In chapter XLV Alec follows Tess and then is freaked out by her (or his own reaction to her). Then he’s an ass, again.
Several days have passed since Tess and Alec met and life for Tess is still pretty oppressive. While working in the field she has a visitor, Alec d’Urberville. Tess isn’t happy since she told him to go away and not come back, MEN!
Alec starts out with saying that he needed to check on her, that her life seemed rougher then he had imagined it would be. Alec is also feeling bad about what happened to her in Tantridge. The whole blame is his, except that her parents brought her up to be ignorant of such wicked men.
Alec goes on to tell Tess that he’s going to do missionary work in Africa and will Tess marry him, “will you put it in my power to do my duty-to make the only reparation I can make for the trick played you: that is, will you be my wife, and go with me? I have already obtained this precious document.” I’m not overly shocked he proposed to her, she did have is baby and all. But he’s got a set of balls going out and getting a marriage license before asking her.
Tess tries to tell him no and that she’s just in love with someone else, but is forced to reveal she’s married. This gives Alec the opportunity to question her husband for leaving her behind and allowing her to work in the field like that. Tess does defend Angel, even though Alec is right. Eventually Farmer Groby returns and is not pleased to see Tess not working. Alec is not happy to see how the farmer treats her, but he reluctantly leaves when she tells him to.
After he leaves, Tess does consider the proposal, would she accept if she could? Then remembers that Alec treats her badly and laughs to herself. She also writes a letter to Angel declaring her love to him, but does not mail it. Geez she is stubborn!
In February came Candlemas Fair, the day when laborers go to find new work for the following year/season. Tess did not attend the fair, but instead went to a cottage to stay for the day. While having dinner guess who shows up? Alec d’Urberville…
It seems that Alec took advantage of her, got her pregnant and never thought of her again. But once he reforms and she tells him to screw off, now he can’t stop thinking about her. Oh, and it’s her fault, so would she mind praying for him. Umm, WHAT?
Yea, that’s what Tess said too. Ok, she actually said, “How can I pray for you when I am forbidden to believe that the great Power who moves the world would alter His plans on my account.” Missionary Alec is shocked by this comment and her lack of religion. She reveals that much of her beliefs come from her husband, belief’s, which Alec believes, makes her an infidel.
Alec goes on to tell Tess that he is supposed to be at Casterbridge Fair preaching, but he had to come see her instead. “I have arranged to preach, and I shall not be there-by reason of my burning desire to see a woman whom I once despised!-No, by my word and truth, I never despised you; if I had I should not love you now!” Then goes on to say, “Tess, my girl, I was on the way to, at least, social salvation till I saw you again!”
Yes, it’s all Tess’ fault, she’s a witch of Babylon with a mouth more maddening then Eve’s. He then takes a moment to comment on the lack of care her husband is paying to her. But the more he picks on Angel, the more Tess defends him.
But Alec thinks he has learned enough about Tess and her religion to get him back in her life. I’m sure he’ll have quite the plan hatched in Chapter XLVII.