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第8节 第十九章 【
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一般说来,给母牛挤奶是由不得自己选择的,也由不得自己的喜爱,碰上哪一头就挤哪一头。可是某些奶牛却喜欢某个特定人的手,有时候它们的这种偏爱非常强烈,如果不是它们喜欢的人,根本就不站着让你挤奶,还毫不客气地把它们不熟悉的人的牛奶桶踢翻。
奶牛场老板有一条规矩,就是坚持通过不断地变换人手,来打破奶牛这种偏爱和好恶的习惯;因为不这样做,一且挤奶的男工和女工离开了奶牛场,他就会陷入困难的境地。可是,那些挤奶女工个人的心愿却同奶牛场老板的规矩相反,要是每个姑娘天天都挑她们已经挤习惯了的那八头或十头奶牛,挤它们那些她们已经感到顺手的奶头,她们就会感到特别轻松容易。
苔丝同她的伙伴们一样,不久也发现喜欢她的挤奶方式的那几头牛;在最后两三年里,有时候她长时间地呆在家里,一双手的手指头已经变得娇嫩了,因此她倒愿意去迎合那些奶牛的意思。在全场九十五头奶牛中,有八头特别的牛——短胖子、幻想、高贵、雾气、老美人、小美人、整齐、大嗓门——虽然有一两头牛的奶头硬得好像胡萝卜,但是她们大多数都乐意听她的,只要她的手指头一碰奶头,牛奶就流了出来。但是她知道奶牛场老板的意思,所以除了那几头她还对付不了的不容易出奶的牛而外,只要是走到她的身边的奶牛,她都认真地为它们挤奶。
后来不久,她发现奶牛排列的次序表面上看起来是偶然的,但是同她的愿望又能奇怪地一致,关于这件事,她感到它们的次序决不是偶然的结果。近来,奶牛场老板的学徒一直在帮忙把奶牛赶到一起,在第五次或第六次的时候,她靠在奶牛的身上,转过头来,用满是狡黠的追问眼光看着他。
“克莱尔先生,是你在安排这些奶牛吧!”她说话的时候,脸上一红;她在责备他的时候,虽然她的上嘴唇仍然紧紧地闭着,但是她又轻轻地张开她的上嘴唇,露出可爱的微笑来。
“啊,这并没有什么不同,”他说,“你只要一直在这儿,这些奶牛就会由你来挤。”
“你是这样想的吗?我的确希望能这样!但我又的确不知道。”
她后来又对自己生起气来,心想,他不知道她喜欢这儿的隐居生活的严肃理由,有可能把她的意思误解了。她对他说话的时候那样热情,似乎在她的希望中有一层意思就是在他的身边。她心里非常不安,到了傍晚,她挤完了奶,就独自走进园子里,继续后悔不该暴露自己发现了他对她的照顾。
这是六月里一个典型的傍晚,大气的平衡达到了精细的程度,传导性也十分敏锐,所以没有生命的东西也似乎有了两三种感觉,如果说没有五种的话。远近的界线消失了,听者感觉到地平线以内的一切都近在咫尺。万籁俱寂,这给她的印象与其说是声音的虚无,不如说是一种实际的存在。这时传来了弹琴声,寂静被打破了。
苔丝过去听见过头上阁楼里的那些琴声。那时的琴声模糊、低沉、被四周的墙壁挡住了,从来没有像现在那样令她激动,琴声在静静的夜空里荡漾,质朴无华,就像赤裸裸的一样。肯定地说,无论是乐器还是演奏都不出色:不过什么都不是绝对的苔丝听着琴声,就像一只听得入迷的小鸟,离不开那个地方了。她不仅没有离开,而且走到了弹琴人的附近,躲在树篱的后面,免得让他猜出她藏在那儿。
苔丝发现她躲藏的地方是在园子的边上,地卜的泥土已经许多年没有耕种了,潮湿的地上现在长满了茂密的多汁的杂草,稍一碰杂草,花粉就化作雾气飞散出来;又高义深的杂草开着花,散发出难闻的气味——野花有红的、黄的和紫的颜色,构成了一幅彩色的图画,鲜艳夺目,就像是被人工培植出来的花草一样。她像一只猫悄悄地走着,穿过这片茂密的杂草,裙子上沾上了杜鹃虫的粘液,脚下踩碎了蜗牛壳,两只手上也沾上了蓟草的浆汁和蛞蝓的粘液,被她擦下来的树霉一样的东西,也沾到了她裸露的手臂上,这种树霉长在苹果树干上像雪一样白,但是沾到她的皮肤上就变成了像茜草染成的斑块;她就这样走到离克莱尔很近的地方,不过克莱尔却看不见她。
