gathering cuckoo-spittle on her skirts, cracking snails that were underfoot, staining her hands with thistlemilk and slug-slime, and rubbing off upon her naked arms sticky blights which, though snow-white on the apple-tree trunks, made madder stains on her skin; thus she drew quite near to Clare, still unobserved of him.
Tess was conscious of neither time nor space. The exaltation which she had described as being producible at will by gazing at a star, came now without any determination of hers; she undulated upon the thin notes of the second-hand harp, and their harmonies passed like breezes through her, bringing tears into her eyes. The floating pollen seemed to be his notes made visible, and the dampness of the garden the weeping of the garden's sensibility. Though near nightfall, the rank-smelling weed-flowers glowed as if they would not close for intentness, and the waves of colour mixed with the waves of sound.
The light which still shone was derived mainly from a large hole in the western bank of cloud; it was like a piece of day left behind by accident, dusk having closed in elsewhere. He concluded his plaintive melody, a very simple performance, demanding no great skill; and she waited, thinking another might be begun. But, tired of playing, he had desultorily come round the fence, and was rambling up behind her. Tess, her cheeks on fire, moved away furtively, as if hardly moving at all.
Angel, however, saw her light summer gown, and he spoke; his low tones reaching her, though he was some distance off.
`What makes you draw off in that way, Tess?' said he. `Are you afraid?'
`Oh no, sir... not of outdoor things; especially just now when the apple-blooth is failing, and everything so green.'
`But you have your indoor fears - eh?'
`Well - yes, sir.'
`I couldn't quite say.'
`The milk turning sour?'
`Life in general?'
`Ah - so have I, very often. This hobble of being alive is rather serious, don't you think so?'
`It is - now you put it that way.'
`All the same, I shouldn't have expected a young girl like you to see it so just yet. How is it you do?'
She maintained a hesitating silence.
`Come, Tess, tell me in confidence.'
She thought that he meant what were the aspects of things to her, and replied shyly--
`The trees have inquisitive eyes, haven't they? - that is, seem as if they had. And the river says, - "Why do ye trouble me with your looks?" And you seem to see numbers of to-morrows just all in a line, the first of them the biggest and clearest, the others getting smaller and smaller as they stand farther away; but
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