enjoyment than she had expected, the
hilariousness of the others being
quite contagious after her monotonous attention
to the poultry-farm all the
week. She went again and again. Being
graceful and interesting, standing moreover on
the momentary threshold of womanhood,
her appearance drew down upon her some sly
regards from loungers in the streets
of Chaseborough; hence, though sometimes her
journey to the town was made
independently, she always searched for her
fellows at nightfall, to have the
protection of their companionship homeward.
gone on for a month or two when
there came a Saturday in September, on which a
fair and a market coincided; and
the pilgrims from Trantridge sought double
delights at the inns on that
account. Tess's occupations made her late in
setting out, so that her comrades
reached the town long before her. It was
a fine September evening, just before sunset,
when yellow lights struggle with
blue shades in hairlike lines, and the
atmosphere itself forms a prospect
without aid from more solid objects, except the
innumerable winged insects that
dance in it.
Through this low-lit
mistiness Tess walked leisurely along.
not discover the coincidence of the
market with the fair till she had reached the
place, by which time it was close
Her limited marketing was
soon completed; and then as usual she began to
look about for some of the
she could not find them, and she
was informed that most of them had gone to what
they called a private little
jig at the house of a hay-trusser and
peat-dealer who had transactions with
He lived in an
out-of-the-way nook of the townlet, and in
trying to find her course thither
her eyes fell upon Mr d'Urberville standing at a
Beauty? You here so
late?" he said.
him that she was simply waiting
for company homeward.
you again," said he
over her shoulder as she went on down the back
the hay-trussers she could hear
the fiddled notes of a reel proceeding from some
building in the rear; but no
sound of dancing was audible--an exceptional
state of things for these parts,
where as a rule the stamping drowned the music.
The front door being open she could see
straight through the house into
the garden at the back as far as the shades of
night would allow; and nobody
appearing to her knock she traversed the
dwelling and went up the path to the
outhouse whence the sound had attracted her.
It was a
windowless erection used for
storage, and from the open door there floated
into the obscurity a mist of
yellow radiance, which at first Tess thought to
be illuminated smoke. But on
drawing nearer she perceived that it
was a cloud of dust, lit by candles within the
outhouse, whose beams upon the
haze carried forward the outline of the doorway
into the wide night of the
came close and looked in she
beheld indistinct forms racing up and down to
the figure of the dance, the
silence of their footfalls arising from their
being overshoe in
"scroff"--that is to say, the powdery residuum
from the storage of
peat and other products, the stirring of which
by their turbulent feet created
the nebulosity that involved the scene.
Through this floating, fusty DEBRIS of
peat and hay, mixed with the
perspirations and warmth of the dancers, and
forming together a sort of
vegeto-human pollen, the muted fiddles feebly
pushed their notes, in marked
contrast to the spirit with which the measure
was trodden out. They coughed as
they danced, and laughed as they coughed.
Of the rushing couples there could barely
be discerned more than the
high lights--the indistinctness shaping them to
satyrs clasping nymphs--a
multiplicity of Pans whirling a multiplicity of
Syrinxes; Lotis attempting to
elude Priapus, and always failing.
intervals a couple would approach the
doorway for air, and the haze no longer veiling
their features, the demigods
resolved themselves into the homely
personalities of her own next-door
neighbours. Could Trantridge in two or three
short hours have metamorphosed
itself thus madly!
Sileni of the throng sat on benches
and hay-trusses by the wall; and one of them
maids don't think it respectable
to dance at The Flower-de-Luce," he explained. "They
don't like to let everybody see
which be their fancy-men. Besides,
house sometimes shuts up just when their jints
begin to get greased. So we
come here and send out for
be any of you going
home?" asked Tess with some anxiety.
is all but the last jig."
The reel drew to a close, and some of the
party were in the mind of
others would not, and
another dance was formed. This
would end it, thought Tess. But it
merged in yet another. She became restless and
uneasy; yet, having waited so
long, it was necessary to wait longer; on
account of the fair the roads were
dotted with roving characters of possibly ill
intent; and, though not fearful
of measurable dangers, she feared the unknown.
Had she been near Marlott she would have
had less dread.
be nervous, my dear good
soul," expostulated, between his coughs, a young
man with a wet face, and
his straw hat so far back upon his head that the
brim encircled it like the
nimbus of a saint.
hurry? Tomorrow is Sunday, thank God, and we can
sleep it off in church-time. Now,
have a turn with me?"
not abhor dancing, but she was not
going to dance here. The movement grew more
passionate: the fiddlers behind the
luminous pillar of cloud now and then varied the
air by playing on the wrong
side of the bridge or with the back of the bow.
But it did not matter; the panting shapes
not vary their partners if their
inclination were to stick to previous ones.
Changing partners simply meant that a
satisfactory choice had not as yet
been arrived at by one or other of the pair, and
by this time every couple had
been suitable matched. It was
the ecstasy and the dream began, in which
emotion was the matter of the
universe, and matter but an adventitious
intrusion likely to hinder you from
spinning where you wanted to spin.
there was a dull thump on the
ground: a couple had fallen, and lay in a mixed
next couple, unable to check its
progress, came toppling over the obstacle.
An inner cloud of dust rose around the
prostrate figures amid the
general one of the room, in which a twitching
entanglement of arms and legs was
shall catch it for this, my
gentleman, when you get home!" burst in female
accents from the human
heap--those of the unhappy partner of the man
whose clumsiness had caused the
mishap; she happened also to be his recently
married wife, in which assortment
there was nothing unusual at Trantridge as long
as any affection remained
between wedded couples; and, indeed, it was not
uncustomary in their later
lives, to avoid making odd lots of the single
people between whom there might
be a warm understanding.
laugh from behind Tess's back, in
the shade of the garden, united with the titter
within the room. She looked
round, and saw the red coal of a cigar: Alec
d'Urberville was standing there
beckoned to her, and she
reluctantly retreated towards him.
Beauty, what are you doing
so tired after her long day and her
walk that she confided her trouble to him--that
she had been waiting ever since
he saw her to have their company home, because
the road at night was strange to
her. "But it seems they will never leave off,
and I really think I will
wait no longer."
do not. I
have only a saddle-horse here today; but
come to The Flower-de-Luce, and I'll hire a
trap, and drive you home with
though flattered, had never quite got
over her original mistrust of him, and, despite
their tardiness, she preferred
to walk home with the work-folk. So she
answered that she was much obliged to him, but
would not trouble him. "I
have said that I will wait for 'em,
and they will expect me to now."
well, Miss Independence. Please
yourself.... Then I shall not
hurry.... My good Lord, what a kick-up they are
not put himself forward into the
light, but some of them had perceived him, and
his presence led to a slight
pause and a consideration of how the time was
soon as he had re-lit a cigar and walked away
the Trantridge people began to collect
themselves from amid those who had come
in from other farms, and prepared to leave in a
bundles and baskets were gathered up,
and half an hour later, when the clock-chime
sounded a quarter past eleven,
they were straggling along the lane which led up
the hill towards their homes.
It was a
three-mile walk, along a dry white
road, made whiter tonight by the light of the
perceived as she walked in the
flock, sometimes with this one, sometimes with
that, that the fresh night air
was producing staggerings and serpentine courses
among then men who had
partaken too freely; some of the more careless
women also were wandering in
their gait--to wit, a dark virago, Car Darch,
dubbed Queen of Spades, till
lately a favourite of d'Urberville's; Nancy, her
sister, nicknamed the Queen of
Diamonds; and the young married woman who had
already tumbled down. Yet
however terrestrial and lumpy their
appearance just now to the mean unglamoured eye,
to themselves the case was
They followed the road with a
sensation that they were soaring along in a
supporting medium, possessed of
original and profound thoughts, themselves and
surrounding nature forming an
organism of which all the parts harmoniously and
joyously interpenetrated each
were as sublime as the moon
and stars above them, and the moon and stars
were as ardent as they.
however, had undergone such painful
experiences of this kind in her father's house,
that the discovery of their
condition spoilt the pleasure she was beginning
to feel in the moonlight
journey. Yet she stuck to the party, for reasons
open highway they had progressed in
scattered order; but now their route was through
a field-gate, and the foremost
finding a difficulty in opening it they closed
leading pedestrian was Car the Queen
of Spades, who carried a wicker-basket
containing her mother's groceries, her
own draperies, and other purchases for the week. The
basket being large and heavy, Car had
placed it for convenience of porterage on the
top of her head, where it rode on
in jeopardized balance as she walked with arms
is that a-creeping
down thy back, Car Darch?" said one of the group
looked at Car.
Her gown was a light cotton print, and
the back of her head a kind of rope could be
seen descending to some distance
below her waist, like a Chinaman's queue.
hair falling down,"
was not her hair: it was a black
stream of something oozing from her basket, and
it glistened like a slimy snake
in the cold still rays of the moon.
treacle," said an observant
it was. Car's
poor old grandmother had a weakness for
the sweet stuff.
Honey she had in plenty
out of her own hives, but treacle was what her
soul desired, and Car had been
about to give her a treat of surprise. Hastily
lowering the basket the dark
girl found that the vessel containing the syrup
had been smashed within.
time there had arisen a shout of
laughter at the extraordinary appearance of
Car's back, which irritated the
dark queen into getting rid of the disfigurement
by the first sudden means
available, and independently of the help of the
rushed excitedly into the field they were
about to cross, and flinging herself flat on her
back upon the grass, began to
wipe her gown as well as she could by spinning
horizontally on the herbage and
dragging herself over it upon her elbows.
laughter rang louder; they clung to the
gate, to the posts, rested on their staves, in
the weakness engendered by their
convulsions at the spectacle of Car. Our
heroine, who had hitherto held her peace, at
this wild moment could not help
joining in with the rest.
It was a
misfortune--in more ways than
sooner did the dark queen hear
the soberer richer note of Tess among those of
the other work-people than a
long smouldering sense of rivalry inflamed her
to madness. She sprang to her
feet and closely faced the object of her
darest th' laugh at me,
hussy!" she cried.
couldn't really help it when
t'others did," apologized Tess, still tittering.
th'st think th' beest everybody,
dostn't, because th' beest first favourite with
He just now!
But stop a bit, my lady, stop a bit! I'm as
good as two of such! Look here--here's
horror the dark queen began
stripping off the bodice of her gown--which for
the added reason of its
ridiculed condition she was only too glad to be
free of--till she had bared her
plump neck, shoulders, and arms to the
moonshine, under which they looked as
luminous and beautiful as some Praxitelean
creation, in their possession of the
faultless rotundities of a lusty country girl.
She closed her fists and squared
up at Tess.
then, I shall not
fight!" said the latter majestically; "and if I
had know you was of
that sort, I wouldn't have so let myself down as
to come with such a whorage as
rather too inclusive speech brought
down a torrent of vituperation from other
quarters upon fair Tess's unlucky
head, particularly from the Queen of Diamonds,
who having stood in the
relations to d'Urberville that Car had also been
suspected of, united with the
latter against the common enemy. Several
women also chimed in, with an animus which none
of them would have been
so fatuous as to show but for the rollicking
evening they had passed. Thereupon,
finding Tess unfairly browbeaten,
the husbands and lovers tried to make peace by
defending her; but the result of
that attempt was directly to increase the war.
indignant and ashamed. She no
longer minded the loneliness of the
way and the lateness of the hour; her one object
was to get away from the whole
crew as soon as possible. She
enough that the better among them would repent
of their passion next day. They
were all now inside the field, and she was
edging back to rush off alone when a
horseman emerged almost silently from the corner
of the hedge that screened the
road, and Alec d'Urberville looked round upon
devil is all this row about,
work-folk?" he asked.
explanation was not readily
forthcoming; and, in truth, he did not require
heard their voices while yet some way
off he had ridden creepingly forward, and learnt
enough to satisfy himself.
standing apart from the rest, near
the gate. He bent over towards her.
"Jump up behind me," he whispered, "and
we'll get shot of
the screaming cats in a jiffy!"
almost ready to faint, so vivid
was her sense of the crisis. At
any other moment of her life she would have
refused such proffered aid and
company, as she had refused them several times
before; and now the loneliness
would not of itself have forced her to do
But coming as the invitation did at the
particular juncture when fear and indignation at
these adversaries could be
transformed by a spring of the foot into a
triumph over them, she abandoned
herself to her impulse, climbed the gate, put
her toe upon his instep, and
scrambled into the saddle behind him.
The pair were speeding away into the
distant gray by the time that the
contentious revellers became aware of what had
of Spades forgot the stain on her
bodice, and stood beside the Queen of Diamonds
and the new-married, staggering
young woman--all with a gaze of fixity in the
direction in which the horse's
tramp was diminishing into silence on the road.
ye looking at?" asked a
man who had not observed the incident.
laughed dark Car.
tippling bride, as she steadied herself on the
arm of her fond husband.
laughed dark Car's
mother, stroking her moustache as she explained
laconically: "Out of the
frying-pan into the fire!"
these children of the open air, whom
even excess of alcohol could scarce injure
permanently, betook themselves to
the field-path; and as they went there moved
onward with them, around the
shadow of each one's head, a circle of opalized
light, formed by the moon's
rays upon the glistening sheet of dew.
Each pedestrian could see no halo but his
or her own, which never
deserted the head-shadow, whatever its vulgar
unsteadiness might be; but
adhered to it, and persistently beautified it;
till the erratic motions seemed
an inherent part of the irradiation, and the
fumes of their breathing a
component of the night's mist; and the spirit of
the scene, and of the
moonlight, and of Nature, seemed harmoniously to
mingle with the spirit of
cantered along for some time
without speech, Tess as she clung to him still
panting in her triumph, yet in
other respects dubious. She
perceived that the horse was not the spirited
one he sometimes rose, and felt no
alarm on that score, though her seat was
precarious enough despite her tight
hold of him. She begged him to slow the animal
to a walk which Alec accordingly
done, was it not, dear
Tess?" he said by and by.
said she. "I
am sure I ought to be much obliged to
why do you always dislike my
suppose--because I don't love
angry with you sometimes!"
half feared as much." Nevertheless,
Alec did not object to that
He knew that anything was
better then frigidity. "Why haven't you told me
when I have made you
very well why.
Because I cannot help myself here."
haven't offended you often by
as well as I--too many
time I have tried?"
silent, and the horse ambled along
for a considerable distance, till a faint
luminous fog, which had hung in the
hollows all the evening, became general and
It seemed to hold the moonlight in
suspension, rendering it more pervasive than in
Whether on this account, or from
absent-mindedness, or from sleepiness, she did
not perceive that they had long
ago passed the point at which the lane to
Trantridge branched from the highway,
and that her conductor had not taken the
inexpressibly weary. She
had risen at five o'clock every morning
of that week, had been on foot the whole of each
day, and on this evening had
in addition walked the three miles to
Chaseborough, waited three hours for her
neighbours without eating or drinking, her
impatience to start them preventing
either; she had then walked a mile of the way
home, and had undergone the
excitement of the quarrel, till, with the slow
progress of their steed, it was
now nearly one o'clock. Only
however, was she overcome by actual drowsiness.
In that moment of oblivion her head sank
gently against him.
stopped the horse, withdrew
his feet from the stirrups, turned sideways on
the saddle, and enclosed her
waist with his arm to support her.
immediately put her on the defensive,
and with one of those sudden impulses of
reprisal to which she was liable she
gave him a little push from her. In his
ticklish position he nearly lost his balance and
only just avoided rolling over
into the road, the horse, though a powerful one,
being fortunately the quietest
devilish unkind!" he
mean no harm--only to keep
you from falling."
pondered suspiciously; till, thinking
that this might after all be true, she relented,
and said quite humbly, "I
beg your pardon, sir."
pardon you unless you show
some confidence in me. Good
he burst out, "what am I, to be repulsed so by a
mere chit like you? For
near three mortal months have you trifled
with my feelings, eluded me, and snubbed me; and
I won't stand it!"
leave you tomorrow,
will not leave me
you, I ask once more,
show your belief in me by letting me clasp you
with my arm?
Come, between us two and nobody else,
know each other well; and you know that I
love you, and think you the prettiest girl in
the world, which you are. Mayn't
I treat you as a lover?"
a quick pettish breath of
objection, writhing uneasily on her seat, looked
far ahead, and murmured,
"I don't know--I wish--how can I say yes or no
settled the matter by clasping his arm
round her as he desired, and Tess expressed no
further negative. Thus they
sidled slowly onward till it struck her they had
been advancing for an
unconscionable time--far longer than was usually
occupied by the short journey
from Chaseborough, even at this walking pace,
and that they were no longer on
hard road, but in a mere trackway.
where be we?" she
by a wood."
Surely we are quite out of the road?"