苔丝已经忘记了时间的运行,忘记厂空间的存在。她过去曾经描述过,通过凝视夜空的星星就能随意生出灵魂出窍的意境,现在她没有刻意追求就出现了;随着那架旧竖琴的纤细的音调,她的心潮起伏波动,和谐的琴音像微风一样.吹进了她的心中,感动得她的眼睛里充满了泪水。那些飘浮的花粉,似乎就是他弹奏出米的可见的音符,花园里一片潮湿,似乎就是花园受到感动流出的泪水。虽然夜晚快要降临了,但是气味难闻的野草的花朵,却光彩夺目,仿佛听得入了迷面不能闭合了,颜色的波浪和琴音的波浪,相互融合在一起。
那时仍然透露出来的光线,主要是从西边一大片云彩中的一个大洞中产生生出来的;它仿佛是偶然剩余下来的一片昼,而四周已经被暮色包围了。他弹完了忧郁的旋律,他的弹奏非常简单,也不需要很大的技巧;苔丝在那儿等着,心想第二支曲子也许就要开始了。可是,他已经弹得累了,就漫无目的地绕过树篱,慢慢向她身后走来。苔丝像被火烤了一样满脸通红,好像根本无法移动一步,就悄悄躲在一边。
但是,安琪尔已经看见了她那件轻盈的夏衣,开口说话了。虽然他离开她还有一段距离,但是她已经听到了他的低沉的说话声。
“你为什么那样躲开了,苔丝?”他说。“你害怕吗?”
“啊,不,先生……不是害怕屋子外面的东西;尤其是现在,苹果树的花瓣在飘落,草木一片翠绿,这就更用不着害怕了。”
“但是屋子里有什么东西使你感到害怕,是吗?”
“唔——是的,先生。”
“害怕什么呢?”
“我也说不太明白”
“怕牛奶变酸了吗?”
“不是。”
“总之,害怕生活?”
“是的,先生。”
“哦——我也害怕生活,经常怕。生活在这种境遇里真是不容易,你是不是这样认为?”
“是的——现在你这样明明白白地一说,我也是这样认为的。”
“谁说都一样,我真没有想到一个像你这样的年轻女孩子,也会这样看待生活,你是怎样认识到的呢?”
她犹犹豫豫地,不作回答。
“说吧,苔丝,相信我,对我说吧。”
她心想他的意思是说她怎样看事物的各个方面,就羞怯地问答说——
“树木也都有一双探索的眼睛,是不是?我是说,它们似乎有一双眼睛。河水也似乎在说话,——‘你为什么看着我,让我不得安宁?’你似乎还会看到,无数个明天在一起排成了一排,它们中间的第一个是最大的一个,也是最清楚的一个,其它的一个比一个小,一个比一个站得远;但是它们都似乎十分凶恶,十分残忍,它们好像在说,‘我来啦!留神我吧!留神我吧!’……可是你,先生,却能用音乐激发出梦幻来,把所有这些幻影都通通赶走了!”
他惊奇地发现这个年轻的女孩子——虽然她不过是一个挤牛奶的女工,却已经有了这种罕有的见解了,这也使得她与其他的同屋女工不同——她竟有了一些如此忧伤的想法。她是用自己家乡的字眼儿表达的——再加上一点儿在标准的六年小学中学到的字眼——她表达的也许差不多是可以被称作我们时代的感情的那种感情,即现代主义的痛苦。他想到,那些所谓的先进思想,大半都是用最时髦的字眼加以定义——使用什么“学”或什么“主义”,那么许多世纪以来男男女女模模糊糊地领会到的感觉,就会被表达得更加清楚了,想到这里,他也就不太注意了。
但是,仍然叫人感到奇怪的是,她这样年轻就产生了这样的思想;不仅仅只是奇怪;还叫人感动,叫人关心,叫人悲伤。用不着去猜想其中的缘由,他也想不出来,经验在于阅历的深浅,而不在于时间的长短。从前苔丝在肉体上遭受到痛苦,而现在却是她精神上的收获。
在苔丝这一方面,她弄不明白,一个人生在牧师的家庭,受过良好的教育,又没有什么物质上的缺乏,为什么还要把生活看成足一种不幸。对她这样一个苦命的朝圣者来说,这样想自有充足的理由,可是他那样一个让人羡慕和富有诗意的人,怎么会掉进耻屏谷①中呢,怎么也会有乌兹老人②一样的感情呢——他的感觉就同她两三年前的感觉一样——“我宁愿上吊,宁愿死去,也不愿活着。我厌恶生命,我不愿意永远活着。”
 
