In Chapter X we left with Tess jumping out of the fying-pan an into the fire, or onto Alec’s horse.
In Chapter XI Thomas Hardy pisses me off! Even though I know what is to happen with Alec, Hardy makes him likable, at times. Gee thanks!
Alec and Tess are riding along and Tess is having mixed emotions. On the one hand she’s happy to be away from the Queens of Spades and Diamonds and on the other hand, she’s with Alec. As they ride, Alec asks why Tess does not like his kisses and she explains that she is not in love with him and he makes her angry. And further that she is not able to truly express this given her circumstances there.
Meanwhile, enjoying having Tess close to him, Alec does not go straight to Tess’ cottage. Instead he takes some different trails and gets them completely lost.
It’s near 1:00 AM, Tess is exhausted and falling asleep so Alec stops the horse and tries to adjust the way they are sitting. He claims to her it’s to keep her from falling, but it’s also so he can hold her. This of course leads to a bit of an argument between the two: Alec insisting he was being polite, which is partially true. But he also says he loves her and that he’s tired of being snubbed and trifled with for months. See, I start to feel a little bad for Alec, that whole unrequited love thing is terrible. Tess felt bad too and submits to being held by Alec.
After a bit Tess realizes they are lost, or at least not on the trail back to her cottage. Alec makes no lies about this, but explains that he is prolonging their time together. Tess is naturally pissed off and insists on getting off the horse. STAY ON THE HORSE GIRL!
He stops and explains that they are a bit lost, it’s foggy and he’ll allow her off provided she allows him to go off and figure out where they are. She agrees to stay behind with the horse while he goes searching for the road.
Oh, but one thing before he goes. Alec tells her he sent a horse to her father and toys to her siblings, leaving Tess with mixed emotions and she starts to cry. On the one hand she’s grateful, but she’s afraid of what it might mean. Before he leaves he also gives Tess his coat to keep her warm, see the man does have manners at times. DAMN YOU THOMAS HARDY! I want to hate him for manipulating her, but I also think he genuinely likes her and wants to take care of her. The feeling doesn’t last too long.
Alec truly is lost and gets lost while searching for the road and his way back to Tess. Meanwhile, Tess falls asleep, as does her guardian angel. When Alec returns he practically stumbles over her and what perhaps starts as a tender moment watching her sleep turns into her debasement/rape.
Written in true Victorian style, you need to read deep (or twice with a peak that the next section is called “Maiden No More”). Ok, we are given a description of the rape in 3 pages of writing. “Doubtless some of Tess d’Urberville’s mailed ancestors rollicked home from a fray had dealt the same measure even more ruthlessly towards peasant girls of their time.” Well at least we know he wasn’t a complete barbarian.
I think what feelings on this chapter are best expressed by saying that I read it before going to bed with the intention of writing in the morning. Instead I had had to write about this chapter in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep. DAMN YOU ALEC!