Part 4 out of 8
"So I would not go far. Now what do you think of this: I
shall soon want somebody to live in my house, partly as
housekeeper, partly as companion; would you mind coming to
me? But perhaps--"
"O yes," cried Elizabeth, with tears in her eyes. "I would,
indeed--I would do anything to be independent; for then
perhaps my father might get to love me. But, ah!"
"I am no accomplished person. And a companion to you must
"O, not necessarily."
"Not? But I can't help using rural words sometimes, when I
don't mean to."
"Never mind, I shall like to know them."
"And--O, I know I shan't do!"--she cried with a distressful
laugh. "I accidentally learned to write round hand instead
of ladies'-hand. And, of course, you want some one who can
"What, not necessary to write ladies'-hand?" cried the
"Not at all."
"But where do you live?"
"In Casterbridge, or rather I shall be living here after
twelve o'clock to-day."
Elizabeth expressed her astonishment.
"I have been staying at Budmouth for a few days while my
house was getting ready. The house I am going into is that
one they call High-Place Hall--the old stone one looking
down the lane to the market. Two or three rooms are fit for
occupation, though not all: I sleep there to-night for the
first time. Now will you think over my proposal, and meet
me here the first fine day next week, and say if you are
still in the same mind?"
Elizabeth, her eyes shining at this prospect of a change
from an unbearable position, joyfully assented; and the two
parted at the gate of the churchyard.
As a maxim glibly repeated from childhood remains
practically unmarked till some mature experience enforces
it, so did this High-Place Hall now for the first time
really show itself to Elizabeth-Jane, though her ears had
heard its name on a hundred occasions.
Her mind dwelt upon nothing else but the stranger, and the
house, and her own chance of living there, all the rest of
the day. In the afternoon she had occasion to pay a few
bills in the town and do a little shopping when she learnt
that what was a new discovery to herself had become a common
topic about the streets. High-Place Hall was undergoing
repair; a lady was coming there to live shortly; all the
shop-people knew it, and had already discounted the chance
of her being a customer.
Elizabeth-Jane could, however, add a capping touch to
information so new to her in the bulk. The lady, she said,
had arrived that day.
When the lamps were lighted, and it was yet not so dark as
to render chimneys, attics, and roofs invisible, Elizabeth,
almost with a lover's feeling, thought she would like to
look at the outside of High-Place Hall. She went up the
street in that direction.
The Hall, with its grey facade and parapet, was the only
residence of its sort so near the centre of the town. It
had, in the first place, the characteristics of a country
mansion--birds' nests in its chimneys, damp nooks where
fungi grew and irregularities of surface direct from
Nature's trowel. At night the forms of passengers were
patterned by the lamps in black shadows upon the pale walls.
This evening motes of straw lay around, and other signs of
the premises having been in that lawless condition which
accompanies the entry of a new tenant. The house was
entirely of stone, and formed an example of dignity without
great size. It was not altogether aristocratic, still less
consequential, yet the old-fashioned stranger instinctively
said "Blood built it, and Wealth enjoys it" however vague
his opinions of those accessories might be.
Yet as regards the enjoying it the stranger would have been
wrong, for until this very evening, when the new lady had
arrived, the house had been empty for a year or two while
before that interval its occupancy had been irregular. The
reason of its unpopularity was soon made manifest. Some of
its rooms overlooked the market-place; and such a prospect
from such a house was not considered desirable or seemly by
its would-be occupiers.
Elizabeth's eyes sought the upper rooms, and saw lights
there. The lady had obviously arrived. The impression that
this woman of comparatively practised manner had made upon
the studious girl's mind was so deep that she enjoyed
standing under an opposite archway merely to think that the
charming lady was inside the confronting walls, and to
wonder what she was doing. Her admiration for the
architecture of that front was entirely on account of the
inmate it screened. Though for that matter the architecture
deserved admiration, or at least study, on its own account.