"A bit of
The Chase--the oldest wood
It is a lovely night, and
why should we not prolong our ride a little?"
could you be so
treacherous!" said Tess, between archness and
real dismay, and getting rid
of his arm by pulling open his fingers one by
one, though at the risk of
slipping off herself. "Just
I've been putting such trust in you, and
obliging you to please you, because I
thought I had wronged you by that push! Please
set me down, and let me walk
cannot walk home, darling, even
if the air were clear. We are
from Trantridge, if I must tell you, and in this
growing fog you might wander
for hours among these trees."
mind that," she
me down, I beg you. I
don't mind where it is; only let me get down,
well, then, I will--on one
Having brought you here to
this out-of-the-way place, I feel myself
responsible for your safe-conduct
home, whatever you may yourself feel about it.
As to your getting to Trantridge without
assistance, it is quite
impossible; for, to tell the truth, dear, owing
to this fog, which so disguises
everything, I don't quite know where we are
myself. Now, if you will promise to
wait beside the horse while I walk through the
bushes till I come to some road
or house, and ascertain exactly our whereabouts,
I'll deposit you here
When I come back I'll give
you full directions, and if you insist upon
walking you may; or you may
ride--at your pleasure."
accepted these terms, and slid off on
the near side, though not till he had stolen a
cursory kiss. He sprang down on
the other side.
suppose I must hold the
horse?" said she.
it's not necessary,"
replied Alec, patting the panting creature.
"He's had enough of it for tonight."
the horse's head into the bushes,
hitched him on to a bough, and made a sort of
couch or nest for her in the deep
mass of dead leaves.
sit there," he
leaves have not got damp
as yet. Just
give an eye to the
horse--it will be quite sufficient."
He took a
few steps away from her, but,
returning, said, "By the bye, Tess, your father
has a new cob today. Somebody
gave it to him."
very good of you that is!"
she exclaimed, with a painful sense of the
awkwardness of having to thank him
children have some
know--you ever sent them
anything!" she murmured, much moved.
"I almost wish you had not--yes, I almost
you love me ever so
grateful," she reluctantly
I fear I do
sudden vision of his
passion for herself as a factor in this result
so distressed her that,
beginning with one slow tear, and then following
with another, she wept
cry, dear, dear one! Now
sit down here, and wait till I come." She
passively sat down amid the leaves he had
heaped, and shivered slightly. "Are
you cold?" he asked.
touched her with his fingers, which sank
into her as into down. "You have only that puffy
muslin dress on--how's
best summer one.
'Twas very warm when I started, and I
know I was going to ride, and that it would be
grow chilly in September. Let me
pulled off a light overcoat that he had
worn, and put it round her tenderly. "That's
it--now you'll feel
warmer," he continued. "Now,
my pretty, rest there; I shall soon be back
buttoned the overcoat round her
shoulders he plunged into the webs of vapour
which by this time formed veils
between the trees.
She could hear the
rustling of the branches as he ascended the
adjoining slope, till his movements
were no louder than the hopping of a bird, and
finally died away.
With the setting of the moon the pale
lessened, and Tess became invisible as she fell
into reverie upon the leaves
where he had left her.
meantime Alec d'Urberville had
pushed on up the slope to clear his genuine
doubt as to the quarter of The
Chase they were in. He
had, in fact,
ridden quite at random for over an hour, taking
any turning that came to hand
in order to prolong companionship with her, and
giving far more attention to
Tess's moonlit person than to any wayside
little rest for the jaded animal being
desirable, he did not hasten his search for
A clamber over the hill into the
vale brought him to the fence of a highway whose
contours he recognized, which
settled the question of their whereabouts.
D'Urberville thereupon turned back; but
by this time the moon had quite
gone down, and partly on account of the fog The
Chase was wrapped in thick
darkness, although morning was not far off.
He was obliged to advance with
outstretched hands to avoid contact with
the boughs, and discovered that to hit the exact
spot from which he had started
was at first entirely beyond him.
Roaming up and down, round and round, he
at length heard a slight
movement of the horse close at hand; and the
sleeve of his overcoat
unexpectedly caught his foot.
The obscurity was now so great that he
see absolutely nothing but a pale nebulousness
at his feet, which represented
the white muslin figure he had left upon the
dead leaves. Everything else was
and heard a gentle regular breathing. He
knelt and bent lower, till her breath warmed his
face, and in a moment his
cheek was in contact with hers. She was sleeping
soundly, and upon her
eyelashes there lingered tears.
and silence ruled everywhere
them rose the primeval
yews and oaks of The Chase, in which there
poised gentle roosting birds in
their last nap; and about them stole the hopping
rabbits and hares.
But, might some say, where was Tess's
guardian angel? where was the providence of her
simple faith? Perhaps, like
that other god of whom the ironical Tishbite
spoke, he was talking, or he was
pursuing, or he was in a journey, or he was
sleeping and not to be awaked.
was that upon this beautiful
feminine tissue, sensitive as gossamer, and
practically blank as snow as yet,
there should have been traced such a coarse
pattern as it was doomed to
receive; why so often the coarse appropriates
the finer thus, the wrong man the
woman, the wrong woman the man, many thousand
years of analytical philosophy
have failed to explain to our sense of order.
One may, indeed, admit the possibility of
a retribution lurking in the
present catastrophe. Doubtless some of Tess
d'Urberville's mailed ancestors
rollicking home from a fray had dealt the same
measure even more ruthlessly
towards peasant girls of their time. But though
to visit the sins of the
fathers upon the children may be a morality good
enough for divinities, it is
scorned by average human nature; and it
therefore does not mend the matter.
own people down in those retreats
are never tired of saying among each other in
their fatalistic way: "It
was to be." There lay the pity of it.
An immeasurable social chasm was to
divide our heroine's personality
thereafter from that previous self of hers who
stepped from her mother's door
to try her fortune at Trantridge poultry-farm.
PHASE THE FIRST
the Second: Maiden No More
basket was heavy and the bundle was
large, but she lugged them along like a person
who did not find her especial
burden in material things. Occasionally
stopped to rest in a mechanical way by some gate
or post; and then, giving
the baggage another hitch upon her full round
arm, went steadily on again.
It was a
Sunday morning in late October,
about four months after Tess Durbeyfield's
arrival at Trantridge, and some few
weeks subsequent to the night ride in The Chase. The
time was not long past daybreak, and the
yellow luminosity upon the horizon behind her
back lighted the ridge towards
which her face was set--the barrier of the vale
wherein she had of late been a
stranger--which she would have to climb over to
reach her birthplace. The
ascent was gradual on this side, and the
soil and scenery differed much from those within
Even the character and accent of the two
peoples had shades of difference, despite the
amalgamating effects of a
roundabout railway; so that, though less than
twenty miles from the place of
her sojourn at Trantridge, her native village
had seemed a far-away spot. The
field-folk shut in there traded northward
and westward, travelled, courted, and married
northward and westward, thought
northward and westward; those on this side
mainly directed their energies and
attention to the east and south.
incline was the same down which
d'Urberville had driven her so wildly on that
day in June.
Tess went up the remainder of its length
without stopping, and on reaching the edge of
the escarpment gazed over the familiar
green world beyond, now half-veiled in mist. It
was always beautiful from here;
it was terribly beautiful to Tess today, for
since her eyes last fell upon it
she had learnt that the serpent hisses where the
sweet birds sing, and her
views of life had been totally changed for her
by the lesson.
Verily another girl than the simple one
had been at home was she who, bowed by thought,
stood still here, and turned to
look behind her. She could not bear to look
forward into the Vale.
by the long white road that Tess
herself had just laboured up, she saw a
two-wheeled vehicle, beside which
walked a man, who held up his hand to attract
obeyed the signal to wait for him with
unspeculative repose, and in a few minutes man
and horse stopped beside her.
you slip away by stealth like
this?" said d'Urberville, with upbraiding
breathlessness; "on a
Sunday morning, too, when people were all in
only discovered it by accident, and I have
been driving like the deuce to overtake you.
Just look at the mare. Why go off like
know that nobody wished to hinder your
how unnecessary it has been
for you to toil along on foot, and encumber
yourself with this heavy load! I have
followed like a madman, simply to
drive you the rest of the distance, if you won't
come back," said she.
thought you wouldn't--I said
then, put up your basket, and
let me help you on."
listlessly placed her basket and bundle
within the dog-cart, and stepped up, and they
sat side by side. She had no fear
of him now, and in the cause of her confidence
her sorrow lay.
mechanically lit a cigar, and
the journey was continued with broken
unemotional conversation on the
commonplace objects by the wayside. He
had quite forgotten his struggle to kiss her
when, in the early summer, they
had driven in the opposite direction along the
But she had not, and she sat now, like a
puppet, replying to his remarks in
monosyllables. After some miles they came in
view of the clump of trees beyond which the
village of Marlott stood. It was
only then that her still face showed the least
emotion, a tear or two beginning
to trickle down.
you crying for?" he
only thinking that I was born
over there," murmured Tess.
must all be born
"I wish I
had never been born--there
or anywhere else!"
Well, if you didn't wish to come to
Trantridge why did you come?"
didn't come for love of me, that
If I had gone for love o' you, if I had
sincerely loved you, if I loved you still, I
should not so loathe and hate
myself for my weakness as I do now! ... My eyes
were dazed by you for a little,
and that was all."
shrugged his shoulders. She
understand your meaning till
it was too late."
what every woman
you dare to use such
words!" she cried, turning impetuously upon him,
her eyes flashing as the
latent spirit (of which he was to see more some
day) awoke in her.
I could knock you out of the gig!
Did it never strike your mind that what
every woman says some women may
well," he said, laughing;
"I am sorry to wound you. I did
wrong--I admit it." He
some little bitterness as he continued: "Only
you needn't be so
everlastingly flinging it in my face. I
am ready to pay to the uttermost farthing.
You know you need not work in the fields
or the dairies again. You
know you may clothe yourself with the
best, instead of in the bald plain way you have
lately affected, as if you
couldn't get a ribbon more than you earn."
lifted slightly, though there was
little scorn, as a rule, in her large and
said I will not take anything
more from you, and I will not--I cannot!
I SHOULD be your creature to go on doing
that, and I won't!"
would think you were a princess
from your manner, in addition to a true and
original d'Urberville--ha! ha! Well,
Tess, dear, I can say no more. I
suppose I am a bad fellow--a damn bad
fellow. I was born bad, and I have lived bad,
and I shall die bad in all
But, upon my lost soul, I
won't be bad towards you again, Tess.
And if certain circumstances should
arise--you understand--in which you
are in the least need, the least difficulty,
send me one line, and you shall
have by return whatever you require. I
may not be at Trantridge--I am going to London
for a time--I can't stand the
But all letters will be
that she did not wish him to drive
her further, and they stopped just under the
clump of trees.
D'Urberville alighted, and lifted her
bodily in his arms, afterwards placing her
articles on the ground beside her. She
bowed to him slightly, her eye just
lingering in his; and then she turned to take
the parcels for departure.
d'Urberville removed his cigar, bent
towards her, and said--
not going to turn away like
that, dear! Come!"
wish," she answered
"See how you've
thereupon turned round and lifted her
face to his, and remained like a marble term
while he imprinted a kiss upon her
cheek--half perfunctorily, half as if zest had
not yet quite died out. Her
eyes vaguely rested upon the remotest
trees in the lane while the kiss was given, as
though she were nearly
unconscious of what he did.
other side, for old
turned her head in the same passive
way, as one might turn at the request of a
sketcher or hairdresser, and he
kissed the other side, his lips touching cheeks
that were damp and smoothly
chill as the skin of the mushrooms in the fields
don't give me your mouth and kiss
me back. You
never willingly do
that--you'll never love me, I fear."
said so, often.
It is true.
I have never really and truly loved you,
and I think I never can."
She added mournfully, "Perhaps, of all things, a
lie on this thing would
do the most good to me now; but I have honour
enough left, little as 'tis, not
to tell that lie. If I did
love you I
may have the best o' causes for letting you know
it. But I don't."
emitted a laboured breath, as if the
scene were getting rather oppressive to his
heart, or to his conscience, or to
you are absurdly melancholy,
have no reason for flattering
you now, and I can say plainly that you need not
be so sad.
You can hold your own for beauty against
woman of these parts, gentle or simple; I say it
to you as a practical man and
If you are wise you will
show it to the world more than you do before it
fades.... And yet, Tess, will
you come back to me! Upon
my soul I
don't like to let you go like this!"
made up my mind as soon as I saw--what I
ought to have seen sooner; and I won't come."
good morning, my four months'
up lightly, arranged the reins,
and was gone between the tall red-berried
not look after him, but slowly
wound along the crooked lane. It was still
early, and though the sun's lower
limb was just free of the hill, his rays,
ungenial and peering, addressed the
eye rather than the touch as yet. There
was not a human soul near. Sad October and her
sadder self seemed the only two
existences haunting that lane.
walked, however, some footsteps
approached behind her, the footsteps of a man;
and owing to the briskness of
his advance he was close at her heels and had
said "Good morning"
before she had been long aware of his
He appeared to be an artisan of some
and carried a tin pot of red paint in his hand.
He asked in a business-like
manner if he should take her basket, which she
permitted him to do, walking
early to be astir this Sabbath
morn!" he said cheerfully.
most people are at rest from
their week's work." She also assented to this.
do more real work today than
all the week besides."
week I work for the glory of
man, and on Sunday for the glory of God. That's
more real than the
I have a little to do here
at this stile." The man turned as he spoke to an
opening at the roadside
leading into a pasture. "If
wait a moment," he added, "I shall not be long."
As he had
her basket she could not well do
otherwise; and she waited, observing him.
He set down her basket and the tin pot,
and stirring the paint with the
brush that was in it began painting large square
letters on the middle board of
the three composing the stile, placing a comma
after each word, as if to give
pause while that word was driven well home to
the reader's heart--
DAMNATION, SLUMBERETH, NOT.
the peaceful landscape, the pale,
decaying tints of the copses, the blue air of
the horizon and the lichened
stileboards, these staring vermilion words shone
seemed to shout themselves out and make
the atmosphere ring. Some
have cried "Alas, poor Theology!" at the hideous
grotesque phase of a creed which had served
mankind well in its time. But
the words entered Tess with accusatory
was as if this man had known
her recent history; yet he was a total stranger.
finished his text he picked up her
basket, and she mechanically resumed her walk
believe what you paint?"
she asked in low tones.
that tex? Do
I believe in my own existence!"
said she tremulously,
"suppose your sin was not of your own seeking?"
split hairs on that burning
query," he said. "I have walked hundreds of
miles this past summer,
painting these texes on every wall, gate, and
stile the length and breadth of
I leave their application
to the hearts of the people who read 'em."
they are horrible," said
what they are meant to
be!" he replied in a trade voice. "But you
should read my hottest
ones--them I kips for slums and seaports.
They'd make ye wriggle! Not but what this
is a very good tex for rural
districts. ... Ah--there's a nice bit of blank
wall up by that barn standing to
must put one there--one that it
will be good for dangerous young females like
yerself to heed.
Will ye wait, missy?"
said she; and taking her
basket Tess trudged on. A little way forward she
turned her head.
The old gray wall began to advertise a
similar fiery lettering to the first, with a
strange and unwonted mien, as if
distressed at duties it had never before been
called upon to perform. It was
with a sudden flush that she read and
realized what was to be the inscription he was
now halfway through--
SHALT, NOT, COMMIT--
cheerful friend saw her looking,
stopped his brush, and shouted--
want to ask for edification on
these things of moment, there's a very earnest
good man going to preach a
charity-sermon today in the parish you are going
to--Mr Clare of
I'm not of his persuasion
now, but he's a good man, and he'll expound as
well as any parson I know. 'Twas
he began the work in me."
did not answer; she throbbingly
resumed her walk, her eyes fixed on the ground.
"Pooh--I don't believe God said such
things!" she murmured
contemptuously when her flush had died away.
of smoke soared up suddenly from
her father's chimney, the sight of which made
her heart ache.
The aspect of the interior, when she
it, made her heart ache more. Her
mother, who had just come down stairs, turned to
greet her from the fireplace,
where she was kindling barked-oak twigs under
the breakfast kettle. The young
children were still above, as was also her
father, it being Sunday morning,
when he felt justified in lying an additional
dear Tess!" exclaimed
her surprised mother, jumping up and kissing the
girl. "How be ye?
