Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Chapter 5 - Summary

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      The horse being dead, the haggling business became disorganized. Jack Durbeyfield could not be depended upon to work hard, though he could work hard at times. Tess wondered what she could do to help the family. Mother suggested Tess should go to the very rich Mrs. d’Urberville and ask for help. Tess didn’t like the idea. “I’d rather try to get work”, she said. But realizing her responsibility in the great Tragedy, Tess agreed to seeing the rich lady.

      Rising early next day she walked to the hill-town called Shaston and took a van for Trantridge where the vague and mysterious Mrs. d’Urberville lived. Her route lay through the Vale of Blackmoor where her life had unfolded itself. She remembered her village school which she had left a year or two before this date. From the day she left school her responsibilities had increased. She had to look after the young ones and had to do many odd jobs. Today she was going to be the representative of the Durbeyfields at the d’Urberville mansion.

      She got down from the van at Trantridge cross and moved towards the slopes where Mrs. d’Urberville’s seat was to be found. First she saw the lodge made of red bricks and surrounded by dense evergreens. Going past it, the house proper stood in full view. It was newly built and was of rich red colour. Far behind the corner of the house could be seen the district ‘The Chase’, one of the few remaining woodlands in England. Everything on this property was bright, prosperous and well-kept. Tess looked puzzled, ‘I thought we were an old family; but this is all new!’ she said in her innocence.

      The d’Urbervilles or Stoke d’Urbervilles, as they at first called themselves: who owned all this were a somewhat strange family. The Stoke d’Urbervilles were not the direct descendants of d’Urbervilles. Jack Durbeyfield was the only really lineal representative. When old Mr. Simon Stoke decided to settle as a countryman here he simply added d’Urberville to his own name in order that his name must not be ready identified with the smart tradesman of the past. Tess and her parents did not know all this; Parson Tringham never told them all this.

      As Tess stood there hesitating, a tall young man, smoking came out. He had swarthy complexion. Despite touches of barbarism about him, he had great force of attraction in him. “Have you come to see me or my mother?” he said. “I came to see your mother, Sir,” she answered. She was told that she could not see her as she was an invalid. The gentleman talking to her was Mr. Alec, the only son of the late Mr. Simon Stoke. After much hesitation, Tess revealed the purpose of her visit to swarthy Alexander. After some talk, Alexander could persuade her to walk round the grounds with him to pass the time. Soon he offered her strawberries from the garden. They had spent some time wandering thus. Now it was time for her to go. But before she could go, he brought a basket of light luncheon and asked her to eat. As she ate, Alec watched her greedily. Now she set out for home, he inclined his face towards her—but no, he thought better of it and let her go.

      Thus the thing began. She could not understand the meaning behind this meeting. She had been seen and desired by the wrong man, and not by some other man, the right and desired one in all respects.

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