- زمان مطالعه 42 دقیقه
- سطح متوسط
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
A New Life
8 And sp it was that on a beautiful morning in May, two to three years after her return from Trantridge, tess Durbeyfield left home for the second time. She was going in the opposite direction this time. When she reached the first hill, she looked back at Marlott and her father’s house with sadness in her heart.
She travelled partly by carriage and partly on foot, carrying her basket. Not far to her left she could see the trees which surrounded Kingsbere, with its church where her ancestors lay in their tombs. She could no longer admire or respect them. She almost hated them for ruining her life. Nothing of theirs was left except the old seal and spoon.
‘Huh! I have as much of mother as father in me!’ she said. ‘All my prettiness comes from her, and she was only a dairymaid.’
Her walk took two hours, until she reached the hill overlooking the Valley of the Great Dairies. This valley was watered by the river Froom, and produced huge amounts of milk and butter, more even than Tess’s Vale of Blackmoor, which was known as the Vale of Little Dairies.
As she stood and looked, she realized the valleys were quite different. Here the fields and farms were much larger. She saw more cows at a glance than she had ever seen before. The evening sun shone on their red, white and brown bodies. She thought that this view was perhaps not as beautiful as a view of Blackmoor Vale, which she knew so well. There the sky was deep blue, the smell of the earth was heavy in the air, the streams ran slowly and silently. But this view was more cheerful. Here the air was clear and light, and the river Froom rushed as fast as the shadow of a cloud.
Either the change in the quality of the air, or the feeling that she was going to start a new life here, made her feel much happier- She ran along, her hopes and the sunshine warming her.
She looked at her best as she ran laughing into the warm wind. The desire for pleasure, which is in every living thing, had finally won over Tess. She was, after all, only a young woman of twenty, who had not finished growing up. No event, however unpleasant, could have marked her for ever. She was young and strong and beautiful, and could not remain sad for long.
Her hopes rose higher than ever. She wanted to show how grateful she was for this second chance. She started singing love songs, but found they were not enough to express her feelings.
She remembered the Sunday mornings of her girlhood, and sang: lOh sun and moon . .. Oh stars . . . Oh children of men .. . Praise the Lord! Praise Him for ever!’ until she stopped suddenly and murmured, ‘But perhaps I don’t quite know the Lord yet.’
This was probably a pagan feeling in a religious form. People who live in the country and are close to nature, like Tess, keep many of the pagan ideas of their ancestors in their souls.
Religion learned in church comes much later, and does not touch them deeply.
Tess was happy to be making her way independently in life.
She really wanted to live honestly and work hard, unlike her father, Tess had her mother’s energy and the energy of her youth to help her recover from her experience. Women do usually live through such experiences. ‘Where there’s life there’s hope’ is still true for most ‘betrayed’ women.
As Tess, full of enthusiasm, came downhill towards the dairy, she suddenly heard the milking call, again and again, from all parts of the valley. It was half-past four, when the dairy people brought in the cows. Tess followed the red and white animals, with their great bags of milk under them, into the farmyard. She saw the long sheds, and the wooden posts, shining and smooth where the cows had rubbed against them over the years. She saw the cows between the posts, the sun throwing their shadows on the wall as carefully as a painter paints a beautiful king or queen. As the cows waited for their turn, the milk fell in drops on the ground.
The dairymaids and men had come from their cottages as they saw the cows arriving from the fields. Each girl sat on her three legged stool as she milked, her right cheek resting on the cow’s body, watching Tess arrive. The men milked with their hats low over their eyes and did not see her. One of them was a middle aged man, the head-dairyman she was looking for. He worked six days a week in his white milking clothes, milking and butter making, and on the seventh he wore his best suit to take his family proudly to church. Because of this people nearby used to say:
All the week,
On Sundays Mister Richard Crick.
Most dairymen are usually bad-tempered at milking time, but Mr Crick was glad to get a new dairymaid at this busy time of the year. So he received Tess warmly and asked her how her family were.
‘When I was a boy I knew your part of the country very well,’
he said. ‘An old woman of ninety - she’s dead now but she used to live near here - she once told me there was an ancient noble family of a name like yours, who came from here originally. But I didn’t take any notice of an old woman like that.’