①耻辱谷(Valley of Humiliation),英国作家班扬(John Bunyan,1628-1688)在其所着小说《天路历程》中所提的一个地方。
②乌兹老人(the man of Uz),《旧约·约伯记》第一章说,乌兹这个地方有一个老人名叫约伯,敬畏上帝,远离罪恶。上帝要试其心,便把灾祸降给他,于是约伯诅咒自己的生日,悦不如死了的好。
的确,他现在已经离开学校了。但是苔丝知道,那只是因为他要学习他想学习的东西,就像彼得大帝到造船厂里去学习一样。他要挤牛奶并不是因为他非要挤牛奶不可,而是因为他要学会怎样做一个富有的、兴旺发达的奶牛场老板、地主、农业家和畜牧家。他要做一个美同或澳大利亚的亚伯拉罕③,就像一个国王一样统管着他的羊群和牛群,或是长有斑点或斑纹的羊群和牛群,还有大量的男女仆人。不过有的时候,似乎她也难以理解,他这样一个书生气十足、爱好音乐和善于思索的年轻人,为自己选择的竟是做一个农民,而不是像他的父亲和哥哥一样去当牧师。
 
③亚伯拉罕(Abraham),《圣经》中的人物一希伯莱人的始祖,养有大量牛群。

因此,他们对于各自的秘密谁也没有线索,谁也不想打听对方的历史,各自都为对方的表现感到糊涂,都等着对各自的性格和脾性有新的了解。
每一天,每一小时,他都要多发现一点点儿她性格中的东西,在她也是如此。苔丝一直在努力过一种自我克制的生活,不过她却一点儿也没有想到自己的生命活力有多么强大。
起先,苔丝把安琪尔·克莱尔看成一个智者,而没有把他看成一个普通的人。她就这样把他拿来同自己作比较;每当她发现他的知识那样丰富,她心中的见解又是那样浅薄的时候,要是同他的像安地斯山一样的智力相比,她就不禁自惭形秽,心灰意冷,再也不愿作任何努力了。
有一天,他同她偶尔谈起了古代希腊的田园生活,也看出了她的沮丧。在他谈话的时候,她就一边采坡地上名叫“老爷和夫人”的花的蓓蕾。
“为什么你一下子就变得这样愁容满面了?”他问。
“哦,这只是——关于我自己的事,”她说完,苦笑了一下,同时又断断续续地动手把“夫人”的花蕾剥开。“我只不过想到了可能发生在我身上的事!看来我命中机运不好,这一生算是完了!我一看见你懂得那样多,读得那样多,阅历那样广,思想那样深刻,我就感到自己一无所知了!我就好像是《圣经》里那个可怜的示巴女王,所以再也没有一点儿精神了。”
“哎呀,你快不要自寻苦恼了!唉,”他热情地说,“亲爱的苔丝,只要能够帮助你,我是别提有多高兴啦,你想学历史也好,你想念书也好,我都愿意帮你——”
“又是一个‘夫人’,”她举着那个被她剥开的花蕾插嘴说。
“你说什么呀?”
“我是说,我剥开这些花蕾的时候,‘夫人’总是比‘老爷’多。”
“不要去管什么‘老爷’‘夫人’了。你愿不愿意学习点功课,比如说历史?”
“有的时候我觉得,除了我已经知道的东西以外,就不想知道更多的东西了。”
“为什么?”
“知道了又怎么样呢,只不过是一长串人中的一个,只不过发现某本古书中有一个和我一样的人,只不过知道我要扮演她的角色,让我难过而已。最好不过的是,不要知道你的本质,不要知道你过去的所作所为和千千万万人一样,也不要知道你未来的生活和所作所为也和千千万万的人一样。”
“那么,你真的什么都不想学吗?”
“我倒想学一学为什么——为什么太阳都同样照耀好人和坏人,”她回答说,声音里有点儿发抖。“不过那是书本里不会讲的。”
