Part 7 out of 9
may have had the best of intentions in withholding for
as many days as possible the details of what had
happened to Fanny; but had he known that Bathsheba's
perceptions had already been exercised in the matter,
he would have done nothing to lengthen the minutes of
suspense she was now undergoing, when the certainty
which must terminate it would be the worst fact suspected
She suddenly felt a longing desire to speak to some
one stronger than herself, and so get strength to sustain
her surmised position with dignity and her lurking
doubts with stoicism. Where could she find such a
friend? nowhere in the house. She was by far the
coolest of the women under her roof. Patience and
suspension of judgement for a few hours were what she
wanted to learn, and there was nobody to teach her.
Might she but go to Gabriel Oak! -- but that could not
be. What a way Oak had, she thought, of enduring
things. Boldwood, who seemed so much deeper and
higher and stronger in feeling than Gabriel, had not
yet learnt, any more than she herself, the simple
lesson which Oak showed a mastery of by every turn
and look he gave -- that among the multitude of interests
by which he was surrounded, those which affected his
personal wellbeing were not the most absorbing and
important in his eyes. Oak meditatively looked upon
the horizon of circumstances without any special regard
to his own standpoint in the midst. That was how
she would wish to be. But then Oak was not racked
by incertitude upon the inmost matter of his bosom, as
she was at this moment. Oak knew all about Fanny
that he wished to know -- she felt convinced of that.
If she were to go to him now at once and say no more
than these few words,!What is the truth of the story?"
he would feel bound in honour to tell her. It would
be an inexpressible relief. No further speech would
need to be uttered. He knew her so well that no
eccentricity of behaviour in her would alarm him.
She flung a cloak round her, went to the door and
opened it. Every blade, every twig was still. The air
was yet thick with moisture, though somewhat less dense
than during the afternoon, and a steady smack of drops
upon the fallen leaves under the boughs was almost
musical in its soothing regularity. lt seemed better to
be out of the house than within it, and Bathsheba closed
the door, and walked slowly down the lane till she came
opposite to Gabriel's cottage, where he now lived alone,
having left Coggan's house through being pinched for
room. There was a light in one window only', and that
was downstairs. The shutters were not closed, nor was
any blind or curtain drawn over the window, neither
robbery nor observation being a contingency which could
do much injury to the occupant of the domicile. Yes,
it was Gabriel himself who was sitting up: he was reading,
From her standing-place in the road she could see him
plainly, sitting quite still, his light curly head upon his
hand, and only occasionally looking up to snuff the
candle which stood beside him. At length he looked
at the clock, seemed surprised at the lateness of the
hour, closed his book, and arose. He was going to bed,
she knew, and if she tapped it must be done at once.
Alas for her resolve! She felt she could not do it,
Not for worlds now could she give a hint about her
misery to him, much less ask him plainly for information
on the cause of Fanny's death. She must suspect, and
guess, and chafe, and bear it all alone.
Like a homeless wanderer she lingered by the bank,
as if lulled and fascinated by the atmosphere of content
which seemed to spread from that little dwelling, and
was so sadly lacking in her own. Gabriel appeared in
an upper room, placed his light in the window-bench,
and then -- knelt down to pray. The contrast of the
picture with her rebellious and agitated existence at this
same time was too much for her to bear to look upon
longer. It was not for her to make a truce with
trouble by any such means. She must tread her giddy
distracting measure to its last note, as she had begun it.
With a swollen heart she went again up the lane, and
entered her own door.
More fevered now by a reaction from the first feelings
which Oak's example had raised in her, she paused in
the hall, looking at the door of the room wherein Fanny
lay. She locked her fingers, threw back her head, and
strained her hot hands rigidly across her forehead, saying,
with a hysterical sob, "Would to God you would speak
and tell me your secret, Fanny! . , . O, I hope, hope
it is not true that there are two of you! ... If I could
only look in upon you for one little minute, I should
A few moments passed, and she added, slowly, "And
Bathsheba in after times could never gauge the mood
which carried her through the actions following this
murmured resolution on this memorable evening of her
life. She went to the lumber-closet for a screw-driver.
At the end of a short though undefined time she found
herself in the small room, quivering with emotion, a mist
before her eyes, and an excruciating pulsation in her
brain, standing beside the uncovered coffin of the girl
whose conjectured end had so entirely engrossed her, and
saying to herself in a husky voice as she gazed within --
"It was best to know the worst, and I know it now!"
She was conscious of having brought about this
situation by a series of actions done as by one in an
extravagant dream; of following that idea as to method,
which had burst upon her in the hall with glaring
obviousness, by gliding to the top of the stairs, assuring
herself by listening to the heavy breathing of her maids
that they were asleep, gliding down again, turning the
handle of the door within which the young girl lay, and
deliberately setting herself to do what, if she had antici-
pated any such undertaking at night and alone, would
have horrified her, but which, when done, was not so
dreadful as was the conclusive proof of her husband's
conduct which came with knowing beyond doubt the
last chapter of Fanny's story.
Bathsheba's head sank upon her bosom, and the
breath which had been bated in suspense, curiosity, and
interest, was exhaled now in the form of a whispered
wail: "Oh-h-h!" she said, and the silent room added
length to her moan.
Her tears fell fast beside the unconscious pair in the
coffin: tears of a complicated origin, of a nature inde-
scribable, almost indefinable except as other than those
of simple sorrow. Assuredly their wonted fires must
have lived in Fanny's ashes when events were so shaped
as to chariot her hither in this natural, unobtrusive, yet
effectual manner. The one feat alone -- that of dying --
by which a mean condition could be resolved into a
grand one, Fanny had achieved. And to that had
destiny subjoined this rencounter to-night, which had,
in Bathsheba's wild imagining, turned her companion's
failure to success, her humiliation to triumph, her luck-
lessness to ascendency; et had thrown over herself a
garish light of mockery, and set upon all things about
her an ironical smile.
Fanny's face was framed in by that yellow hair of
hers; and there was no longer much room for doubt as
to the origin of the curl owned by Troy. In Bath-
sheba's heated fancy the innocent white countenance
expressed a dim triumphant consciousness of the pain
she was retaliating for her pain with all the merciless
rigour of the Mosaic law: "Burning for burning; wound
for wound: strife for strife.
Bathsheba indulged in contemplations of escape from
her position by immediate death, which thought she,
though it was an inconvenient and awful way, had limits
to its inconvenience and awfulness that could not be
overpassed; whilst the shames of life were measureless.
Yet even this scheme of extinction by death was out
tamely copying her rival's method without the reasons
which had glorified it in her rival's case. She glided
rapidly up and down the room, as was mostly her habit
hen excited, her hands hanging clasped in front of her,
as she thought and in part expressed in broken words:
O, I hate her, yet I don't mean that I hate her, for
it is grievous and wicked; and yet I hate her a little!
yes, my flesh insists upon hating her, whether my spirit
is willing or no!... If she had only lived, I could
ave been angry and cruel towards her with some justifi-
cation; but to be vindictive towards a poor dead woman
recoils upon myself. O God, have mercy,! I am
miserable at all this!"
Bathsheba became at this moment so terrified at her
own state of mind that she looked around for some sort
of refuge from herself. The vision of Oak kneeling
down that night recurred to her, and with the imitative
instinct which animates women she seized upon the idea,
resolved to kneel, and, if possible, pray. Gabriel had
prayed; so would she.
She knelt beside the coffin, covered her face with her
hands, and for a time the room was silent as a tomb.
whether from a purely mechanical, or from any other
cause, when Bathsheba arose it was with a quieted spirit,
and a regret for the antagonistic instincts which had
seized upon her just before.
In her desire to make atonement she took flowers
from a vase by the window, and began laying them
around the dead girl's head. Bathsheba knew no other
way of showing kindness to persons departed than by
giving them flowers. She knew not how long she
remained engaged thus. She forgot time, life, where
she was, what she was doing. A slamming together of
the coach-house doors in the yard brought her to her-
self again. An instant after, the front door opened and
closed, steps crossed the hall, and her husband appeared
at the entrance to the room, looking in upon her.
He beheld it all by degrees, stared in stupefaction at
the scene, as if he thought it an illusion raised by some
incantation. Bathsheba, pallid as a corpse on
end, gazed back at him in the same wild way.
So little are instinctive guesses the fruit of a legitimate
induction, that at this moment, as he stood with the
door in his hand, Troy never once thought of Fanny in
connection with what he saw. His first confused idea
was that somebody in the house had died.
"Well -- what?" said Troy, blankly.
"I must go! I must go!" said Bathsheba, to herself
more than to him. She came with a dilated eye towards
the door, to push past him.
"What's the matter, in God's name? who's dead?"
"I cannot say; let me go out. I want air!" she
"But no; stay, I insist!" He seized her hand, and
then volition seemed to leave her, and she went off into
a state of passivity. He, still holding her, came up the
room, and thus, hand in hand, Troy and Bathsheba
approached the coffin's side.
The candle was standing on a bureau close by them,
and the light slanted down, distinctly enkindling the
cold features of both mother and babe. Troy looked
in, dropped his wife's hand, knowledge of it all came
over him in a lurid sheen, and he stood still.
So still he remained that he could be imagined to
have left in him no motive power whatever. The
clashes of feeling in all directions confounded one
another, produced a neutrality, and there was motion in
"Do you know her?" said Bathsheba, in a small
enclosed echo, as from the interior of a cell.
"I do." said Troy.
"Is it she?"
He had originally stood perfectly erect. And now,
in the wellnigh congealed immobility of his frame
could be discerned an incipient movement, as in the
darkest night may be discerned light after a while.
He was gradually sinking forwards. The lines of his
features softened, and dismay modulated to illimitable
sadness. Bathsheba was regarding him from the other
side, still with parted lips and distracted eyes. Capacity
for intense feeling is proportionate to the general
intensity of the nature ,and perhaps in all Fanny's
sufferings, much greater relatively to her strength, there
never was a time she suffered in an absolute sense
what Bathsheba suffered now.
