From Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Having mounted beside her, Alec d’Urberville drove rapidly along the crest of the first hill,
chatting compliments to Tess as they went . . .
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 attempted unconcern.
D’Urberville looked round upon her, nipped his cigar with the tips of his large
white center-teeth, and allowed his lips to smile slowly of themselves.
“Why Tess, isn’t it 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 has 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.” . . .
They were just beginning to descend; and it was evident that the horse, whether of
her own will or of his (the latter being the more likely), knew so well the reckless
performance expected of her that she hardly required a hint from behind.
Down, down they sped, the wheels humming like a top . . . The wind blew threw
Tess’ white muslin to her very skin, and her washed hair flew out behind. She was
determined to show no open fear, but she clutched d’Urberville’s rein-arm.
“Don’t touch my arm! We shall be thrown out if you do! Hold on round my waist!” . . .
She had not considered what she had been doing; whether he were man or woman,
stick or stone, in her involuntary hold on him. Recovering her reserve she sat without
replying, and thus they reached the summit of another declivity.
“Now then, again!” said d’Urberville.
“No, no!” said Tess. “Show more sense, do, please.” . . .
“Now then, put your arms round my waist again as you did before, my Beauty.”
“Never!” said Tess independently, holding on as well as she could without
“Let me put one little kiss on those holmberry lips, Tess, or even on that warmed
cheek, and I’ll stop — on my honor, I will!”
Tess, surprised beyond measure, slid farther back still on her seat, at which he
urged the horse anew, and rocked her the more.
“Will nothing else do?” she cried at length, in desperation, her large eyes staring at
him like those of a wild animal. This dressing her up so prettily by her mother had
apparently been to lamentable purpose.
“Nothing, dear Tess,” he replied . . .
“But I don’t want anybody to kiss me, sir!” she implored, a big tear beginning to
roll down her face, and the corners of her mouth trembling in her attempts not to cry. “And
I wouldn’t ha’ come if I had known!”
He was inexorable, and she sat still, and d’Urberville gave her the kiss of mastery.