“苔丝,不要这样苦恼!”当然,他说这话的时候,是出于一种习惯的责任感,因为在过去他自己也不是没有产生过这样的疑问。在他看着她那张纯真自然的嘴和嘴唇的时候,心想,这样一个乡下女孩子会有这种情绪,只不过是照着别人的话说罢了。她继续剥著名叫“老爷和夫人”花的花蕾,垂着头,一双眼睛看着自己的脸颊,克莱尔盯着她那像波浪一样卷曲的眼睫毛看了一会儿,才恋恋不舍地走了。他走了以后,她又在那儿站了一会儿,心思重重地剥完最后一个花蕾;然后,她像从睡梦中醒来一样,心烦意乱地把手中的花蕾和其它所有的高贵花蕾扔到地上,为自己刚才的幼稚大为不快,同时她的心中也生出一股热情。
他一定心里认为她多么愚蠢呀!为了急于得到他的好评,她又想到了她近来已经努力忘掉了的事情,想到了那件后果叫人伤心的事情——想到了她的家和德贝维尔骑士的家是一家。它们之间缺乏相同的表征,它的发现在许多方面已经给她带来了灾难,也许,克莱尔作为一个绅士和学习历史的人,如果他知道在金斯伯尔教堂里那些珀贝克大理石和雪花石雕像是真正代表她的嫡亲祖先的,知道她是地地道道的德贝维尔家族的人,知道她不是那个由金钱和野心构成的假德贝维尔,他就会充分尊重她,从而忘了她剥“老爷和夫人”花蕾的幼稚行为。
但是在冒险说明之前,犹豫不决的苔丝间接地向奶牛场老板打听了一下这件事可能对克莱尔先生产生的影响,她问奶牛场老板,如果一个本郡的古老世家既没有钱也没有产业,克莱尔先生是不是还会尊重。
“克莱尔先生,”奶牛场老板强调说,“他是一个你从来没听说过的最有反抗精神的怪人——一点儿也不像他家里的其他人;有一件事他是最讨厌不过的,那就是什么古老世家了。他说,从情理上讲,古老世家在过去已经用尽了力气,现在他们什么也没有剩下了。你看什么比勒特家、特伦哈德家、格雷家、圣昆丁家、哈代家,还有高尔德家,从前在这个山谷里拥有的产业有好几英里,而现在你差不多花一点儿小钱就可以把它们买下来。你问为什么,你知道我们这儿的小莱蒂·普里德尔,他就是帕里德尔家族的后裔——帕里德尔是古老的世家,新托克的王家产业现在是威塞克斯伯爵的了,而从前却是帕里德尔家的,可从前没有听说过威塞克斯伯爵家啊。唔,克莱尔先生发现了这件事,还把可怜的小莱蒂嘲笑了好几天呢。‘啊!’他对莱蒂说,‘你永远也做不成一个优秀的挤奶女工的!你们家的本领在几十辈人以前就在巴勒斯坦用尽了,你们要恢复力气做事情,就得再等一千年。’又有一天,有个小伙子来这儿找活儿干,说他的名字叫马特,我们问他姓什么,他说他从来没有听说他有什么姓,我们问为什么,他说大概是他们家建立起来的时间还不够长吧。‘啊!你正是我需要的那种小伙子呀!’克莱尔说,跳起来去同他握手;‘你将来一定大有前途’;他还给了他半个克朗呢。啊,他是不吃古老世家那一套的。”
可怜的苔丝在听了对克莱尔思想的形容和描述后,暗自庆幸自己没有在软弱的时候对自己的家旅吐露出一个字——虽然她的家族不同寻常地古老,差不多都要转一圈了,又要变成一个新的家族了。另外,还有一个挤奶的姑娘在家世方面似乎和她不相上下。因此,她对德贝维尔家族的墓室,对她出生的那个征服者威廉的骑士家族,都闭口不提。她对克莱尔的性格有了这种了解以后,她猜想她之所以引起他的兴趣,大半是他认为她不是一个古老世家,而是一个新家。
 

In general the cows were milked as they presented themselves, without fancy or choice. But certain cows will show a fondness for a particular pair of hands, sometimes carrying this predilection so far as to refuse to stand at all except to their favourite, the pail of a stranger being unceremoniously kicked over.

