Tess Of The D’Urbervilles

  • Chapter 1

  • Phase the First: The Maiden

  • I

  • Narrator

    On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore, or Blackmoor.

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  • The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line.

  • He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular.

  • An empty egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off.

  • Presently he was met by an elderly parson astride on a gray mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune.

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    Man

    “Good night t’ee,”

  • Narrator

    said the man with the basket.

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    Parson

    “Good night, Sir John,”

  • Narrator

    said the parson.

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  • The pedestrian, after another pace or two, halted, and turned round.

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    Man

    “Now, sir, begging your pardon; we met last market-day on this road about this time, and I said ‘Good night,’ and you made reply ‘Good night, Sir John,’ as now.”

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    Parson

    “I did,”

  • Narrator

    said the parson.

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    Man

    “And once before that—near a month ago.”

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    Parson

    “I may have.”

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    Jack Durbeyfield

    “Then what might your meaning be in calling me ‘Sir John’ these different times, when I be plain Jack Durbeyfield, the haggler?”

  • Narrator

    The parson rode a step or two nearer.

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