What Troy did was to sink upon his knees with
an indefinable union of remorse and reverence upon
his face, and, bending over Fanny Robin, gently kissed
her, as one would kiss an infant asleep to avoid
At the sight and sound of that, to her, unendurable
act, Bathsheba sprang towards him. All the strong
feelings which had been scattered over her existence
since she knew what feeling was, seemed gathered
together into one pulsation now. The revulsion from
her indignant mood a little earlier, when she had
meditated upon compromised honour, forestalment,
eclipse in maternity by another, was violent and entire.
All that was forgotten in the simple and still strong
attachment of wife to husband. She had sighed for
her self-completeness then, and now she cried aloud
against the severance of the union she had deplored.
She flung her arms round Troy's neck, exclaiming wildly
from the deepest deep of her heart --
"Don't -- don't kiss them! O, Frank, I can"t bear
it-i can't! I love you better than she did: kiss me
too, Frank -- kiss me! You will, Frank, kiss me too!"
There was something so abnormal and startling in
the childlike pain and simplicity of this appeal from a
woman of Bathsheba's calibre and independence, that
Troy, loosening her tightly clasped arms from his neck,
looked at her in bewilderment. It was such and unex-
pected revelation of all women being alike at heart, even
those so different in their accessories as Fanny and this
one beside him, that Troy could hardly seem to believe
her to be his proud wife Bathsheba. Fanny's own
spirit seemed to be animating her frame. But this was
the mood of a few instants only. When the momentary
"I will not kiss you!" he said pushing her away.
Had the wife now but gone no further. Yet,
perhaps. under the harrowing circumstances, to speak
out was the one wrong act which can be better under-
stood, if not forgiven in her, than the right and politic
one, her rival being now but a corpse. All the feeling
she had been betrayed into showing she drew back to
herself again by a strenuous effort of self-command.
"What have you to say as your reason?" she asked
her bitter voice being strangely low -- quite that of
another woman now.
"I have to say that I have been a bad, black-hearted
man." he answered.
less than she."
"Ah! don't taunt me, madam. This woman is more
to me, dead as she is, than ever you were, or are, or can
be. If Satan had not tempted me with that face of
yours, and those cursed coquetries, I should have
He turned to Fanny then. "But never mind, darling,
At these words there arose from Bathsheba's lips a
long, low cry of measureless despair and indignation,
such a wail of anguish as had never before been heard
within those old-inhabited walls. It was the product*
of her union with Troy.
"If she's -- that, -- what -- am I?" she added, as a
continuation of the same cry, and sobbing pitifully:
and the rarity with her of such abandonment only made
the condition more dire.
"You are nothing to me -- nothing." said Troy,
heartlessly. "A ceremony before a priest doesn't make
a marriage. I am not morally yours."
A vehement impulse to flee from him, to run from
this place, hide, and escape his words at any price, not
stopping short of death itself, mastered Bathsheba now.
She waited not an instant, but turned to the door and
UNDER A TREE -- REACTION
BATHSHEBA went along the dark road, neither know-
ing nor caring about the direction or issue of her flight.
The first time that she definitely noticed her position
was when she reached a gate leading into a thicket over-
hung by some large oak and beech trees. On looking
into the place, it occurred to her that she had seen it
by daylight on some previous occasion, and that what
appeared like an impassable thicket was in reality a
brake of fern now withering fast. She could think of
nothing better to do with her palpitating self than to go
in here and hide; and entering, she lighted on a spot
sheltered from the damp fog by a reclining trunk, where
she sank down upon a tangled couch of fronds and
stems. She mechanically pulled some armfuls round
her to keep off the breezes, and closed her eyes.
Whether she slept or not that night Bathsheba was
not clearly aware. But it was with a freshened exist-
ence and a cooler brain that, a long time afterwards, she
became conscious of some interesting proceedings which
were going on in the trees above her head and around.
A coarse-throated chatter was the first sound.
It was a sparrow just waking.
Next: "Chee-weeze-weeze-weeze!" from another
It was a finch.
Third: "Tink-tink-tink-tink-a-chink!" from the hedge,
It was a robin.
Then, from the road, "With my ra-ta-ta, and my
It was a ploughboy. Presently he came opposite,
and she believed from his voice that he was one of
the boys on her own farm. He was followed by a
shambling tramp of heavy feet, and looking through
the ferns Bathsheba could just discern in the wan light
of daybreak a team of her own horses. They stopped
to drink at a pond on the other side of the way'. She
watched them flouncing into the pool, drinking, tossing
up their heads, drinking again, the water dribbling
from their lips in silver threads. There was another
flounce, and they came out of the pond, and turned
back again towards the farm.
She looked further around. Day was just dawning,
and beside its cool air and colours her heated actions
and resolves of the night stood out in lurid contrast.
She perceived that in her lap, and clinging to her
hair, were red and yellow leaves which had come
down from the tree and settled silently upon her
during her partial sleep. Bathsheba shook her dress to
get rid of them, when multitudes of the same family lying
round about her rose and fluttered away in the breeze
thus created, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing."
There was an opening towards the east, and the
glow from the as yet unrisen sun attracted her eyes
thither. From her feet, and between the beautiful
yellowing ferns with their feathery arms, the ground
sloped downwards to a hollow, in which was a species
of swamp, dotted with fungi. A morning mist hung
over it now -- a fulsome yet magnificent silvery veil,
full of light from the sun, yet semi-opaque -- the hedge
behind it being in some measure hidden by its hazy
luminousness. Up the sides of this depression grew
sheaves of the common rush, and here and there a
peculiar species of flag, the blades of which glistened
in the emerging sun, like scythes. But the general
aspect of the swamp was malignant. From its moist
and poisonous coat seemed to be exhaled the essences
of evil things in the earth, and in the waters under
the earth. The fungi grew in all manner of positions
from rotting leaves and tree stumps, some exhibiting
to her listless gaze their clammy tops, others their
oozing gills. Some were marked with great splotches,
red as arterial blood, others were saffron yellow, and
others tall and attenuated, with stems like macaroni.
Some were leathery and of richest browns. The
hollow seemed a nursery of pestilences small and
great, in the immediate neighbourhood of comfort
and health, and Bathsheba arose with a tremor at the
thought of having passed the night on the brink of
so dismal a place.
"There were now other footsteps to be heard along
the road. Bathsheba's nerves were still unstrung:
she crouched down out of sight again, and the pedes-
trian came into view. He was a schoolboy, with a
bag slung over his shoulder containing his dinner,
and a hook in his hand. He paused by the gate,
and, without looking up, continued murmuring words
in tones quite loud enough to reach her ears.
"O Lord, O Lord, O Lord, O Lord, O Lord": --
that I know out o' book. "Give us, give us, give us,
give us, give us": -- that I know. "Grace that, grace that,
grace that, grace that": -- that I know." Other words
followed to the same effect. The boy was of the
dunce class apparently; the book was a psalter, and
this was his way of learning the collect. In the worst
attacks of trouble there appears to be always a super-
ficial film of consciousness which is left disengaged
and open to the notice of trifles, and Bathsheba was
faintly amused at the boy's method, till he too passed on.
By this time stupor had given place to anxiety, and
anxiety began to make room for hunger and thirst.
A form now appeared upon the rise on the other side
of the swamp, half-hidden by the mist, and came
towards Bathsheba. The woman -- for it was a woman
-- approached with her face askance, as if looking
earnestly on all sides of her. When she got a little
further round to the left, and drew nearer, Bathsheba
could see the newcomer's profile against the sunny
sky', and knew the wavy sweep from forehead to chin,
with neither angle nor decisive line anywhere about
it, to be the familiar contour of Liddy Smallbury.
Bathsheba's heart bounded with gratitude in the
thought that she was not altogether deserted, and she
jumped up. "O, Liddy!" she said, or attempted to say;
but the words had only been framed by her lips; there
came no sound. She had lost her voice by exposure
to the clogged atmosphere all these hours of night.
"O, ma'am! I am so glad I have found you." said
the girl, as soon as she saw Bathsheba.
"You can't come across." Bathsheba said in a whisper,
which she vainly endeavoured to make loud enough to
reach Liddy's ears. Liddy, not knowing this, stepped
down upon the swamp, saying, as she did so, "It will
bear me up, I think."
Bathsheba never forgot that transient little picture
of Liddy crossing the swamp to her there in the
morning light. Iridescent bubbles of dank subter-
ranean breath rose from the sweating sod beside the
waiting maid's feet as she trod, hissing as they burst
and expanded away to join the vapoury firmament above.
Liddy did not sink, as Bathsheba had anticipated.
She landed safely on the other side, and looked up
at the beautiful though pale and weary face of her
"Poor thing!" said Liddy, with tears in her eyes,
Do hearten yourself up a little, ma'am. However
did -- -- "
"I can't speak above a whisper -- my voice is gone
for the present." said Bathsheba, hurriedly." I suppose
the damp air from that hollow has taken it away
Liddy, don't question me, mind. Who sent you --
"Nobody. I thought, when I found you were not
at home, that something cruel had happened. I fancy
I heard his voice late last night; and so, knowing
something was wrong -- -- "
"Is he at home?"
"No; he left just before I came out."
"Is Fanny taken away?"
"Not yet. She will soon be -- at nine o'clock."
"we won't go home at present, then. Suppose we
walk about in this wood?"
Liddy, without exactly understanding everything, or
anything, in this episode, assented, and they walked
together further among the trees.
"But you had better come in, ma'am, and have
something to eat. You will die of a chill!"
"I shall not come indoors yet -- perhaps never."
"Shall I get you something to eat, and something
else to put over your head besides that little shawl?"
"If you will, Liddy."
Liddy vanished, and at the end of twenty minutes
returned with a cloak, hat, some slices of bread and
butter, a tea-cup, and some hot tea in a little china jug
"Is Fanny gone?" said Bathsheba.
"No." said her companion, pouring out the tea.
Bathsheba wrapped herself up and ate and drank
sparingly. Her voice was then a little clearer, and
trifling colour returned to her face. "Now we'll walk
about again." she said.
They wandered about the wood for nearly two
hours, Bathsheba replying in monosyllables to Liddy's
prattle, for her mind ran on one subject, and one only.
She interrupted with --
"l wonder if Fanny is gone by this time?"