‘Oh no, that’s just a story,’ said Tess.
Then Mr Crick turned to business. ‘You can milk well, my girl? I don’t want my cows drying up, especially just now.’
‘Oh yes, I can,’ answered Tess.
He looked at her delicate hands and pale face.
‘Quite sure you’re strong enough for this sort of life? It’s comfortable enough here for rough country people but it’s hard work.1
*Oh yes, I’m strong enough. I’m used to hard work,’ Tess insisted.
‘Well, have some tea and something to eat. You’ve had a long journey,’ he said kindly.
‘No, I’d rather begin milking straight away,’ said Tess. Til just drink a little milk first.’
-This surprised Dairyman Crick, who appeared never to have thought of milk as a drink.
‘Oh, if you can swallow it, have some/ he said, holding the bucket for her to drink from. ‘I haven’t touched any for years. It would lie in my stomach like a stone, so it would. Now, try that one and see how you get on.’ And he pointed to the nearest cow.
As soon as Tess was on her stool under the cow, and the milk was pouring between her fingers into the bucket, she really felt that her new life was beginning. As she relaxed, she looked around her.
It was a large dairy. There were nearly a hundred milking cows. Dairyman Crick milked six or eight of the difficult ones with his own hands. He could not trust them to the dairymaids, because if the cows were badly milked their milk would simply dry up.
For a while there was no more talk among the milkers.
Suddenly Mr Crick got up from his stool.
‘We’re not getting as much milk from them as usual,’ he said.
‘We’d better sing them a song, friends, that’s the only thing to do.’ So the group of milkers started singing, to encourage the cows to give more.
Mr Crick went on, ‘But I think bulls like music better than cows. Did I tell you all about William Dewy? On his way home after a wedding he found himself in a field with an angry bull.
He took his violin and played some Christmas church music and down went the bull on his knees! Just like the animals around baby Jesus! And so William was able to escape.’
‘It’s a curious story. It takes us back to the past, when belief in God was a living thing.’ This unusual remark came from under a cow.
‘Well, it’s quite true, sir, believe it or not. I knew the man well,’ said Mr Crick.
‘Oh yes, I’m sure it’s true,’ said the man behind the brown cow. Tess could not see his face, and could not understand why the head-dairyman himself should call him sir. The man stayed under the cow long enough to milk three, at times saying something angrily to himself. Then he stood up, stretching his arms. Tess could now see him clearly) He wore the clothes of a dairyman but underneath he was quite different. He looked educated and gentlemanly.
But now she realized that she had seen him before. He was one of the three walking brothers who had stopped their walk to admire the May-Day dance in Marlott a few years before.
He had danced with some of the other girls but not with her. He had not noticed her and had gone on his way. For a moment she was worried that if he recognized her he might discover her story. But she soon sa*w he did not remember her at all. Since she had seen him in Marlott, his face had grown more thoughtful.
He now had a young man’s moustache and beard. From the time he had spent milking one cow, he was clearly a beginner at dairy work.
Tess discovered that only two or three of the dairymaids slept in the house, besides herself. They all shared a big bedroom near the cheese room. That night one of the girls insisted on telling Tess about all the people at the dairy. To Tess, half asleep, the whispers seemed to be floating in the air.
‘Mr Angel Clare — he’s the one who’s learning milking — he’s a parson’s son and thinks a lot and doesn’t notice girls. His father is parson at Emminster, some way from here. His sons, except Mr Clare, are going to be parsons too.’
Tess gradually fell asleep.
9 Neighter Angel Clate not his family had originally chosen farming as a profession for him. When he was a boy, people admired his great qualities. Now he was a man, something vague and undecided in his look showed that he had no particular purpose in life. He was the youngest son of a poor parson. One day when he was studying at home, his father discovered that Angel had ordered a book of philosophy, which questioned the Church’s teaching. How could his son become a priest if he read such books? Angel explained that he did not in fact wish to enter the Church like his brothers, because the Church’s views were too strict and did not allow free thinking.
The simple parson was shocked. He was a man of fixed ideas and a firm believer. And if Angel did not want to become a priest, what was the use of sending him to study at Cambridge?
For the parson the whole point of going to university was to become a minister of God.
