Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Chapter 1 - Summary

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Phase - The First


Chapter I

      Jack Durbeyfield was a poor haggler. He lived in a cottage with his family at the other end of the village Marlott in the beautiful vale of Blackmoor. His economic poverty has collaborated with his poverty of health. A middle-aged man as he was, rickety legs looked too weak to support his weightless body. He had to work hard to earn the bread of the large family of eight members.

      One evening as he was returning from the town of Shaston after selling his eggs, he met Parson Tringham, a priest. Parson Tringham had been calling him by the name of ‘Sir John’. That day also he addressed him so and bade him Good Evening. When he was asked the reason he told Jack Durbeyfield that he was the lineal representative of the old knightly family of the d’Urbervilles and therefore he should be called as ‘Sir John’. This information might carry little meaning to the villagers but for Durbeyfield it had such a great significance that it turned his head. He gave up his haggling work and caring little for his heart-disease went on pouring liquor in his starved stomach. The knightly generosity, liberality and extravagance became his habit. Right in the lap of poverty he was adopting the princely gestures.

      Coming to know about his respected lineage, he stopped on the way and threw down his empty basket with disgust. He at once called a going-by-boy and offered him a shilling from his little amount. He was to send a horse and a coach from the nearby ‘The Pure Inn’ and then was to inform about his meal at his house. When the boy was off, Jack Durbeyfield sat down in an aristocratic manner on the grassy spot and began to build castles in the air.

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