It was Palladian, and like most architecture erected since
the Gothic age was a compilation rather than a design. But
its reasonableness made it impressive. It was not rich, but
rich enough. A timely consciousness of the ultimate vanity
of human architecture, no less than of other human things,
had prevented artistic superfluity.
Men had still quite recently been going in and out with
parcels and packing-cases, rendering the door and hall
within like a public thoroughfare. Elizabeth trotted
through the open door in the dusk, but becoming alarmed at
her own temerity she went quickly out again by another which
stood open in the lofty wall of the back court. To her
surprise she found herself in one of the little-used alleys
of the town. Looking round at the door which had given her
egress, by the light of the solitary lamp fixed in the
alley, she saw that it was arched and old--older even than
the house itself. The door was studded, and the keystone of
the arch was a mask. Originally the mask had exhibited a
comic leer, as could still be discerned; but generations of
Casterbridge boys had thrown stones at the mask, aiming at
its open mouth; and the blows thereon had chipped off the
lips and jaws as if they had been eaten away by disease.
The appearance was so ghastly by the weakly lamp-glimmer
that she could not bear to look at it--the first unpleasant
feature of her visit.
The position of the queer old door and the odd presence of
the leering mask suggested one thing above all others as
appertaining to the mansion's past history--intrigue. By
the alley it had been possible to come unseen from all sorts
of quarters in the town--the old play-house, the old bull-
stake, the old cock-pit, the pool wherein nameless infants
had been used to disappear. High-Place Hall could boast of
its conveniences undoubtedly.
She turned to come away in the nearest direction homeward,
which was down the alley, but hearing footsteps approaching
in that quarter, and having no great wish to be found in
such a place at such a time she quickly retreated. There
being no other way out she stood behind a brick pier till
the intruder should have gone his ways.
Had she watched she would have been surprised. She would
have seen that the pedestrian on coming up made straight for
the arched doorway: that as he paused with his hand upon the
latch the lamplight fell upon the face of Henchard.
But Elizabeth-Jane clung so closely to her nook that she
discerned nothing of this. Henchard passed in, as ignorant
of her presence as she was ignorant of his identity, and
disappeared in the darkness. Elizabeth came out a second
time into the alley, and made the best of her way home.
Henchard's chiding, by begetting in her a nervous fear of
doing anything definable as unladylike, had operated thus
curiously in keeping them unknown to each other at a
critical moment. Much might have resulted from recognition--
at the least a query on either side in one and the self-
same form: What could he or she possibly be doing there?
Henchard, whatever his business at the lady's house, reached
his own home only a few minutes later than Elizabeth-Jane.
Her plan was to broach the question of leaving his roof this
evening; the events of the day had urged her to the course.
But its execution depended upon his mood, and she anxiously
awaited his manner towards her. She found that it had
changed. He showed no further tendency to be angry; he
showed something worse. Absolute indifference had taken the
place of irritability; and his coldness was such that it
encouraged her to departure, even more than hot temper could
"Father, have you any objection to my going away?" she
"Going away! No--none whatever. Where are you going?"
She thought it undesirable and unnecessary to say anything
at present about her destination to one who took so little
interest in her. He would know that soon enough. "I have
heard of an opportunity of getting more cultivated and
finished, and being less idle," she answered, with
hesitation. "A chance of a place in a household where I can
have advantages of study, and seeing refined life."
"Then make the best of it, in Heaven's name--if you can't
get cultivated where you are."
"You don't object?"
"Object--I? Ho--no! Not at all." After a pause he said, "But
you won't have enough money for this lively scheme without
help, you know? If you like I should be willing to make you
an allowance, so that you not be bound to live upon the
starvation wages refined folk are likely to pay 'ee."
She thanked him for this offer.
"It had better be done properly," he added after a pause.
"A small annuity is what I should like you to have--so as to
be independent of me--and so that I may be independent of
you. Would that please ye?"