‘I want to use my mind,’ Angel insisted. T want to read philosophy. 1 want to question my belief, so that what is left after 1 have questioned it, will be even stronger.’
‘But Angel, your mother and 1 have saved and saved to send you to university like your brothers. But how can we send you there if it is not in the service of God?’
So Angel did not have the advantage of a university education. After some years studying at home he decided to learn farming. He thought this kind of work could give him what he most valued, independence and freedom to think. So he came to Talbothays at twenty-six, as a student.
At first he stayed up in his room most of the time in the evenings, reading and playing his harp. But he soon preferred to read human nature by taking his meals in the general dining room with the dairy people. The longer he stayed, the more Clare liked living with these simple country people. No longer did he see them as lacking in intelligence. He realized they were no different from him: he and they were all people walking on the dusty road which ends in death. He began to like working outside. He was learning about nature and about life. He came to know the changing seasons, morning and evening, different winds, waters and mists, shade and silence, and the voices of nature. All this he had never known before.
For several days after Tess’s arrival, Clare, sitting reading a book, hardly noticed she was there. But one morning at breakfast he was reading music and listening to the tune in his head, when he heard a musical voice which seemed to become part of his tune. He looked round at Tess, seated at the table.
‘What a fresh and pure daughter of nature that dairymaid is!’
thought Angel. He seemed to remember something about her, something which took him back into a happy past, before decision made his life difficult. This memory made him look more often at Tess than the other dairymaids.
Dairyman Crick insisted that all the dairy people should milk different cows every day, not just their favourites. He was worried that a dairymaid might leave the dairy, and then her cows would not like being milked by a stranger. However, Tess began to find that the cows which came to her usually happened to be her favourites. This made her milking much easier. But she soon realized that it was not by chance, as it was Angel Clare who sent the cows in for milking.
‘Mr Clare, you have sent me my favourite cows!’ she accused him one morning, blushing.
‘Well, it doesn’t matter,’ said he. ‘You will always be here to milk them.’
‘Do you think so? I hope I shall. But I don’t know.’
Afterwards she was angry with herself. She had spoken too seriously to him, as if he were involved in her staying or leaving.
In the evening after milking she walked in the garden alone, thinking about it.
It was a typical summer evening in June. The air was delicate and there was a complete, absolute silence. It was broken by the sound of a harp. The notes floated in the still air, strong and clear. Tess listened like a fascinated bird. She drew near to Clare, who still had not seen her. She was conscious of neither time nor space. The tune moved through her mind and body, bringing tears to her eyes. The waves of colour of the wild flowers mixed with the waves of sound. Angel finished playing, and caught sight of her. She blushed and moved away.
‘Why are you going, Tess?’ he asked. ‘Are you afraid?’
‘Oh no, sir, not of outdoor things.’
‘Well, yes, sir.’
‘Life in general?’
‘Ah, so am I, very often. Being alive is rather serious, don’t you think so?’
‘It is, now you put it like that.’
‘All the same, I wouldn’t expect a young girl like you to feel that. Why? Come, tell me.’
After a moment’s hesitation she answered, ‘The trees ask questions with their eyes, don’t they? And you seem to see hundreds of tomorrows all in a line, the first big and clear, the others getting smaller. But they all look fierce and cruel. But you can drive away all these ideas with your music, sir!’
He was surprised to find that this dairymaid had such sad thoughts. She was expressing in her own words the ache of modern life. This sadness made her more interesting to him. He did not know that her experience had given her great strength of feeling. Tess, on the other hand, could not understand why a man of religious family, good education and financial indepen dence should feel sorry to be alive. How could this admirable and poetic man have felt, as she did two or three years ago, that he would rather die? It was true that he was not at present living among gentlemen. But he was studying what he wanted to know, and would become a rich farmer in time. So, as they neither understood each other’s secrets, they were both puzzled and waited to find out more.
At first Tess regarded Angel as an intelligence rather than a man. She became quite depressed as she realized the distance between her own knowledge and his. One day he asked her why she looked so sad.
‘Oh, it’s only that I feel I’ve been wasting my life! When 1 see what you know, I feel what a nothing I am!’
