<br/>In the diminishing daylight they went along the level
roadway through the meads, which stretched away into
gray miles, and were backed in the extreme edge of
distance by the swarthy and abrupt slopes of Egdon
Heath. On its summit stood clumps and stretches of
fir-trees, whose notched tips appeared like
battlemented towers crowning black-fronted castles of
<br/>They were so absorbed in the sense of being close to
each other that they did not begin talking for a long
while, the silence being broken only by the clucking of
the milk in the tall cans behind them. The lane they
followed was so solitary that the hazel nuts had
remained on the boughs till they slipped from their
shells, and the blackberries hung in heavy clusters.
Every now and then Angel would fling the lash of his
whip round one of these, pluck it off, and give it to
<br/>The dull sky soon began to tell its meaning by sending
down herald-drops of rain, and the stagnant air of the
day changed into a fitful breeze which played about
their faces. The quick-silvery glaze on the rivers and
pools vanished; from broad mirrors of light they
changed to lustreless sheets of lead, with a surface
like a rasp. But that spectacle did not affect her
preoccupation. Her countenance, a natural carnation
slightly embrowned by the season, had deepened its
tinge with the beating of the rain-drops; and her hair,
which the pressure of the cows' flanks had, as usual,
caused to tumble down from its fastenings and stray
beyond the curtain of her calico bonnet, was made
clammy by the moisture till it hardly was better than
<br/>"I ought not to have come, I suppose," she murmured,
looking at the sky.
<br/>"I am sorry for the rain," said he. "But how glad I am
to have you here!"
<br/>Remote Egdon disappeared by degree behind the liquid
gauze. The evening grew darker, and the roads being
crossed by gates, it was not safe to drive faster than
at a walking pace. The air was rather chill.
<br/>"I am so afraid you will get cold, with nothing upon
your arms and shoulders," he said. "Creep close to me,
and perhaps the drizzle won't hurt you much. I should
be sorrier still if I did not think that the rain might
be helping me."
<br/>She imperceptibly crept closer, and he wrapped round
them both a large piece of sail-cloth, which was
sometimes used to keep the sun off the milk-cans.
Tess held it from slipping off him as well as herself,
Clare's hands being occupied.
<br/>"Now we are all right again. Ah—no we are not! It
runs down into my neck a little, and it must still more
into yours. That's better. Your arms are like wet
marble, Tess. Wipe them in the cloth. Now, if you
stay quiet, you will not get another drop. Well,
dear—about that question of mine—that long-standing
<br/>The only reply that he could hear for a little while
was the smack of the horse's hoofs on the moistening
road, and the cluck of the milk in the cans behind
<br/>"Do you remember what you said?"
<br/>"I do," she replied.
<br/>"Before we get home, mind."
<br/>He said no more then. As they drove on, the fragment of
an old manor house of Caroline date rose against the
sky, and was in due course passed and left behind.
<br/>"That," he observed, to entertain her, "is an
interesting old place—one of the several seats which
belonged to an ancient Norman family formerly of great
influence in this county, the d'Urbervilles. I never
pass one of their residences without thinking of them.
There is something very sad in the extinction of a
family of renown, even if it was fierce, domineering,
<br/>"Yes," said Tess.
<br/>They crept along towards a point in the expanse of
shade just at hand at which a feeble light was
beginning to assert its presence, a spot where, by day,
a fitful white streak of steam at intervals upon the
dark green background denoted intermittent moments of
contact between their secluded world and modern life.
Modern life stretched out its steam feeler to this
point three or four times a day, touched the native
existences, and quickly withdrew its feeler again, as
if what it touched had been uncongenial.
<br/>They reached the feeble light, which came from the
smoky lamp of a little railway station; a poor enough
terrestrial star, yet in one sense of more importance
to Talbothays Dairy and mankind than the celestial ones
to which it stood in such humiliating contrast. The
cans of new milk were unladen in the rain, Tess getting
a little shelter from a neighbouring holly tree.