I didn't see you till you was in upon
you come home to be
have not come for that,
a holiday; for a long
holiday," said Tess.
isn't your cousin going to do
the handsome thing?"
my cousin, and he's not
going to marry me."
mother eyed her narrowly.
you have not told me all,"
went up to her mother, put her
face upon Joan's neck, and told.
th'st not got him to marry
'ee!" reiterated her mother. "Any woman would
have done it but you,
any woman would except
have been something like a
story to come back with, if you had!" continued
Mrs Durbeyfield, ready to
burst into tears of vexation. "After
all the talk about you and him which has reached
us here, who would have
expected it to end like this! Why
ye think of doing some good for your family
instead o' thinking only of
how I've got to teave and
slave, and your poor weak father with his heart
clogged like a
I did hope for something
to come out o' this! To see
pretty pair you and he made that day when you
drove away together four months
what he has given us--all, as
we thought, because we were his kin. But
if he's not, it must have been done because of
his love for 'ee.
And yet you've not got him to marry!"
d'Urberville in the mind to marry
On matrimony he had never once said a
And what if he had? How a
snatching at social salvation might have
impelled her to answer him she could
not say. But
her poor foolish mother
little knew her present feeling towards this
it was unusual in the circumstances,
unlucky, unaccountable; but there it was; and
this, as she had said, was what
made her detest herself. She had never wholly
cared for him, she did not at all
care for him now.
She had dreaded him,
winced before him, succumbed to adroit
advantages he took of her helplessness;
then, temporarily blinded by his ardent manners,
had been stirred to confused
surrender awhile: had suddenly despised and
disliked him, and had run away.
That was all.
Hate him she did not
quite; but he was dust and ashes to her, and
even for her name's sake she scarcely
wished to marry him.
ought to have been more careful
if you didn't mean to get him to make you his
mother, my mother!" cried the
agonized girl, turning passionately upon her
parent as if her poor heart would
break. "How could I be expected to know?
I was a child when I left this house four
Why didn't you tell me there was danger
didn't you warn me? Ladies
know what to fend hands against,
because they read novels that tell them of these
tricks; but I never had the
chance o' learning in that way, and you did not
mother was subdued.
thought if I spoke of his fond
feelings and what they might lead to, you would
be hontish wi' him and lose
your chance," she murmured, wiping her eyes with
"Well, we must make the best of it, I
nater, after all, and what
do please God!"
of Tess Durbeyfield's return from
the manor of her bogus kinsfolk was rumoured
abroad, if rumour be not too large
a word for a space of a square mile. In
the afternoon several young girls of Marlott,
former schoolfellows and
acquaintances of Tess, called to see her,
arriving dressed in their best
starched and ironed, as became visitors to a
person who had made a transcendent
conquest (as they supposed), and sat round the
room looking at her with great
curiosity. For the fact that it was this said
thirty-first cousin, Mr
d'Urberville, who had fallen in love with her, a
gentleman not altogether local,
whose reputation as a reckless gallant and
heartbreaker was beginning to spread
beyond the immediate boundaries of Trantridge,
lent Tess's supposed position,
by its fearsomeness, a far higher fascination
that it would have exercised if
interest was so deep that the younger
ones whispered when her back was turned--
pretty she is; and how that best
frock do set her off! I
believe it cost
an immense deal, and that it was a gift from
was reaching up to get the
tea-things from the corner-cupboard, did not
hear these commentaries. If she
had heard them, she might soon have set her
friends right on the matter. But
her mother heard, and Joan's simple
vanity, having been denied the hope of a dashing
marriage, fed itself as well
as it could upon the sensation of a dashing
Upon the whole she felt gratified, even
though such a limited and evanescent triumph
should involve her daughter's
reputation; it might end in marriage yet, and in
the warmth of her
responsiveness to their admiration she invited
her visitors to stay to tea.
chatter, their laughter, their
good-humoured innuendoes, above all, their
flashes and flickerings of envy,
revived Tess's spirits also; and, as the evening
wore on, she caught the
infection of their excitement, and grew almost
marble hardness left her face, she moved
with something of her old bounding step, and
flushed in all her young beauty.
moments, in spite of thought, she would
reply to their inquiries with a manner of
superiority, as if recognizing that
her experiences in the field of courtship had,
indeed, been slightly enviable.
But so far was she from being, in the words of
Robert South, "in love with
her own ruin," that the illusion was transient
as lightning; cold reason
came back to mock her spasmodic weakness; the
ghastliness of her momentary
pride would convict her, and recall her to
reserved listlessness again.
despondency of the next morning's
dawn, when it was no longer Sunday, but Monday;
and no best clothes; and the
laughing visitors were gone, and she awoke alone
in her old bed, the innocent
younger children breathing softly around her.
In place of the excitement of her return,
and the interest it had
inspired, she saw before her a long and stony
highway which she had to tread,
without aid, and with little sympathy. Her
depression was then terrible, and
she could have hidden herself in a tomb.
course of a few weeks Tess revived
sufficiently to show herself so far as was
necessary to get to church one
Sunday morning. She liked to hear the
chanting--such as it was--and the old
Psalms, and to join in the Morning Hymn.
That innate love of melody, which she had
inherited from her
ballad-singing mother, gave the simplest music a
power over her which could
well-nigh drag her heart out of her bosom at
To be as
much out of observation as
possible for reasons of her own, and to escape
the gallantries of the young
men, she set out before the chiming began, and
took a back seat under the
gallery, close to the lumber, where only old men
and women came, and where the
bier stood on end among the churchyard tools.
dropped in by twos and threes,
deposited themselves in rows before her, rested
three-quarters of a minute on
their foreheads as if they were praying, though
they were not; then sat up, and
looked around. When the chants came on one of
her favourites happened to be
chosen among the rest--the old double chant
"Langdon"--but she did
not know what it was called, though she would
much have liked to know. She
thought, without exactly wording the thought,
how strange and godlike was a
composer's power, who from the grave could lead
through sequences of emotion,
which he alone had felt at first, a girl like
her who had never heard of his
name, and never would have a clue to his
people who had turned their heads
turned them again as the service proceeded; and
at last observing her they
whispered to each other. She
their whispers were about, grew sick at heart,
and felt that she could come to
church no more.
bedroom which she shared with some of
the children formed her retreat more continually
Here, under her few square yards of
she watched winds, and snows, and rains,
gorgeous sunsets, and successive moons
at their full.
So close kept she that at
length almost everybody thought she had gone
exercise that Tess took at this
time was after dark; and it was then, when out
in the woods, that she seemed
least solitary. She knew how to hit to a
hair's-breadth that moment of evening
when the light and the darkness are so evenly
balanced that the constraint of
day and the suspense of night neutralize each
other, leaving absolute mental
is then that the plight of
being alive becomes attenuated to its least
possible dimensions. She had no
fear of the shadows; her sole idea seemed to be
to shun mankind--or rather that
cold accretion called the world, which, so
terrible in the mass, is so
unformidable, even pitiable, in its units.
lonely hills and dales her
quiescent glide was of a piece with the element
she moved in. Her flexuous and
stealthy figure became an integral part of the
times her whimsical fancy would intensify
natural processes around her till they seemed a
part of her own story. Rather
they became a part of it; for the
world is only a psychological phenomenon, and
what they seemed they were. The
midnight airs and gusts, moaning amongst
the tightly-wrapped buds and bark of the winter
twigs, were formulae of bitter
reproach. A wet day was the expression of
irremediable grief at her weakness in
the mind of some vague ethical being whom she
could not class definitely as the
God of her childhood, and could not comprehend
as any other.
encompassment of her own
characterization, based on shreds of convention,
peopled by phantoms and voices
antipathetic to her, was a sorry and mistaken
creation of Tess's fancy--a cloud
of moral hobgoblins by which she was terrified
It was they that were out of harmony with
actual world, not she. Walking
sleeping birds in the hedges, watching the
skipping rabbits on a moonlit
warren, or standing under a pheasant-laden
bough, she looked upon herself as a
figure of Guilt intruding into the haunts of
But all the while she was making a
distinction where there was no difference.
Feeling herself in antagonism she was
quite in accord.
She had been made to break an accepted
law, but no law know to the environment in which
she fancied herself such an
It was a
hazy sunrise in August. The
denser nocturnal vapours, attacked by the
warm beams, were dividing and shrinking into
isolated fleeces within hollows
and coverts, where they waited till they should
be dried away to nothing.
on account of the mist, had a
curious sentient, personal look, demanding the
masculine pronoun for its
adequate expression. His present aspect, coupled
with the lack of all human
forms in the scene, explained the old-time
heliolatries in a moment. One could
feel that a saner religion had never prevailed
under the sky.
The luminary was a golden-haired,
mild-eyed, God-like creature, gazing down in the
vigour and intentness of youth
upon an earth that was brimming with interest
light, a little later, broke though
chinks of cottage shutters, throwing stripes
like red-hot pokers upon
cupboards, chests of drawers, and other
furniture within; and awakening
harvesters who were not already astir.
all ruddy things that morning the
brightest were two broad arms of painted wood,
which rose from the margin of
yellow cornfield hard by Marlott village. They,
with two others below, formed
the revolving Maltese cross of the
reaping-machine, which had been brought to
the field on the previous evening to be ready
for operations this day. The
paint with which they were smeared,
intensified in hue by the sunlight, imparted to
them a look of having been
dipped in liquid fire.
had already been
"opened"; that is to say, a lane a few feet wide
had been hand-cut
through the wheat along the whole circumference
of the field for the first
passage of the horses and machine.
groups, one of men and lads, the other
of women, had come down the lane just at the
hour when the shadows of the
eastern hedge-top struck the west hedge midway,
so that the heads of the groups
were enjoying sunrise while their feet were
still in the dawn.
They disappeared from the lane between
two stone posts which flanked the nearest
there arose from within a ticking
like the love-making of the grasshopper.
The machine had begun, and a moving
concatenation of three horses and
the aforesaid long rickety machine was visible
over the gate, a driver sitting upon
one of the hauling horses, and an
attendant on the seat of the implement.
Along one side of the field the whole
wain went, the arms of the
mechanical reaper revolving slowly, till it
passed down the hill quite out of
sight. In a minute it came up on the other side
of the field at the same
equable pace; the glistening brass star in the
forehead of the fore horse first
catching the eye as it rose into view over the
stubble, then the bright arms,
and then the whole machine.
narrow lane of stubble encompassing the
field grew wider with each circuit, and the
standing corn was reduced to
smaller area as the morning wore on. Rabbits,
hares, snakes, rats, mice,
retreated inwards as into a fastness, unaware of
the ephemeral nature of their
refuge, and of the doom that awaited them later
in the day when, their covert
shrinking to a more and more horrible
narrowness, they were huddled together,
friends and foes, till the last few yards of
upright wheat fell also under the
teeth of the unerring reaper, and they were
every one put to death by the sticks
and stones of the harvesters.
reaping-machine left the fallen corn
behind it in little heaps, each heap being of
the quantity for a sheaf; and
upon these the active binders in the rear laid
their hands--mainly women, but
some of them men in print shirts, and trousers
supported round their waists by
leather straps, rendering useless the two
buttons behind, which twinkled and
bristled with sunbeams at every movement of each
wearer, as if they were a pair
of eyes in the small of his back.
of the other sex were the most
interesting of this company of binders, by
reason of the charm which is
acquired by woman when she becomes part and
parcel of outdoor nature, and is
not merely an object set down therein as at
A field-man is a personality afield; a
field-woman is a portion of the field; she had
somehow lost her own margin,
imbibed the essence of her surrounding, and
assimilated herself with it.
women--or rather girls, for they were
mostly young--wore drawn cotton bonnets with
great flapping curtains to keep
off the sun, and gloves to prevent their hands
being wounded by the stubble.
There was one wearing a pale pink jacket,
another in a cream-coloured
tight-sleeved gown, another in a petticoat as
red as the arms of the reaping-machine;
and others, older, in the brown-rough "wropper"
old-established and most appropriate dress of
the field-woman, which the young
ones were abandoning. This morning the eye
returns involuntarily to the girl in
the pink cotton jacket, she being the most
flexuous and finely-drawn figure of
them all. But her bonnet is pulled so far over
her brow that none of her face
is disclosed while she binds, though her
complexion may be guessed from a stray
twine or two of dark brown hair which extends
below the curtain of her bonnet.
Perhaps one reason why she seduces casual
attention is that she never courts
it, though the other women often gaze around
binding proceeds with clock-like
the sheaf last finished
she draws a handful of ears, patting their tips
with her left palm to bring
Then stooping low she moves
forward, gathering the corn with both hands
against her knees, and pushing her
left gloved hand under the bundle to meet the
right on the other side, holding
the corn in an embrace like that of a lover. She
brings the ends of the bond
together, and kneels on the sheaf while she ties
it, beating back her skirts
now and then when lifted by the breeze.
A bit of her naked arm is visible between
the buff leather of the
gauntlet and the sleeve of her gown; and as the
day wears on its feminine
smoothness becomes scarified by the stubble, and
intervals she stands up to rest, and to
retie her disarranged apron, or to pull her
bonnet straight. Then one can see
the oval face of a handsome young woman with
deep dark eyes and long heavy
clinging tresses, which seem to clasp in a
beseeching way anything they fall
cheeks are paler, the teeth
more regular, the red lips thinner than is usual
in a country-bred girl.
Tess Durbeyfield, otherwise
d'Urberville, somewhat changed--the same, but
not the same; at the present
stage of her existence living as a stranger and
an alien here, though it was no
strange land that she was in. After
long seclusion she had come to a resolve to
undertake outdoor work in her
native village, the busiest season of the year
in the agricultural world having
arrived, and nothing that she could do within
the house being so remunerative
for the time as harvesting in the fields.
movements of the other women were more
or less similar to Tess's, the whole bevy of
them drawing together like dancers
in a quadrille at the completion of a sheaf by
each, every one placing her
sheaf on end against those of the rest, till a
shock, or "stitch" as
it was here called, of ten or a dozen was
to breakfast, and came again, and
the work proceeded as before. As the
hour of eleven drew near a person watching her
might have noticed that every
now and then Tess's glance flitted wistfully to
the brow of the hill, though
she did not pause in her sheafing. On
the verge of the hour the heads of a group of
children, of ages ranging from
six to fourteen, rose over the stubbly convexity
of the hill.
of Tess flushed slightly, but
still she did not pause.
eldest of the comers, a girl who wore a
triangular shawl, its corners draggling on the
stubble, carried in her arms
what at first sight seemed to be a doll, but
proved to be an infant in long
harvesters ceased working,
took their provisions, and sat down against one
of the shocks.
Here they fell to, the men plying a stone
freely, and passing round a cup.
Durbeyfield had been one of the last
to suspend her labours. She sat down at the end
of the shock, her face turned
somewhat away from her companions. When
she had deposited herself a man in a rabbit-skin
cap and with a red
handkerchief tucked into his belt, held the cup
of ale over the top of the
shock for her to drink. But she did not accept
As soon as her lunch was spread she
the big girl her sister, and took the baby off
her, who, glad to be relieved of
the burden, went away to the next shock and
joined the other children playing
with a curiously stealthy
yet courageous movement, and with a still rising
colour, unfastened her frock
and began suckling the child.
who sat nearest considerately
turned their faces towards the other end of the
field, some of them beginning
to smoke; one, with absent-minded fondness,
regretfully stroking the jar that
would no longer yield a stream. All
women but Tess fell into animated talk, and
adjusted the disarranged knots of
infant had taken its fill the young
mother sat it upright in her lap, and looking
into the far distance dandled it
with a gloomy indifference that was almost
dislike; then all of a sudden she
fell to violently kissing it some dozens of
times, as if she could never leave
off, the child crying at the vehemence of an
onset which strangely combined
passionateness with contempt.
fond of that there child,
though she mid pretend to hate en, and say she
wishes the baby and her too were
in the churchyard," observed the woman in the
soon leave off saying
that," replied the one in buff. "Lord, 'tis
wonderful what a body can
get used to o' that sort in time!"
more than persuading had to
do wi' the coming o't, I reckon. There
were they that heard a sobbing one night last
year in The Chase; and it mid ha'
gone hard wi' a certain party if folks had come
little more, or a little
less, 'twas a thousand pities that it should
have happened to she, of all
'tis always the
The plain ones be as safe as
churches--hey, Jenny?" The
turned to one of the group who certainly was not
ill-defined as plain.
It was a
thousand pities, indeed; it was
impossible for even an enemy to feel otherwise
on looking at Tess as she sat
there, with her flower-like mouth and large
tender eyes, neither black nor blue
nor grey nor violet; rather all those shades
together, and a hundred others,
which could be seen if one looked into their
irises--shade behind shade--tint
beyond tint--around pupils that had no bottom;
an almost standard woman, but
for the slight incautiousness of character
inherited from her race.
resolution which had surprised herself
had brought her into the fields this week for
the first time during many
wearing and wasting her
palpitating heart with every engine of regret
that lonely inexperience could
devise, commonsense had illuminated her.
She felt that she would do well to be
useful again--to taste anew sweet
independence at any price. The past was past;
whatever it had been it was no
more at hand.
