In Chapter VII Joan fixed Tess up so she could be as fetching as possible when she goes to her new home with people she barely knows, including a 23 or 24 year old man. Everyone has a moment where they think it’s a bad idea, but everyone ignores it.
In Chapter VIII we learn that Tess is a smart, strong woman and Alec is an ass.
Alec starts out with compliments for Tess as she leaves behind “the green valley of her birth, before, a gray country of which she knew nothing.” Nope, Hardy doesn’t make a secret of this book being a tragedy.
Unfortunately, the ride involves quite a few rides down steep hills and Tess is a little sensitive since the accident with Prince. She asks him to go slowly but he give some excuse about his horse having a temper.
But, if she lets Alec give her a kiss he might be able to get the horse to go slow. Sleaze ball! She does allow him a kiss, but only after refusing, threatening that she shouldn’t have come and on the verge of tears. Tess quickly wipes away the kiss, which quickly kills the remaining good will in the carriage.
When the next descent comes he pretty much threatens a kiss or a rough ride. She agrees to the kiss and her hat mysteriously flies off. Although Alec fetches her hat, she also dismounts and refused to ride again. Instead she’ll walk the miles to farm (The Slopes) with him in the carriage beside her.
Seriously? What a creep! But I’m thankful she’s got a brain and a stubborn streak to her!