<br/>The 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 and breathings.
<br/>Dairyman 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 <i>convenances</i> begin
to cramp natural feelings, and the stress of threadbare
modishness makes too little of enough.
<br/>Thus 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.
<br/>Tess had never in her recent life been so happy as she
was now, possibly never would be so happy again. 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?"
<br/>Tess was 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 womankind.
<br/>They met continually; they could not help it. They 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, here. Milking
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 sooner had 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 hour later.
<br/>The gray 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
<br/>Being so 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 dawns. She was close at
hand, and the rest were nowhere.
<br/>The 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 do 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 her.
<br/>It was 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.
<br/>"Call me Tess," she would say askance; and he did.
<br/>Then it 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.
<br/>At these 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
<br/>They 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 extent. On 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
<br/>Or 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 would
soar 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.
<br/>About 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.
<br/>"For 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."
<br/>The 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
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