Whatever its consequences,
time would close over them; they would all in a
few years be as if they had
never been, and she herself grassed down and
Meanwhile the trees were just as green as
before; the birds sang and the sun shone as
clearly now as ever. The
familiar surroundings had not darkened
because of her grief, nor sickened because of
have seen that what had bowed her
head so profoundly--the thought of the world's
concern at her situation--was
founded on an illusion. She
was not an
existence, an experience, a passion, a structure
of sensations, to anybody but
all humankind besides Tess
was only a passing thought. Even
friends she was no more than a frequently
If she made herself miserable the
night and day it was only this much to
them--"Ah, she makes herself
she tried to be
cheerful, to dismiss all care, to take pleasure
in the daylight, the flowers,
the baby, she could only be this idea to
them--"Ah, she bears it very
alone in a desert
island would she have been wretched at what had
happened to her?
Not greatly. If she could have been but
created, to discover herself as a spouseless
mother, with no experience of life
except as the parent of a nameless child, would
the position have caused her to
despair? No, she would have taken it calmly, and
found pleasure therein. Most
of the misery had been generated by her
conventional aspect, and not by her
Tess's reasoning, some spirit had
induced her to dress herself up neatly as she
had formerly done, and come out
into the fields, harvest-hands being greatly in
demand just then.
This was why she had borne herself with
dignity, and had looked people calmly in the
face at times, even when holding
the baby in her arms.
harvest-men rose from the shock of
corn, and stretched their limbs, and
extinguished their pipes. The horses,
which had been unharnessed and fed, were again
attached to the scarlet machine.
Tess, having quickly eaten her own meal,
beckoned to her eldest sister to come
and take away the baby, fastened her dress, put
on the buff gloves again, and
stooped anew to draw a bond from the last
completed sheaf for the tying of the
afternoon and evening the
proceedings of the morning were continued, Tess
staying on till dusk with the
body of harvesters. Then they all rode home in
one of the largest wagons, in
the company of a broad tarnished moon that had
risen from the ground to the
eastwards, its face resembling the outworn
gold-leaf halo of some worm-eaten
Tess's female companions
sang songs, and showed themselves very
sympathetic and glad at her reappearance
out of doors, though they could not refrain from
mischievously throwing in a
few verses of the ballad about the maid who went
to the merry green wood and
came back a changed state. There
counterpoises and compensations in life; and the
event which had made of her a
social warning had also for the moment made her
the most interesting personage
in the village to many. Their friendliness won
her still farther away from
herself, their lively spirits were contagious,
and she became almost gay.
that her moral sorrows were passing
away a fresh one arose on the natural side of
her which knew no social
she reached home it was to
learn to her grief that the baby had been
suddenly taken ill since the
Some such collapse had been
probable, so tender and puny was its frame; but
the event came as a shock
baby's offence against society in
coming into the world was forgotten by the
girl-mother; her soul's desire was
to continue that offence by preserving the life
of the child.
However, it soon grew clear that the hour
emancipation for that little prisoner of the
flesh was to arrive earlier than
her worst misgiving had conjectured. And
when she had discovered this she was plunged
into a misery which transcended
that of the child's simple loss. Her
baby had not been baptized.
drifted into a frame of mind which
accepted passively the consideration that if she
should have to burn for what
she had done, burn she must, and there was an
end of it.
Like all village girls she was well
in the Holy Scriptures, and had dutifully
studied the histories of Aholah and
Aholibah, and knew the inferences to be drawn
But when the same question arose with
to the baby, it had a very different colour.
Her darling was about to die, and no
nearly bedtime, but she rushed
downstairs and asked if she might send for the
moment happened to be one at which her
father's sense of the antique nobility of his
family was highest, and his sensitiveness
to the smudge which Tess had set upon that
nobility most pronounced, for he had
just returned from his weekly booze at
No parson should come inside his door, he
declared, prying into his affairs, just then,
when, by her shame, it had become
more necessary than ever to hide them. He locked
the door and put the key in
household went to bed, and, distressed
beyond measure, Tess retired also. She
was continually waking as she lay, and in the
middle of the night found that
the baby was still worse. It was
obviously dying--quietly and painlessly, but
none the less surely.
misery she rocked herself upon the
clock struck the solemn hour of
one, that hour when fancy stalks outside reason,
and malignant possibilities
stand rock-firm as facts. She
the child consigned to the nethermost corner of
hell, as its double doom for
lack of baptism and lack of legitimacy; saw the
arch-fiend tossing it with his
three-pronged fork, like the one they used for
heating the oven on baking days;
to which picture she added many other quaint and
curious details of torment
sometimes taught the young in this Christian
country. The lurid presentment so
powerfully affected her imagination in the
silence of the sleeping house that
her nightgown became damp with perspiration, and
the bedstead shook with each
throb of her heart.
infant's breathing grew more difficult,
and the mother's mental tension increased.
It was useless to devour the little thing
with kisses; she could stay in
bed no longer, and walked feverishly about the
merciful God, have pity; have pity
upon my poor baby!" she cried.
"Heap as much anger as you want to upon
me, and welcome; but pity
against the chest of drawers, and
murmured incoherent supplications for a long
while, till she suddenly started
perhaps baby can be saved! Perhaps
it will be just the same!"
so brightly that it seemed as
though her face might have shone in the gloom
She lit a candle, and went to a second
third bed under the wall, where she awoke her
young sisters and brothers, all
of whom occupied the same room. Pulling
the washing-stand so that she could get behind
it, she poured some water
from a jug, and made them kneel around, putting
their hands together with
fingers exactly vertical. While
children, scarcely awake, awe-stricken at her
manner, their eyes growing larger
and larger, remained in this position, she took
the baby from her bed--a
child's child--so immature as scarce to seem a
sufficient personality to endow
its producer with the maternal title.
Tess then stood erect with the infant on
her arm beside the basin, the
next sister held the Prayer-Book open before
her, as the clerk at church held
it before the parson; and thus the girl set
about baptizing her child.
figure looked singularly tall and
imposing as she stood in her long white
nightgown, a thick cable of twisted
dark hair hanging straight down her back to her
kindly dimness of the weak candle
abstracted from her form and features the little
blemishes which sunlight might
have revealed--the stubble scratches upon her
wrists, and the weariness of her
eyes--her high enthusiasm having a transfiguring
effect upon the face which had
been her undoing, showing it as a thing of
immaculate beauty, with a touch of
dignity which was almost regal. The
little ones kneeling round, their sleepy eyes
blinking and red, awaited her
preparations full of a suspended wonder which
their physical heaviness at that
hour would not allow to become active.
impressed of them said:
really going to christen him,
girl-mother replied in a grave
his name going to be?"
not thought of that, but a name suggested
by a phrase in the book of Genesis came into her
head as she proceeded with the
baptismal service, and now she pronounced it:
I baptize thee in the name of
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
sprinkled the water, and there was
voices piped in obedient response
receive this child"--and so
forth--"and do sign him with the sign of the
dipped her hand into the basin,
and fervently drew an immense cross upon the
baby with her forefinger,
continuing with the customary sentences as to
his manfully fighting against
sin, the world, and the devil, and being a
faithful soldier and servant unto
his life's end.
She duly went on with
the Lord's Prayer, the children lisping it after
her in a thin gnat-like wail,
till, at the conclusion, raising their voices to
clerk's pitch, they again
piped into silence, "Amen!"
their sister, with much augmented
confidence in the efficacy of the sacrament,
poured forth from the bottom of
her heart the thanksgiving that follows,
uttering it boldly and triumphantly in
the stopt-diapason note which her voice acquired
when her heart was in her
speech, and which will never be forgotten by
those who knew her. The
ecstasy of faith almost apotheosized her;
it set upon her face a glowing irradiation, and
brought a red spot into the
middle of each cheek; while the miniature
candle-flame inverted in her
eye-pupils shone like a diamond. The
children gazed up at her with more and more
reverence, and no longer had a will
for questioning. She did not look like Sissy to
them now, but as a being large,
towering, and awful--a divine personage with
whom they had nothing in common.
Sorrow's campaign against sin, the
world, and the devil was doomed to be of limited
for himself, considering his beginnings.
In the blue of the morning that fragile
soldier and servant breathed his
last, and when the other children awoke they
cried bitterly, and begged Sissy
to have another pretty baby. The
calmness which had possessed Tess since the
christening remained with her in
the infant's loss.
In the daylight,
indeed, she felt her terrors about his soul to
have been somewhat exaggerated;
whether well founded or not she had no
uneasiness now, reasoning that if
Providence would not ratify such an act of
approximation she, for one, did not
value the kind of heaven lost by the
irregularity--either for herself or for
away Sorrow the Undesired--that
intrusive creature, that bastard gift of
shameless Nature who respects not the
social law; a waif to whom eternal Time had been
a matter of days merely, who
knew not that such things as years and centuries
ever were; to whom the cottage
interior was the universe, the week's weather
climate, new-born babyhood human
existence, and the instinct to suck human
mused on the christening a good
deal, wondered if it were doctrinally sufficient
to secure a Christian burial
for the child. Nobody could tell this but the
parson of the parish, and he was
a new-comer, and did not know her. She
went to his house after dusk, and stood by the
gate, but could not summon
courage to go in.
The enterprise would
have been abandoned if she had not by accident
met him coming homeward as she
In the gloom she did not
mind speaking freely.
like to ask you something,
expressed his willingness to listen, and
she told the story of the baby's illness and the
extemporized ordinance. "And
now, sir," she added
earnestly, "can you tell me this--will it be
just the same for him as if
you had baptized him?"
the natural feelings of a tradesman
at finding that a job he should have been called
in for had been unskilfully
botched by his customers among themselves, he
was disposed to say no. Yet
the dignity of the girl, the strange
tenderness in her voice, combined to affect his
nobler impulses--or rather
those that he had left in him after ten years of
endeavour to graft technical belief
on actual scepticism. The
man and the
ecclesiastic fought within him, and the victory
fell to the man.
girl," he said, "it
will be just the same."
will you give him a Christian
burial?" she asked quickly.
felt himself cornered. Hearing of
the baby's illness, he had conscientiously gone
to the house after nightfall to
perform the rite, and, unaware that the refusal
to admit him had come from
Tess's father and not from Tess, he could not
allow the plea of necessity for
its irregular administration.
another matter," he
Tess, rather warmly.
would willingly do so if only
we two were concerned. But I
not--for certain reasons."
"O sir!" She
seized his hand as she spoke.
withdrew it, shaking his head.
don't like you!" she
burst out, "and I'll never come to your church
talk so rashly."
it will be just the same to
him if you don't? ... Will it be just the same?
Don't for God's sake speak as saint to
sinner, but as you yourself to me
Vicar reconciled his answer with
the strict notions he supposed himself to hold
on these subjects it is beyond a
layman's power to tell, though not to excuse.
Somewhat moved, he said in this case
be just the same."
baby was carried in a small deal
box, under an ancient woman's shawl, to the
churchyard that night, and buried
by lantern-light, at the cost of a shilling and
a pint of beer to the sexton,
in that shabby corner of God's allotment where
He lets the nettles grow, and
where all unbaptized infants, notorious
drunkards, suicides, and others of the
conjecturally damned are laid. In
of the untoward surroundings, however, Tess
bravely made a little cross of two
laths and a piece of string, and having bound it
with flowers, she stuck it up
at the head of the grave one evening when she
could enter the churchyard
without being seen, putting at the foot also a
bunch of the same flowers in a
little jar of water to keep them alive.
What matter was it that on the outside of
the jar the eye of mere
observation noted the words "Keelwell's
Marmalade"? The eye of
maternal affection did not see them in its
vision of higher things.
experience," says Roger
Ascham, "we find out a short way by a long
Not seldom that long wandering unfits us
further travel, and of what use is our
experience to us then? Tess
Durbeyfield's experience was of this
incapacitating kind. At last she had learned
what to do; but who would now
accept her doing?
going to the d'Urbervilles' she
had vigorously moved under the guidance of
sundry gnomic texts and phrases
known to her and to the world in general, no
doubt she would never have been
imposed on. But it had not been in Tess's
power--nor is it in anybody's
power--to feel the whole truth of golden
opinions while it is possible to
profit by them. She--and how many more--might
have ironically said to God with
Saint Augustine: "Thou hast counselled a better
course than Thou hast
remained at her father's house during
the winter months, plucking fowls, or cramming
turkeys and geese, or making
clothes for her sisters and brothers out of some
finery which d'Urberville had
given her, and she had put by with contempt.
Apply to him she would not. But she would
often clasp her hands behind
her head and muse when she was supposed to be
philosophically noted dates as they
came past in the revolution of the year; the
disastrous night of her undoing at
Trantridge with its dark background of The
Chase; also the dates of the baby's
birth and death; also her own birthday; and
every other day individualized by
incidents in which she had taken some share.
She suddenly thought one afternoon, when
looking in the glass at her
fairness, that there was yet another date, of
greater importance to her than
those; that of her own death, when all these
charms would had disappeared; a
day which lay sly and unseen among all the other
days of the year, giving no
sign or sound when she annually passed over it;
but not the less surely there.
When was it?
Why did she not feel the
chill of each yearly encounter with such a cold
had Jeremy Taylor's thought that some
time in the future those who had known her would
say: "It is the--th, the
day that poor Tess Durbeyfield died"; and there
would be nothing singular
to their minds in the statement. Of
day, doomed to be her terminus in time through
all the ages, she did not know
the place in month, week, season or year.
a leap Tess thus changed from
simple girl to complex woman. Symbols
reflectiveness passed into her face, and a note
of tragedy at times into her
eyes grew larger and more
became what would have
been called a fine creature; her aspect was fair
and arresting; her soul that
of a woman whom the turbulent experiences of the
last year or two had quite
failed to demoralize. But
for the world's
opinion those experiences would have been simply
a liberal education.
held so aloof of late that her
trouble, never generally known, was nearly
forgotten in Marlott. But it
became evident to her that she could
never be really comfortable again in a place
which had seen the collapse of her
family's attempt to "claim kin"-- and, through
her, even closer
union--with the rich d'Urbervilles. At least she
could not be comfortable there
till long years should have obliterated her keen
consciousness of it. Yet
even now Tess felt the pulse of hopeful
like still warm within her; she might be happy
in some nook which had no
escape the past and all
that appertained thereto was to annihilate it,
and to do that she would have to
lost always lost really true of
chastity? she would ask herself. She
might prove it false if she could veil bygones.
The recuperative power which pervaded
organic nature was surely not
denied to maidenhood alone.
waited a long time without finding
opportunity for a new departure. A
particularly fine spring came round, and the
stir of germination was almost
audible in the buds; it moved her, as it moved
the wild animals, and made her
passionate to go.
At last, one day in
early May, a letter reached her from a former
friend of her mother's, to whom
she had addressed inquiries long before--a
person whom she had never seen--that
a skilful milkmaid was required at a dairy-house
many miles to the southward,
and that the dairyman would be glad to have her
for the summer months.
not quite so far off as could have
been wished; but it was probably far enough, her
radius of movement and repute
having been so small. To
limited spheres, miles are as geographical
degrees, parishes as counties,
counties as provinces and kingdoms. On one point
she was resolved: there should
be no more d'Urberville air-castles in the
dreams and deeds of her new
would be the dairymaid Tess,
and nothing more.
Her mother knew Tess's
feeling on this point so well, though no words
had passed between them on the
subject, that she never alluded to the knightly
is human inconsistency that one of
the interests of the new place to her was the
accidental virtues of its lying
near her forefathers' country (for they were not
Blakemore men, though her
mother was Blakemore to the bone). The
dairy called Talbothays, for which she was
bound, stood not remotely from some
of the former estates of the d'Urbervilles, near
the great family vaults of her
granddames and their powerful husbands. She
would be able to look at them, and
think not only that d'Urberville, like Babylon,
had fallen, but that the
individual innocence of a humble descendant
could lapse as silently. All
the while she wondered if any strange
good thing might come of her being in her
ancestral land; and some spirit
within her rose
automatically as the sap
in the twigs.
It was unexpected youth,
surging up anew after its temporary check, and
bringing with it hope, and the
invincible instinct towards self-delight.
