Tess of the d'Urbervilles eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 439 pages of information about Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

On account of his long delay he started in a flying-run down the lane westward, and had soon passed the hollow and mounted the next rise.  He had not yet overtaken his brothers, but he paused to get breath, and looked back.  He could see the white figures of the girls in the green enclosure whirling about as they had whirled when he was among them.  They seemed to have quite forgotten him already.

All of them, except, perhaps, one.  This white shape stood apart by the hedge alone.  From her position he knew it to be the pretty maiden with whom he had not danced.  Trifling as the matter was, he yet instinctively felt that she was hurt by his oversight.  He wished that he had asked her; he wished that he had inquired her name.  She was so modest, so expressive, she had looked so soft in her thin white gown that he felt he had acted stupidly.

However, it could not be helped, and turning, and bending himself to a rapid walk, he dismissed the subject from his mind.

III

As for Tess Durbeyfield, she did not so easily dislodge the incident from her consideration.  She had no spirit to dance again for a long time, though she might have had plenty of partners; but ah! they did not speak so nicely as the strange young man had done.  It was not till the rays of the sun had absorbed the young stranger’s retreating figure on the hill that she shook off her temporary sadness and answered her would-be partner in the affirmative.

She remained with her comrades till dusk, and participated with a certain zest in the dancing; though, being heart-whole as yet, she enjoyed treading a measure purely for its own sake; little divining when she saw “the soft torments, the bitter sweets, the pleasing pains, and the agreeable distresses” of those girls who had been wooed and won, what she herself was capable of in that kind.  The struggles and wrangles of the lads for her hand in a jig were an amusement to her—­no more; and when they became fierce she rebuked them.

She might have stayed even later, but the incident of her father’s odd appearance and manner returned upon the girl’s mind to make her anxious, and wondering what had become of him she dropped away from the dancers and bent her steps towards the end of the village at which the parental cottage lay.

While yet many score yards off, other rhythmic sounds than those she had quitted became audible to her; sounds that she knew well—­so well.  They were a regular series of thumpings from the interior of the house, occasioned by the violent rocking of a cradle upon a stone floor, to which movement a feminine voice kept time by singing, in a vigorous gallopade, the favourite ditty of “The Spotted Cow”—­

   I saw her lie do’-own in yon’-der green gro’-ove;
        Come, love!’ and I’ll tell’ you where!’

The cradle-rocking and the song would cease simultaneously for a moment, and an exclamation at highest vocal pitch would take the place of the melody.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Tess of the d'Urbervilles from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.