"I will go and see."
She came back with the information that the
men were just taking away the corpse; that Bathsheba
had been inquired for; that she had replied to the
effect that her mistress was unwell and could not be
"Then they think I am in my bedroom?"
"Yes." Liddy then ventured to add:" You said
when I first found you that you might never go home
again -- you didn't mean it, ma'am?"
"No; I've altered my mind. It is only women with
no pride in them who run away from their husbands.
There is one position worse than that of being found
dead in your husband's house from his ill usage, and
that is, to be found alive through having gone away to
The house of somebody else. I've thought of it all this
morning, and I've chosen my course. A runaway wife
is an encumbrance to everybody, a burden to herself and
a byword -- all of which make up a heap of misery
greater than any that comes by staying at home --
though this may include the trifling items of insult,
beating, and starvation. Liddy, if ever you marry --
God forbid that you ever should! -- you'll find yourself
in a fearful situation; but mind this, don't you flinch.
Stand your ground, and be cut to pieces. That's
what I'm going to do."
"O, mistress, don't talk so!" said Liddy,-taking her
hand; "but I knew you had too much sense to bide
away. May I ask what dreadful thing it is that has
happened between you and him?"
"You may ask; but I may not tell."
In about ten minutes they returned to the house by
a circuitous route, entering at the rear. Bathsheba
glided up the back stairs to a disused attic, and her
"Liddy." she said, with a lighter heart, for youth and
hope had begun to reassert themselves;" you are to be
my confidante for the present -- somebody must be -- and
I choose you. Well, I shall take up my abode here for
a while. Will you get a fire lighted, put down a piece
of carpet, and help me to make the place comfortable.
Afterwards, I want you and Maryann to bring up that
little stump bedstead in the small room, and the be
belonging to it, and a table, and some other things.
What shall I do to pass the heavy time away?"
"Hemming handkerchiefs is a very good thing." said
"O no, no! I hate needlework-i always did."
"And that, too."
"You might finish your sampler. Only the carna-
tions and peacocks want filling in; and then it could
be framed and glazed, and hung beside your aunt"
"Samplers are out of date -- horribly countrified. No
Liddy, I'll read. Bring up some books -- not new ones.
I haven't heart to read anything new."
"Some of your uncle's old ones, ma'am?"
"Yes. Some of those we stowed away in boxes." A
faint gleam of humour passed over her face as she said:
"Bring Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid's Tragedy, and
the Mourning Bride, and let me see -- Night Thoughts,
and the Vanity of Human Wishes."
"And that story of the black man, who murdered his
wife Desdemona? It is a nice dismal one that would
suit you excellent just now."
"Now, Liddy, you've been looking into my book
without telling me; and I said you were not to! How
do you know it would suit me? It wouldn't suit me a
"But if the others do -- -- "
"No, they don't; and I won't read dismal books.
Why should I read dismal books, indeed? Bring me
Love in a Village, and Maid of the Mill, and Doctor
Syntax, and some volumes of the Spectator."
All that day Bathsheba and Liddy lived in the attic
in a state of barricade; a precaution which proved to be
needless as against Troy, for he did not appear in the
neighbourhood or trouble them at all. Bathsheba sat
at the window till sunset, sometimes attempting to read,
at other times watching every movement outside without
much purpose, and listening without much interest to
The sun went down almost blood-red that night, and
a livid cloud received its rays in the east. Up against
this dark background the west front of the church
tower -- the only part of the edifice visible from the
farm-house windows -- rose distinct and lustrous, the
vane upon the summit bristling with rays. Hereabouts,
at six o'clock, the young men of the village gathered,
as was their custom, for a game of Prisoners' base. The
spot had been consecrated to this ancient diversion from
time immemorial, the old stocks conveniently forming
a base facing the boundary of the churchyard, in front
of which the ground was trodden hard and bare as a
pavement by the players. She could see the brown
and black heads of the young lads darting about right
and left, their white shirt-sleeves gleaming in the sun;
whilst occasionally a shout and a peal of hearty laughter
varied the stillness of the evening air. They continued
playing for a quarter of an hour or so, when the game
concluded abruptly, and the players leapt over the wall
and vanished round to the other side behind a yew-tree,
which was also half behind a beech, now spreading in
one mass of golden foliage, on which the branches
traced black lines.
"Why did the base-players finish their game so
suddenly?" Bathsheba inquired, the next time that
Liddy entered the room.
"I think 'twas because two men came just then from
Casterbridge and began putting up grand carved
tombstone." said Liddy. "The lads went to see whose
"Do you know?" Bathsheba asked.
"I don't." said Liddy.
WHEN Troy's wife had left the house at the previous
midnight his first act was to cover the dead from sight.
This done he ascended the stairs, and throwing himself
down upon the bed dressed as he was, he waited miser-
ably for the morning.
Fate had dealt grimly with him through the last four-
and-twenty hours. His day had been spent in a way
which varied very materially from his intentions regard-
ing it. There is always an inertia to be overcome in
striking out a new line of conduct -- not more in our-
selves, it seems, than in circumscribing events, which
appear as if leagued together to allow no novelties in
the way of amelioration.
Twenty pounds having been secured from Bathsheba,
he had managed to add to the sum every farthing he
could muster on his own account, which had been seven
pounds ten. With this money, twenty-seven pounds ten
in all, he had hastily driven from the gate that morning
to keep his appointment with Fanny Robin.
On reaching Casterbridge he left the horse and trap
at an inn, and at five minutes before ten came back to
the bridge at the lower end of the town, and sat himself
upon the parapet. The clocks struck the hour, and no
Fanny appeared. In fact, at that moment she was being
robed in her grave-clothes by two attendants at the
Union poorhouse -- the first and last tiring-women the
gentle creature had ever been honoured with. The
quarter went, the half hour. A rush of recollection
came upon Troy as he waited: this was the second
time she had broken a serious engagement with him
In anger he vowed it should be the last, and at eleven
o'clock, when he had lingered and watched the stone
of the bridge till he knew every lichen upon their face
and heard the chink of the ripples underneath till they
oppressed him, he jumped from his seat, went to the inn
for his gig, and in a bitter mood of indifference con-
cerning the past, and recklessness about the future,
drove on to Budmouth races.
He reached the race-course at two o'clock, and re-
mained either there or in the town till nine, But
Fanny's image, as it had appeared to him in the sombre
shadows of that Saturday evening, returned to his mind,
backed up by Bathsheba's reproaches. He vowed he
would not bet, and he kept his vow, for on leaving the
town at nine o'clock in the evening he had diminish
his cash only to the extent of a few shillings.
He trotted slowly homeward, and it was now that
was struck for the first time with a thought that Fanny
had been really prevented by illness from keeping her
promise. This time she could have made no mistake
He regretted that he had not remained in Casterbridge
and made inquiries. Reaching home he quietly un-
harnessed the horse and came indoors, as we have seen,
to the fearful shock that awaited him.
As soon as it grew light enough to distinguish objects,
Troy arose from the coverlet of the bed, and in a mood
of absolute indifference to Bathsheba's whereabouts, a
almost oblivious of her existence, he stalked downstairs
and left the house by the back door. His walk was
towards the churchyard, entering which he searched
around till he found a newly dug unoccupied grave --
the grave dug the day before for Fanny. The position
of this having been marked, he hastened on to Caster-
bridge, only pausing
whereon he had last seen Fanny alive.
Reaching the town, Troy descended into a side
street and entered a pair of gates surmounted by a board
bearing the words, "Lester, stone and marble mason."
Within were lying about stones of all sizes and designs,
inscribed as being sacred to the memory of unnamed
persons who had not yet died.
Troy was so unlike himself now in look, word, and
deed, that the want of likeness was perceptible even to
his own consciousness. His method of engaging himself
in this business of purchasing a tomb was that of an
absolutely unpractised man. He could not bring him-
self to consider, calculate, or economize. He waywardly
wished for something, and he set about obtaining it like
a child in a nursery. 'I want a good tomb." he said to
the man who stood in a little office within the yard.
"I want as good a one as you can give me for twenty-
It was all the money he possessed.
"That sum to include everything?"
"Everything. Cutting the name, carriage to Weather-
bury, and erection. And I want it now at once ."
"We could not get anything special worked this
"If you would like one of these in stock it could be
got ready immediately."
"Very well." said Troy, impatiently. "Let's see what
"The best I have in stock is this one," said the stone-
cutter, going into a shed." Here's a marble headstone
beautifully crocketed, with medallions beneath of typical
subjects; here's the footstone after the same pattern,
and here's the coping to enclose the- grave. The
slabs are the best of their kind, and I can warrant them
"Well, I could add the name, and put it up at
visitor who wore not a shred of mourning. Troy then
settled the account and went away. In the afternoon
almost done. He waited in the yard till the tomb was
way to Weatherbury, giving directions to the two men
the grave of the person named in the inscription.
bridge. He carried rather a heavy basket upon his
occasionally at bridges and gates, whereon he deposited
returning in the darkness, the men and the waggon
the work was done, and, on being assured that it was,
Troy entered Weatherbury churchyard about ten
had marked the vacant grave early in the morning. It
extent from the view of passers along the road -- a spot
and bushes of alder, but now it was cleared and made
the ground elsewhere.
Here now stood the tomb as the men had stated, snow-
white and shapely in the gloom, consisting of head and
foot-stone, and enclosing border of marble-work uniting
them. In the midst was mould, suitable for plants.
Troy deposited his basket beside the tomb, and
vanished for a few minutes. When he returned he
carried a spade and a lantern, the light of which he
directed for a few moments upon the marble, whilst he
read the inscription. He hung his lantern on the lowest
bough of the yew-tree, and took from his basket flower-
roots of several varieties. There were bundles of snow-
drop, hyacinth and crocus bulbs, violets and double
daisies, which were to bloom in early spring, and of
carnations, pinks, picotees, lilies of the valley, forget-me-
not, summer's-farewell, meadow-saffron and others, for
the later seasons of the year.
