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Tess of the D'Urbervilles
by Thomas Hardy
Events / Phase III: "The Rally," Chapter Nineteen
Tess of the D'Urbervilles Phase III: "The Rally," Chapter Nineteen Summary
Dairyman Crick has a rule that the cows should be milked randomly—if the cow develops a preference for a particular milkmaid or milkman, he ends up having problems after they leave his farm. Knowing this, Tess tries to take whatever cows happen to be next in line, but notices that she keeps ending up with the eight or so cows that she particularly likes. She realizes that it's because Angel has been sneakily arranging the cows in that order as they come in from the field. She accuses him of sending her favorites her way, and he shrugs, and says "So what? You'll always be here to milk them." She hopes she will be… but she doesn't know that. She later regrets that she called him on it. One evening in June, the air is so still that you can hear a pin drop from across the yard. Tess hears the notes of a harp out in the garden, and wanders out towards it. Tess, as we know, loves music. The harp music she hears now gives her the same kind of out-of-body experience that she described before at the breakfast table. The description of her reaction to the music makes it sound sexy. The music stops, and Tess waits for him to begin again. He doesn't, so she tries to slip away unseen, but he spots her light-colored dress against the darkness in the garden. He calls her back, and asks why she's afraid. She says she's not—at least, not of outdoor things. He asks if she's afraid of life in general, and she says yes. He says he agrees with her, but asks her why she finds life to be a burden. She innocently describes her sense of how oppressive the future is, like an inescapable progression of tomorrows. Angel is startled to find such sad thoughts in a young milkmaid, and he finds her even more interesting because of it. On her side, Tess is startled to find that the wealthy son of a parson should find life to be a burden. Neither of them understands the other, but both are interested in learning more as the opportunity presents itself. Every day they learn more about each other. She feels daunted by his superior intelligence, so he offers to teach her anything she'd like to know that he's able to teach—history, for example. She doesn't see the use in learning history. She doesn't want to know that her own life isn't unique, and that countless others have gone through similar experiences before her. All she wants to know is why the world is so unjust. Again, he's startled to find so much bitterness in such a young woman, and he walks away. Tess is ashamed of her childishness, and wonders what she can do to restore his good opinion of her. She thinks about telling him about her D'Urberville heritage, but decides to test the waters a bit first. She asks Dairyman Crick if Mr. Clare respects old families. Not at all, he tells her. Mr. Clare thinks that old families are all dried up and useless. Hearing this, Tess is glad that she hadn't told Angel about her family.
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