"Then I'll see about it this very day." He seemed relieved
to get her off his hands by this arrangement, and as far as
they were concerned the matter was settled. She now simply
waited to see the lady again.
The day and the hour came; but a drizzling rain fell.
Elizabeth-Jane having now changed her orbit from one of gay
independence to laborious self-help, thought the weather
good enough for such declined glory as hers, if her friend
would only face it--a matter of doubt. She went to the
boot-room where her pattens had hung ever since her
apotheosis; took them down, had their mildewed leathers
blacked, and put them on as she had done in old times. Thus
mounted, and with cloak and umbrella, she went off to the
place of appointment--intending, if the lady were not there,
to call at the house.
One side of the churchyard--the side towards the weather--
was sheltered by an ancient thatched mud wall whose eaves
overhung as much as one or two feet. At the back of the
wall was a corn-yard with its granary and barns--the place
wherein she had met Farfrae many months earlier. Under the
projection of the thatch she saw a figure. The young lady
Her presence so exceptionally substantiated the girl's
utmost hopes that she almost feared her good fortune.
Fancies find rooms in the strongest minds. Here, in a
churchyard old as civilization, in the worst of weathers,
was a strange woman of curious fascinations never seen
elsewhere: there might be some devilry about her presence.
However, Elizabeth went on to the church tower, on whose
summit the rope of a flagstaff rattled in the wind; and thus
she came to the wall.
The lady had such a cheerful aspect in the drizzle that
Elizabeth forgot her fancy. "Well," said the lady, a little
of the whiteness of her teeth appearing with the word
through the black fleece that protected her face, "have you
"Yes, quite," said the other eagerly.
"Your father is willing?"
"Then come along."
"Now--as soon as you like. I had a good mind to send to you
to come to my house, thinking you might not venture up here
in the wind. But as I like getting out of doors, I thought
I would come and see first."
"It was my own thought."
"That shows we shall agree. Then can you come to-day? My
house is so hollow and dismal that I want some living thing
"I think I might be able to," said the girl, reflecting.
Voices were borne over to them at that instant on the wind
and raindrops from the other side of the wall. There came
such words as "sacks," "quarters," "threshing," "tailing,"
"next Saturday's market," each sentence being disorganized
by the gusts like a face in a cracked mirror. Both the
"Who are those?" said the lady.
"One is my father. He rents that yard and barn."
The lady seemed to forget the immediate business in
listening to the technicalities of the corn trade. At last
she said suddenly, "Did you tell him where you were going
"O--how was that?"
"I thought it safer to get away first--as he is so uncertain
in his temper."
"Perhaps you are right....Besides, I have never told you my
name. It is Miss Templeman....Are they gone--on the other
"No. They have only gone up into the granary."
"Well, it is getting damp here. I shall expect you to-day--
this evening, say, at six."
"Which way shall I come, ma'am?"
"The front way--round by the gate. There is no other that I
Elizabeth-Jane had been thinking of the door in the alley.
"Perhaps, as you have not mentioned your destination, you
may as well keep silent upon it till you are clear off. Who
knows but that he may alter his mind?"
Elizabeth-Jane shook her head. "On consideration I don't
fear it," she said sadly. "He has grown quite cold to me."
"Very well. Six o'clock then."
When they had emerged upon the open road and parted, they
found enough to do in holding their bowed umbrellas to the
wind. Nevertheless the lady looked in at the corn-yard
gates as she passed them, and paused on one foot for a
moment. But nothing was visible there save the ricks, and
the humpbacked barn cushioned with moss, and the granary
rising against the church-tower behind, where the smacking
of the rope against the flag-staff still went on.
Now Henchard had not the slightest suspicion that Elizabeth-
Jane's movement was to be so prompt. Hence when, just
before six, he reached home and saw a fly at the door from
the King's Arms, and his step-daughter, with all her little
bags and boxes, getting into it, he was taken by surprise.