It was Dairyman Crick's rule to insist on breaking down these partialities and aversions by constant interchange, since otherwise, in the event of a milkman or maid going away from the dairy, he was placed in a difficulty. The maids' private aims, however, were the reverse of the dairyman's rule, the daily selection by each damsel of the eight or ten cows to which she had grown accustomed rendering the operation on their willing udders surprisingly easy and effortless.

Tess, like her compeers, soon discovered which of the cows had a preference for her style of manipulation, and her fingers having become delicate from the long domiciliary imprisonments to which she had subjected herself at intervals during the last two or three years, she would have been glad to meet the milchers' views in this respect. Out of the whole ninety-five there were eight in particular - Dumpling, Fancy, lofty, Mist, Old Pretty, Young Pretty, Tidy, and Loud - who, though the teats of one or two were as hard as carrots, gave down to her with a readiness that made her work on them a mere touch of the fingers. Knowing, however, the dairyman's wish, she endeavoured conscientiously to take the animals `just as they came, excepting the very hard yielders which she could not yet manage.

But she soon found a curious correspondence between the ostensibly chance position of the cows and her wishes in this matter, till she felt that their order could not be the result of accident. The dairyman's pupil had lent a hand in getting the cows together of late, and at the fifth or sixth time she turned her eyes, as she rested against the cow, full of sly inquiry upon him.

`Mr Clare, you have ranged the cows!' she said, blushing; and in making the accusation symptoms of a smile gently lifted her upper lip in spite of her, so as to show the tips of her teeth, the lower lip remaining severely still.

`Well, it makes no difference,' said he. `You will always be here to milk them.'

`Do you think so? I hope I shall! But I don't know.'

She was angry with herself afterwards, thinking that he, unaware of her grave reasons for liking this seclusion, might have mistaken her meaning. She had spoken so earnestly to him, as if his presence were somehow a factor in her wish. Her misgiving was such that at dusk, when the milking was over, she walked in the garden alone, to continue her regrets that she had disclosed to him her discovery of his considerateness.

It was a typical summer evening in June, the atmosphere being in such delicate equilibrium and so transmissive that inanimate objects seemed endowed with two or three senses, if not five. There was no distinction between the near and the far, and an auditor felt close to everything within the horizon. The soundlessness impressed her as a positive entity rather than as the mere negation of noise. It was broken by the strumming of strings.

Tess had heard those notes in the attic above her head. Dim, flattened, constrained by their confinement, they had never appealed to her as now, when they wandered in the still air with a stark quality like that of nudity. To speak absolutely, both instrument and execution were poor, but the relative is all, and as she listened Tess, like a fascinated bird, could not leave the spot. Far from leaving she drew up towards the performer, keeping behind the hedge that he might not guess her presence.

The outskirt of the garden in which Tess found herself had been left uncultivated for some years, and was now damp and rank with juicy grass which sent up mists of pollen at a touch; and with tall blooming weeds emitting offensive smells - weeds whose red and yellow and purple hues formed a polychrome as dazzling as that of cultivated flowers. She went stealthily as a cat through this profusion of growth, gathering cuckoo-spittle on her skirts, cracking snails that were underfoot, staining her hands with thistlemilk and slug-slime, and rubbing off upon her naked arms sticky blights which, though snow-white on the apple-tree trunks, made madder stains on her skin; thus she drew quite near to Clare, still unobserved of him.

Tess was conscious of neither time nor space. The exaltation which she had described as being producible at will by gazing at a star, came now without any determination of hers; she undulated upon the thin notes of the second-hand harp, and their harmonies passed like breezes through her, bringing tears into her eyes. The floating pollen seemed to be his notes made visible, and the dampness of the garden the weeping of the garden's sensibility. Though near nightfall, the rank-smelling weed-flowers glowed as if they would not close for intentness, and the waves of colour mixed with the waves of sound.

The light which still shone was derived mainly from a large hole in the western bank of cloud; it was like a piece of day left behind by accident, dusk having closed in elsewhere. He concluded his plaintive melody, a very simple performance, demanding no great skill; and she waited, thinking another might be begun. But, tired of playing, he had desultorily come round the fence, and was rambling up behind her. Tess, her cheeks on fire, moved away furtively, as if hardly moving at all.

