Tess of the d'Urbervilles
PHASE THE SECOND: Maiden No More
The 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
she 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
Blackmore Vale. 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.
The 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 she 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.
Ascending 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 her attention.
She obeyed the signal to wait for him with unspeculative repose, and in a few
minutes man and horse stopped beside her.
"Why did you slip away by stealth like this?" said d'Urberville, with upbraiding
breathlessness; "on a Sunday morning, too, when people were all in bed! I 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 this? You know that nobody wished to
hinder your going. And 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."
"I shan't come back," said she.
"I thought you wouldn't--I said so! Well, then, put up your basket, and let me help