<br/>On the 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.
<br/>Her mother expostulated. "You will never set out to see
your folks without dressing up more the dand than
<br/>"But I am going to work!" said Tess.
<br/>"Well, 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.
<br/>"Very well; I suppose you know best," replied Tess with
<br/>And to please her parent the girl put herself quite in
Joan's hands, saying serenely—"Do what you like with
<br/>Mrs Durbeyfield was only too delighted at this
tractability. 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
times. She 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 <i>coiffure</i>, 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.
<br/>"I declare there's a hole in my stocking-heel!" said
<br/>"Never 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."
<br/>Her 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 whole.
<br/>"You must zee yourself!" she cried. "It is much better
than you was t'other day."
<br/>As the 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
<br/>"I'll 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 now. If all goes well, I
shall certainly be for making some return to pa'son at
Stagfoot Lane for telling us—dear, good man!"
<br/>However, 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.
<br/>Seeing their mother put on her bonnet, the younger
children clamoured to go with her.
<br/>"I do want to walk a little-ways wi' Sissy, now she's
going to marry our gentleman-cousin, and wear fine
<br/>"Now," said Tess, flushing and turning quickly, "I'll
hear no more o' that! Mother, how could you ever put
such stuff into their heads?"
<br/>"Going to work, my dears, for our rich relation, and
help get enough money for a new horse," said Mrs
<br/>"Goodbye, father," said Tess, with a lumpy throat.
<br/>"Goodbye, 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 blood. And tell'n, Tess, that being
sunk, quite, from our former grandeur, I'll sell him
the title—yes, sell it—and at no onreasonable
<br/>"Not for less than a thousand pound!" cried Lady
<br/>"Tell'n—I'll take a thousand pound. Well, 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 twenty
pound! Yes, twenty pound—that's the lowest. Dammy,
family honour is family honour, and I won't take a
<br/>Tess's eyes were too full and her voice too choked to
utter the sentiments that were in her. She turned
quickly, and went out.
<br/>So the 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.
<br/>"Bide here a bit, and the cart will soon come, no
doubt," said Mrs Durbeyfield. "Yes, I see it yonder!"
<br/>It had come—appearing suddenly from behind the
forehead of the nearest upland, and stopping beside the
boy with the barrow. Her mother and the children
thereupon decided to go no farther, and bidding them a
hasty goodbye, Tess bent her steps up the hill.
<br/>They saw her white shape draw near to the spring-cart,
on which her box was already placed. But 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.
<br/>Her 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 and equipped. 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.
<br/>Mrs Durbeyfield clapped her hands like a child. Then
she looked down, then stared again. Could she be
deceived as to the meaning of this?
<br/>"Is dat the gentleman-kinsman who'll make Sissy a
lady?" asked the youngest child.
<br/>Meanwhile 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 was misgiving. 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 suddenly 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.
<br/>Directly 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 wailed loud.
<br/>There 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.
<br/>"Oh, I don't know exactly," she said. "I was thinking
that perhaps it would ha' been better if Tess had not
<br/>"Oughtn't ye to have thought of that before?"
<br/>"Well, '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 his kinswoman."
<br/>"Yes, you ought, perhaps, to ha' done that," snored Sir
<br/>Joan 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
card aright. And if he don't marry her afore he will
after. For that he's all afire wi' love for her any
eye can see."
<br/>"What's her trump card? Her d'Urberville blood, you
<br/>"No, stupid; her face—as 'twas mine."
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