‘Well, my dear Tess,1 said Angel with some enthusiasm, ‘I shall be only too glad to help you study history, for example …’
‘I don’t know. What’s the use of learning that I’m one of a long row, and that my past and future are like thousands of other people’s? But there’s one thing I’d like to know - why the sun shines on the good and the bad just the same,’ she said, her voice trembling.
‘Oh, Tess, don’t be bitter!’ Of course he had wondered this himself in the past. But as he looked at her innocent lips, he thought this pure child of nature could only have picked up the question from others. She could not possibly have any guilt in her past.
When he had gone, Tess felt again how stupid she must appear to him. She wondered whether she could gain his respect by telling him of her d’Urberville blood. She first asked the dairyman if Mr Clare was interested in old families who had lost their money and land.
‘No,’ said Mr Crick firmly. ‘He’s a rebel, and the one thing he hates is an old family.’ After hearing this not very accurate view of Clare’s opinions, poor Tess was glad she had not mentioned her ancestors.
That summer, Tess and Clare unconsciously studied each other, balanced on the edge of a passion, yet just keeping out of it. But all the time, like two streams in a valley, they were destined to join. Tess had never been so happy as she was now, and perhaps never would be so again. They met continually.
They could not help it. They met daily in the half-light, at three o’clock in the morning, just before milking. They felt they were the first two up in the whole world, like Adam and Eve. Tess seemed like a queen to Clare, perhaps because he knew that she was the most beautiful woman walking about at this time of day. Lovely women are usually asleep at midsummer sunrise.
But Tess was near, and the rest were nowhere. In the strange light she was no longer a milkmaid, but a vision of woman, the whole of womanhood in one form.
One day just after breakfast they all gathered in the milk house. The milk was turning in the churn, but the butter would not come. Dairyman Crick was worried.
‘Maybe someone in the house is in love,’ suggested his wife.
‘That sometimes causes it. D’you remember that maid years ago, and the butter didn’t come . . . ?’
‘Ah yes, but that wasn’t being in love,’ replied Mr Crick.
That was damage to the churn.’ He turned to Clare to tell the story.
‘Jack Dollop, one of our milkers, got a girl into trouble. One day her mother came looking for him with a great heavy umbrella in her hand. Jack hid in the churn, but she found him and turned it round and round. “Stop, stop!” cried Jack. “If you promise to marry my daughter!” shouted the mother. And so he did.’
Tess, very pale, had gone to the door for some fresh air.
Fortunately the butter suddenly came. But Tess remained depressed all afternoon. To the others the story was funny. She alone could see the sorrow in it, and it reminded her of her experience.
Tess was first in bed that night, and was half asleep as the other girls undressed. She saw them standing at the window looking at someone in the garden with great interest.
‘It’s no use you being in love with him any more than me, Retty Priddle,’ said Marian, the eldest.
‘There he is again!’ cried Izz Huett, a pale girl with dark hair.
‘I would just marry him tomorrow if he asked me,’ said Marian, blushing,
‘So would I, and more,’ murmured Izz.
‘And I too,’ whispered Retty shyly.
‘We can’t all marry him,’ said Izz.
‘We can’t anyway,’ said Marian. ‘He likes Tess Durbeyfield best. I’ve watched him every day and found it out.’
There was a thoughtful silence.
‘How silly this all is!’ said Izz impatiently. ‘He’s a gentleman’s son. He won’t marry any of us or Tess either!’ They all sighed, and crept into their beds, and fell asleep. But Tess, with her deeper feelings, could not sleep. She knew Angel Clare preferred her to the others. She was more attractive, better educated and more womanly. She could keep his affection for her. But should she? Perhaps the others should have a chance of attracting his attention, and even of marrying him. She had heard from Mrs Crick that Mr Clare had spoken of marrying a country girl to help him farm, milk cows and reap corn. Tess had promised herself she would never marry and would never be tempted to do so. She ought to leave the field open for the other girls.
Next morning Dairyman Crick sent all the dairy people out into a field to search for garlic plants. One bite by one cow was enough to make the whole day’s butter taste of garlic. It was not by accident that Clare walked next to Tess.
‘Don’t they look pretty?’ she said to him.
‘Izzy Huett and Retty.’ She had decided that either would make a good farmer’s wife.
‘Pretty? Well, yes, I have often thought so.’
‘They are excellent dairywomen.’