<br/>Then there was the hissing of a train, which drew up
almost silently upon the wet rails, and the milk was
rapidly swung can by can into the truck. The light of
the engine flashed for a second upon Tess Durbeyfield's
figure, motionless under the great holly tree. No
object could have looked more foreign to the gleaming
cranks and wheels than this unsophisticated girl, with
the round bare arms, the rainy face and hair, the
suspended attitude of a friendly leopard at pause, the
print gown of no date or fashion, and the cotton bonnet
drooping on her brow.
<br/>She mounted again beside her lover, with a mute
obedience characteristic of impassioned natures at
times, and when they had wrapped themselves up over
head and ears in the sailcloth again, they plunged back
into the now thick night. Tess was so receptive that
the few minutes of contact with the whirl of material
progress lingered in her thought.
<br/>"Londoners will drink it at their breakfasts to-morrow,
won't they?" she asked. "Strange people that we have
<br/>"Yes—I suppose they will. Though not as we send it.
When its strength has been lowered, so that it may not
get up into their heads."
<br/>"Noble men and noble women, ambassadors and centurions,
ladies and tradeswomen, and babies who have never seen
<br/>"Well, yes; perhaps; particularly centurions."
<br/>"Who don't know anything of us, and where it comes
from; or think how we two drove miles across the moor
to-night in the rain that it might reach 'em in time?"
<br/>"We did not drive entirely on account of these precious
Londoners; we drove a little on our own—on account of
that anxious matter which you will, I am sure, set at
rest, dear Tess. Now, permit me to put it in this way.
You belong to me already, you know; your heart, I mean.
Does it not?"
<br/>"You know as well as I. O yes—yes!"
<br/>"Then, if your heart does, why not your hand?"
<br/>"My only reason was on account of you—on account of a
question. I have something to tell you—"
<br/>"But suppose it to be entirely for my happiness, and my
worldly convenience also?"
<br/>"O yes; if it is for your happiness and worldly
convenience. But my life before I came here—I
<br/>"Well, it is for my convenience as well as my
happiness. If I have a very large farm, either English
or colonial, you will be invaluable as a wife to me;
better than a woman out of the largest mansion in the
country. So please—please, dear Tessy, disabuse your
mind of the feeling that you will stand in my way."
<br/>"But my history. I want you to know it—you must let
me tell you—you will not like me so well!"
<br/>"Tell it if you wish to, dearest. This precious
history then. Yes, I was born at so and so, Anno
<br/>"I was born at Marlott," she said, catching at his
words as a help, lightly as they were spoken. "And I
grew up there. And I was in the Sixth Standard when I
left school, and they said I had great aptness, and
should make a good teacher, so it was settled that I
should be one. But there was trouble in my family;
father was not very industrious, and he drank a
<br/>"Yes, yes. Poor child! Nothing new." He pressed her
more closely to his side.
<br/>"And then—there is something very unusual about
it—about me. I—I was—"
<br/>Tess's breath quickened.
<br/>"Yes, dearest. Never mind."
<br/>"I—I—am not a Durbeyfield, but a d'Urberville—a
descendant of the same family as those that owned the
old house we passed. And—we are all gone to nothing!"
<br/>"A d'Urberville!—Indeed! And is that all the trouble,
<br/>"Yes," she answered faintly.
<br/>"Well—why should I love you less after knowing this?"
<br/>"I was told by the dairyman that you hated old
<br/>"Well, it is true, in one sense. I do hate the
aristocratic principle of blood before everything, and
do think that as reasoners the only pedigrees we ought
to respect are those spiritual ones of the wise and
virtuous, without regard to corporal paternity. But I
am extremely interested in this news—you can have no
idea how interested I am! Are you not interested
yourself in being one of that well-known line?"
<br/>"No. I have thought it sad—especially since coming
here, and knowing that many of the hills and fields I
see once belonged to my father's people. But other
hills and field belonged to Retty's people, and perhaps
others to Marian's, so that I don't value it
<br/>"Yes—it is surprising how many of the present tillers
of the soil were once owners of it, and I sometimes
wonder that a certain school of politicians don't make
capital of the circumstance; but they don't seem to
know it… I wonder that I did not see the resemblance
of your name to d'Urberville, and trace the manifest
corruption. And this was the carking secret!"
