Phase the First: The Maiden
6. CHAPTER VI
Tess went down the hill to Trantridge Cross, and
inattentively waited to take her seat in the van
returning from Chaseborough to Shaston. She did not
know what the other occupants said to her as she
entered, though she answered them; and when they had
started anew she rode along with an inward and not an
One among her fellow-travellers addressed her more
pointedly than any had spoken before: "Why, you be
quite a posy! And such roses in early June!"
Then she became aware of the spectacle she presented to
their surprised vision: roses at her breasts; roses in
her hat; roses and strawberries in her basket to the
brim. She blushed, and said confusedly that the
flowers had been given to her. When the passengers
were not looking she stealthily removed the more
prominent blooms from her hat and placed them in
basket, where she covered them with her handkerchief.
Then she fell to reflecting again, and in looking
downwards a thorn of the rose remaining in her breast
accidentally pricked her chin. Like all the cottagers
in Blackmoor Vale, Tess was steeped in fancies and
prefigurative superstitions; she thought this an ill
omen--the first she had noticed that day.
The van travelled only so far as Shaston, and there
were several miles of pedestrian descent from that
mountain-town into the vale of Marlott. Her mother had
advised her to stay here for the night, at the house of
a cottage-woman they knew, if she should feel too tired
to come on; and this Tess did, not descending to her
home till the following afternoon.
When she entered the house she perceived in a moment
from her mother's triumphant manner that something had
occurred in the interim.
"Oh yes; I know all about it! I told 'ee it would be
all right, and now 'tis proved!"
"Since I've been away? What has?" said Tess rather
Her mother surveyed the girl up and down with arch
approval, and went on banteringly: "So you've brought
"How do you know, mother?"