PHASE THE SECOND
the Third: The Rally
thyme-scented, bird-hatching morning
in May, between two and three years after the
return from Trantridge--silent
reconstructive years for Tess Durbeyfield--she
left her home for the second
packed up her luggage so that it
could be sent to her later, she started in a
hired trap for the little town of
Stourcastle, through which it was necessary to
pass on her journey, now in a
direction almost opposite to that of her first
adventuring. On the curve of the
nearest hill she looked back regretfully at
Marlott and her father's house,
although she had been so anxious to get away.
kindred dwelling there would probably
continue their daily lives as heretofore, with
no great diminution of pleasure
in their consciousness, although she would be
far off, and they deprived of her
smile. In a few days the children would engage
in their games as merrily as
ever, without the sense of any gap left by her
This leaving of the younger children she
decided to be for the best; were she to remain
they would probably gain less
good by her precepts than harm by her example.
through Stourcastle without
pausing, and onward to a junction of highways,
where she could await a
carrier's van that ran to the south-west; for
the railways which engirdled this
interior tract of country had never yet struck
While waiting, however, there came along
farmer in his spring cart, driving approximately
in the direction that she
wished to pursue. Though he was a stranger to
her she accepted his offer of a
seat beside him, ignoring that its motive was a
mere tribute to her
He was going to Weatherbury,
and by accompanying him thither she could walk
the remainder of the distance
instead of travelling in the van by way of
not stop at Weatherbury, after
this long drive, further than to make a slight
nondescript meal at noon at a
cottage to which the farmer recommended her.
Thence she started on foot, basket in
hand, to reach the wide upland of
heath dividing this district from the low-lying
meads of a further valley in
which the dairy stood that was the aim and end
of her day's pilgrimage.
never before visited this part of
the country, and yet she felt akin to the
Not so very far to the left of her she
discern a dark patch in the scenery, which
inquiry confirmed her in supposing
to be trees marking the environs of
Kingsbere--in the church of which parish
the bones of her ancestors--her useless
no admiration for them now; she
almost hated them for the dance they had led
her; not a thing of all that had
been theirs did she retain but the old seal and
spoon. "Pooh--I have as
much of mother as father in me!" she said. "All
my prettiness comes
from her, and she was only a dairymaid."
journey over the intervening uplands
and lowlands of Egdon, when she reached them,
was a more troublesome walk than
she had anticipated, the distance being actually
but a few miles. It was two
hours, owing to sundry wrong turnings, ere she
found herself on a summit
commanding the long-sought-for vale, the Valley
of the Great Dairies, the
valley in which milk and butter grew to
rankness, and were produced more
profusely, if less delicately, than at her
home--the verdant plain so well
watered by the river Var or Froom.
intrinsically different from the
Vale of Little Dairies, Blackmoor Vale, which,
save during her disastrous sojourn
at Trantridge, she had exclusively known till
world was drawn to a larger pattern
enclosures numbered fifty
acres instead of ten, the farmsteads were more
extended, the groups of cattle
formed tribes hereabout; there only families.
These myriads of cows stretching under
her eyes from the far east to the
far west outnumbered any she had ever seen at
one glance before. The green lea
was speckled as thickly with them as a canvas by
Van Alsloot or Sallaert with
ripe hue of the red and
dun kine absorbed the evening sunlight, which
the white-coated animals returned
to the eye in rays almost dazzling, even at the
distant elevation on which she
bird's-eye perspective before her was
not so luxuriantly beautiful, perhaps, as that
other one which she knew so
well; yet it was more cheering. It
lacked the intensely blue atmosphere of the
rival vale, and its heavy soils and
scents; the new air was clear, bracing,
river itself, which nourished the grass
and cows of these renowned dairies, flowed not
like the streams in
Those were slow, silent,
often turbid; flowing over beds of mud into
which the incautious wader might
sink and vanish unawares. The
waters were clear as the pure River of Life
shown to the Evangelist, rapid as
the shadow of a cloud, with pebbly shallows that
prattled to the sky all day
the water-flower was the
lily; the crowfoot here.
the change in the quality of the air
from heavy to light, or the sense of being amid
new scenes where there were no
invidious eyes upon her, sent up her spirits
Her hopes mingled with the sunshine in an
ideal photosphere which surrounded her as she
bounded along against the soft
south wind. She heard a pleasant voice in every
breeze, and in every bird's
note seemed to lurk a joy.
had latterly changed with changing
states of mind, continually fluctuating between
beauty and ordinariness,
according as the thoughts were gay or grave.
One day she was pink and flawless;
another pale and tragical. When
she was pink she was feeling less then
when pale; her more perfect beauty accorded with
her less elevated mood; her
more intense mood with her less perfect beauty.
It was her best face physically that was
now set against the south wind.
irresistible, universal, automatic
tendency to find sweet pleasure somewhere, which
pervades all life, from the
meanest to the highest, had at length mastered
even now only a young woman of twenty,
one who mentally and sentimentally had not
finished growing, it was impossible
that any event should have left upon her an
impression that was not in time
capable of transmutation.
her spirits, and her thankfulness,
and her hopes, rose higher and higher.
She tried several ballads, but found them
inadequate; till, recollecting
the psalter that her eyes had so often wandered
over of a Sunday morning before
she had eaten of the tree of knowledge, she
chanted: "O ye Sun and Moon
... O ye Stars ... ye Green Things upon the
Earth ... ye Fowls of the Air ...
Beasts and Cattle ... Children of Men ... bless
ye the Lord, praise Him and
magnify Him for ever!"
suddenly stopped and murmured:
"But perhaps I don't quite know the Lord as
probably the half-unconscious rhapsody
was a Fetichistic utterance in a Monotheistic
setting; women whose chief
companions are the forms and forces of outdoor
Nature retain in their souls far
more of the Pagan fantasy of their remote
forefathers than of the systematized
religion taught their race at later date.
However, Tess found at least
approximate expression for her feelings in the
old BENEDICITE that she had
lisped from infancy; and it was enough.
Such high contentment with such a slight
initial performance as that of
having started towards a means of independent
living was a part of the
Durbeyfield temperament. Tess
wished to walk uprightly, while her father did
nothing of the kind; but she
resembled him in being content with immediate
and small achievements, and in
having no mind for laborious effort towards such
petty social advancement as
could alone be effected by a family so heavily
handicapped as the once powerful
d'Urbervilles were now.
was, it might be said, the energy of
her mother's unexpected family, as well as the
natural energy of Tess's years,
rekindled after the experience which had so
overwhelmed her for the time. Let
the truth be told--women do as a rule live
through such humiliations, and
regain their spirits, and again look about them
with an interested eye. While
there's life there's hope is a
conviction not so entirely unknown to the
"betrayed" as some amiable
theorists would have us believe.
Durbeyfield, then, in good heart, and
full of zest for life, descended the Egdon
slopes lower and lower towards the
dairy of her pilgrimage.
marked difference, in the final
particular, between the rival vales now showed
secret of Blackmoor was best discovered
from the heights around; to read aright the
valley before her it was necessary
to descend into its midst. When
accomplished this feat she found herself to be
standing on a carpeted level,
which stretched to the east and west as far as
the eye could reach.
had stolen from the higher tracts
and brought in particles to the vale all this
horizontal land; and now,
exhausted, aged, and attenuated, lay
serpentining along through the midst of
its former spoils.
sure of her direction Tess stood
still upon the hemmed expanse of verdant
flatness, like a fly on a
billiard-table of indefinite length, and of no
more consequence to the
surroundings than that fly. The
effect of her presence upon the placid valley so
far had been to excite the
mind of a solitary heron, which, after
descending to the ground not far from
her path, stood with neck erect, looking at her.
there arose from all parts of the
lowland a prolonged and repeated call--"Waow!
furthest east to the furthest west
the cries spread as if by contagion, accompanied
in some cases by the barking
of a dog. It was not the expression of the
valley's consciousness that
beautiful Tess had arrived, but the ordinary
milking-time--half-past four o'clock, when the
dairymen set about getting in
and white herd nearest at hand,
which had been phlegmatically waiting for the
call, now trooped towards the
steading in the background, their great bags of
milk swinging under them as
they walked. Tess followed slowly in their rear,
and entered the barton by the
open gate through which they had entered before
thatched sheds stretched round the
enclosure, their slopes encrusted with vivid
green moss, and their eaves
supported by wooden posts rubbed to a glossy
smoothness by the flanks of
infinite cows and calves of bygone years, now
passed to an oblivion almost
inconceivable in its profundity. Between
post were ranged the milchers, each exhibiting
herself at the present
moment to a whimsical eye in the rear as a
circle on two stalks, down the
centre of which a switch moved pendulum-wise;
while the sun, lowering itself
behind this patient row, threw their shadows
accurately inwards upon the
it threw shadows of these
obscure and homely figures every evening with as
much care over each contour as
if it had been the profile of a court beauty on
a palace wall; copied them as
diligently as it had copied Olympian shapes on
marble FACADES long ago, or the
outline of Alexander, Caesar, and the Pharaohs.
the less restful cows that were
stalled. Those that would stand still of their
own will were milked in the
middle of the yard, where many of such better
behaved ones stood waiting
now--all prime milchers, such as were seldom
seen out of this valley, and not
always within it; nourished by the succulent
feed which the water-meads
supplied at this prime season of the year. Those
of them that were spotted with
white reflected the sunshine in dazzling
brilliancy, and the polished brass
knobs of their horns glittered with something of
Their large-veined udders hung ponderous
sandbags, the teats sticking out like the legs
of a gipsy's crock; and as each
animal lingered for her turn to arrive the milk
oozed forth and fell in drops
to the ground.
dairymaids and men had flocked down
from their cottages and out of the dairy-house
with the arrival of the cows
from the meads; the maids walking in patterns,
not on account of the weather,
but to keep their shoes above the mulch of the
girl sat down on her three-legged stool,
her face sideways, her right cheek resting
against the cow; and looked musingly
along the animal's flank at Tess as she
approached. The male milkers, with
hat-brims turned down, resting flat on their
foreheads and gazing on the
ground, did not observe her.
these was a sturdy middle-aged
man--whose long white "pinner" was somewhat
finer and cleaner than
the wraps of the others, and whose jacket
underneath had a presentable
marketing aspect--the master-dairyman, of whom
she was in quest, his double
character as a working milker and butter maker
here during six days, and on the
seventh as a man in shining broad-cloth in his
family pew at church, being so
marked as to have inspired a rhyme-
Tess standing at gaze he went across
majority of dairymen have a cross
manner at milking time, but it happened that Mr
Crick was glad to get a new
hand--for the days were busy ones now--and he
received her warmly; inquiring
for her mother and the rest of the
family--(though this as a matter of form
merely, for in reality he had not been aware of
Mrs Durbeyfield's existence
till apprised of the fact by a brief
business-letter about Tess).
as a lad I knowed your part
o' the country very well," he said
terminatively. "Though I've never
been there since.
And a aged woman of
ninety that use to live nigh here, but is dead
and gone long ago, told me that
a family of some such name as yours in Blackmoor
Vale came originally from
these parts, and that 'twere a old ancient race
that had all but perished off
the earth--though the new generations didn't
know it. But,
Lord, I took no notice of the old
woman's ramblings, not I."
no--it is nothing," said
talk was of business only.
milk 'em clean, my maidy? I
don't want my cow going azew at this time o'
reassured him on that point, and he
surveyed her up and down. She had been staying
indoors a good deal, and her
complexion had grown delicate.
sure you can stand it? 'Tis
comfortable enough here for
but we don't live in a cowcumber frame."
declared that she could stand it, and
her zest and willingness seemed to win him over.
suppose you'll want a dish o'
tay, or victuals of some sort, hey? Not
do as ye like about it. But
faith, if 'twas I, I should be as dry as
a kex wi' travelling so far."
begin milking now, to get my
hand in," said Tess.
a little milk as temporary
refreshment-- to the surprise--indeed, slight
contempt--of Dairyman Crick, to
whose mind it had apparently never occurred that
milk was good as a beverage.
ye can swaller that, be it
so," he said indifferently, while holding up the
pail that she sipped
from. "'Tis what I hain't touched for years--
not I. Rot
the stuff; it would lie in my innerds like
can try your hand upon
she," he pursued, nodding to the nearest cow. "Not
but what she do milk rather hard.
We've hard ones and we've easy ones, like other
folks. However, you'll find out
that soon enough."
had changed her bonnet for a
hood, and was really on her stool under the cow,
and the milk was squirting
from her fists into the pail, she appeared to
feel that she really had laid a
new foundation for her future. The
conviction bred serenity, her pulse slowed, and
she was able to look about her.
milkers formed quite a little battalion
of men and maids, the men operating on the
hard-teated animals, the maids on
the kindlier natures. It was
were nearly a hundred
milchers under Crick's management, all told; and
of the herd the
master-dairyman milked six or eight with his own
hands, unless away from
were the cows that milked
hardest of all; for his journey-milkmen being
more or less casually hired, he
would not entrust this half-dozen to their
treatment, lest, from indifference,
they should not milk them fully; nor to the
maids, lest they should fail in the
same way for lack of finger-grip; with the
result that in course of time the
cows would "go azew"--that is, dry up. It was
not the loss for the
moment that made slack milking so serious, but
that with the decline of demand
there came decline, and ultimately cessation, of
Tess had settled down to her cow
there was for a time no talk in the barton, and
not a sound interfered with the
purr of the milk-jets into the numerous pails,
except a momentary exclamation
to one or other of the beast requesting her to
turn round or stand still. The
only movements were those of the milkers'
hands up and down, and the swing of the cows'
they all worked on, encompassed by the
vast flat mead which extended to either slope of
the valley--a level landscape
compounded of old landscapes long forgotten,
and, no doubt, differing in
character very greatly from the landscape they
thinking," said the
dairyman, rising suddenly from a cow he had just
finished off, snatching up his
three-legged stool in one hand and the pail in
the other, and moving on to the
next hard-yielder in his vicinity; "to my
thinking, the cows don't gie
down their milk today as usual. Upon my life, if
Winker do begin keeping back
like this, she'll not be worth going under by
because there's a new hand come
among us,' said Jonathan Kail.
"I've noticed such things afore."
may be so.
I didn't think o't."
been told that it goes up into
their horns at such times," said a dairymaid.
to going up into their
horns," replied Dairyman Crick dubiously, as
though even witchcraft might
be limited by anatomical possibilities, "I
couldn't say; I certainly could
as nott cows will keep it back
as well as the horned ones, I don't quite agree
to it. Do
ye know that riddle about the nott cows,
Jonathan? Why do nott cows give less milk in a
year than horned?"
don't!" interposed the
milkmaid, "Why do they?"
there bain't so many of
'em," said the dairyman.
"Howsomever, these gam'sters do certainly
keep back their milk
we must lift up a stave or
two--that's the only cure for't."
were often resorted to in dairies
hereabout as an enticement to the cows when they
showed signs of withholding
their usual yield; and the band of milkers at
this request burst into
melody--in purely business-like tones, it is
true, and with no great
spontaneity; the result, according to their own
belief, being a decided
improvement during the song's continuance.
When they had gone through fourteen or
fifteen verses of a cheerful
ballad about a murderer who was afraid to go to
bed in the dark because he saw
certain brimstone flames around him, one of the
male milkers said--
singing on the stoop didn't
use up so much of a man's wind! You should get
your harp, sir; not but what a
fiddle is best."
had given ear to this, thought
the words were addressed to the dairyman, but
she was wrong.
A reply, in the shape of "Why?"
came as it were out of the belly of a dun cow in
the stalls; it had been spoken
by a milker behind the animal, whom she had not
there's nothing like a
fiddle," said the dairyman. "Though I do think
that bulls are more
moved by a tune than cows--at least that's my
experience. Once there was an old
aged man over at Mellstock--William Dewy by
name--one of the family that used
to do a good deal of business as tranters over
there, Jonathan, do ye mind?--I
knowed the man by sight as well as I know my own
brother, in a manner of
this man was a coming
home-along from a wedding where he had been
playing his fiddle, one fine
moonlight night, and for shortness' sake he took
a cut across Forty-acres, a
field lying that way, where a bull was out to
grass. The bull seed William, and
took after him, horns aground, begad; and though
William runned his best, and
hadn't MUCH drink in him (considering 'twas a
wedding, and the folks well off),
he found he'd never reach the fence and get over
in time to save himself. Well,
as a last thought, he pulled out his fiddle as
he runned, and struck up a jig,
turning to the bull, and backing towards the
bull softened down, and stood still,
looking hard at William Dewy, who fiddled on and
on; till a sort of a smile
stole over the bull's face. But no
sooner did William stop his playing and turn to
get over hedge than the bull
would stop his smiling and lower his horns
towards the seat of William's
breeches. Well, William had to turn about and
play on, willy-nilly; and 'twas
only three o'clock in the world, and 'a knowed
that nobody would come that way
for hours, and he so leery and tired that 'a
didn't know what to do. When
he had scraped till about four o'clock
he felt that he verily would have to give over
soon, and he said to himself,
'There's only this last tune between me and
eternal welfare! Heaven save me, or
I'm a done man.' Well, then he called to mind
how he'd seen the cattle kneel o'
Christmas Eves in the dead o' night. It
was not Christmas Eve then, but it came into his
head to play a trick upon the
he broke into the 'Tivity Hymm,
just as at Christmas carol-singing; when, lo and
behold, down went the bull on
his bended knees, in his ignorance, just as if
'twere the true 'Tivity night
and hour. As
soon as his horned friend
were down, William turned, clinked off like a
long-dog, and jumped safe over
hedge, before the praying bull had got on his
feet again to take after him. William
used to say that he'd seen a man look
a fool a good many times, but never such a fool
as that bull looked when he
found his pious feelings had been played upon,
and 'twas not Christmas Eve. ...