"But you said I might go, father?" she explained through the
"Said!--yes. But I thought you meant next month, or next
year. 'Od, seize it--you take time by the forelock! This,
then, is how you be going to treat me for all my trouble
"O father! how can you speak like that? It is unjust of
you!" she said with spirit.
"Well, well, have your own way," he replied. He entered the
house, and, seeing that all her things had not yet been
brought down, went up to her room to look on. He had never
been there since she had occupied it. Evidences of her
care, of her endeavours for improvement, were visible all
around, in the form of books, sketches, maps, and little
arrangements for tasteful effects. Henchard had known
nothing of these efforts. He gazed at them, turned suddenly
about, and came down to the door.
"Look here," he said, in an altered voice--he never called
her by name now--"don't 'ee go away from me. It may be I've
spoke roughly to you--but I've been grieved beyond
everything by you--there's something that caused it."
"By me?" she said, with deep concern. "What have I done?"
"I can't tell you now. But if you'll stop, and go on living
as my daughter, I'll tell you all in time."
But the proposal had come ten minutes too late. She was in
the fly--was already, in imagination, at the house of the
lady whose manner had such charms for her. "Father," she
said, as considerately as she could, "I think it best for us
that I go on now. I need not stay long; I shall not be far
away, and if you want me badly I can soon come back again."
He nodded ever so slightly, as a receipt of her decision and
no more. "You are not going far, you say. What will be
your address, in case I wish to write to you? Or am I not to
"Oh yes--certainly. It is only in the town--High-Place
"Where?" said Henchard, his face stilling.
She repeated the words. He neither moved nor spoke, and
waving her hand to him in utmost friendliness she signified
to the flyman to drive up the street.
We go back for a moment to the preceding night, to account
for Henchard's attitude.
At the hour when Elizabeth-Jane was contemplating her
stealthy reconnoitring excursion to the abode of the lady of
her fancy, he had been not a little amazed at receiving a
letter by hand in Lucetta's well-known characters. The
self-repression, the resignation of her previous
communication had vanished from her mood; she wrote with
some of the natural lightness which had marked her in their
MY DEAR MR. HENCHARD,--Don't be surprised. It is for your
good and mine, as I hope, that I have come to live at
Casterbridge--for how long I cannot tell. That depends upon
another; and he is a man, and a merchant, and a Mayor, and
one who has the first right to my affections.
Seriously, mon ami, I am not so light-hearted as I may
seem to be from this. I have come here in consequence of
hearing of the death of your wife--whom you used to think of
as dead so many years before! Poor woman, she seems to have
been a sufferer, though uncomplaining, and though weak in
intellect not an imbecile. I am glad you acted fairly by
her. As soon as I knew she was no more, it was brought home
to me very forcibly by my conscience that I ought to
endeavour to disperse the shade which my etourderie
flung over my name, by asking you to carry out your promise
to me. I hope you are of the same mind, and that you will
take steps to this end. As, however, I did not know how you
were situated, or what had happened since our separation, I
decided to come and establish myself here before
communicating with you.
You probably feel as I do about this. I shall be able to
see you in a day or two. Till then, farewell.--Yours,
P.S.--I was unable to keep my appointment to meet you for a
moment or two in passing through Casterbridge the other day.
My plans were altered by a family event, which it will
surprise you to hear of.
Henchard had already heard that High-Place Hall was being
prepared for a tenant. He said with a puzzled air to the
first person he encountered, "Who is coming to live at the
"A lady of the name of Templeman, I believe, sir," said his
Henchard thought it over. "Lucetta is related to her, I
suppose," he said to himself. "Yes, I must put her in her
proper position, undoubtedly."
It was by no means with the oppression that would once have
accompanied the thought that he regarded the moral necessity
now; it was, indeed, with interest, if not warmth. His
bitter disappointment at finding Elizabeth-Jane to be none
of his, and himself a childless man, had left an emotional
void in Henchard that he unconsciously craved to fill. In
this frame of mind, though without strong feeling, he had
strolled up the alley and into High-Place Hall by the
postern at which Elizabeth had so nearly encountered him.