‘Yes, though not better than you.’ Clare observed them.
‘She is blushing,’ continued Tess bravely, ‘because you are looking at her.’ She could hardly say ‘Marry one of them if you really don’t want a fine lady! Don’t think of marrying me!’ From now on she tried to avoid spending time with Angel. She gave the other three every chance.
It was July and very hot. The atmosphere of the flat valley hung like a drug over the dairy people, the cows and the trees, It was Sunday morning after milking. Tess and the other three girls dressed quickly to go to Mellstock Church, which was three or four miles away from Talbothays. Heavy thunderstorms had poured down the day before, but today the sun shone brightly and the air was warm and clear. When the girls reached the lowest part of the road to Mellstock, they found it was flooded. In working clothes and boots they would have walked through, but they were wearing Sunday white stockings and thin shoes which they did not want to ruin. The church bell was calling, still a mile away.
Suddenly they saw Angel Clare approaching. He had seen them from far away, and had come to help them, one of them in particular.
Til carry you through the water, all of you,’ he offered. All four blushed as if they had one heart.
‘Now, Marian, put your arms round my shoulders. Hold on!’
and Angel walked off with her in his arms. Next was Izz Huett.
Her lips were dry with emotion. Angel returned for Retty. While he was picking her up, he glanced at Tess. He could not have said more plainly, ‘It will soon be you and I.’ There was an understanding between them.
It was now Tess’s turn. He picked her up. She was embarrassed to discover her excitement at his nearness.
‘Three plain girls to get one beauty,’ he whispered.
They are better women than I,’ she said bravely.
‘Not to me,’ said Angel. She blushed. There was silence. Clare stood still and bent his face to hers.
‘Oh Tessy!’ he said. Her cheeks were pink and she could not look into his eyes. But he respected her modesty and did nothing more. He walked slowly, however, to make the journey as long as possible, and put her down on dry land. Her friends were looking with round thoughtful eyes at them. He said goodbye and went back by the road.
The four walked on together. Marian broke the silence by saying, ‘No, we have no chance against her!’ She looked joylessly at Tess.
‘What do you mean?’ asked Tess.
‘He likes you best, the very best! We saw as he brought you over. He’d have kissed you if you had encouraged him, only a little.’
They were no longer cheerful but they were not bitter. They were generous country girls who accept that such things happen.
Tess’s heart ached. She knew that she loved Angel Clare, perhaps all the more passionately because the others also loved him. And yet that same hungry heart of hers pitied her friends.
‘I will never stand in your way!’ she cried to them that evening in the bedroom. ‘I don’t think he’s thinking of marrying, but even if he asked me, I’d refuse him, as I’d refuse any man.’
‘Oh why?’ they asked.
‘I cannot marry! But I don’t think he will choose any of you.’
So the girls remained friends. They all shared each other’s secret. The air in their bedroom was full of their hopeless passion. There was a flame burning the inside of their hearts out.
But because they had no hope, they were not jealous of each other. They had even heard that Angel’s family were planning for him to marry a neighbour’s daughter. Tess no longer attached any importance to Clare’s interest in her. It was a passing summer attraction, nothing more.
The heat grew steadily greater. In this stormy atmosphere even a passing attraction would deepen into love. Everything in nature was ready for love. Clare became gradually more passionately in love with the soft and silent Tess. The fields were dry. Waggons threw up clouds of dust on the road. Cows jumped over gates, chased by flies. Dairyman Crick’s sleeves were rolled up from Monday to Saturday, and the milkers milked in the fields for coolness.
On one of these afternoons Tess and Angel were milking near each other. Tess used to rest her head on the cow’s body, her eyes fixed on a distant field. The sun shone on the beautiful lines of her face. She did not know that Clare had followed her round and sat watching her. How very lovable her face was to him. He had never seen such beautiful lips and teeth, like roses filled with snow.
Suddenly Clare jumped up, leaving his bucket to be kicked over by the cow, went quickly towards her, and, kneeling down beside her, took her in his arms. Tess let herself relax in his arms in a moment of joyful surprise. He was on the point of kissing that tempting mouth, but stopped himself.
‘Forgive me, Tess dear!’ he whispered. ‘I ought to have asked.
I love you, Tess, really!’
Tess tried to free herself and her eyes began to fill with tears.