Troy laid these out upon the grass, and with an im-
passive face set to work to plant them. The snowdrops
were arranged in a line on the outside of the coping,
the remainder within the enclosure of the grave. The
crocuses and hyacinths were to grow in rows; some of
the summer flowers he placed over her head and feet,
the lilies and forget-me-nots over her heart. The
remainder were dispersed in the spaces between these.
Troy, in his prostration at this time, had no percep-
tion that in the futility of these romantic doings, dictated
by a remorseful reaction from previous indifference, there
was any element of absurdity. Deriving his idiosyn-
crasies from both sides of the Channel, he showed at
such junctures as the present the inelasticity of the
Englishman, together with that blindness to the line
where sentiment verges on mawkishness, characteristic
of the French.
lt was a cloudy, muggy, and very dark night, and
the rays from Troy's lantern spread into the two old
yews with a strange illuminating power, flickering, as it
seemed, up to the black ceiling of cloud above. He
felt a large drop of rain upon the back of his hand, and
presently one came and entered one of the holes of the
lantern, whereupon the candle sputtered and went out-
Troy was weary and it being now not far from midnight,
and the rain threatening to increase, he resolved to leave
the finishing touches of his labour until the day should
break. He groped along the wall and over the graves
in the dark till he found himself round at the north side.
Here he entered the porch, and, reclining upon the
bench within, fell asleep.
THE GURGOYLE: ITS DOINGS
THE tower of Weatherbury Church was a square
erection of fourteenth-century date, having two stone
gurgoyles on each of the four faces of its parapet. Of
these eight carved protuberances only two at this time
continued to serve the purpose of their erection -- that
of spouting the water from the lead roof within. One
mouth in each front had been closed by bygone church-
wardens as superfluous, and two others were broken
away and choked -- a matter not of much consequence
to the wellbeing of the tower, for the two mouths which
still remained open and active were gaping enough to do
all the work.
It has been sometimes argued that there is no truer
criterion of the vitality of any given art-period than the
power of the master-spirits of that time in grotesque;
and certainly in the instance of Gothic art there is no
disputing the proposition. Weatherbury tower was a
somewhat early instance of the use of an ornamental
parapet in parish as distinct from cathedral churches,
and the gurgoyles, which are the necessary correlatives
of a parapet, were exceptionally prominent -- of the
boldest cut that the hand could shape, and of the most
original design that a human brain could conceive.
There was, so to speak, that symmetry in their distortion
which is less the characteristic of British than of
Continental grotesques of the period. All the eight
were different from each other. A beholder was con-
vinced that nothing on earth could be more hideous
than those he saw on the north side until he went
round to the south. Of the two on this latter face, only
that at the south-eastern corner concerns the story. It
was too human to be called like a dragon, too impish
to be like a man, too animal to be like a fiend, and not
enough like a bird to be called a griffin. This horrible
stone entity was fashioned as if covered with a wrinkled
hide; it had short, erect ears, eyes starting from their
sockets, and its fingers and hands were seizing the
corners of its mouth, which they thus seemed to pull
open to give free passage to the water it vomited. The
lower row of teeth was quite washed away, though the
upper still remained. Here and thus, jutting a couple
of feet from the wall against which its feet rested as a
support, the creature had for four hundred years
laughed at the surrounding landscape, voicelessly in
dry weather, and in wet with a gurgling and snorting
Troy slept on in the porch, and the rain increased
outside. Presently the gurgoyle spat. In due time a
small stream began to trickle through the seventy feet
of aerial space between its mouth and the ground, which
the water-drops smote like duckshot in their accelerated
velocity. The stream thickened in substance, and in-
creased in power, gradually spouting further and yet
further from the side of the tower. When the rain fell
in a steady and ceaseless torrent the stream dashed
downward in volumes.
We follow its course to the ground at this point of
time. The end of the liquid parabola has come forward
from the wall, has advanced over the plinth mouldings,
over a heap of stones, over the marble border, into the
midst of Fanny Robin's grave.
The force of the stream had, until very lately, been
received upon some loose stones spread thereabout,
which had acted as a shield to the soil under the onset.
These during the summer had been cleared from the
ground, and there was now nothing to resist the down-
fall but the bare earth. For several years the stream
had not spouted so far from the tower as it was doing
on this night, and such a contingency had been over-
looked. Sometimes this obscure corner received no
inhabitant for the space of two or three years, and
then it was usually but a pauper, a poacher, or other
sinner of undignified sins.
The persistent torrent from the gurgoyle's jaws
directed all its vengeance into the grave. The rich
tawny mould was stirred into motion, and boiled like
chocolate. The water accumulated and washed deeper
down, and the roar of the pool thus formed spread into
the night as the head and chief among other noises of
the kind created by the deluging rain. The flowers so
carefully planted by Fanny's repentant lover began to
move and writhe in their bed. The winter-violets
turned slowly upside down, and became a mere mat of
mud. Soon the snowdrop and other bulbs danced in
the boiling mass like ingredients in a cauldron. Plants
of the tufted species were loosened, rose to the surface,
and floated of.
Troy did not awake from his comfortless sleep till it
was broad day. Not having been in bed for two nights
his shoulders felt stiff his feet tender, and his head
heavy. He remembered his position, arose, shivered,
took the spade, and again went out.
The rain had quite ceased, and the sun was shining
through the green, brown, and yellow leaves, now
sparkling and varnished by the raindrops to the bright-
ness of similar effects in the landscapes of Ruysdael and
Hobbema, and full of all those infinite beauties that
arise from the union of water and colour with high
lights. The air was rendered so transparent by the
heavy fall of rain that the autumn hues of the middle
distance were as rich as those near at hand, and the
remote fields intercepted by the angle of the tower ap-
peared in the same plane as the tower itself.
He entered the gravel path which would take him
behind the tower. The path, instead of being stony as
it had been the night before, was browned over with a
thin coating of mud. At one place in the path he saw
a tuft of stringy roots washed white and clean as a
bundle of tendons. He picked it up -- surely it could
not be one of the primroses he had planted? He saw
a bulb, another, and another as he advanced. Beyond
doubt they were the crocuses. With a face of perplexed
dismay Troy turned the corner and then beheld the
wreck the stream had made.
The pool upon the grave had soaked away into the
ground, and in its place was a hollow. The disturbed
earth was washed over the grass and pathway in the
guise of the brown mud he had already seen, and it
spotted the marble tombstone with the same stains.
Nearly all the flowers were washed clean out of the
ground, and they lay, roots upwards, on the spots whither
they had been splashed by the stream.
Troy's brow became heavily contracted. He set his
teeth closely, and his compressed lips moved as those of
one in great pain. This singular accident, by a strange
confluence of emotions in him, was felt as the sharpest
sting of all. Troy's face was very expressive, and any
observer who had seen him now would hardly have
believed him to be a man who had laughed, and sung,
and poured love-trifles into a woman's ear. To curse
his miserable lot was at first his impulse, but even that
lowest stage of rebellion needed an activity whose
absence was necessarily antecedent to the existence of the
morbid misery which wrung him. The sight, coming
as it did, superimposed upon the other dark scenery of
the previous days, formed a sort of climax to the whole
panorama, and it was more than he could endure.
Sanguine by nature, Troy had a power of eluding
grief by simply adjourning it. He could put off the
consideration of any particular spectre till the matter
had become old and softened by time. The planting
of flowers on Fanny's grave had been perhaps but a
species of elusion of the primary grief, and now it was
as if his intention had been known and circumvented.
Almost for the first time in his life, Troy, as he stood
by this dismantled grave, wished himself another man.
lt is seldom that a person with much animal spirit does
not feel that the fact of his life being his own is the one
qualification which singles it out as a more hopeful life
than that of others who may actually resemble him in
every particular. Troy had felt, in his transient way,
hundreds of times, that he could not envy other people
their condition, because the possession of that condition
would have necessitated a different personality, when he
desired no other than his own. He had not minded
the peculiarities of his birth, the vicissitudes of his life,
the meteorlike uncertainty of all that related to him,
because these appertained to the hero of his story,
without whom there would have been no story at all for
him; and it seemed to be only in the nature of things
that matters would right themselves at some proper date
and wind up well. This very morning the illusion
completed its disappearance, and, as it were, all of a
sudden, Troy hated himself. The suddenness was
probably more apparent than real. A coral reef which
just comes short of the ocean surface is no more to the
horizon than if it had never been begun, and the mere
finishing stroke is what often appears to create an event
which has long been potentially an accomplished thing.
He stood and mediated -- a miserable man. Whither
should he go? " He that is accursed, let him be accursed
still." was the pitiless anathema written in this spoliated
effort of his new-born solicitousness. A man who has
spent his primal strength in journeying in one direction
has not much spirit left for reversing his course. Troy
had, since yesterday, faintly reversed his; but the merest
opposition had disheartened him. To turn about would
have been hard enough under the greatest providential
encouragement; but to find that Providence, far from
helping him into a new course, or showing any wish
that he might adopt one, actually jeered his first trembling
and critical attempt in that kind, was more than nature
He slowly withdrew from the grave. He did not
attempt to fill up the hole, replace the flowers, or do
anything at all. He simply threw up his cards and
forswore his game for that time and always. Going out
of the churchyard silently and unobserved -- none of the
villagers having yet risen -- he passed down some fields
at the back, and emerged just as secretly upon the high
road. Shortly afterwards he had gone from the village.
Meanwhile, Bathsheba remained a voluntary prisoner
in the attic. The door was kept locked, except during
the entries and exits of Liddy, for whom a bed had
been arranged in a small adjoining room. The light
of Troy's lantern in the churchyard was noticed about
ten o'clock by the maid-servant, who casually glanced
from the window in that direction whilst taking her
supper, and she called Bathsheba's attention to it.
They looked curiously at the phenomenon for a time,
until Liddy was sent to bed.
bathsheba did not sleep very heavily that night.
When her attendant was unconscious and softly breath-
ing in the next room, the mistress of the house was
still looking out of the window at the faint gleam
spreading from among the trees -- not in a steady shine,
but blinking like a revolving coastlight, though this
appearance failed to suggest to her that a person was
passing and repassing in front of it. Bathsheba sat
here till it began to rain, and the light vanished, when
she withdrew to lie restlessly in her bed and re-enact
in a worn mind the lurid scene of yesternight.
