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Chapters 19, 20, and 21

Chapter 19

Mr. Crick does not like the cows to have favorite milkers (as shown from their reception of whose hands are upon their udders), but all the milkers continue to have their favorites. One day, Tess finally realizes that what she thought was random chance in getting her favorite cows is really Angel's doing, who has arranged the cows so that she may milk the ones she prefers. They begin the first of many conversations, and Angel is surprised that Tess, although so young, speaks as if she knows a whole lifetime of sorrows. He finds her impressive and interesting that she shares his same views that life has many burdens. Tess understands the reasons for her own sadness, but she cannot understand why Angel can feel the same way as a gentleman of privilege. This mutual puzzlement spurs on their fascination with each other.
Angel even offers to teach Tess some history, since she shows some interest in the subject, but again, Tess speaks pessimistically about the questions in life that not even the wisest books can answer. Angel scoffs at her bitterness, which makes Tess even sadder, thinking that he must think ill of her for her attitude. Thinking she might find favor in his eyes if he knew she is a descendent of the d'Urbervilles, she first asks Mr. Crick if Angel has ever spoken of his opinion on old families. Hearing him relay Angel's disgust for old wealth, Tess is glad for the information and does not mention her heritage to Angel at all.

Chapter 20

The season moves on with the dairyhouse bustling each day, and Tess and Angel each maintain their interest in the other. Tess realizes that she is actually quite happy at Talbothays. Each morning, since Tess is charged with waking everyone up, she and Angel have a few lone moments with each other. Angel tries to tell himself that his interest in Tess is purely philosophical, but he grows more and more fond of Tess. He notes her ethereal beauty and compares her to great heroines of the past, though he feels she is completely unique.

Chapter 21

One day, the dairyhouse is perturbed when the butter does not churn. The Cricks recall an incident in the past when the same thing happened, owing to a relationship gone sour where a man, Jack Dollop, hides in the churn to escape a furious mother after he involves himself with her daughter scandalously. The Cricks speculate that perhaps another budding romance is the cause of their present troubles; however, soon enough, the butter begins to church again.
Meanwhile, Tess is disturbed that her co-workers found the story so humorous, since only she understands the real sorrow behind the tale. She feels wretched and heads to bed early. She is awoken by the whispers of her roommates, Marian, Izzy, and Retty, who are trying to observe Angel. They whisper about who he will marry and acknowledge that he likes Tess the best, even though they conclude that none of them will be his wife since he is a gentleman and they are all below him. Tess, upon hearing their laments, vows to herself that since she has no wish to get married, she will do her best to turn Angel's attention to the other maids. Tess will not stand in the way with silly ideas that one day she might be Mrs. Angel Clare, even though there is lingering hope.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7, 8, and 9
Chapters 10 and 11
Chapters 12, 13, 14, and 15
Chapters 16, 17, and 18
Chapters 19, 20, and 21
Chapters 22, 23, and 24
Chapters 25, 26, and 27
Chapters 28, 29, and 30
Chapters 31 and 32
Chapters 33 and 34
Chapters 35, 36, and 37
Chapters 38, 39, and 40
Chapters 41, 42, 43, and 44
Chapters 45, 46, 47, and 48
Chapters 49, 50, 51, and 52
Chapters 53, 54, and 55
Chapters 56, 57, 58, and 59


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