‘Why are you crying, my darling?’ he asked.
‘Oh I don’t know!’ she murmured, trying to pull away.
‘Well, I’ve shown my feeling at last, Tess,’ he said with a curious sigh, showing that his heart had overcome his reason. ‘I do love you dearly and truly. But I shall go no further now. I have surprised you.’
She freed herself and they went on milking. Nobody had noticed, and when Dairyman Crick came round there was no sign to show that there was any connection between them. Yet something had happened which was to change their whole world. As a practical man, the dairyman might laugh at love, but love has a habit of changing people’s lives. It is a force to be respected.
The nights were as hot as the days. Angel Clare could not sleep. He went out into the darkness to think over what had happened that afternoon. He had come as a student of farming to this dairy, thinking he would be here only a short time. He thought it would be a quiet place. From here he could observe the great world outside, before plunging back into it.
But the world outside had lost its interest, and the quiet place was now the centre of all feeling.
Clare was a thoughtful, honest man. He knew Tess was not a toy to play with and throw away when finished with. Her life was as important to her as his was to him. He knew he must treat her affection for him seriously. But if they went on meeting every day, their relationship must develop: he could not stop himself. As he had not decided what purpose their relationship should have, he decided that for the moment they should meet as little as possible. But it was not easy to keep to this decision.
He was driven towards her by the heat in his blood.
He thought he would go and see his family. In less than five months he would have finished his studies here. After a few more months on other farms, he would be ready to start farming himself. Shouldn’t a farmer’s wife be a woman who understood farming?
He rode along the narrow road towards Emminster and his parents’ house. His eyes were looking, not at the road, but at next year. He loved her: ought he to marry her? What would his mother and brothers say? What would he himself say two years after the wedding?
As he rode into the village, he saw a group of young girls waiting outside the church. Walking quickly to join them was Miss Mercy Chant, only daughter of his father’s neighbour. His parents quietly hoped Angel would marry Mercy one day. She was very good at giving Bible classes, but in Angel’s mind was the face of the pretty milkmaid who hardly ever thought of God.
His family were delighted, though surprised, to see him. Angel was glad to be at home, and yet he did not feel so much part of the family as he used to. His father’s religious belief was very strict, but he was a kind, honest man, and fond of his sons.
However, he would have been shocked to know of the pagan pleasure in nature and pretty womanhood experienced by Angel. His mother shared his father’s religious views and helped in his church work. His brothers seemed rather unimaginative and narrow-minded, although they were both well educated: they felt that anybody outside the Church or university could not be respected.
As he walked with his brothers, Angel felt that, however lucky they were to have a university education, neither of them really saw life as it was lived. They thought farming was a poor man’s job, not suitable for a gentleman. Angel felt all the more determined to keep to his choice.
In the evening he spoke to his father alone after prayers. Mr Clare told his son he had been saving the money he would have spent on his university education for him. This encouraged Angel to ask his father what sort of wife a farmer needed.
‘A really Christian woman. Nothing else matters. For example, my neighbour Dr Chant . . .’
‘But isn’t the main.thing that she should be able to milk cows, churn good butter, value animals and direct farm workers?’
Mr Clare had clearly never thought of this before.
‘Yes, yes, certainly. But I was going to say that you will never find a purer woman than Mercy Chant. Your mother and I would be very happy if you . . .’
‘Yes, yes, Mercy is good, I know. But, father, don’t you think that one who is just as good and pure, and who understands farm life as well as the farmer, would be much better?’
After much discussion Angel got down to details. He explained he had met a woman who was ideally suited to be a farmer’s wife, who went to church regularly, who was honest, sensitive, intelligent, graceful, pure as snow, and extremely beautiful.
‘Is she of a good family, like Mercy?’ asked his surprised mother, who had come in during the conversation.
‘She is not what we call a lady,’ said Angel firmly. ‘She is a cottager’s daughter. What’s the advantage of good family to me? My wife will have to work hard and manage with very little money.1
‘Mercy is educated. That has its charm,’ said his mother, looking at him through her silver glasses.
‘I shall help her with her reading. She will learn fast. She’s full of poetry, real poetry. She lives what poets only write. And she is a good Christian girl. I’m sure you’ll value her for that.’