Angel, however, saw her light summer gown, and he spoke; his low tones reaching her, though he was some distance off.

`What makes you draw off in that way, Tess?' said he. `Are you afraid?'

`Oh no, sir... not of outdoor things; especially just now when the apple-blooth is failing, and everything so green.'

`But you have your indoor fears - eh?'

`Well - yes, sir.'

`What of?,

`I couldn't quite say.'

`The milk turning sour?'

`No.'

`Life in general?'

`Yes, sir.'

`Ah - so have I, very often. This hobble of being alive is rather serious, don't you think so?'

`It is - now you put it that way.'

`All the same, I shouldn't have expected a young girl like you to see it so just yet. How is it you do?'

She maintained a hesitating silence.

`Come, Tess, tell me in confidence.'

She thought that he meant what were the aspects of things to her, and replied shyly--

`The trees have inquisitive eyes, haven't they? - that is, seem as if they had. And the river says, - "Why do ye trouble me with your looks?" And you seem to see numbers of to-morrows just all in a line, the first of them the biggest and clearest, the others getting smaller and smaller as they stand farther away; but they all seem very fierce and cruel and as if they said, "I'm coming! Beware of me! Beware of me!"... But you, sir, can raise up dreams with your music, and drive all such horrid fancies away!'

He was surprised to find this young woman - who though but a milkmaid had just that touch of rarity about her which might make her the envied of her housemates - shaping such sad imaginings. She was expressing in her own native phrases - assisted a little by her Sixth Standard training - feelings which might almost have been called those of the age - the ache of modernism. The perception arrested him less when he reflected that what are called advanced ideas are really in great part but the latest fashion in definition - a more accurate expression, by words in logy and ism, of sensations which men and women have vaguely grasped for centuries.

Still, it was strange that they should have come to her while yet so young; more than strange; it was impressive, interesting, pathetic. Not guessing the cause, there was nothing to remind him that experience is as to intensity, and not as to duration. Tess's passing corporeal blight had been her mental harvest.

Tess, on her part, could not understand why a man of clerical family and good education, and above physical want, should look upon it as a mishap to be alive. For the unhappy pilgrim herself there was very good reason. But how could this admirable and poetic man ever have descended into the Valley of Humiliation, have felt with the man of Uz - as she herself had felt two or three years ago - `My soul chooseth strangling and death rather than my life. I loathe it; I would not live alway.'

It was true that he was at present out of his class. But she knew that was only because, like Peter the Great in a shipwright's yard, he was studying what he wanted to know. He did not milk cows because he was obliged to milk cows, but because he was learning how to be a rich and prosperous dairyman, landowner, agriculturist, and breeder of cattle. He would become an American or Australian Abraham, commanding like a monarch his flocks and his herds, his spotted and his ring-stroked, his men-servants and his maids. At times, nevertheless, it did seem unaccountable to her that a decidedly bookish, musical, thinking young man should have chosen deliberately to be a farmer, and not a clergyman, like his father and brothers.

Thus, neither having the clue to the other's secret, they were respectively puzzled at what each revealed, and awaited new knowledge of each other's character and moods without attempting to pry into each other's history.

Every day, every hour, brought to him one more little stroke of her nature, and to her one more of his. Tess was trying to lead a repressed life, but she little divined the strength of her own vitality.

At first Tess seemed to regard Angel Clare as an intelligence rather than as a man. As such she compared him with herself; and at every discovery of the abundance of his illuminations, of the distance between her own modest mental standpoint and the unmeasurable, Andean altitude of his, she became quite dejected, disheartened from all further effort on her own part whatever.

He observed her dejection one day, when he had casually mentioned something to her about pastoral life in ancient Greece. She was gathering the buds called `lords and ladies' from the bank while he spoke.

`Why do you look so woebegone all of a sudden?' he asked.

`Oh, 'tis only - about my own self,' she said, with a frail laugh of sadness, fitfully beginning to peel `a lady' meanwhile. `Just a sense of what might have been with me! My life looks as if it had been wasted for want of chances! When I see what you know, what you have read, and seen, and thought, I feel what a nothing I am! I'm like the poor Queen of Sheba who lived in the Bible. There is no more spirit in me.'