<br/>She had not told. At the last moment her courage had
failed her; she feared his blame for not telling him
sooner; and her instinct of self-preservation was
stronger than her candour.
<br/>"Of course," continued the unwitting Clare, "I should
have been glad to know you to be descended exclusively
from the long-suffering, dumb, unrecorded rank and file
of the English nation, and not from the self-seeking
few who made themselves powerful at the expense of the
rest. But I am corrupted away from that by my
affection for you, Tess (he laughed as he spoke), and
made selfish likewise. For your own sake I rejoice in
your descent. Society is hopelessly snobbish, and this
fact of your extraction may make an appreciable
difference to its acceptance of you as my wife, after I
have made you the well-read woman that I mean to make
you. My mother too, poor soul, will think so much
better of you on account of it. Tess, you must spell
your name correctly—d'Urberville—from this very day."
<br/>"I like the other way rather best."
<br/>"But you <i>must</i>, dearest! Good heavens, why
dozens of mushroom millionaires would jump at such a
possession! By the bye, there's one of that kidney who
has taken the name—where have I heard of him?—Up in the
neighbourhood of The Chase, I think. Why, he is the
very man who had that rumpus with my father I told you
of. What an odd coincidence!"
<br/>"Angel, I think I would rather not take the name!
It is unlucky, perhaps!"
<br/>She was agitated.
<br/>"Now then, Mistress Teresa d'Urberville, I have you.
Take my name, and so you will escape yours! The secret
is out, so why should you any longer refuse me?"
<br/>"If it is <i>sure</i> to make you happy to have me as your
wife, and you feel that you do wish to marry me, <i>very,
<br/>"I do, dearest, of course!"
<br/>"I mean, that it is only your wanting me very much, and
being hardly able to keep alive without me, whatever my
offences, that would make me feel I ought to say I
<br/>"You will—you do say it, I know! You will be mine for
ever and ever."
<br/>He clasped her close and kissed her.
<br/>She had no sooner said it than she burst into a dry
hard sobbing, so violent that it seemed to rend her.
Tess was not a hysterical girl by any means, and he was
<br/>"Why do you cry, dearest?"
<br/>"I can't tell—quite!—I am so glad to think—of being
yours, and making you happy!"
<br/>"But this does not seem very much like gladness, my
<br/>"I mean—I cry because I have broken down in my vow!
I said I would die unmarried!"
<br/>"But, if you love me you would like me to be your
<br/>"Yes, yes, yes! But O, I sometimes wish I had never
<br/>"Now, my dear Tess, if I did not know that you are very
much excited, and very inexperienced, I should say that
remark was not very complimentary. How came you to
wish that if you care for me? Do you care for me? I
wish you would prove it in some way."
<br/>"How can I prove it more than I have done?" she cried,
in a distraction of tenderness. "Will this prove it
<br/>She clasped his neck, and for the first time Clare
learnt what an impassioned woman's kisses were like
upon the lips of one whom she loved with all her heart
and soul, as Tess loved him.
<br/>"There—now do you believe?" she asked, flushed, and
wiping her eyes.
<br/>"Yes. I never really doubted—never, never!"
<br/>So they drove on through the gloom, forming one bundle
inside the sail-cloth, the horse going as he would, and
the rain driving against them. She had consented. She
might as well have agreed at first. The "appetite for
joy" which pervades all creation, that tremendous force
which sways humanity to its purpose, as the tide sways
the helpless weed, was not to be controlled by vague
lucubrations over the social rubric.
<br/>"I must write to my mother," she said. "You don't mind
my doing that?"
<br/>"Of course not, dear child. You are a child to me,
Tess, not to know how very proper it is to write to
your mother at such a time, and how wrong it would be
in me to object. Where does she live?"
<br/>"At the same place—Marlott. On the further side of
<br/>"Ah, then I <i>have</i> seen you before this summer—"
<br/>"Yes; at that dance on the green; but you would not
dance with me. O, I hope that is of no ill-omen for us
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