Yes, William Dewy, that was the man's name; and
I can tell you to a foot
where's he a-lying in Mellstock Churchyard at
this very moment--just between
the second yew-tree and the north aisle."
curious story; it carries us
back to medieval times, when faith was a living
remark, singular for a dairy-yard, was
murmured by the voice behind the dun cow; but as
nobody understood the reference
no notice was taken, except that the narrator
seemed to think it might imply
scepticism as to his tale.
'tis quite true, sir, whether
or no. I
knowed the man well."
I have no doubt of it,"
said the person behind the dun cow.
attention was thus attracted to the
dairyman's interlocutor, of whom she could see
but the merest patch, owing to
his burying his head so persistently in the
flank of the milcher. She
could not understand why he should be
addressed as "sir" even by the dairyman himself. But no
explanation was discernible; he
remained under to cow long enough to have milked
three, uttering a private
ejaculation now and then, as if he could not get
gentle, sir; take it
gentle," said the dairyman.
"'Tis knack, not strength that does it."
find," said the other,
standing up at last and stretching his arms.
"I think I have finished her, however,
though she made my fingers
could then see him at full
wore the ordinary white pinner
and leather leggings of a dairy-farmer when
milking, and his boots were clogged
with the mulch of the yard; but this was all his
Beneath it was something educated,
subtle, sad, differing.
details of his aspect were
temporarily thrust aside by the discovery that
he was one whom she had seen
vicissitudes had Tess
passed through since that time that for a moment
she could not remember where
she had met him; and then it flashed upon her
that he was the pedestrian who
had joined in the club-dance at Marlott--the
passing stranger who had come she
knew not whence, had danced with others but not
with her, and slightingly left
her, and gone on his way with his friends.
of memories brought back by this
revival of an incident anterior to her troubles
produced a momentary dismay
lest, recognizing her also, he should by some
means discover her story. But it
passed away when she found no sign of
remembrance in him. She saw by degrees
that since their first and only encounter his
mobile face had grown more
thoughtful, and had acquired a young man's
shapely moustache and beard--the
latter of the palest straw colour where it began
upon his cheeks, and deepening
to a warm brown farther from its root.
Under his linen milking-pinner he wore a
dark velveteen jacket, cord
breeches and gaiters, and a starched white
the milking-gear nobody could have
guessed what he was. He
might with equal
probability have been an eccentric landowner or
a gentlemanly ploughman. That
he was but a novice at dairy work she
had realized in a moment, from the time he had
spent upon the milking of one
many of the milkmaids had said to
one another of the newcomer, "How pretty she
is!" with something of
real generosity and admiration, though with a
half hope that the auditors would
qualify the assertion--which, strictly speaking,
they might have done,
prettiness being an inexact definition of what
struck the eye in Tess. When
the milking was finished for the evening
they straggled indoors, where Mrs Crick, the
dairyman's wife--who was too
respectable to go out milking herself, and wore
a hot stuff gown in warm
weather because the dairymaids wore prints--was
giving an eye to the leads and
or three of the maids, Tess
learnt, slept in the dairy-house besides
herself; most of the helpers going to
their homes. She saw nothing at supper-time of
the superior milker who had
commented on the story, and asked no questions
about him, the remainder of the
evening being occupied in arranging her place in
It was a large room over the milk-house,
thirty feet long; the sleeping-cots of the other
three indoor milkmaids being
in the same apartment. They were blooming young
women, and, except one, rather
older than herself. By
bedtime Tess was
thoroughly tired, and fell asleep immediately.
of the girls who occupied an
adjoining bed was more wakeful than Tess, and
would insist upon relating to the
latter various particulars of the homestead into
which she had just
girl's whispered words
mingled with the shades, and, to Tess's drowsy
mind, they seemed to be
generated by the darkness in which they floated.
Clare--he that is learning
milking, and that plays the harp--never says
much to us. He is a pa'son's son,
and is too much taken up wi' his own thoughts to
He is the dairyman's pupil--learning
in all its branches. He has learnt sheep-farming
at another place, and he's now
mastering dairy-work.... Yes, he is quite the
gentleman-born. His father is the
Reverent Mr Clare at Emminster--a good many
miles from here."
have heard of him," said
her companion, now awake. "A
earnest clergyman, is he not?"
he is--the earnestest man
in all Wessex, they say--the last of the old Low
Church sort, they tell me--for
all about here be what they call High. All his
sons, except our Mr Clare, be
made pa'sons too."
not at this hour the curiosity to
ask why the present Mr Clare was not made a
parson like his brethren, and
gradually fell asleep again, the words of her
informant coming to her along
with the smell of the cheeses in the adjoining
cheeseloft, and the measured
dripping of the whey from the wrings downstairs.
Clare rises out of the past not
altogether as a distinct figure, but as an
appreciative voice, a long regard of
fixed, abstracted eyes, and a mobility of mouth
somewhat too small and
delicately lined for a man's, though with an
unexpectedly firm close of the
lower lip now and then; enough to do away with
any inference of
nebulous, preoccupied, vague, in his bearing and
regard, marked him as one who
probably had no very definite aim or concern
about his material future. Yet as
a lad people had said of him that he was one who
might do anything if he tried.
the youngest son of his father, a
poor parson at the other end of the county, and
had arrived at Talbothays Dairy
as a six months' pupil, after going the round of
some other farms, his object
being to acquire a practical skill in the
various processes of farming, with a
view either to the Colonies, or the tenure of a
home-farm, as circumstances
into the ranks of the
agriculturists and breeders was a step in the
young man's career which had been
anticipated neither by himself nor by others.
the elder, whose first wife had
died and left him a daughter, married a second
late in life.
This lady had somewhat unexpectedly
him three sons, so that between Angel, the
youngest, and his father the Vicar
there seemed to be almost a missing generation.
Of these boys the aforesaid
Angel, the child of his old age, was the only
son who had not taken a
University degree, though he was the single one
of them whose early promise
might have done full justice to an academical
or three years before Angel's
appearance at the Marlott dance, on a day when
he had left school and was
pursuing his studies at home, a parcel came to
the Vicarage from the local
bookseller's, directed to the Reverend James
Vicar having opened it and found it to
contain a book, read a few pages; whereupon he
jumped up from his seat and went
straight to the shop with the book under his
this been sent to my
house?" he asked peremptorily, holding up the
me, or any one belonging to
me, I am happy to say."
shopkeeper looked into his order-book.
has been misdirected,
sir," he said. "It
by Mr Angel Clare, and should have been sent to
winced as if he had been
went home pale and dejected,
and called Angel into his study.
into this book, my boy," he
said. "What do you know about it?"
ordered it," said Angel
read." "How can you
think of reading it?"
is a system of philosophy. There is
no more moral, or even religious, work
enough; I don't deny
religious!--and for YOU, who
intend to be a minister of the Gospel!"
you have alluded to the matter,
father," said the son, with anxious thought upon
his face, "I should
like to say, once for all, that I should prefer
not to take Orders. I fear
I could not conscientiously do so. I
love the Church as one loves a parent. I shall
always have the warmest
affection for her.
There is no
institution for whose history I have a deeper
admiration; but I cannot honestly
be ordained her minister, as my brothers are,
while she refuses to liberate her
mind from an untenable redemptive theolarty."
never occurred to the
straightforward and simple-minded Vicar that one
of his own flesh and blood
could come to this! He was
shocked, paralysed. And if
not going to enter the Church, what was the use
of sending him to Cambridge?
The University as a step to anything but
ordination seemed, to this man of
fixed ideas, a preface without a volume. He was
a man not merely religious, but
devout; a firm believer--not as the phrase is
now elusively construed by
theological thimble-riggers in the Church and
out of it, but in the old and
ardent sense of the Evangelical school: one who
father tried argument, persuasion,
father; I cannot underwrite
Article Four (leave alone the rest), taking it
'in the literal and grammatical
sense' as required by the Declaration; and,
therefore, I can't be a parson in
the present state of affairs," said Angel.
"My whole instinct in matters of religion
reconstruction; to quote your favorite Epistle
to the Hebrews, 'THE REMOVING OF
THOSE THINGS THAT ARE SHAKEN, AS OF THINGS THAT
ARE MADE, THAT THOSE THINGS
WHICH CANNOT BE SHAKEN MAY REMAIN.'"
father grieved so deeply that it made
Angel quite ill to see him.
the good of your mother and
me economizing and stinting ourselves to give
you a University education, if it
is not to be used for the honour and glory of
God?" his father repeated.
that it may be used for the
honour and glory of man, father."
if Angel had persevered he might
have gone to Cambridge like his brothers.
But the Vicar's view of that seat of
learning as a stepping-stone to
Orders alone was quite a family tradition; and
so rooted was the idea in his
mind that perseverance began to appear to the
sensitive son akin to an intent
to misappropriate a trust, and wrong the pious
heads of the household, who had
been and were, as his father had hinted,
compelled to exercise much thrift to
carry out his uniform plan of education for the
three young men.
do without Cambridge,"
said Angel at last. "I feel that I have no right
to go there in the
effects of this decisive debate were
not long in showing themselves. He
years and years in desultory studies,
undertakings, and meditations; he began
to evince considerable indifference to social
forms and observances. The
material distinctions of rank and wealth
he increasingly despised. Even
"good old family" (to use a favourite phrase of
a late local worthy)
had no aroma for him unless there were good new
resolutions in its
As a balance to these
austerities, when he went to live in London to
see what the world was like, and
with a view to practising a profession or
business there, he was carried off
his head, and nearly entrapped by a woman much
older than himself, though
luckily he escaped not greatly the worse for the
association with country solitudes
had bred in him an unconquerable, and almost
unreasonable, aversion to modern
town life, and shut him out from such success as
he might have aspired to by
following a mundane calling in the
impracticability of the spiritual one. But
something had to be done; he had wasted many
valuable years; and having an
acquaintance who was starting on a thriving life
as a Colonial farmer, it
occurred to Angel that this might be a lead in
the right direction. Farming,
either in the Colonies, America, or
at home--farming, at any rate, after becoming
well qualified for the business
by a careful apprenticeship--that was a vocation
which would probably afford an
independence without the sacrifice of what he
valued even more than a
find Angel Clare at six-and-twenty
here at Talbothays as a student of kine, and, as
there were no houses near at
hand in which he could get a comfortable
lodging, a boarder at the dairyman's.
was an immense attic which ran the
whole length of the dairy-house. It could only
be reached by a ladder from the
cheese-loft, and had been closed up for a long
time till he arrived and
selected it as his retreat. Here
had plenty of space, and could often be heard by
the dairy-folk pacing up and
down when the household had gone to rest.
A portion was divided off at one end by a
curtain, behind which was his
bed, the outer part being furnished as a homely
he lived up above entirely,
reading a good deal, and strumming upon an old
harp which he had bought at a
sale, saying when in a bitter humour that he
might have to get his living by it
in the streets some day. But he
preferred to read human nature by taking his
meals downstairs in the general
dining-kitchen, with the dairyman and his wife,
and the maids and men, who all
together formed a lively assembly; for though
but few milking hands slept in
the house, several joined the family at meals.
The longer Clare resided here the less
objection had he to his company,
and the more did he like to share quarters with
them in common.
his surprise he took, indeed, a
real delight in their companionship. The
conventional farm-folk of his
imagination--personified in the newspaper-press
by the pitiable dummy known as Hodge--were
obliterated after a few days'
residence. At close quarters no Hodge was to be
first, it is true, when Clare's
intelligence was fresh from a contrasting
society, these friends with whom he
now hobnobbed seemed a little strange. Sitting
down as a level member of the
dairyman's household seemed at the outset an
undignified proceeding. The
ideas, the modes, the surroundings,
appeared retrogressive and unmeaning. But with
living on there, day after day,
the acute sojourner became conscious of a new
aspect in the spectacle. Without
any objective change whatever, variety had taken
the place of monotonousness.
His host and his host's household, his men and
his maids, as they became
intimately known to Clare, began to
differentiate themselves as in a chemical
thought of Pascal's was
brought home to him: "A MESURE QU'ON A PLUS
D'ESPRIT, ON TROUVE QU'IL Y A
PLUS D'HOMMES ORIGINAUX. LES GENS DU COMMUN NE
TROUVENT PAS DE DIFFERENCE ENTRE
The typical and
unvarying Hodge ceased to exist. He had
been disintegrated into a number of varied
fellow-creatures--beings of many
minds, beings infinite in difference; some
happy, many serene, a few depressed,
one here and there bright even to genius, some
stupid, others wanton, others
austere; some mutely Miltonic, some potentially
Cromwellian; into men who had
private views of each other, as he had of his
friends; who could applaud or
condemn each other, amuse or sadden themselves
by the contemplation of each
other's foibles or vices; men every one of whom
walked in his own individual
way the road to dusty death.
he began to like the outdoor
life for its own sake, and for what it brought,
apart from its bearing on his
own proposed career. Considering
position he became wonderfully free from the
chronic melancholy which is taking
hold of the civilized races with the decline of
belief in a beneficent
the first time of late years
he could read as his musings inclined him,
without any eye to cramming for a
profession, since the few farming handbooks
which he deemed it desirable to
master occupied him but little time.
away from old associations, and saw
something new in life and humanity. Secondarily,
he made close acquaintance
with phenomena which he had before known but
darkly--the seasons in their
moods, morning and evening, night and noon,
winds in their different tempers,
trees, waters and mists, shades and silences,
and the voices of inanimate
mornings were still sufficiently
cool to render a fire acceptable in the large
room wherein they breakfasted;
and, by Mrs Crick's orders, who held that he was
too genteel to mess at their
table, it was Angel Clare's custom to sit in the
yawning chimney-corner during
the meal, his cup-and-saucer and plate being
placed on a hinged flap at his
light from the long, wide,
mullioned window opposite shone in upon his
nook, and, assisted by a secondary
light of cold blue quality which shone down the
chimney, enabled him to read
there easily whenever disposed to do so. Between
Clare and the window was the
table at which his companions sat, their
munching profiles rising sharp against
the panes; while to the side was the milk-house
door, through which were
visible the rectangular leads in rows, full to
the brim with the morning's
milk. At the further end the great churn could
be seen revolving, and its
slip-slopping heard--the moving power being
discernible through the window in
the form of a spiritless horse walking in a
circle and driven by a boy.
several days after Tess's arrival
Clare, sitting abstractedly reading from some
book, periodical, or piece of
music just come by post, hardly noticed that she
was present at table. She
talked so little, and the other maids
talked so much, that the babble did not strike
him as possessing a new note,
and he was ever in the habit of neglecting the
particulars of an outward scene
for the general impression. One
when he had been conning one of his
music-scores, and by force of imagination
was hearing the tune in his head, he lapsed into
listlessness, and the
music-sheet rolled to the hearth. He
looked at the fire of logs, with its one flame
pirouetting on the top in a
dying dance after the breakfast-cooking and
boiling, and it seemed to jig to
his inward tune; also at the two chimney crooks
dangling down from the cotterel
or cross-bar, plumed with soot which quivered to
the same melody; also at the
half-empty kettle whining an accompaniment. The
conversation at the table mixed
in with his phantasmal orchestra till he
thought: "What a fluty voice one
of those milkmaids has! I suppose it is the new
looked round upon her, seated with
not looking towards him. Indeed, owing
to his long silence, his presence in the room
was almost forgotten.
know about ghosts," she
was saying; "but I do know that our souls can be
made to go outside our
bodies when we are alive."
dairyman turned to her with his mouth
full, his eyes charged with serious inquiry, and
his great knife and fork
(breakfasts were breakfasts here) planted erect
on the table, like the
beginning of a gallows.
is it so, maidy?" he said.
easy way to feel 'em go,"
continued Tess, "is to lie on the grass at night
and look straight up at
some big bright star; and, by fixing your mind
upon it, you will soon find that
you are hundreds and hundreds o' miles away from
your body, which you don't
seem to want at all."
dairyman removed his hard gaze from
Tess, and fixed it on his wife.
that's a rum thing,
To think o' the miles
I've vamped o' starlight nights these last
thirty year, courting, or trading,
or for doctor, or for nurse, and yet never had
the least notion o' that till
now, or feeled my soul rise so much as an inch
above my shirt-collar."
general attention being drawn to her,
including that of the dairyman's pupil, Tess
flushed, and remarking evasively
that it was only a fancy, resumed her breakfast.
continued to observe her. She soon
finished her eating, and having a consciousness
that Clare was regarding her,
began to trace imaginary patterns on the
tablecloth with her forefinger with
the constraint of a domestic animal that
perceives itself to be watched.
fresh and virginal daughter of
Nature that milkmaid is!" he said to himself.
he seemed to discern in her
something that was familiar, something which
carried him back into a joyous and
unforeseeing past, before the necessity of
taking thought had made the heavens
concluded that he had beheld
her before; where he could not tell. A casual
encounter during some country
ramble it certainly had been, and he was not
greatly curious about it. But the
circumstance was sufficient to lead him to
select Tess in preference to the
other pretty milkmaids when he wished to
contemplate contiguous womankind.
general the cows were milked as they
presented themselves, without fancy or choice.
