Phase the First: The Maiden
8. CHAPTER VIII
Having mounted beside her, Alec d'Urberville drove
rapidly along the crest of the first hill, chatting
compliments to Tess as they went, the cart with her box
being left far behind. Rising still, an immense
landscape stretched around them on every side; behind,
the green valley of her birth, before, a gray country
of which she knew nothing except from her first brief
visit to Trantridge. Thus they reached the verge of an
incline down which the road stretched in a long
straight descent of nearly a mile.
Ever since the accident with her father's horse Tess
Durbeyfield, courageous as she naturally was, had been
exceedingly timid on wheels; the least irregularity of
motion startled her. She began to get uneasy at a
certain recklessness in her conductor's driving.
"You will go down slow, sir, I suppose?" she said with
D'Urberville looked round upon her, nipped his cigar
with the tips of his large white centre-teeth, and
allowed his lips to smile slowly of themselves.
"Why, Tess," he answered, after another whiff or two,
"it isn't a brave bouncing girl like you who asks that?
Why, I always go down at full gallop. There's nothing
like it for raising your spirits."
"But perhaps you need not now?"
"Ah," he said, shaking his head, "there are two to be
reckoned with. It is not me alone. Tib had to be
considered, and she has a very queer temper."
"Why, this mare. I fancy she looked round at me in a
very grim way just then. Didn't you notice it?"
"Don't try to frighten me, sir," said Tess stiffly.
"Well, I don't. If any living man can manage this
horse I can: I won't say any living man can do it--but
if such has the power, I am he."