`Bless my soul, don't go troubling about that! Why,' he said with some enthusiasm, `I should be only too glad, my dear Tess, to help you to anything in the way of history, or any line of reading you would like to take up--'

`It is a lady again,' interrupted she, holding out the bud she had peeled.

`What?'

`I meant that there are always more ladies than lords when you come to peel them.'

`Never mind about the lords and ladies. Would you like to take up any course of study - history, for example?'

`Sometimes I feel I don't want to know anything more about it than I know already.'

`Why not?'

`Because what's the use of learning that I am one of a long row only - finding out that there is set down in some old book somebody just like me, and to know that I shall only act her part; making me sad, that's all. The best is not to remember that your nature and your past doings have been just like thousands' and thousands', and that your coming life and doings `I'll be like thousands' and thousands'.'

`What, really, then, you don't want to learn anything?'

`I shouldn't mind learning why - why the sun do shine on the just and the unjust alike,' she answered, with a slight quaver in her voice. `But that's what books will not tell me.'

`Tess, fie for such bitterness!' Of course he spoke with a conventional sense of duty only, for that sort of wondering had not been unknown to himself in bygone days. And as he looked at the unpractised mouth and lips, he thought that such a daughter of the soil could only have caught up the sentiment by rote. She went on peeling the lords and ladies till Clare, regarding for a moment the wave-like curl of her lashes as they drooped with her bent gaze on her soft cheek, lingeringly went away. When he was gone she stood awhile, thoughtfully peeling the last bud; and then, awakening from her reverie, flung it and all the crowd of floral nobility impatiently on the ground, in an ebullition of displeasure with herself for her niaiseries, and with a quickening warmth in her heart of hearts.

How stupid he must think her! In an access of hunger for his good opinion she bethought herself of what she had latterly endeavoured to forget, so unpleasant had been its issues - the identity of her family with that of the knightly d'Urbervilles. Barren attribute as it was, disastrous as its discovery had been in many ways to her, perhaps Mr Clare, as a gentleman and a student of history, would respect her sufficiently to forget her childish conduct with the lords and ladies if he knew that those Purbeck-marble and alabaster people in Kingsbere Church really represented her own lineal forefathers; that she was no spurious d'Urberville, compounded of money and ambition like those at Trantridge, but true d'Urberville to the bone.

But, before venturing to make the revelation, dubious Tess indirectly sounded the dairyman as to its possible effect upon Mr Clare, by asking the former if Mr Clare had any great respect for old county families when they had lost all their money and land.

`Mr Clare,' said the dairyman emphatically, `is one of the most rebellest rozums you ever knowed - not a bit like the rest of his family; and if there's one thing that he do hate more than another 'tis the notion of what's called a' old family. He says that it stands to reason that old families have done their spurt of work in past days, and can't have anything left in `em now. There's the Billetts and the Drenkhards and the Greys and the St Quintins and the Hardys and the Goulds, who used to own the lands for miles down this valley; you could buy 'em all up now for an old song a'most. Why, our little Retty Priddle here, you know, is one of the Paridelles - the old family that used to own lots o' the lands out by King's-Hintock now owned by the Earl o' Wessex, afore even he or his was heard of. Well, Mr Clare found this out, and spoke quite scornful to the poor girl for days. `Ah!' he says to her, `you'll never make a good dairymaid! All your skill was used up ages ago in Palestine, and you must lie fallow for a thousand years to git strength for more deeds!' A boy came here t'other day asking for a job, and said his name was Matt, and when we asked him his surname he said he'd never heard that `a had any surname, and when we asked why, he said he supposed his folks hadn't been established long enough. "Ah! you're the very boy I want!" says Mr Clare, jumping up and shaking hands wi'en; "I've great hopes of you"; and gave him half-a-crown. O no! he can't stomach old families!'

After hearing this caricature of Clare's opinions poor Tess was glad that she had not said a word in a weak moment about her family - even though it was so unusually old as almost to have gone round the circle and become a new one. Besides, another dairy-girl was as good as she, it seemed, in that respect. She held her tongue about the d'Urberville vault, and the Knight of the Conqueror whose name she bore. The insight afforded into Clare's character suggested to her that it was largely owing to her supposed untraditional newness that she had won interest in his eyes.