Tess of the DUrbervilles
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Harvey Landy
Chapter 17

The dairy milkers all milk in much the same way: on a stool, with faces cocked sideways and resting on the cow. The head dairyman, Mr. Crick, spies and greets her, welcoming her quickly and then getting down to business. He cautions her to do a good job milking them, otherwise they get prematurely dry, and she immediately sets to work after drinking a cup of milk to relieve her thirst from her journey.

Tess notices one milker in particular, a young man whom even Mr. Crick calls Sir. Upon observing his face, she realizes that it is the same man whom she regretted not being able to dance with at the Marlott club-walking. He does not recall her, to her relief, but she does note that he is more educated, refined, and handsome than the other males at the house. Tess, herself, is also praised for her own good looks by the other dairymaids.

When the milking is done, Tess heads indoors, finding lodging in the dairyhouse, along with a few other maids. Being tired from her journey, she falls to bed immediately. One of the maids tries to tell her about her new home, including some particulars about Angel Clare. She learns that he is a parson’s son learning his hand at various agricultural branches and too gentlemanly to consider any of the country girls romantically. It is obvious that these other maids are interested in Angel from their dreamy descriptions.

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