Tess of the DUrbervilles
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Harvey Landy
Chapter 2

That day, the May-Day dance is happening, where the women are walking and dancing together in a sisterhood. They are all dressed in white gowns, though no two shades of white are the same. Each woman also carries a peeled willow-wand and white flowers of their own choosing. Though there are several older women in the group, most are young country girls.

As they walk past the Pure Drop Inn, one of the girls sees Tress Durbeyfield’s father, Jack, riding home in a carriage. Tess, a pretty and innocent-looking girl, is embarrassed at the sight of her father, makes an excuse for his appearance, and scurries away.

At the dance, the girls first dance with each other, since the men have not retired from work just yet. Among the onlookers are three brothers, passing through Marlott. The elder two, Felix and Cuthbert, do not wish to dance with the girls who are below them in status, but the youngest, Angel, stays for a few dances, agreeing to meet up with his brothers after a short while. Angel enters and chooses a girl with whom to dance. His boldness encourages other men to join in and soon the barn is alive with dancing and music.

When Angel finally notices the time, he takes leave of the girls, only then noticing Tess with whom he regrets not having danced. Still there is no time to dawdle on the regret since he is late meeting his brothers and he takes off running. He looks back to see Tess watching him leave. He is again struck by the sad wish that he had danced with her but not being able to help the situation, he dismisses the subject and continues running.

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