Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Chapter 28 - Summary

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      Tess’s refusal though unexpected, did not permanently discourage Clare. That she had already permitted him to make love to her was assurance enough that the negative would turn into affirmative. “Tess, why did you say “no” in such a positive way?” he asked her in the course of a few days. She had no answer except that she could not marry him in his own interest. And yet her heart was so strongly on his side that she found it very difficult to maintain this position for long. “Why don’t somebody tell him all about me?” It was only forty miles off—why hasn’t it reached here? she said to herself. Nobody seemed to know; nobody told him. For three days no more was said. Tess’s chamber companions could see that she was the chosen. She herself was suffering both from pleasure and pain. At the next cheese making the pair were again left alone together. They were breaking up the masses of curd before putting them into vats. Angel, who was filling the vats with his handfuls, suddenly stopped, laid his hands flat upon tiers and bending lower kissed the inside vein of tier soft arm. Blood rustled to every part of her body and she looked fully into his eyes. He again pressed for marriage, and she refused; but she felt so miserable with her negative answer that she could not bear the whole thing any longer and was obliged to go away. Clare was so pained and perplexed that he ran after and caught her in the passage. Holding her close to himself, he said, “Tell me, tell me, do tell me that you won’t belong to anybody but me!” With great difficulty, she said that she would tell him everything next week, on Sunday. She went away behind the barton and lay down on the grass in great misery. The afternoon advanced and the milking lime was at hand. But she did not go to the milking. Clare must have given some excuse for her non-appearance, for no inquiries were made or calls given. At half-past six she went in and upstairs without a light. It was now Wednesday. Thursday came and passed, Friday passed, Saturday. Tomorrow was the day. “I shall give way—I shall say yes—I shall let myself marry him—I cannot help it!” she said as she lay in her bed that night. “Yet it is a wrong to him and may kill him when he knows! O my heart—O!”

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