Almost before the first faint sign of dawn appeared
she arose again, and opened the window to obtain a full
breathing of the new morning air, the panes being now
wet with trembling tears left by the night rain, each
one rounded with a pale lustre caught from primrose-
hued slashes through a cloud low down in the awaken-
ing sky. From the trees came the sound of steady
dripping upon the drifted leaves under them, and from
the direction of the church she could hear another noise
-- peculiar, and not intermittent like the rest, the purl
of water falling into a pool.
Liddy knocked at eight o'clock, and Bathsheba un-
locked the door.
"What a heavy rain we've had in the night, ma'am!"
said Liddy, when her inquiries about breakfast had been
"Yes, very heavy."
"Did you hear the strange noise from the church
"I heard one strange noise. I've been thinking it
must have been the water from the tower spouts."
"Well, that's what the shepherd was saying, ma'am.
He's now gone on to see."
"Oh! Gabriel has been here this morning!"
"Only just looked in in passing -- quite in his old way,
which I thought he had left off lately. But the tower
spouts used to spatter on the stones, and we are puzzled,
for this was like the boiling of a pot."
Not being able to read, think, or work, Bathsheba asked
Liddy to stay and breakfast with her. The tongue of the
more childish woman still ran upon recent events. "Are
you going across to the church, ma'am?" she asked.
"Not that I know of." said Bathsheba.
"I thought you might like to go and see where they
have put Fanny. The trees hide the place from your
Bathsheba had all sorts of dreads about meeting her
husband. "Has Mr. Troy been in to-night?" she said
"No, ma'am; I think he's gone to Budmouth.
Budmouth! The sound of the word carried with
it a much diminished perspective of him and his deeds;
there were thirteen miles interval betwixt them now.
She hated questioning Liddy about her husband's
movements, and indeed had hitherto sedulously avoided
doing so; but now all the house knew that there had
been some dreadful disagreement between them, and
it was futile to attempt disguise. Bathsheba had
reached a stage at which people cease to have any
appreciative regard for public opinion.
"What makes you think he has gone there?" she said.
"Laban Tall saw him on the Budmouth road this
morning before breakfast."
Bathsheba was momentarily relieved of that wayward
heaviness of the past twenty-four hours which had
quenched the vitality of youth in her without sub-
stituting the philosophy of maturer years, and the
resolved to go out and walk a little way. So when
breakfast was over, she put on her bonnet, and took
a direction towards the church. It was nine o'clock,
and the men having returned to work again from their
first meal, she was not likely to meet many of them in
the road. Knowing that Fanny had been laid in the
reprobates' quarter of the graveyard, called in the parish
"behind church." which was invisible from the road, it
was impossible to resist the impulse to enter and look
upon a spot which, from nameless feelings, she at the
same time dreaded to see. She had been unable to
overcome an impression that some connection existed
between her rival and the light through the trees.
Bathsheba skirted the buttress, and beheld the hole
and the tomb, its delicately veined surface splashed and
stained just as Troy had seen it and left it two hours
earlier. On the other side of the scene stood Gabriel.
His eyes, too, were fixed on the tomb, and her arrival
having been noiseless, she had not as yet attracted his
attention. Bathsheba did not at once perceive that the
grand tomb and the disturbed grave were Fanny's, and
she looked on both sides and around for some humbler
mound, earthed up and clodded in the usual way. Then
her eye followed Oak's, and she read the words with
which the inscription opened: --
"Erected by Francis Troy in Beloved Memory of
Oak saw her, and his first act was to gaze inquiringly
and learn how she received this knowledge of the
authorship of the work, which to himself had caused
considerable astonishment. But such discoveries did
not much affect her now. Emotional convulsions seemed
to have become the commonplaces of her history, and
she bade him good morning, and asked him to fill in
the hole with the spade which was standing by. Whilst
Oak was doing as she desired, Bathsheba collected the
flowers, and began planting them with that sympathetic
manipulation of roots and leaves which is so conspicuous
in a woman's gardening, and which flowers seem to
understand and thrive upon. She requested Oak to
get the churchwardens to turn the leadwork at the
mouth of the gurgoyle that hung gaping down upon
them, that by this means the stream might be directed
sideways, and a repetition of the accident prevented.
Finally, with the superfluous magnanimity of a woman
whose narrower instincts have brought down bitterness
upon her instead of love, she wiped the mud spots from
the tomb as if she rather liked its words than otherwise,
ADVENTURES BY THE SHORE
TROY wandered along towards the south. A composite
feeling, made up of disgust with the, to him, humdrum
tediousness of a farmer's life, gloomily images of her who
lay in the churchyard, remorse, and a general averseness
to his wife's society, impelled him to seek a home in any
place on earth save Weatherbury. The sad accessories
of Fanny's end confronted him as vivid pictures which
threatened to be indelible, and made life in Bathsheba's
house intolerable. At three in the afternoon he found
himself at the foot of a slope more than a mile in length,
which ran to the ridge of a range of hills lying parallel
with the shore, and forming a monotonous barrier between
the basin of cultivated country inland and the wilder
scenery of the coast. Up the hill stretched a road
nearly straight and perfectly white, the two sides
approaching each other in a gradual taper till they
met the sky at the top about two miles off. Through-
out the length of this narrow and irksome inclined plane
not a sign of life was visible on this garish afternoon
Troy toiled up the road with a languor and depression
greater than any he had experienced for many a day
and year before. The air was warm and muggy, and
the top seemed to recede as he approached.
At last he reached the summit, and a wide and
novel prospect burst upon him with an effect almost like
that of the Pacific upon Balboa's gaze. The broad
steely sea, marked only by faint lines, which had a
semblance of being etched thereon to a degree not deep
enough to disturb its general evenness, stretched the
whole width of his front and round to the right, where,
near the town and port of Budmouth, the sun bristled
down upon it, and banished all colour, to substitute in
its place a clear oily polish. Nothing moved in sky,
land, or sea, except a frill of milkwhite foam along the
nearer angles of the shore, shreds of which licked the
contiguous stones like tongues.
He descended and came to a small basin of sea
enclosed by the cliffs. Troy's nature freshened within
him; he thought he would rest and bathe here before
going farther. He undressed and plunged in. Inside
the cove the water was uninteresting to a swimmer,
being smooth as a pond, and to get a little of the ocean
swell, Troy presently swam between the two projecting
spurs of rock which formed the pillars of Hercules to
this miniature Mediterranean. Unfortunately for Troy
a current unknown to him existed outside, which, un-
important to craft of any burden, was awkward for a
swimmer who might be taken in it unawares. Troy
found himself carried to the left and then round in a
swoop out to sea.
He now recollected the place and its sinister
character. Many bathers had there prayed for a dry
death from time to time, and, like Gonzalo also, had
been unanswered; and Troy began to deem it possible
that he might be added to their number. Not a boat
of any kind was at present within sight, but far in the
distance Budmouth lay upon the sea, as it were quietly
regarding his efforts, and beside the town the harbour
showed its position by a dim meshwork of ropes and
spars. After wellnigh exhausting himself in attempts
to get back to the mouth of the cove, in his weakness
swimming several inches deeper than was his wont,
keeping up his breathing entirely by his nostrils, turning
upon his back a dozen times over, swimming EN PAPILLON
and so on, Troy resolved as a last resource to tread
water at a slight incline, and so endeavour to reach the
shore at any point, merely giving himself a gentle
impetus inwards whilst carried on in the general direc-
tion of the tide. This, necessarily a slow process, he
found to be not altogether so difficult, and though there
was no choice of a landing-place -- the objects on shore
passing by him in a sad and slow procession -- he per-
ceptibly approached the extremity of a spit of land yet
further to the right, now well defined against the sunny
portion of the horizon. While the swimmer's eye's were
fixed upon the spit as his only means of salvation on
this side of the Unknown, a moving object broke the
outline of the extremity, and immediately a ship's boat
appeared manned with several sailor lads, her bows
towards the sea.
All Troy's vigour spasmodically revived to prolong
the struggle yet a little further. Swimming with his
right arm, he held up his left to hail them, splashing
upon the waves, and shouting with all his might. From
the position of the setting sun his white form was
distinctly visible upon the now deep-hued bosom of the
sea to the east of the boat, and the men saw him at
once. Backing their oars and putting the boat about,
they pulled towards him with a will, and in five or six
minutes from the time of his first halloo, two of the
sailors hauled him in over the stern.
They formed part of a brig's crew, and had come
ashore for sand. Lending him what little clothing they
could spare among them as a slight protection against
late they made again towards the roadstead where their
And now night drooped slowly upon the wide watery
levels in front; and at no great distance from them,
where the shoreline curved round, and formed a long
riband of shade upon the horizon, a series of points of
yellow light began to start into existence, denoting the
spot to be the site of Budmouth, where the lamps were
being lighted along the parade. The cluck of their
oars was the only sound of any distinctness upon the
sea, and as they laboured amid the thickening shades
the lamplights grew larger, each appearing to send a
flaming sword deep down into the waves before it, until
there arose, among other dim shapes of the kind, the
form of the vessel for which they were bound.
DOUBTS ARISE -- DOUBTS LINGER
BATHSHEBA underwent the enlargement of her
Husband's absence from hours to days with a slight
feeling of surprise, and a slight feeling of relief; yet
neither sensation rose at any time far above the level
commonly designated as indifference. She belonged to
him: the certainties of that position were so well defined,
and the reasonable probabilities of its issue so bounded
that she could not speculate on contingencies. Taking
no further interest in herself as a splendid woman, she
acquired the indifferent feelings of an outsider in contem-
plating her probable fate as a singular wretch; for Bath-
sheba drew herself and her future in colours that no
reality could exceed for darkness. Her original vigorous
pride of youth had sickened, and with it had declined
all her anxieties about coming years, since anxiety
recognizes a better and a worse alternative, and Bath-
sheba had made up her mind that alternatives on any
noteworthy scale had ceased for her. Soon, or later --
and that not very late -- her husband would be home
again. And then the days of their tenancy of the
Upper Farm would be numbered. There had origin-
ally been shown by the agent to the estate some distrust
of Bathsheba's tenure as James Everdene's successor,
on the score of her sex, and her youth, and her beauty;
but the peculiar nature of her uncle's will, his own
frequent testimony before his death to her cleverness
in such a pursuit, and her vigorous marshalling of the
numerous flocks and herds which came suddenly into
her hands before negotiations were concluded, had won
confidence in her powers, and no further objections had
been raised. She had latterly been in great doubt as
to what the legal effects of her marriage would be upon
her position; but no notice had been taken as yet of
her change of name, and only one point was clear -- that
in the event of her own or her husband's inability to
meet the agent at the forthcoming January rent-day,
very little consideration would be shown, and, for that
matter, very little would be deserved. Once out of the
farm, the approach of poverty would be sure.
