Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
The following excerpt is from a novel set in England in the late 19th century.
1. The village of Marlott lay amid the north-eastern undulations of
2. the beautiful Vale of Blakemore, or Blackmoor, aforesaid, an
3. engirdled and secluded region, for the most part untrodden as yet
4. by tourist or landscape-painter, though within a four hours'
5. journey from London.
6. It is a vale whose acquaintance is best made by viewing it from the
7. summits of the hills that surround it—except perhaps during the
8. droughts of summer. An unguided ramble into its recesses
9. in bad weather is apt to engender dissatisfaction with its narrow,
10. tortuous, and miry ways.
11. This fertile and sheltered tract of country, in which the fields are
12. never brown and the springs never dry, is bounded on the
13. south by the bold chalk ridge that embraces the prominences of
14. Hambledon Hill, Bulbarrow, Nettlecombe-Tout, Dogbury,
15. High Stoy, and Bubb Down. The traveller from the coast, who,
16. after plodding northward for a score of miles over calcareous
17. downs and corn-lands, suddenly reaches the verge of one of these
18. escarpments, is surprised and delighted to behold, extended
19. like a map beneath him, a country differing absolutely from
20. that which he has passed through. Behind him the hills are open,
21. the sun blazes down upon fields so large as to give an unenclosed
22. character to the landscape, the lanes are white, the hedges low
23. and plashed, the atmosphere colourless. Here, in the valley,
24. the world seems to be constructed upon a smaller and
25. more delicate scale; the fields are mere paddocks, so reduced that
26. from this height their hedgerows appear a network of dark green
27. threads overspreading the paler green of the grass. The
28. atmosphere beneath is languorous, and is so tinged with
29. azure that what artists call the middle distance partakes also of
30. that hue, while the horizon beyond is of the deepest
31. ultramarine. Arable lands are few and limited; with but slight
32. exceptions the prospect is a broad rich mass of grass and
33. trees, mantling minor hills and dales within the major. Such is
34. the Vale of Blackmoor. The district is of historic, no less
35. than of topographical interest. The Vale was known in former
36. times as the Forest of White Hart, from a curious legend of
37. King Henry III's reign, in which the killing by a certain Thomas
38. de la Lynd of a beautiful white hart which the king had run down
39. and spared, was made the occasion of a heavy fine. In those
40. days, and till comparatively recent times, the country was
41. densely wooded. Even now, traces of its earlier condition are
42. to be found in the old oak copses and irregular belts of timber that
43. yet survive upon its slopes, and the hollow-trunked trees that
44. shade so many of its pastures.
45. The forests have departed, but some old customs of their shades
46. remain. Many, however, linger only in a metamorphosed or
47. disguised form. The May-Day dance, for instance, was to be
48. discerned on the afternoon under notice, in the guise of the club
49. revel, or "club-walking," as it was there called.
50. It was an interesting event to the younger inhabitants of Marlott,
51. though its real interest was not observed by the participators in
52. the ceremony. Its singularity lay less in the retention of a custom
53. of walking in procession and dancing on each anniversary than
54. in the members being solely women. In men's clubs such
55. celebrations were, though expiring, less uncommon; but
56. either the natural shyness of the softer sex, or a sarcastic attitude
57. on the part of male relatives, had denuded such women's clubs as
58. remained (if any other did) or this their glory and
59. consummation. The club of Marlott alone lived to uphold the
60. local Cerealia. It had walked for hundreds of years, if not as
61. benefit-club, as votive sisterhood of some sort; and it walked still.
62. The banded ones were all dressed in white gowns—a gay survival
63. from Old Style days, when cheerfulness and May-time were
64. synonyms—days before the habit of taking long views had reduced
65. emotions to a monotonous average. Their first exhibition of
66. themselves was in a processional march of two and two round the
67. parish. Ideal and real clashed slightly as the sun lit up their
68. figures against the green hedges and creeper-laced house-fronts;
69. for, though the whole troop wore white garments, no two whites
70. were alike among them. Some approached pure blanching; some
71. had a bluish pallor; some worn by the older characters (which
72. had possibly lain by folded for many a year) inclined to a
73. cadaverous tint, and to a Georgian style.
74. In addition to the distinction of a white frock, every woman and
75. girl carried in her right hand a peeled willow wand, and in her
76. left a bunch of white flowers. The peeling of the former, and
77. the selection of the latter, had been an operation of personal care.
78. There were a few middle-aged and even elderly women in the train,
79. their silver-wiry hair and wrinkled faces, scourged by time and
80. trouble, having almost a grotesque, certainly a pathetic, appearance in
81. such a jaunty situation. In a true view, perhaps, there was more to
82. be gathered and told of each anxious and experienced one, to
83. whom the years were drawing nigh when she should say, "I have no
84. pleasure in them," than of her juvenile comrades. But let the elder
85. be passed over here for those under whose bodices the life throbbed
86. quick and warm.
87. The young girls formed, indeed, the majority of the band, and their
88. heads of luxuriant hair reflected in the sunshine every tone of gold,
89. and black, and brown. Some had beautiful eyes, others a beautiful
90. nose, others a beautiful mouth and figure: few, if any, had all. A
91. difficulty of arranging their lips in this crude exposure to public
92. scrutiny, an inability to balance their heads, and to dissociate self-
93. consciousness from their features, was apparent in them, and showed
94. that they were genuine country girls, unaccustomed to many eyes.
95. And as each and all of them were warmed without by the sun, so
96. each had a private little sun for her soul to bask in; some dream, some
97. affection, some hobby, at least some remote and distant hope
98. which, though perhaps starving to nothing, still lived on, as hopes
99. will. They were all cheerful, and many of them merry.
Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles : A Pure Woman. New York: Harper & Bros., 1892. HathiTrust Digital Library. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
What can be inferred about the "peeled willow wand" (line 75) and the "bunch of white flowers" (line 76) based on the last paragraph of the passage?