He had gone on thence into the court, and inquired of a man
whom he saw unpacking china from a crate if Miss Le Sueur
was living there. Miss Le Sueur had been the name under
which he had known Lucetta--or "Lucette," as she had called
herself at that time.
The man replied in the negative; that Miss Templeman only
had come. Henchard went away, concluding that Lucetta had
not as yet settled in.
He was in this interested stage of the inquiry when he
witnessed Elizabeth-Jane's departure the next day. On
hearing her announce the address there suddenly took
possession of him the strange thought that Lucetta and Miss
Templeman were one and the same person, for he could recall
that in her season of intimacy with him the name of the rich
relative whom he had deemed somewhat a mythical personage
had been given as Templeman. Though he was not a fortune-
hunter, the possibility that Lucetta had been sublimed into
a lady of means by some munificent testament on the part of
this relative lent a charm to her image which it might not
otherwise have acquired. He was getting on towards the dead
level of middle age, when material things increasingly
possess the mind.
But Henchard was not left long in suspense. Lucetta was
rather addicted to scribbling, as had been shown by the
torrent of letters after the fiasco in their marriage
arrangements, and hardly had Elizabeth gone away when
another note came to the Mayor's house from High-Place Hall.
"I am in residence," she said, "and comfortable, though
getting here has been a wearisome undertaking. You probably
know what I am going to tell you, or do you not? My good
Aunt Templeman, the banker's widow, whose very existence you
used to doubt, much more her affluence, has lately died, and
bequeathed some of her property to me. I will not enter
into details except to say that I have taken her name--as a
means of escape from mine, and its wrongs.
"I am now my own mistress, and have chosen to reside in
Casterbridge--to be tenant of High-Place Hall, that at least
you may be put to no trouble if you wish to see me. My
first intention was to keep you in ignorance of the changes
in my life till you should meet me in the street; but I have
thought better of this.
"You probably are aware of my arrangement with your
daughter, and have doubtless laughed at the--what shall I
call it?--practical joke (in all affection) of my getting
her to live with me. But my first meeting with her was
purely an accident. Do you see, Michael, partly why I have
done it?--why, to give you an excuse for coming here as if
to visit HER, and thus to form my acquaintance
naturally. She is a dear, good girl, and she thinks you
have treated her with undue severity. You may have done so
in your haste, but not deliberately, I am sure. As the
result has been to bring her to me I am not disposed to
upbraid you.--In haste, yours always,
The excitement which these announcements produced in
Henchard's gloomy soul was to him most pleasurable. He sat
over his dining-table long and dreamily, and by an almost
mechanical transfer the sentiments which had run to waste
since his estrangement from Elizabeth-Jane and Donald
Farfrae gathered around Lucetta before they had grown dry.
She was plainly in a very coming-on disposition for
marriage. But what else could a poor woman be who had given
her time and her heart to him so thoughtlessly, at that
former time, as to lose her credit by it? Probably
conscience no less than affection had brought her here. On
the whole he did not blame her.
"The artful little woman!" he said, smiling (with reference
to Lucetta's adroit and pleasant manoeuvre with Elizabeth-
To feel that he would like to see Lucetta was with Henchard
to start for her house. He put on his hat and went. It was
between eight and nine o'clock when he reached her door.
The answer brought him was that Miss Templeman was engaged
for that evening; but that she would be happy to see him the
"That's rather like giving herself airs!" he thought. "And
considering what we--" But after all, she plainly had not
expected him, and he took the refusal quietly. Nevertheless
he resolved not to go next day. "These cursed women--
there's not an inch of straight grain in 'em!" he said.
Let us follow the train of Mr. Henchard's thought as if it
were a clue line, and view the interior of High-Place Hall
on this particular evening.