But certain cows will show a fondness for
a particular pair of hands,
sometimes carrying this predilection so far as
to refuse to stand at all except
to their favourite, the pail of a stranger being
unceremoniously kicked over.
Dairyman Crick's rule to insist on
breaking down these partialities and aversions
by constant interchange, since
otherwise, in the event of a milkman or maid
going away from the dairy, he was
placed in a difficulty. The
private aims, however, were the reverse of the
dairyman's rule, the daily
selection by each damsel of the eight or ten
cows to which she had grown
accustomed rendering the operation on their
willing udders surprising easy and
like her compeers, soon discovered
which of the cows had a preference for her style
of manipulation, and her
fingers having become delicate from the long
domiciliary imprisonments to which
she had subjected herself at intervals during
the last two or three years, she
would have been glad to meet the milchers' views
in this respect.
Out of the whole ninety-five there were
in particular--Dumpling, Fancy, Lofty, Mist, Old
Pretty, Young Pretty, Tidy,
and Loud--who, though the teats of one or two
were as hard as carrots, gave
down to her with a readiness that made her work
on them a mere touch of the
fingers. Knowing, however, the dairyman's wish,
she endeavoured conscientiously
to take the animals just as they came, expecting
the very hard yielders which
she could not yet manage.
soon found a curious correspondence
between the ostensibly chance position of the
cows and her wishes in this
matter, till she felt that their order could not
be the result of
dairyman's pupil had lent
a hand in getting the cows together of late, and
at the fifth or sixth time she
turned her eyes, as she rested against the cow,
full of sly inquiry upon him.
Clare, you have ranged the
cows!" she said, blushing; and in making the
accusation symptoms of a
smile gently lifted her upper lip in spite of
her, so as to show the tips of
her teeth, the lower lip remaining severely
makes no difference,"
said he. "You
will always be here
to milk them."
think so? I
HOPE I shall!
But I don't KNOW."
angry with herself afterwards,
thinking that he, unaware of her grave reasons
for liking this seclusion, might
have mistaken her meaning. She
spoken so earnestly to him, as if his presence
were somehow a factor in her
wish. Her misgiving was such that at dusk, when
the milking was over, she
walked in the garden alone, to continue her
regrets that she had disclosed to
him her discovery of his considerateness.
It was a
typical summer evening in June,
the atmosphere being in such delicate
equilibrium and so transmissive that
inanimate objects seemed endowed with two or
three senses, if not five. There
was no distinction between the near and the far,
and an auditor felt close to
everything within the horizon. The
soundlessness impressed her as a positive entity
rather than as the mere
negation of noise.
It was broken by the
strumming of strings. Tess had heard those notes
in the attic above her head.
Dim, flattened, constrained by their
confinement, they had never appealed to
her as now, when they wandered in the still air
with a stark quality like that
To speak absolutely, both
instrument and execution were poor; but the
relative is all, and as she
listened Tess, like a fascinated bird, could not
leave the spot.
Far from leaving she drew up towards the
performer, keeping behind the hedge that he
might not guess her presence.
outskirt of the garden in which Tess
found herself had been left uncultivated for
some years, and was now damp and
rank with juicy grass which sent up mists of
pollen at a touch; and with tall
blooming weeds emitting offensive smells--weeds
whose red and yellow and purple
hues formed a polychrome as dazzling as that of
cultivated flowers. She
went stealthily as a cat through this
profusion of growth, gathering cuckoo-spittle on
her skirts, cracking snails
that were underfoot, staining her hands with
thistle-milk and slug-slime, and
rubbing off upon her naked arms sticky blights
which, though snow-white on the
apple-tree trunks, made madder stains on her
skin; thus she drew quite near to
Clare, still unobserved of him.
conscious of neither time nor
exaltation which she had
described as being producible at will by gazing
at a star, came now without any
determination of hers; she undulated upon the
thin notes of the second-hand
harp, and their harmonies passed like breezes
through her, bringing tears into
her eyes. The
floating pollen seemed to
be his notes made visible, and the dampness of
the garden the weeping of the
garden's sensibility. Though
nightfall, the rank-smelling weed-flowers glowed
as if they would not close for
intentness, and the waves of colour mixed with
the waves of sound.
which still shone was derived
mainly from a large hole in the western bank of
cloud; it was like a piece of
day left behind by accident, dusk having closed
He concluded his plaintive melody, a very
simple performance, demanding no great skill;
and she waited, thinking another
might be begun. But, tired of playing, he had
desultorily come round the fence,
and was rambling up behind her. Tess,
her cheeks on fire, moved away furtively, as if
hardly moving at all.
however, saw her light summer gown,
and he spoke; his low tones reaching her, though
he was some distance off.
makes you draw off in that way,
Tess?" said he. "Are you afraid?"
sir ... not of outdoor things;
especially just now when the apple-blooth is
falling, and everything is so
have your indoor
couldn't quite say."
have I, very often. This
hobble of being alive is rather serious,
don't you think so?"
is--now you put it that way."
same, I shouldn't have
expected a young girl like you to see it so just
is it you do?"
maintained a hesitating silence.
Tess, tell me in
thought that he meant what were the
aspects of things to her, and replied shyly --
trees have inquisitive eyes,
haven't they?--that is, seem as if they had.
And the river says,--'Why do ye trouble
me with your looks?' And
you seem to see numbers of tomorrows just
all in a line, the first of them the biggest and
clearest, the others getting
smaller and smaller as they stand farther away;
but they all seem very fierce
and cruel and as if they said, 'I'm coming!
Beware of me!
Beware of me!' ... But YOU, sir, can
dreams with your music, and drive all such
horrid fancies away!"
surprised to find this young
woman--who though but a milkmaid had just that
touch of rarity about her which
might make her the envied of her
housemates--shaping such sad imaginings. She
was expressing in her own native
phrases--assisted a little by her Sixth
Standard training--feelings which might almost
have been called those of the
age--the ache of modernism. The
perception arrested him less when he reflected
that what are called advanced
ideas are really in great part but the latest
fashion in definition--a more
accurate expression, by words in LOGY and ISM,
of sensations which men and
women have vaguely grasped for centuries.
was strange that they should have
come to her while yet so young; more than
strange; it was impressive,
interesting, pathetic. Not
cause, there was nothing to remind him that
experience is as to intensity, and
not as to duration. Tess's
corporeal blight had been her mental harvest.
her part, could not understand why
a man of clerical family and good education, and
above physical want, should
look upon it as a mishap to be alive.
For the unhappy pilgrim herself there was
very good reason. But how
could this admirable and poetic man ever have
descended into the Valley of
Humiliation, have felt with the man of Uz--as
she herself had felt two or three
years ago--'My soul chooseth strangling and
death rather than my life. I loathe
it; I would not live alway."
true that he was at present out of
his class. But she knew that was only because,
like Peter the Great in a
shipwright's yard, he was studying what he
wanted to know.
He did not milk cows because he was
to milk cows, but because he was learning to be
a rich and prosperous dairyman,
landowner, agriculturist, and breeder of cattle. He
would become an American or Australian
Abraham, commanding like a monarch his flocks
and his herds, his spotted and
his ring-straked, his men-servants and his
maids. At times, nevertheless, it
did seem unaccountable to her that a decidedly
bookish, musical, thinking young
man should have chosen deliberately to be a
farmer, and not a clergyman, like
his father and brothers.
neither having the clue to the
other's secret, they were respectively puzzled
at what each revealed, and
awaited new knowledge of each other's character
and mood without attempting to
pry into each other's history.
day, every hour, brought to him one
more little stroke of her nature, and to her one
more of his. Tess was trying
to lead a repressed life, but she little divined
the strength of her own
Tess seemed to regard Angel Clare
as an intelligence rather than as a man. As such
she compared him with herself;
and at every discovery of the abundance of his
illuminations, and the
unmeasurable, Andean altitude of his, she became
quite dejected, disheartened
from all further effort on her own part
observed her dejection one day, when he
had casually mentioned something to her about
pastoral life in ancient
was gathering the buds
called "lords and ladies" from the bank while he
you look so woebegone all of a
sudden?" he asked.
only--about my own
self," she said, with a frail laugh of sadness,
fitfully beginning to peel
"a lady" meanwhile. "Just
a sense of what might have been with me!
My life looks as if it had been wasted
for want of chances! When I see
what you know, what you have read, and seen, and
thought, I feel what a nothing
I am! I'm
like the poor Queen of Sheba
who lived in the Bible. There
is no more
spirit in me."
soul, don't go troubling
Why," he said with some
enthusiasm, "I should be only too glad, my dear
Tess, to help you to
anything in the way of history, or any line of
reading you would like to take
"It is a
lady again," interrupted
she, holding out the bud she had peeled.
that there are always more
ladies than lords when you come to peel them."
mind about the lords and
you like to take up any
course of study--history, for example?"
I feel I don't want to know
anything more about it than I know already."
what's the use of learning
that I am one of a long row only--finding out
that there is set down in some
old book somebody just like me, and to know that
I shall only act her part;
making me sad, that's all. The best is not to
remember that your nature and
your past doings have been just like thousands'
and thousands', and that your
coming life and doings 'll be like thousands's
really, then, you don't want to
shouldn't mind learning why--why
the sun do shine on the just and the unjust
alike," she answered, with a
slight quaver in her voice. "But
that's what books will not tell me." "Tess, fie
bitterness!" Of course he spoke with a
conventional sense of duty only,
for that sort of wondering had not been unknown
to himself in bygone days. And as
he looked at the unpracticed mouth and
lips, he thought that such a daughter of the
soil could only have caught up the
sentiment by rote.
She went on peeling
the lords and ladies till Clare, regarding for a
moment the wave-like curl of
her lashes as they dropped with her bent gaze on
her soft cheek, lingeringly
When he was gone she stood
awhile, thoughtfully peeling the last bud; and
then, awakening from her
reverie, flung it and all the crowd of floral
nobility impatiently on the
ground, in an ebullition of displeasure with
herself for her NIAISERIES, and
with a quickening warmth in her heart of hearts.
stupid he must think her! In an
access of hunger for his good opinion
she bethought herself of what she had latterly
endeavoured to forget, so
unpleasant had been its issues--the identity of
her family with that of the
knightly d'Urbervilles. Barren
as it was, disastrous as its discovery had been
in many ways to her, perhaps Mr
Clare, as a gentleman and a student of history,
would respect her sufficiently
to forget her childish conduct with the lords
and ladies if he knew that those
Purbeck-marble and alabaster people in Kingsbere
Church really represented her
own lineal forefathers; that she was no spurious
d'Urberville, compounded of
money and ambition like those at Trantridge, but
true d'Urberville to the bone.
before venturing to make the
revelation, dubious Tess indirectly sounded the
dairyman as to its possible
effect upon Mr Clare, by asking the former if Mr
Clare had any great respect
for old county families when they had lost all
their money and land.
Clare," said the dairyman
emphatically, "is one of the most rebellest
rozums you ever knowed--not a
bit like the rest of his family; and if there's
one thing that he do hate more
than another 'tis the notion of what's called a'
He says that it stands to reason that old
families have done their spurt of work in past
days, and can't have anything
left in 'em now. There's the Billets and the
Drenkhards and the Greys and the
St Quintins and the Hardys and the Goulds, who
used to own the lands for miles
down this valley; you could buy 'em all up now
for an old song a'most. Why, our
little Retty Priddle here, you know, is one of
the Paridelles--the old family
that used to own lots o' the lands out by King's
Hintock now owned by the Earl
o' Wessex, afore even he or his was heard of.
Well, Mr Clare found this out, and spoke
quite scornful to the poor girl
for days. 'Ah!' he says to her, 'you'll never
make a good dairymaid! All
your skill was used up ages ago in
Palestine, and you must lie fallow for a
thousand years to git strength for
A boy came here t'other day
asking for a job, and said his name was Matt,
and when we asked him his surname
he said he'd never heard that 'a had any
surname, and when we asked why, he
said he supposed his folks hadn't been
'stablished long enough. 'Ah! you're the
very boy I want!' says Mr Clare, jumping up and
shaking hands wi'en; 'I've
great hopes of you;' and gave him half-a-crown.
O no! he can't stomach old
hearing this caricature of Clare's
opinion poor Tess was glad that she had not said
a word in a weak moment about
her family--even though it was so unusually old
almost to have gone round the
circle and become a new one. Besides,
diary-girl was as good as she, it seemed, in
that respect. She held her
tongue about the d'Urberville vault, the Knight
of the Conqueror whose name she
insight afforded into Clare's
character suggested to her that it was largely
owing to her supposed
untraditional newness that she had won interest
in his eyes.
season developed and matured. Another
year's instalment of flowers, leaves,
nightingales, thrushes, finches, and such
ephemeral creatures, took up their
positions where only a year ago others had stood
in their place when these were
nothing more than germs and inorganic particles. Rays
from the sunrise drew forth the buds and
stretched them into long stalks, lifted up sap
in noiseless streams, opened
petals, and sucked out scents in invisible jets
Crick's household of maids and men
lived on comfortably, placidly, even merrily.
Their position was perhaps the happiest
of all positions in the social
scale, being above the line at which neediness
ends, and below the line at
which the CONVENANCES begin to cramp natural
feelings, and the stress of
threadbare modishness makes too little of
passed the leafy time when
arborescence seems to be the one thing aimed at
out of doors.
Tess and Clare unconsciously studied each
other, ever balanced on the edge of a passion,
yet apparently keeping out of
it. All the while they were converging, under an
irresistible law, as surely as
two streams in one vale.
never in her recent life been so
happy as she was now, possibly never would be so
She was, for one thing, physically and
mentally suited among these new surroundings.
The sapling which had rooted down
to a poisonous stratum on the spot of its sowing
had been transplanted to a
deeper soil. Moreover she, and Clare also, stood
as yet on the debatable land
between predilection and love; where no
profundities have been reached; no
reflections have set in, awkwardly inquiring,
"Whither does this new
current tend to carry me? What does it mean to
my future? How does it stand
towards my past?"
the merest stray phenomenon to
Angel Clare as yet--a rosy warming apparition
which had only just acquired the
attribute of persistence in his consciousness.
So he allowed his mind to be occupied
with her, deeming his
preoccupation to be no more than a philosopher's
regard of an exceedingly
novel, fresh, and interesting specimen of
continually; they could not help
met daily in that strange and
solemn interval, the twilight of the morning, in
the violet or pink dawn; for
it was necessary to rise early, so very early,
was done betimes; and before the
milking came the skimming, which began at a
little past three.
It usually fell to the lot of some one or
other of them to wake the rest, the first being
aroused by an alarm-clock; and,
as Tess was the latest arrival, and they soon
discovered that she could be
depended upon not to sleep though the alarm as
others did, this task was thrust
most frequently upon her. No
the hour of three struck and whizzed, than she
left her room and ran to the
dairyman's door; then up the ladder to Angel's,
calling him in a loud whisper;
then woke her fellow-milkmaids. By the
time that Tess was dressed Clare was downstairs
and out in the humid air. The
remaining maids and the dairyman usually gave
themselves another turn on the
pillow, and did not appear till a quarter of an
half-tones of daybreak are not the
gray half-tones of the day's close, though the
degree of their shade may be the
same. In the twilight of the morning light seems
active, darkness passive; in
the twilight of evening it is the darkness which
is active and crescent, and
the light which is the drowsy reverse.
often--possibly not always by
chance--the first two persons to get up at the
dairy-house, they seemed to themselves
the first persons up of all the world.
In these early days of her residence here
Tess did not skim, but went
out of doors at once after rising, where he was
generally awaiting her. The
spectral, half-compounded, aqueous light
which pervaded the open mead, impressed them
with a feeling of isolation, as if
they were Adam and Eve. At this dim inceptive
stage of the day Tess seemed to
Clare to exhibit a dignified largeness both of
disposition and physique, an
almost regnant power, possibly because he knew
that at that preternatural time
hardly any woman so well endowed in person as
she was likely to be walking in
the open air within the boundaries of his
horizon; very few in all England.
