Phase the First: The Maiden
5. CHAPTER V (continued)
She soon had finished her lunch. "Now I am going home,
sir," she said, rising.
"And what do they call you?" he asked, as he
accompanied her along the drive till they were out of
sight of the house.
"Tess Durbeyfield, down at Marlott."
"And you say your people have lost their horse?"
"I--killed him!" she answered, her eyes filling with
tears as she gave particulars of Prince's death. "And
I don't know what to do for father on account of it!"
"I must think if I cannot do something. My mother must
find a berth for you. But, Tess, no nonsense about
'd'Urberville';--'Durbeyfield' only, you know--quite
"I wish for no better, sir," said she with something of
For a moment--only for a moment--when they were in the
turning of the drive, between the tall rhododendrons
and conifers, before the lodge became visible, he
inclined his face towards her as if--but, no: he
thought better of it, and let her go.
Thus the thing began. Had she perceived this meeting's
import she might have asked why she was doomed to be
seen and coveted that day by the wrong man, and not by
some other man, the right and desired one in all
respects--as nearly as humanity can supply the right
and desired; yet to him who amongst her acquaintance
might have approximated to this kind, she was but a
transient impression, half forgotten.
In the ill-judged execution of the well-judged plan of
things the call seldom produces the comer, the man to
love rarely coincides with the hour for loving. Nature
does not often say "See!" to her poor creature at a
time when seeing can lead to happy doing; or reply
"Here!" to a body's cry of "Where?" till the
hide-and-seek has become an irksome, outworn game. We
may wonder whether at the acme and summit of the human
progress these anachronisms will be corrected by a
finer intuition, a close interaction of the social
machinery than that which now jolts us round and along;
but such completeness is not to be prophesied, or even
conceived as possible. Enough that in the present
case, as in millions, it was not the two halves of a
perfect whole that confronted each other at the perfect
moment; a missing counterpart wandered independently
about the earth waiting in crass obtuseness till the
late time came. Out of which maladroit delay sprang
anxieties, disappointments, shocks, catastrophes, and