Hence Bathsheba lived in a perception that her
purposes were broken of. She was not a woman who
could hope on without good materials for the process,
differing thus from the less far-Sighted and energetic,
though more petted ones of the sex, with whom hope
goes on as a sort of clockwork which the merest food
and shelter are sufficient to wind up; and perceiving
clearly that her mistake had been a fatal one, she
accepted her position, and waited coldly for the end.
The first Saturday after Troy's departure she went
to Casterbridge alone, a journey she had not before
taken since her marriage. On this Saturday Bathsheba
was passing slowly on foot through the crowd of rural
business-men gathered as usual in front of the market-
house, who were as usual gazed upon by the burghers
with feelings that those healthy lives were dearly paid
for by exclusion from possible aldermanship, when a
man, who had apparently been following her, said some
words to another on her left hand. Bathsheba's ears
were keen as those of any wild animal, and she dis-
tinctly heard what the speaker said, though her back
was towards him
"I am looking for Mrs. Troy. Is that she there?"
"Yes; that's the young lady, I believe." said the
the person addressed.
"I have some awkward news to break to her. Her
husband is drowned."
As if endowed with the spirit of prophecy, Bathsheba
gasped out, "No, it is not true; it cannot be true!"
Then she said and heard no more. The ice of self-
command which had latterly gathered over her was
broken, and the currents burst forth again, and over
whelmed her. A darkness came into her eyes, and she
But not to the ground. A gloomy man, who had
been observing her from under the portico of the old
corn-exchange when she passed through the group
without, stepped quickly to her side at the moment of
her exclamation, and caught her in his arms as she sank
"What is it?" said Boldwood, looking up at the
bringer of the big news, as he supported her.
"Her husband was drowned this week while bathing
in Lulwind Cove. A coastguardsman found his clothes,
and brought them into Budmouth yesterday."
Thereupon a strange fire lighted up Boldwood's eye,
and his face flushed with the suppressed excitement of
an unutterable thought. Everybody's glance was now
centred upon him and the unconscious Bathsheba. He
lifted her bodily off the ground, and smoothed down
the folds of her dress as a child might have taken a
storm-beaten bird and arranged its ruffled plumes, and
bore her along the pavement to the King's Arms Inn.
Here he passed with her under the archway into a
private room; and by the time he had deposited -- so
lothly -- the precious burden upon a sofa, Bathsheba had
opened her eyes. Remembering all that had occurred,
she murmured, "I want to go home!"
Boldwood left the room. He stood for a moment in
the passage to recover his senses. The experience had
been too much for his consciousness to keep up with,
and now that he had grasped it it had gone again. For
those few heavenly, golden moments she had been in his
arms. What did it matter about her not knowing it? She
had been close to his breast; he had been close to hers.
He started onward again, and sending a woman to
her, went out to ascertain all the facts of the case.
These appeared to be limited to what he had already
heard. He then ordered her horse to be put into the
gig, and when all was ready returned to inform her.
He found that, though still pale and unwell, she had in
the meantime sent for the Budmouth man who brought
the tidings, and learnt from him all there was to know.
Being hardly in a condition to drive home as she
had driven to town, Boldwood, with every delicacy of
manner and feeling, offered to get her a driver, or to
give her a seat in his phaeton, which was more com-
fortable than her own conveyance. These proposals
Bathsheba gently declined, and the farmer at once de-
About half-an-hour later she invigorated herself by
an effort, and took her seat and the reins as usual-in
external appearance much as if nothing had happened.
She went out of the town by a tortuous back street, and
drove slowly along, unconscious of the road and the
scene. The first shades of evening were showing them-
selves when Bathsheba reached home, where, silently
alighting and leaving the horse in the hands of the boy,
she proceeded at once upstairs. Liddy met her on the
landing. The news had preceded Bathsheba to Weather-
bury by half-an-hour, and Liddy looked inquiringly into
her mistress's face. Bathsheba had nothing to say.
She entered her bedroom and sat by the window, and
thought and thought till night enveloped her, and the
extreme lines only of her shape were visible. Somebody
came to the door, knocked, and opened it.
"Well, what is it, Liddy?" she said.
"I was thinking there must be something got for you
to wear." said Liddy, with hesitation.
"What do you mean?"
"No, no, no." said Bathsheba, hurriedly.
"But I suppose there must be something done for
poor -- -- "
"Not at present, I think. It is not necessary."
"Why not, ma'am?"
"Because he's still alive."
"How do you know that?" said Liddy, amazed.
"I don't know it. But wouldn't it have been different,
or shouldn't I have heard more, or wouldn't they have
found him, Liddy? -- or-i don't know how it is, but
death would have been different from how this is. I am
perfectly convinced that he is still alive!"
Bathsheba remained firm in this opinion till Monday,
when two circumstances conjoined to shake it. The
first was a short paragraph in the local newspaper, which,
beyond making by a methodizing pen formidable pre-
sumptive evidence of Troy's death by drowning, con-
tained the important testimony of a young Mr. Barker,
M.D., of Budmouth, who spoke to being an eyewitness
of the accident, in a letter to the editor. In this he
stated that he was passing over the cliff on the remoter
side of the cove just as the sun was setting. At that
time he saw a bather carried along in the current outside
the mouth of the cove, and guessed in an instant that
there was but a poor chance for him unless he should
be possessed of unusual muscular powers. He drifted
behind a projection of the coast, and Mr. Barker followed
along the shore in the same direction. But by the time
that he could reach an elevation sufficiently great to
command a view of the sea beyond, dusk had set in, and
nothing further was to be seen.
The other circumstance was the arrival of his clothes,
when it became necessary for her to examine and identify
them -- though this had virtually been done long before
by those who inspected the letters in his pockets. It
was so evident to her in the midst of her agitation that
Troy had undressed in the full conviction of dressing
again almost immediately, that the notion that anything
but death could have prevented him was a perverse one
Then Bathsheba said to herself that others were
assured in their opinion; strange that she should not
be. A strange reflection occurred to her, causing her
face to flush. Suppose that Troy had followed Fanny
into another world. Had he done this intentionally, yet
contrived to make his death appear like an accident?
Nevertheless, this thought of how the apparent might
differ from the real-made vivid by her bygone jealousy
of Fanny, and the remorse he had shown that night
-- did not blind her to the perception of a likelier
difference, less tragic, but to herself far more disastrous.
When alone late that evening beside a small fire, and
much calmed down, Bathsheba took Troy's watch into
her hand, which had been restored to her with the rest
of the articles belonging to him. She opened the case
as he had opened it before her a week ago. There was
the little coil of pale hair which had been as the fuze to
this great explosion.
"He was hers and she was his; they should be gone
together." she said. "I am nothing to either of them,
and why should I keep her hair?" She took it in her
hand, and held it over the fire." No-i'll not burn it
-i'll keep it in memory of her, poor thing!" she added,
snatching back her hand.
OAK'S ADVANCEMENT -- A GREAT HOPE
THE later autumn and the winter drew on apace,
and the leaves lay thick upon the turf of the glades
and the mosses of the woods. Bathsheba, having
previously been living in a state of suspended feeling
which was not suspense, now lived in a mood of
quietude which was not precisely peacefulness. While
she had known him to be alive she could have thought
of his death with equanimity; but now that it might be
she had lost him, she regretted that he was not hers
still. She kept the farm going, raked in her profits
without caring keenly about them, and expended
money on ventures because she had done so in bygone
days, which, though not long gone by, seemed infinitely
removed from her present. She looked back upon that
past over a great gulf, as if she were now a dead person,
having the faculty of meditation still left in her, by
means of which, like the mouldering gentlefolk of the
poet's story, she could sit and ponder what a gift life
used to be.
However, one excellent result of her general apathy
was the long-delayed installation of Oak as bailiff; but
he having virtually exercised that function for a long
time already, the change, beyond the substantial in-
crease of wages it brought, was little more than a
nominal one addressed to the outside world.
Boldwood lived secluded and inactive. Much of
his wheat and all his barley of that season had been
spoilt by the rain. It sprouted, grew into intricate
mats, and was ultimately thrown to the pigs in armfuls.
The strange neglect which had produced this ruin
and waste became the subject of whispered talk among
all the people round; and it was elicited from one of
Boldwood's men that forgetfulness had nothing to do
with it, for he had been reminded of the danger to
his corn as many times and as persistently as inferiors
dared to do. The sight of the pigs turning in disgust
from the rotten ears seemed to arouse Boldwood, and
he one evening sent for Oak. Whether it was sug-
gested by Bathsheba's recent act of promotion or not,
the farmer proposed at the interview that Gabriel
should undertake the superintendence of the Lower
Farm as well as of Bathsheba's, because of the necessity
Boldwood felt for such aid, and the impossibility of
discovering a more trustworthy man. Gabriel's malig-
nant star was assuredly setting fast.
Bathsheba, when she learnt of this proposal-for
Oak was obliged to consult her -- at first languidly
objected. She considered that the two farms together
were too extensive for the observation of one man.
Boldwood, who was apparently determined by personal
rather than commercial reasons, suggested that Oak
should be furnished with a horse for his sole use,
when the plan would present no difficulty, the two
farms lying side by side. Boldwood did not directly
communicate with her during these negotiations, only
speaking to Oak, who was the go-between throughout.
