Tess of the DUrbervilles
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Harvey Landy
Chapter 1

On a May evening, a middle-aged man walks home to Marlott, with a limp and carrying an empty basket. Along on a horse comes an elderly parson who addresses him as Sir John. The younger man appears confused since his name is simply Jack Durbeyfield. The parson explains that he discovered by accident that Durbeyfield is a lineal representative from the line of d’Urbervilles, an ancient noble family. Jack is shocked to hear of his bloodline, and he asks for more information. The parson tells him unfortunately that they are an extinct family but that their tombs are at Kingsebere-sub-Greenhill. He further relays that there is really no worth to the information, since the great family has fallen and no longer holds any mansions or estates.

Durbeyfield immediately calls a passing boy and summons him to go to the Pure Drop Inn and send back a carriage to carry him the rest of the way home. A d’Urberville ought to travel in style. The boy is initially skeptical, owing to Durbeyfield’s poverty, but once he is paid, he sets about accomplishing his tasks. Before the lad leaves, Durbeyfield asks him to explain what is the occasion for the brass band he is hearing. It is the women’s club-walking, of which one of Durbeyfield’s daughter is a member. The boy leaves, and Durbeyfield lies upon the grass awaiting his carriage.

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