Phase the Fourth: The Consequence
33. CHAPTER XXXIII
Angel felt that he would like to spend a day with her
before the wedding, somewhere away from the dairy, as a
last jaunt in her company while there were yet mere
lover and mistress; a romantic day, in circumstances
that would never be repeated; with that other and
greater day beaming close ahead of them. During the
preceding week, therefore, he suggested making a few
purchases in the nearest town, and they started
Clare's life at the dairy had been that of a recluse in
respect the world of his own class. For months he had
never gone near a town, and, requiring no vehicle, had
never kept one, hiring the dairyman's cob or gig if he
rode or drove. They went in the gig that day.
And then for the first time in their lives they shopped
as partners in one concern. It was Christmas Eve, with
its loads a holly and mistletoe, and the town was very
full of strangers who had come in from all parts of the
country on account of the day. Tess paid the penalty
of walking about with happiness superadded to beauty on
her countenance by being much stared at as she moved
amid them on his arm.
In the evening they returned to the inn at which they
had put up, and Tess waited in the entry while Angel
went to see the horse and gig brought to the door.
The general sitting-room was full of guests, who were
continually going in and out. As the door opened and
shut each time for the passage of these, the light
within the parlour fell full upon Tess's face. Two men
came out and passed by her among the rest. One of them
had stared her up and down in surprise, and she fancied
he was a Trantridge man, though that village lay so
many miles off that Trantridge folk were rarities here.
"A comely maid that," said the other.
"True, comely enough. But unless I make a great
mistake----" And negatived the remainder of the