All was harmoniously arranged at last, and we now
see Oak mounted on a strong cob, and daily trotting
the length breadth of about two thousand acres
in a cheerful spirit of surveillance, as if the crops
belonged to him -- the actual mistress of the one-half
and the master of the other, sitting in their respective
homes in gloomy and sad seclusion.
Out of this there arose, during the spring succeeding,
a talk in the parish that Gabriel Oak was feathering his
"Whatever d'ye think." said Susan Tall," Gable Oak
is coming it quite the dand. He now wears shining
boots with hardly a hob in 'em, two or three times
a-week, and a tall hat a-Sundays, and 'a hardly knows
the name of smockfrock. When I see people strut
enough to he cut up into bantam cocks, I stand
dormant with wonder, and says no more!"
It was eventually known that Gabriel, though paid
a fixed wage by Bathsheba independent of the fluctua-
tions of agricultural profits, had made an engagement
with Boldwood by which Oak was to receive a share
of the receipts -- a small share certainly, yet it was
money of a higher quality than mere wages, and
capable of expansion in a way that wages were not.
Some were beginning to consider Oak a "near" man,
for though his condition had thus far improved, he
lived in no better style than before, occupying the
same cottage, paring his own potatoes, mending his
stockings, and sometimes even making his bed with
his own hands. But as Oak was not only provokingly
indifferent to public opinion, but a man who clung
persistently to old habits and usages, simply because
they were old, there was room for doubt as to his
A great hope had latterly germinated in Boldwood,
whose unreasoning devotion to Bathsheba could only
be characterized as a fond madness which neither
time nor circumstance, evil nor good report, could
weaken or destroy. This fevered hope had grown up
again like a grain of mustard-seed during the quiet
which followed the hasty conjecture that Troy was
drowned. He nourished it fearfully, and almost
shunned the contemplation of it in earnest, lest facts
should reveal the wildness of the dream. Bathsheba
having at last been persuaded to wear mourning, her
appearance as she entered the church in that guise
was in itself a weekly addition to his faith that a
time was coming -- very far off perhaps, yet surely
nearing -- when his waiting on events should have
its reward. How long he might have to wait he had
not yet closely considered. what he would try to
recognize was that the severe schooling she had been
subjected to had made Bathsheba much more con-
siderate than she had formerly been of the feelings of
others, and he trusted that, should she be willing at
any time in the future to marry any man at all, that
man would be himself. There was a substratum of
good feeling in her: her self-reproach for the injury
she had thoughtlessly done him might be depended
upon now to a much greater extent than before her
infatuation and disappointment. It would be possible
to approach her by the channel of her good nature,
and to suggest a friendly businesslike compact between
them for fulfilment at some future day, keeping the
passionate side of his desire entirely out of her sight.
Such was Boldwood's hope.
To the eyes of the middle-aged, Bathsheba was
perhaps additionally charming just now. Her exuber-
ance of spirit was pruned down; the original phantom
of delight had shown herself to be not too bright for
human nature's daily food, and she had been able to
enter this second poetical phase without losing much
of the first in the process.
Bathsheba's return from a two months' visit to her
old aunt at Norcombe afforded the impassioned and
yearning farmer a pretext for inquiring directly after
her -- now possibly in the ninth month of her
widowhood -- and endeavouring to get a notion of her
middle of the haymaking, and Boldwood contrived to
"I am glad to see you out of doors, Lydia." he said
She simpered, and wondered in her heart why he
"I hope Mrs. Troy is quite well after her long
the coldest-hearted neighbour could scarcely say less
"She is quite well, sir.
"Fearful, did you say?"
"O no. I merely said she was cheerful."
"Tells you all her affairs?"
"Some of them?"
"Mrs Troy puts much confidence in you, Lydia,
and very wisely, perhaps."
"She do, sir. I've been with her all through her
troubles, and was with her at the time of Mr. Troy's
going and all. And if she were to marry again I
expect I should bide with her."
"She promises that you shall -- quite natural." said
the strategic lover, throbbing throughout him at the
presumption which Liddy's words appeared to warrant
-- that his darling had thought of re-marriage.
"No -- she doesn't promise it exactly. I merely
judge on my own account.
"Yes, yes, I understand. When she alludes to the
possibility of marrying again, you conclude -- -- "
"She never do allude to it, sir." said Liddy, thinking
how very stupid Mr. Boldwood was getting.
"Of course not." he returned hastily, his hope falling
again." You needn't take quite such long reaches with
your rake, Lydia -- short and quick ones are best. Well,
perhaps, as she is absolute mistress again now, it is wise
of her to resolve never to give up her freedom."
"My mistress did certainly once say, though not
seriously, that she supposed she might marry again at
the end of seven years from last year, if she cared to
risk Mr. Troy's coming back and claiming her."
"Ah, six years from the present time. Said that she
might. She might marry at once in every reasonable
person's opinion, whatever the lawyers may say to the
"Have you been to ask them?" said Liddy, innocently.
"Not I." said Boldwood, growing red." Liddy, you
needn't stay here a minute later than you wish, so Mr,
Oak says. I am now going on a little farther. Good"
He went away vexed with himself, and ashamed of
having for this one time in his life done anything which
could be called underhand. Poor Boldwood had no
more skill in finesse than a battering-ram, and he was
uneasy with a sense of having made himself to appear
stupid and, what was worse, mean. But he had, after
all, lighted upon one fact by way of repayment. It was
a singularly fresh and fascinating fact, and though not
without its sadness it was pertinent and real. In little
more than six years from this time Bathsheba might
certainly marry him. There was something definite in
that hope, for admitting that there might have been no
deep thought in her words to Liddy about marriage,
they showed at least her creed on the matter.
This pleasant notion was now continually in his mind.
Six years were a long time, but how much shorter than
never, the idea he had for so long been obliged to
endure! Jacob had served twice seven years for
Rachel: what were six for such a woman as this? He
tried to like the notion of waiting for her better than
that of winning her at once. Boldwood felt his love
to be so deep and strong and eternal, that it was pos-
sible she had never yet known its full volume, and this
patience in delay would afford him an opportunity of
giving sweet proof on the point. He would annihilate
the six years of his life as if they were minutes -- so little
did he value his time on earth beside her love. He
would let her see, all those six years of intangible ether-
eal courtship, how little care he had for anything but as
it bore upon the consummation.
Meanwhile the early and the late summer brought
round the week in which Greenhill Fair was held.
This fair was frequently attended by the folk of Weather-
THE SHEEP FAIR -- TROY TOUCHES HIS WIFE'S HAND
GREENHILL was the Nijni Novgorod of South
Wessex; and the busiest, merriest, noisiest day of the
whole statute number was the day of the sheep fair.
This yearly gathering was upon the summit of a hill
which retained in good preservation the remains of an
ancient earthwork, consisting of a huge rampart and
entrenchment of an oval form encircling the top of
the hill, though somewhat broken down here and there.
To each of the two chief openings on opposite sides a
winding road ascended, and the level green space of
ten or fifteen acres enclosed by the bank was the
site of the fair. A few permanent erections dotted the
spot, but the majority of visitors patronized canvas alone
for resting and feeding under during the time of their
Shepherds who attended with their flocks from long
distances started from home two or three days, or even
a week, before the fair, driving their charges a few miles
each day -- not more than ten or twelve -- and resting
them at night in hired fields by the wayside at pre-
viously chosen points, where they fed, having fasted since
morning. The shepherd of each flock marched behind,
a bundle containing his kit for the week strapped upon
his shoulders, and in his hand his crook, which he used
as the staff of his pilgrimage. Several of the sheep
would get worn and lame, and occasionally a lambing
occurred on the road. To meet these contingencies,
there was frequently provided, to accompany the flocks
from the remoter points, a pony and waggon into which
the weakly ones were taken for the remainder of the
The Weatherbury Farms, however, were no such
long distance from the hill, and those arrangements
were not necessary in their case. But the large united
flocks of Bathsheba and Farmer Boldwood formed a
valuable and imposing multitude which demanded much
attention, and on this account Gabriel, in addition to
Boldwood's shepherd and Cain Ball, accompanied them
along the way, through the decayed old town of Kings-
bere, and upward to the plateau, -- old George the dog
of course behind them.
When the autumn sun slanted over Greenhill this
morning and lighted the dewy flat upon its crest, nebu-
lous clouds of dust were to be seen floating between
the pairs of hedges which streaked the wide prospect
around in all directions. These gradually converged
upon the base of the hill, and the flocks became
individually visible, climbing the serpentine ways which
led to the top. Thus, in a slow procession, they entered
the opening to which the roads tended, multitude after
multitude, horned and hornless -- blue flocks and red
flocks, buff flocks and brown flocks, even green and
salmon-tinted flocks, according to the fancy of the
colourist and custom of the farm. Men were shouting,
dogs were barking, with greatest animation, but the
thronging travellers in so long a journey had grown
nearly indifferent to such terrors, though they still
bleated piteously at the unwontedness of their experi-
ences, a tall shepherd rising here and there in the midst
of them, like a gigantic idol amid a crowd of prostrate
The great mass of sheep in the fair consisted of
South Downs and the old Wessex horned breeds, to
the latter class Bathsheba's and Farmer Boldwood's
mainly belonged. These filed in about nine o'clock,
their vermiculated horns lopping gracefully on each side
of their cheeks in geometrically perfect spirals, a small
pink and white ear nestling under each horn. Before
and behind came other varieties, perfect leopards as to
the full rich substance of their coats, and only lacking the
spots. There were also a few of the Oxfordshire breed,
whose wool was beginning to curl like a child's flaxen
hair, though surpassed in this respect by the effeminate
Leicesters, which were in turn less curly than the Cots-
wolds. But the most picturesque by far was a small
flock of Exmoors, which chanced to be there this year.
Their pied faces and legs, dark and heavy horns, tresses
of wool hanging round their swarthy foreheads, quite
relieved the monotony of the flocks in that quarter.
All these bleating, panting, and weary thousands had
entered and were penned before the morning had far
advanced, the dog belonging to each flock being tied to
the corner of the pen containing it. Alleys for pedes-
trians intersected the pens, which soon became crowded
with buyers and sellers from far and near.
