<br/>Tess went down the hill to Trantridge Cross, and
inattentively waited to take her seat in the van
returning from Chaseborough to Shaston. She did not
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
<br/>One among her fellow-travellers addressed her more
pointedly than any had spoken before: "Why, you be
quite a posy! And such roses in early June!"
<br/>Then she 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
brim. She blushed, and said confusedly that the
flowers had been given to her. When the passengers
were not looking she stealthily removed the more
prominent blooms from her hat and placed them in the
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.
<br/>The van travelled only so far as Shaston, and there
were several miles of pedestrian descent from that
mountain-town into the vale to Marlott. Her mother had
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 afternoon.
<br/>When she entered the house she perceived in a moment
from her mother's triumphant manner that something had
occurred in the interim.
<br/>"Oh yes; I know all about it! I told 'ee it would be
all right, and now 'tis proved!"
<br/>"Since I've been away? What has?" said Tess rather
<br/>Her mother surveyed the girl up and down with arch
approval, and went on banteringly: "So you've brought
<br/>"How do you know, mother?"
<br/>"I've had a letter."
<br/>Tess then remembered that there would have been time
<br/>"They 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 meaning o't."
<br/>"But I didn't see her."
<br/>"You zid somebody, I suppose?"
<br/>"I saw her son."
<br/>"And did he own 'ee?"
<br/>"Well—he called me Coz."
<br/>"An' I knew it! Jacky—he called her Coz!" cried Joan
to her husband. "Well, he spoke to his mother, of
course, and she do want 'ee there."
<br/>"But I don't know that I am apt at tending fowls," said
the dubious Tess.
<br/>"Then I 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."
<br/>"I don't altogether think I ought to go," said Tess
thoughtfully. "Who wrote the letter? Will you let me
look at it?"
<br/>"Mrs d'Urberville wrote it. Here it is."
<br/>The 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.
<br/>"Oh—that's all!" said Tess.
<br/>"You couldn't expect her to throw her arms round 'ee,
an' to kiss and to coll 'ee all at once."
<br/>Tess looked out of the window.
<br/>"I would rather stay here with father and you," she said.
<br/>"I'd rather not tell you why, mother; indeed, I don't
quite know why."
<br/>A week afterwards she came in one evening from an
unavailing search for some light occupation in the
immediate neighbourhood. 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 here!"
<br/>Her 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 very much
interested in 'ee—truth to tell."
<br/>Tess 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.
<br/>"It is 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."
<br/>"He is a mighty handsome man!"
<br/>"I don't think so," said Tess coldly.
<br/>"Well, there's your chance, whether or no; and I'm sure
he wears a beautiful diamond ring!"
<br/>"Yes," 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
<br/>"Hark at that child!" cried Mrs Durbeyfield, with
<br/>"Perhaps to show his diamond ring," murmured Sir John,
dreamily, from his chair.
<br/>"I'll think it over," said Tess, leaving the room.
<br/>"Well, 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."
<br/>"I don't quite like my children going away from home,"
said the haggler. "As the head of the family, the rest
ought to come to me."
<br/>"But do let her go, Jacky," coaxed his poor witless
wife. "He's struck wi' her—you can see that. He
called her Coz! He'll marry her, most likely, and make
a lady of her; and then she'll be what her forefathers
<br/>John Durbeyfield had more conceit than energy or
health, and this supposition was pleasant to him.
<br/>"Well, 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 such an end as this?"
<br/>Meanwhile Tess was walking thoughtfully among the
gooseberry-bushes in the garden, and over Prince's
grave. When she came in her mother pursued her
<br/>"Well, what be you going to do?" she asked.
<br/>"I wish I had seen Mrs d'Urberville," said Tess.
<br/>"I think you mid as well settle it. Then you'll see her
<br/>Her father coughed in his chair.
<br/>"I don't 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
d'Urberville being there!"
<br/>The 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
<br/>"Tess 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
mouths. "And we shan't have a nice new horse, and lots
o' golden money to buy fairlings! And Tess won't look
pretty in her best cloze no mo-o-ore!"
<br/>Her 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 neutrality.
<br/>"I will go," said Tess at last.
<br/>Her mother could not repress her consciousness of the
nuptial vision conjured up by the girl's consent.
<br/>"That's right! For such a pretty maid as 'tis, this is
a fine chance!"
<br/>Tess smiled crossly.
<br/>"I hope it is a chance for earning money. It is no
other kind of chance. You had better say nothing of
that silly sort about parish."
<br/>Mrs Durbeyfield did not promise. She was not quite
sure that she did not feel
proud enough, after the visitor's remarks, to say a
<br/>Thus it was arranged; and the young girl wrote,
agreeing to be ready to set out on any day on which she
might be required. She 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 rather masculine.
<br/>"A cart?" murmured Joan Durbeyfield doubtingly.
"It might have been a carriage for her own kin!"
<br/>Having at 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.
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