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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 439 pages of information about Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
while he stayed here.  Such unequal attachments had led to marriage; and she had heard from Mrs Crick that Mr Clare had one day asked, in a laughing way, what would be the use of his marrying a fine lady, and all the while ten thousand acres of Colonial pasture to feed, and cattle to rear, and corn to reap.  A farm-woman would be the only sensible kind of wife for him.  But whether Mr Clare had spoken seriously or not, why should she, who could never conscientiously allow any man to marry her now, and who had religiously determined that she never would be tempted to do so, draw off Mr Clare’s attention from other women, for the brief happiness of sunning herself in his eyes while he remained at Talbothays?

XXII

They came downstairs yawning next morning; but skimming and milking were proceeded with as usual, and they went indoors to breakfast.  Dairyman Crick was discovered stamping about the house.  He had received a letter, in which a customer had complained that the butter had a twang.

“And begad, so ’t have!” said the dairyman, who held in his left hand a wooden slice on which a lump of butter was stuck.  “Yes—­taste for yourself!”

Several of them gathered round him; and Mr Clare tasted, Tess tasted, also the other indoor milkmaids, one or two of the milking-men, and last of all Mrs Crick, who came out from the waiting breakfast-table.  There certainly was a twang.

The dairyman, who had thrown himself into abstraction to better realize the taste, and so divine the particular species of noxious weed to which it appertained, suddenly exclaimed—­

“’Tis garlic! and I thought there wasn’t a blade left in that mead!”

Then all the old hands remembered that a certain dry mead, into which a few of the cows had been admitted of late, had, in years gone by, spoilt the butter in the same way.  The dairyman had not recognized the taste at that time, and thought the butter bewitched.

“We must overhaul that mead,” he resumed; “this mustn’t continny!”

All having armed themselves with old pointed knives, they went out together.  As the inimical plant could only be present in very microscopic dimensions to have escaped ordinary observation, to find it seemed rather a hopeless attempt in the stretch of rich grass before them.  However, they formed themselves into line, all assisting, owing to the importance of the search; the dairyman at the upper end with Mr Clare, who had volunteered to help; then Tess, Marian, Izz Huett, and Retty; then Bill Lewell, Jonathan, and the married dairywomen—­Beck Knibbs, with her wooly black hair and rolling eyes; and flaxen Frances, consumptive from the winter damps of the water-meads—­who lived in their respective cottages.

With eyes fixed upon the ground they crept slowly across a strip of the field, returning a little further down in such a manner that, when they should have finished, not a single inch of the pasture but would have fallen under the eye of some one of them.  It was a most tedious business, not more than half a dozen shoots of garlic being discoverable in the whole field; yet such was the herb’s pungency that probably one bite of it by one cow had been sufficient to season the whole dairy’s produce for the day.

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