In another part of the hill an altogether different
scene began to force itself upon the eye towards mid-
day. A circular tent, of exceptional newness and size,
was in course of erection here. As the day drew on,
the flocks began to change hands, lightening the shep-
herd's responsibilities; and they turned their attention
to this tent and inquired of a man at work there, whose
soul seemed concentrated on tying a bothering knot in
no time, what was going on.
"The Royal Hippodrome Performance of Turpin's
Ride to York and the Death of Black Bess." replied the
man promptly, without turning his eyes or leaving off
As soon as the tent was completed the band struck
up highly stimulating harmonies, and the announce-
ment was publicly made, Black Bess standing in a con-
spicuous position on the outside, as a living proof, If
proof were wanted, of the truth of the oracular utterances
from the stage over which the people were to enter.
These were so convinced by such genuine appeals to
heart and understanding both that they soon began to
crowd in abundantly, among the foremost being visible
Jan Coggan and Joseph Poorgrass, who were holiday
keeping here to-day,
"'That's the great ruffen pushing me!" screamed a
woman in front of Jan over her shoulder at him when
the rush was at its fiercest.
"How can I help pushing ye when the folk behind
push me?" said Coggan, in a deprecating tone, turning
without turning his body, which was jammed as in a vice.
There was a silence; then the drums and trumpets
again sent forth their echoing notes. The crowd was
again ecstasied, and gave another lurch in which Coggan
and Poorgrass were again thrust by those behind upon
the women in front.
"O that helpless feymels should be at the mercy of
she swayed like a reed shaken by the wind.
Now." said Coggan, appealing in an earnest voice
to the public at large as it stood clustered about his
shoulder-blades. "Did ye ever hear such onreasonable
woman as that? Upon my carcase, neighbours, if I
could only get out of this cheesewring, the damn women
might eat the show for me!"
"Don't ye lose yer temper, Jan!" implored Joseph
Poorgrass, in a whisper." They might get their men to
murder us, for I think by the shine of their eyes that
they be a sinful form of womankind."
Jan held his tongue, as if he had no objection to be
pacified to please a friend, and they gradually reached
the foot of the ladder, Poorgrass being flattened like a
jumping-jack, and the sixpence, for admission, which he
had got ready half-an-hour earlier, having become so
reeking hot in the tight squeeze of his excited hand that
the woman in spangles, brazen rings set with glass
diamonds, and with chalked face and shoulders, who
took the money of him, hastily dropped it again from
a fear that some trick had been played to burn her
fingers. So they all entered, and the cloth of the
tent, to the eyes of an observer on the outside, became
bulged into innumerable pimples such as we observe on
a sack of potatoes, caused by the various human heads,
backs, and elbows at high pressure within.
At the rear of the large tent there were two small
dressing-tents. One of these, alloted to the male per-
formers, was partitioned into halves by a cloth; and in
one of the divisions there was sitting on the grass, pull
ing on a pair of jack-boots, a young man whom we
instantly recognise as Sergeant Troy.
Troy's appearance in this position may be briefly
accounted for. The brig aboard which he was taken in
Budmouth Roads was about to start on a voyage, though
somewhat short of hands. Troy read the articles and
joined, but before they sailed a boat was despatched
across the bay to Lulwind cove; as he had half expected,
his clothes were gone. He ultimately worked his passage
to the United States, where he made a precarious living
in various towns as Professor of Gymnastics, Sword
Exercise, Fencing, and Pugilism. A few months were
sufficient to give him a distaste for this kind of life.
There was a certain animal form of refinement in his
nature; and however pleasant a strange condition might
be whilst privations were easily warded off, it was dis-
advantageously coarse when money was short. There
was ever present, too, the idea that he could claim a
home and its comforts did he but chose to return to
England and Weatherbury Farm. Whether Bathsheba
thought him dead was a frequent subject of curious
conjecture. To England he did return at last; but the
but the fact of drawing nearer to Weatherbury abstracted its
fascinations, and his intention to enter his old groove at
the place became modified. It was with gloom he con-
sidered on landing at Liverpool that if he were to go home
his reception would be of a kind very unpleasant to con-
template; for what Troy had in the way of emotion was
an occasional fitful sentiment which sometimes caused
him as much inconvenience as emotion of a strong and
healthy kind. Bathsheba was not a women to be made
a fool of, or a woman to suffer in silence; and how
could he endure existence with a spirited wife to whom
at first entering he would be beholden for food and
lodging? Moreover, it was not at all unlikely that his
wife would fail at her farming, if she had not already
done so; and he would then become liable for her
maintenance: and what a life such a future of poverty
with her would be, the spectre of Fanny constantly be-
tween them, harrowing his temper and embittering her
words! Thus, for reasons touching on distaste, regret,
and shame commingled, he put off his return from day
to day, and would have decided to put it off altogether
if he could have found anywhere else the ready-made
establishment which existed for him there.
At this time -- the July preceding the September in
which we find at Greenhill Fair -- he fell in with a
travelling circus which was performing in the outskirts of
a northern town. Troy introduced himself to the
manager by taming a restive horse of the troupe, hitting
a suspended apple with pistol-- bullet fired from the
animal's back when in full gallop, and other feats. For
his merits in these -- all more or less based upon his ex-
periences as a dragoon-guardsman -- Troy was taken into
the company, and the play of Turpin was prepared with
a view to his personation of the chief character. Troy
was not greatly elated by the appreciative spirit in which
he was undoubtedly treated, but he thought the engage-
ment might afford him a few weeks for consideration.
It was thus carelessly, and without having formed any
definite plan for the future, that Troy found himself
at Greenhill Fair with the rest of the company on this
And now the mild autumn sun got lower, and in
front of the pavilion the following incident had taken
place. Bathsheba -- who was driven to the fair that day
by her odd man Poorgrass -- had, like every one else,
read or heard the announcement that Mr. Francis, the
Great Cosmopolitan Equestrian and Roughrider, would
enact the part of Turpin, and she was not yet too old
and careworn to be without a little curiosity to see him.
This particular show was by far the largest and grandest
in the fair, a horde of little shows grouping themselves
under its shade like chickens around a hen. The crowd
had passed in, and Boldwood, who had been watching
all the day for an opportunity of speaking to her, seeing
her comparatively isolated, came up to her side.
"I hope the sheep have done well to-day, Mrs. Troy?"
he said, nervously.
"O yes, thank you." said Bathsheba, colour springing
up in the centre of her cheeks. "I was fortunate
enough to sell them all just as we got upon the hill, so
we hadn't to pen at all."
"And now you are entirely at leisure?"
"Yes, except that I have to see one more dealer in
two hours' time: otherwise I should be going home.
He was looking at this large tent and the announcement.
Have you ever seen the play of "Turpin's Ride to
York?" Turpin was a real man, was he not?"
"O yes, perfectly true -- all of it. Indeed, I think
I've heard Jan Coggan say that a relation of his knew
Tom King, Turpin's friend, quite well."
"Coggan is rather given to strange stories connected
with his relations, we must remember. I hope they
can all be believed."
"Yes, yes; we know Coggan. But Turpin is true
enough. You have never seen it played, I suppose?"
"Never. I was not allowed to go into these places
when I was young. Hark! What's that prancing?
How they shout!"
"Black Bess just started off, I suppose. Am I right
in supposing you would like to see the performance,
Mrs. Troy? Please excuse my mistake, if it is one;
but if you would like to, I'll get a seat for you with
pleasure." Perceiving that she hesitated, he added, "I
myself shall not stay to see it: I've seen it before."
Now Bathsheba did care a little to see the show, and
had only withheld her feet from the ladder because she
feared to go in alone. She had been hoping that Oak
might appear, whose assistance in such cases was always
accepted as an inalienable right, but Oak was nowhere
to be seen; and hence it was that she said, "Then if
you will just look in first, to see if there's room, I think
I will go in for a minute or two."
And so a short time after this Bathsheba appeared
in the tent with Boldwood at her elbow, who, taking
her to a "reserved" seat, again withdrew.
This feature consisted of one raised bench in very
conspicuous part of the circle, covered with red cloth,
and floored with a piece of carpet, and Bathsheba
immediately found, to her confusion, that she was the
single reserved individual in the tent, the rest of the
crowded spectators, one and all, standing on their legs
on the borders of the arena, where they got twice as
good a view of the performance for half the money.
Hence as many eyes were turned upon her, enthroned
alone in this place of honour, against a scarlet back-
ground, as upon the ponies and clown who were
engaged in preliminary exploits in the centre, Turpin
not having yet appeared. Once there, Bathsheba was
forced to make the best of it and remain: she sat
down, spreading her skirts with some dignity over the
unoccupied space on each side of her, and giving a
new and feminine aspect to the pavilion. In a few
minutes she noticed the fat red nape of Coggan's neck
among those standing just below her, and Joseph Poor-
grass's saintly profile a little further on.
The interior was shadowy with a peculiar shade.
The strange luminous semi-opacities of fine autumn
afternoons and eves intensified into Rembrandt effects
the few yellow sunbeams which came through holes
and divisions in the canvas, and spirted like jets of
gold-dust across the dusky blue atmosphere of haze
pervading the tent, until they alighted on inner surfaces
of cloth opposite, and shone like little lamps suspended
Troy, on peeping from his dressing-tent through a
slit for a reconnoitre before entering, saw his unconscious
wife on high before him as described, sitting as queen
of the tournament. He started back in utter confusion,
for although his disguise effectually concealed his person-
ality, he instantly felt that she would be sure to recognize
his voice. He had several times during the day thought
of the possibility of some Weatherbury person or other
appearing and recognizing him; but he had taken the
risk carelessly. If they see me, let them, he had said.
But here was Bathsheba in her own person; and the
reality of the scene was so much intenser than any of
his prefigurings that he felt he had not half enough
considered the point.
She looked so charming and fair that his cool mood
about Weatherbury people was changed. He had not
expected her to exercise this power over him in the
twinkling of an eye. Should he go on, and care nothing?
He could not bring himself to do that. Beyond a politic
wish to remain unknown, there suddenly arose in him
now a sense of shame at the possibility that his
attractive young wife, who already despised him, should
despise him more by discovering him in so mean a
condition after so long a time. He actually blushed