Fair women are usually asleep at mid-summer
was close at hand, and the rest were
mixed, singular, luminous gloom in
which they walked along together to the spot
where the cows lay, often made him
think of the Resurrection hour. He
little thought that the Magdalen might be at his
side. Whilst all the landscape
was in neutral shade his companion's face, which
was the focus of his eyes,
rising above the mist stratum, seemed to have a
sort of phosphorescence upon
it. She looked ghostly, as if she were merely a
soul at large.
In reality her face, without appearing to
so, had caught the cold gleam of day from the
north-east; his own face, though
he did not think of it, wore the same aspect to
then, as has been said, that she
impressed him most deeply. She was no longer the
milkmaid, but a visionary
essence of woman--a whole sex condensed into one
typical form. He called her
Artemis, Demeter, and other fanciful names half
teasingly, which she did not
like because she did not understand them.
Tess," she would say
askance; and he did.
would grow lighter, and her
features would become simply feminine; they had
changed from those of a
divinity who could confer bliss to those of a
being who craved it.
non-human hours they could get
quite close to the waterfowl. Herons came, with
a great bold noise as of
opening doors and shutters, out of the boughs of
a plantation which they
frequented at the side of the mead; or, if
already on the spot, hardily
maintained their standing in the water as the
pair walked by, watching them by
moving their heads round in a slow, horizontal,
passionless wheel, like the
turn of puppets by clockwork.
could then see the faint summer fogs
in layers, woolly, level, and apparently no
thicker than counterpanes, spread
about the meadows in detached remnants of small
the gray moisture of the grass were marks
where the cows had lain through the
night--dark-green islands of dry herbage
the size of their carcasses, in the general sea
of dew. From each island
proceeded a serpentine trail, by which the cow
had rambled away to feed after
getting up, at the end of which trail they found
her; the snoring puff from her
nostrils, when she recognized them, making an
intenser little fog of her own amid
the prevailing one. Then they drove the animals
back to the barton, or sat down
to milk them on the spot, as the case might
perhaps the summer fog was more general,
and the meadows lay like a white sea, out of
which the scattered trees rose
like dangerous rocks. Birds
through it into the upper radiance, and hang on
the wing sunning themselves, or
alight on the wet rails subdividing the mead,
which now shone like glass rods.
Minute diamonds of moisture from the mist hung,
too, upon Tess's eyelashes, and
drops upon her hair, like seed pearls. When the
day grew quite strong and
commonplace these dried off her; moreover, Tess
then lost her strange and
ethereal beauty; her teeth, lips, and eyes
scintillated in the sunbeams and she
was again the dazzlingly fair dairymaid only,
who had to hold her own against
the other women of the world.
this time they would hear Dairyman
Crick's voice, lecturing the non-resident
milkers for arriving late, and
speaking sharply to old Deborah Fyander for not
washing her hands.
Heaven's sake, pop thy hands
under the pump, Deb! Upon my soul, if the London
folk only knowed of thee and
thy slovenly ways, they'd swaller their milk and
butter more mincing than they
do a'ready; and that's saying a good deal."
milking progressed, till towards the
end Tess and Clare, in common with the rest,
could hear the heavy breakfast
table dragged out from the wall in the kitchen
by Mrs Crick, this being the
invariable preliminary to each meal; the same
horrible scrape accompanying its
return journey when the table had been cleared.
a great stir in the milk-house
just after breakfast. The
as usual, but the butter would not come.
Whenever this happened the dairy was
paralyzed. Squish, squash, echoed the milk in
the great cylinder, but never
arose the sound they waited for.
Crick and his wife, the milkmaids
Tess, Marian, Retty Priddle, Izz Huett, and the
married ones from the cottages;
also Mr Clare, Jonathan Kail, old Deborah, and
the rest, stood gazing hopelessly
at the churn; and the boy who kept the horse
going outside put on moon-like
eyes to show his sense of the situation. Even
the melancholy horse himself
seemed to look in at the window in inquiring
despair at each walk round.
years since I went to Conjuror
Trendle's son in Egdon--years!" said the
"And he was nothing to what his father
had been. I have said fifty times, if I have
said once, that I DON'T believe in
en; though 'a do cast folks' waters very true.
But I shall have to go to 'n if he's
yes, I shall have to go to 'n, if this sort
of thing continnys!"
Clare began to feel tragical at the
Fall, t'other side of
Casterbridge, that they used to call 'Wide-O',
was a very good man when I was a
boy," said Jonathan Kail. "But
he's rotten as touchwood by now."
grandfather used to go to Conjuror
Mynterne, out at Owlscombe, and a clever man a'
were, so I've heard grandf'er
say," continued Mr Crick. "But there's no such
genuine folk about
Crick's mind kept nearer to the matter
somebody in the house is in
love," she said tentatively. "I've heard tell in
my younger days that
that will cause it. Why,
maid we had years ago, do ye mind, and how the
butter didn't come then---"
yes!--but that isn't the
It had nothing to do with
I can mind all about
it--'twas the damage to the churn."
Dollop, a 'hore's-bird of a
fellow we had here as milker at one time, sir,
courted a young woman over at
Mellstock, and deceived her as he had deceived
But he had another sort o' woman to
wi' this time, and it was not the girl herself.
One Holy Thursday of all days in the
almanack, we was here as we mid be
now, only there was no churning in hand, when we
zid the girl's mother coming
up to the door, wi' a great brass-mounted
umbrella in her hand that would ha'
felled an ox, and saying 'Do Jack Dollop work
here?--because I want him! I have
a big bone to pick with he, I can assure 'n!'
And some way behind her mother walked
Jack's young woman, crying
bitterly into her handkercher. 'O Lard, here's a
time!' said Jack, looking out
o' winder at 'em. 'She'll murder me!
Where shall I get--where shall I--? Don't
tell her where I be!' And
with that he scrambled into the churn
through the trap-door, and shut himself inside,
just as the young woman's
mother busted into the milk-house. 'The
villain--where is he?' says she, 'I'll
claw his face for'n, let me only catch him!'
Well, she hunted about everywhere,
ballyragging Jack by side and by
seam, Jack lying a'most stifled inside the
churn, and the poor maid--or young
woman rather--standing at the door crying her
eyes out. I shall never forget
it, never! 'Twould have melted a marble stone!
But she couldn't find him
nowhere at all."
dairyman paused, and one or two words
of comment came from the listeners.
Crick's stories often seemed to be
ended when they were not really so, and
strangers were betrayed into premature
interjections of finality; though old friends
The narrator went on--
how the old woman should have
had the wit to guess it I could never tell, but
she found out that he was
inside that there churn. Without
a word she took hold of the winch (it was turned
by handpower then), and round
she swung him, and Jack began to flop about
Lard! stop the churn! let me out!' says
he, popping out his head, 'I shall be churned
into a pummy!' (he was a cowardly
chap in his heart, as such men mostly be).
'Not till ye make amends for ravaging her
virgin innocence!' says the
'Stop the churn you old witch!'
'You call me old witch, do
ye, you deceiver!' says she, 'when ye ought to
ha' been calling me mother-law
these last five months!' And on
churn, and Jack's bones rattled round again.
Well, none of us ventured to
interfere; and at last 'a promised to make it
right wi' her. 'Yes--I'll be as
good as my word!' he said. And so it ended that
listeners were smiling their
comments there was a quick movement behind their
backs, and they looked
pale-faced, had gone to the
'tis today!" she said,
warm, and none of them connected her
withdrawal with the reminiscences of the
went forward and opened the door for her,
saying with tender raillery--
maidy" (he frequently, with
unconscious irony, gave her this pet name), "the
prettiest milker I've got
in my dairy; you mustn't get so fagged as this
at the first breath of summer
weather, or we shall be finely put to for want
of 'ee by dog-days, shan't we,
faint--and--I think I am better
out o' doors," she said mechanically; and
for her the milk in the
revolving churn at that moment changed its
squashing for a decided flick-flack.
coming!" cried Mrs Crick,
and the attention of all was called off from
sufferer soon recovered herself
externally; but she remained much depressed all
the afternoon. When the evening
milking was done she did not care to be with the
rest of them, and went out of
doors wandering along she knew not whither.
She was wretched--O so wretched--at the
perception that to her
companions the dairyman's story had been rather
a humorous narration than
otherwise; none of them but herself seemed to
see the sorrow of it; to a
certainty, not one knew how cruelly it touched
the tender place in her
The evening sun was now ugly
to her, like a great inflamed wound in the sky.
Only a solitary cracked-voice
reed-sparrow greeted her from the bushes
by the river, in a sad, machine-made tone,
resembling that of a past friend
whose friendship she had outworn.
long June days the milkmaids, and,
indeed, most of the household, went to bed at
sunset or sooner, the morning
work before milking being so early and heavy at
a time of full pairs. Tess
usually accompanied her fellows
however, she was the
first to go to their common chamber; and she had
dozed when the other girls
came in. She
saw them undressing in the
orange light of the vanished sun, which flushed
their forms with its colour; she
dozed again, but she was reawakened by their
voices, and quietly turned her
eyes towards them.
of her three chamber-companions had
got into bed.
They were standing in a
group, in their nightgowns, barefooted, at the
window, the last red rays of the
west still warming their faces and necks, and
the walls around them. All
were watching somebody in the garden with
deep interest, their three faces close together:
a jovial and round one, a pale
one with dark hair, and a fair one whose tresses
can see as well as I," said Retty,
the auburn-haired and youngest girl, without
removing her eyes from the window.
use for you to be in love
with him any more than me, Retty Priddle," said
jolly-faced Marian, the
"His thoughts be of
other cheeks than thine!"
Priddle still looked, and the other
is again!" cried Izz
Huett, the pale girl with dark damp hair and
keenly cut lips.
needn't say anything, Izz,"
answered Retty. "For I zid you kissing his
you see her doing?"
was standing over the
whey-tub to let off the whey, and the shade of
his face came upon the wall
behind, close to Izz, who was standing there
filling a vat.
She put her mouth against the wall and
the shade of his mouth; I zid her, though he
Huett!" said Marian.
spot came into the middle of Izz
there was no harm in it,"
she declared, with attempted coolness.
"And if I be in love wi'en, so is Retty,
too; and so be you,
Marian, come to that."
full face could not blush past its
a tale! Ah,
there he is again! Dear eyes--dear
face--dear Mr Clare!"
you--so have we all," said
Marian, with the dry frankness of complete
indifference to opinion. "It is
silly to pretend otherwise amongst ourselves,
though we need not own it to
I would just marry 'n
I--and more," murmured
too," whispered the more
listener grew warm.
all marry him," said
shan't, either of us; which is
worse still," said the eldest. "There he is
three blew him a silent kiss.
asked Retty quickly.
he likes Tess Durbeyfield
best," said Marian, lowering her voice. "I have
watched him every
day, and have found it out."
a reflective silence.
don't care anything for
'n?" at length breathed Retty.
sometimes think that
silly all this is!" said
Izz Huett impatiently. "Of
he won't marry any one of us, or Tess either--a
gentleman's son, who's going to
be a great landowner and farmer abroad!
More likely to ask us to come wi'en as
farm-hands at so much a
sighed, and another sighed, and
Marian's plump figure sighed biggest of all.
Somebody in bed hard by sighed too.
Tears came into the eyes of Retty
Priddle, the pretty red-haired
youngest--the last bud of the Paridelles, so
important in the county
watched silently a little
longer, their three faces still close together
as before, and the triple hues
of their hair mingling. But
unconscious Mr Clare had gone indoors, and they
saw him no more; and, the
shades beginning to deepen, they crept into
In a few minutes they heard him ascend
ladder to his own room. Marian
snoring, but Izz did not drop into forgetfulness
for a long time.
Retty Priddle cried herself to sleep.
deeper-passioned Tess was very far from
sleeping even then. This conversation was
another of the bitter pills she had
been obliged to swallow that day. Scarce
the least feeling of jealousy arose in her
that matter she knew herself to have the
preference. Being more finely formed, better
educated, and, though the youngest
except Retty, more woman than either, she
perceived that only the slightest
ordinary care was necessary for holding her own
in Angel Clare's heart against
these her candid friends. But the grave question
was, ought she to do
was, to be sure, hardly a
ghost of a chance for either of them, in a
serious sense; but there was, or had
been, a chance of one or the other inspiring him
with a passing fancy for her,
and enjoying the pleasure of his attentions
while he stayed here. Such
unequal attachments had led to marriage;
and she had heard from Mrs Crick that Mr Clare
had one day asked, in a laughing
way, what would be the use of his marrying a
fine lady, and all the while ten
thousand acres of Colonial pasture to feed, and
cattle to rear, and corn to
farm-woman would be the only
sensible kind of wife for him. But
Mr Clare had spoken seriously or not, why should
she, who could never
conscientiously allow any man to marry her now,
and who had religiously
determined that she never would be tempted to do
so, draw off Mr Clare's
attention from other women, for the brief
happiness of sunning herself in his
eyes while he remained at Talbothays?
downstairs yawning next morning;
but skimming and milking were proceeded with as
usual, and they went indoors to
breakfast. Dairyman Crick was discovered
stamping about the house. He had
received a letter, in which a customer
had complained that the butter had a twang.
begad, so 't have!" said the
dairyman, who held in his left hand a wooden
slice on which a lump of butter
was stuck. "Yes--taste for yourself!"
of them gathered round him; and Mr
Clare tasted, Tess tasted, also the other indoor
milkmaids, one or two of the
milking-men, and last of all Mrs Crick, who came
out from the waiting
breakfast-table. There certainly was a twang.
dairyman, who had thrown himself into
abstraction to better realize the taste, and so
divine the particular species
of noxious weed to which it appertained,
garlic! and I thought there
wasn't a blade left in that mead!"
the old hands remembered that a
certain dry mead, into which a few of the cows
had been admitted of late, had,
in years gone by, spoilt the butter in the same
dairyman had not recognized the taste at
that time, and thought the butter bewitched.
overhaul that mead," he
resumed; "this mustn't continny!"
having armed themselves with old
pointed knives they went out together.
As the inimical plant could only be
present in very microscopic
dimensions to have escaped ordinary observation,
to find it seemed rather a
hopeless attempt in the stretch of rich grass
However, they formed themselves into
all assisting, owing to the importance of the
search; the dairyman at the upper
end with Mr Clare, who had volunteered to help;
then Tess, Marian, Izz Huett,
and Retty; then Bill Lewell, Jonathan, and the
married dairywomen--Beck Knibbs,
with her wooly black hair and rolling eyes; and
flaxen Frances, consumptive
from the winter damps of the water-meads--who
lived in their respective
fixed upon the ground they crept
slowly across a strip of the field, returning a
little further down in such a
manner that, when they should have finished, not
a single inch of the pasture
but would have fallen under the eye of some one
of them. It
was a most tedious business, not more than
half a dozen shoots of garlic being discoverable
in the whole field; yet such
was the herb's pungency that probably one bite
of it by one cow had been
sufficient to season the whole dairy's produce
for the day.
one from another in natures and
moods so greatly as they did, they yet formed,
bending, a curiously uniform
row--automatic, noiseless; and an alien observer
passing down the neighbouring
lane might well have been excused for massing
them as "Hodge".
As they crept along, stooping low to
the plant, a soft yellow gleam was reflected
from the buttercups into their
shaded faces, giving them an elfish, moonlit
aspect, though the sun was pouring
upon their backs in all the strength of noon.
Clare, who communistically stuck to
his rule of taking part with the rest in
everything, glanced up now and
was not, of course, by accident
that he walked next to Tess.
how are you?" he murmured.
well, thank you, sir," she
had been discussing a score of
personal matters only half-an-hour before, the
introductory style seemed a
little superfluous. But
they got no
further in speech just then. They
and crept, the hem of her petticoat just
touching his gaiter, and his elbow sometimes
At last the dairyman, who
came next, could stand it no longer.
soul and body, this here
stooping do fairly make my back open and shut!"
straightening himself slowly with an excruciated
look till quite upright. "And
you, maidy Tess, you wasn't well a
day or two ago--this will make your head ache
finely! Don't do any more, if you
feel fainty; leave the rest to finish it."
Crick withdrew, and Tess dropped
behind. Mr Clare also stepped out of line, and
began privateering about for the
weed. When she found him near her, her very
tension at what she had heard the
night before made her the first to speak.
they look pretty?" she
Huett and Retty."
moodily decided that either of
these maidens would make a good farmer's wife,
and that she ought to recommend
them, and obscure her own wretched charms.
yes--they are pretty girls--fresh
have often thought so."
poor dears, prettiness won't
though not better than
skim better than I."
remained observing them--not without
their observing him.
colouring up," continued