His parents already doubted Angel’s religious belief, so they were almost relieved to hear this of his future wife. They told him not to act in a hurry, but they would like to see her.
Although Angel was free to marry or not as he wished, he did not want to hurt his parents, and he accepted their advice.
As he set off to return to the dairy and Tess, his father rode with him a little way. Mr Clare was telling his son about the new d’Urberville family who had taken the ancient name and lived near Trantridge. There was a young man and his blind mother. Preaching in the church there one day, Mr Clare had spoken out bravely against the well-known wickedness of young d’Urberville, who, after this, had publicly insulted him when they met later.
Angel was angry with d’Urberville. ‘Dear father, you should not let yourself be insulted like that!’
‘It doesn’t matter to me. I have a duty to point out where people go wrong. Often men have hit me, but then at least they haven’t hit their families. And they live to thank me, and praise God.’
1 hope this young man does the same!’ said Angel warmly.
‘But it doesn’t seem likely.’
‘We’ll hope anyway/ said Mr Clare. ‘Maybe one of my words may grow like a seed in his heart one day.’
Angel could not accept his father’s narrow religious beliefs, but he loved him for his courage. He remembered that his father had not once asked whether Tess had money or not. This lack of interest in money meant that all the brothers would probably be poor for ever, but Angel still admired his father’s belief that money was not important.
When he returned to the dairy, in the sleepy afternoon heat, nobody was awake. Getting up so early in the morning meant the milkers really needed a sleep before the afternoon milking. It was three o’clock, time for skimming. There was a slight noise upstairs, then Tess appeared before his eyes. She did not see him, and stretched one arm up above her head. She yawned like a cat and he saw the red inside of her mouth. Her whole soul breathed out physical beauty. Then her eyes flashed as she recognized him.
‘Oh Mr Clare! How you frightened me — I . . .’ she said, looking glad, shy and surprised at the same time.
Clare stepped forward to put his arms round her.
‘Dear, darling Tessy!’ he whispered, putting his face to her warm cheek. ‘Don’t call me Mr Clare any more! I’ve hurried back because of you!’
They stood holding each other, the sun warming them through the window. He looked deep into her eyes of blue and black and grey. She looked at him as Eve must have looked at Adam.
‘I must go skimming,’ she said. Together they went to the milk-house.
Perhaps the Talbothays milk was not very well skimmed that afternoon. Tess was in a dream as she skimmed. The heat of his love made her feel like a plant under a burning sun.
There’s something very practical that I want to ask you,’ he said gently. ‘I shall soon want to marry. Being a farmer, I need a wife who knows all about farms. Will you be that woman, Tessy?’
She looked quite worried. She had accepted that she could not help loving him, but she had not expected this result. With bitter pain she replied as she had promised herself she would.
‘Oh Mr Clare - I cannot be your wife … I cannot be!’ The sound of these words seemed to break her very heart.
‘But Tess!’ he said, amazed at her answer and holding her still closer. ‘Surely you love me?’
‘Oh yes, yes! And I would rather be yours than anybody’s in the whole world! But I cannot marry you!’ cried the sweet and honest voice miserably.
‘Tess, have you agreed to marry someone else?’
‘Then why do you refuse me?’
‘Your father is a parson, and your mother will want you to marry a lady,’ said poor Tess, desperately trying to find an excuse.
‘No, certainly not, that’s why I went home, to talk to them both.’
‘I feel I cannot - never, never!’
‘Is it too sudden, my pretty? I’ll give you time. I won’t mention it again for a while.’
She tried to skim again, but her tears fell so that she could not do it. She could never explain her sadness, even to this her best friend. Clare began to talk more generally, to calm her. He talked about his father’s religious views, and the good work he did. He mentioned the insults his father had received from a young man near Trantridge who had a blind mother.
Tess now looked hard and worn, and her mouth was tragic.
Clare did not notice. They finished skimming and he said to her softly:
‘And my question, Tessy?’
‘Oh no - no!’ she replied, hopelessly, thinking bitterly of Alec d’Urberville. ‘It can’t be!’
She went out with the other milkmaids to the cows in the fields. Angel watched her moving freely in the air like a swimmer on a wave. He knew he was right to choose a wife from nature, not from civilization.
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