one of their residences without thinking of them. There is something very sad in the extinction of a family of renown, even if it was fierce, domineering, feudal renown.'
`Yes,' said Tess.
They crept along towards a point in the expanse of shade just at hand at which a feeble light was beginning to assert its presence, a spot where, by day, a fitful white streak of steam at intervals upon the dark green background denoted intermittent moments of contact between their secluded world and modern life. Modern life stretched out its steam feeler to this point three or four times a day, touched the native existences, and quickly withdrew its feeler again, as if what it touched had been uncongenial.
They reached the feeble light, which came from the smoky lamp of a little railway station; a poor enough terrestrial star, yet in one sense of more importance to Talbothays Dairy and mankind than the celestial ones to which it stood in such humiliating contrast. The cans of new milk were unladen in the rain, Tess getting a little shelter from a neighbouring holly tree.
Then there was the hissing of a train, which drew up almost silently upon the wet rails, and the milk was rapidly swung can by can into the truck. The light of the engine flashed for a second upon Tess Durbeyfield's figure, motionless under the great holly tree. No object could have looked more foreign to the gleaming cranks and wheels than this unsophisticated girl, with the round bare arms, the rainy face and hair, the suspended attitude of a friendly leopard at pause, the print gown of no date or fashion, and the cotton bonnet drooping on her brow.
She mounted again beside her lover, with a mute obedience characteristic of impassioned natures at times, and when they had wrapped themselves up over head and ears in the sail-cloth again, they plunged back into the now thick night. Tess was so receptive that the few minutes of contact with the whirl of material progress lingered in her thought.
`Londoners will drink it at their breakfasts to-morrow, won't they?' she asked. `Strange people that we have never seen.'
`Yes - I suppose they will. Though not as we send it. When its strength has been lowered, so that it may not get up into their heads.'
`Noble men and noble women, ambassadors and centurions, ladies and tradeswomen, and babies who have never seen a cow.'
`Well, yes; perhaps; particularly centurions.'
`Who don't know anything of us, and where it comes from; or think how we two drove miles across the moor to-night in the rain that it might reach 'em in time?'
`We did not drive entirely on account of these precious Londoners; we drove a little on our own - on account of that anxious matter which you will, I am sure, set at rest, dear Tess. Now,-permit me to put it in this way. You belong to me already, you know; your heart, I mean. Does it not?'
`You know as well as I. O yes - yes!'
`Then, if your heart does, why not your hand?'
`My only reason was on account of you - on account of a question. I have something to tell you--'
`But suppose it to be entirely for my happiness, and my worldly convenience also?'
`O yes; if it is for your happiness and worldly convenience. But my life before I came here - I want------'
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