“Nothing, dear Tess,” he replied.
“Oh, I don’t know—very well; I don’t mind!” she panted miserably.
He drew rein, and as they slowed he was on the point of imprinting the desired salute, when, as if hardly yet aware of her own modesty, she dodged aside. His arms being occupied with the reins there was left him no power to prevent her manoeuvre.
“Now, damn it—I’ll break both our necks!” swore her capriciously passionate companion. “So you can go from your word like that, you young witch, can you?”
“Very well,” said Tess, “I’ll not move since you be so determined! But I—thought you would be kind to me, and protect me, as my kinsman!”
“Kinsman be hanged! Now!”
“But I don’t want anybody to kiss me, sir!” she implored, a big tear beginning to roll down her face, and the corners of her mouth trembling in her attempts not to cry. “And I wouldn’t ha’ come if I had known!”
He was inexorable, and she sat still, and d’Urberville gave her the kiss of mastery. No sooner had he done so than she flushed with shame, took out her handkerchief, and wiped the spot on her cheek that had been touched by his lips. His ardour was nettled at the sight, for the act on her part had been unconsciously done.
“You are mighty sensitive for a cottage girl!” said the young man.
Tess made no reply to this remark, of which, indeed, she did not quite comprehend the drift, unheeding the snub she had administered by her instinctive rub upon her cheek. She had, in fact, undone the kiss, as far as such a thing was physically possible. With a dim sense that he was vexed she looked steadily ahead as they trotted on near Melbury Down and Wingreen, till she saw, to her consternation, that there was yet another descent to be undergone.
“You shall be made sorry for that!” he resumed, his injured tone still remaining, as he flourished the whip anew. “Unless, that is, you agree willingly to let me do it again, and no handkerchief.”
She sighed. “Very well, sir!” she said. “Oh—let me get my hat!”
At the moment of speaking her hat had blown off into the road, their present speed on the upland being by no means slow. D’Urberville pulled up, and said he would get it for her, but Tess was down on the other side.
She turned back and picked up the article.
“You look prettier with it off, upon my soul, if that’s possible,” he said, contemplating her over the back of the vehicle. “Now then, up again! What’s the matter?”
The hat was in place and tied, but Tess had not stepped forward.
“No, sir,” she said, revealing the red and ivory of her mouth as her eye lit in defiant triumph; “not again, if I know it!”
“What—you won’t get up beside me?”
“No; I shall walk.”
“’Tis five or six miles yet to Trantridge.”
“I don’t care if ’tis dozens. Besides, the cart is behind.”