Phase the First: The Maiden
5. CHAPTER V
The haggling business, which had mainly depended on the
horse, became disorganized forthwith. Distress, if not
penury, loomed in the distance. Durbeyfield was what
was locally called a slack-twisted fellow; he had good
strength to work at times; but the times could not be
relied on to coincide with the hours of requirement;
and, having been unaccustomed to the regular toil of
the day-labourer, he was not particularly persistent
when they did so coincide.
Tess, meanwhile, as the one who had dragged her parents
into this quagmire, was silently wondering what she
could do to help them out of it; and then her mother
broached her scheme.
"We must take the ups wi' the downs, Tess," said she;
"and never could your high blood have been found out at
a more called-for moment. You must try your friends.
Do ye know that there is a very rich Mrs d'Urberville
living on the outskirts o' The Chase, who must be our
relation? You must go to her and claim kin, and ask
for some help in our trouble."
"I shouldn't care to do that," says Tess. "If there is
such a lady, 'twould be enough for us if she were
friendly--not to expect her to give us help."
"You could win her round to do anything, my dear.
Besides, perhaps there's more in it than you know of.
I've heard what I've heard, good-now."
The oppressive sense of the harm she had done led Tess
to be more deferential than she might otherwise have
been to the maternal wish; but she could not understand
why her mother should find such satisfaction in
contemplating an enterprise of, to her, such doubtful
profit. Her mother might have made inquiries, and have
discovered that this Mrs d'Urberville was a lady of
unequalled virtues and charity. But Tess's pride made
the part of poor relation one of particular distaste to
"I'd rather try to get work," she murmured.
"Durbeyfield, you can settle it," said his wife,
turning to where he sat in the background. "If you say
she ought to go, she will go."