On Elizabeth-Jane's arrival she had been phlegmatically
asked by an elderly woman to go upstairs and take off her
things. She replied with great earnestness that she would
not think of giving that trouble, and on the instant
divested herself of her bonnet and cloak in the passage.
She was then conducted to the first floor on the landing,
and left to find her way further alone.
The room disclosed was prettily furnished as a boudoir or
small drawing-room, and on a sofa with two cylindrical
pillows reclined a dark-haired, large-eyed, pretty woman, of
unmistakably French extraction on one side or the other.
She was probably some years older than Elizabeth, and had a
sparkling light in her eye. In front of the sofa was a
small table, with a pack of cards scattered upon it faces
The attitude had been so full of abandonment that she
bounded up like a spring on hearing the door open.
Perceiving that it was Elizabeth she lapsed into ease, and
came across to her with a reckless skip that innate grace
only prevented from being boisterous.
"Why, you are late," she said, taking hold of Elizabeth-
"There were so many little things to put up."
"And you seem dead-alive and tired. Let me try to enliven
you by some wonderful tricks I have learnt, to kill time.
Sit there and don't move." She gathered up the pack of
cards, pulled the table in front of her, and began to deal
them rapidly, telling Elizabeth to choose some.
"Well, have you chosen?" she asked flinging down the last
"No," stammered Elizabeth, arousing herself from a reverie.
"I forgot, I was thinking of--you, and me--and how strange
it is that I am here."
Miss Templeman looked at Elizabeth-Jane with interest, and
laid down the cards. "Ah! never mind," she said. "I'll lie
here while you sit by me; and we'll talk."
Elizabeth drew up silently to the head of the sofa, but with
obvious pleasure. It could be seen that though in years she
was younger than her entertainer in manner and general
vision she seemed more of the sage. Miss Templeman
deposited herself on the sofa in her former flexuous
position, and throwing her arm above her brow--somewhat in
the pose of a well-known conception of Titian's--talked up
at Elizabeth-Jane invertedly across her forehead and arm.
"I must tell you something," she said. "I wonder if you
have suspected it. I have only been mistress of a large
house and fortune a little while."
"Oh--only a little while?" murmured Elizabeth-Jane, her
countenance slightly falling.
"As a girl I lived about in garrison towns and elsewhere
with my father, till I was quite flighty and unsettled. He
was an officer in the army. I should not have mentioned
this had I not thought it best you should know the truth."
"Yes, yes." She looked thoughtfully round the room--at the
little square piano with brass inlayings, at the window-
curtains, at the lamp, at the fair and dark kings and queens
on the card-table, and finally at the inverted face of
Lucetta Templeman, whose large lustrous eyes had such an odd
effect upside down.
Elizabeth's mind ran on acquirements to an almost morbid
degree. "You speak French and Italian fluently, no doubt,"
she said. "I have not been able to get beyond a wretched
bit of Latin yet."
"Well, for that matter, in my native isle speaking French
does not go for much. It is rather the other way."
"Where is your native isle?"
It was with rather more reluctance that Miss Templeman said,
"Jersey. There they speak French on one side of the street
and English on the other, and a mixed tongue in the middle
of the road. But it is a long time since I was there. Bath
is where my people really belong to, though my ancestors in
Jersey were as good as anybody in England. They were the Le
Sueurs, an old family who have done great things in their
time. I went back and lived there after my father's death.
But I don't value such past matters, and am quite an English
person in my feelings and tastes."
Lucetta's tongue had for a moment outrun her discretion.
She had arrived at Casterbridge as a Bath lady, and there
were obvious reasons why Jersey should drop out of her life.
But Elizabeth had tempted her to make free, and a
deliberately formed resolve had been broken.
It could not, however, have been broken in safer company.
Lucetta's words went no further, and after this day she was
so much upon her guard that there appeared no chance of her
identification with the young Jersey woman who had been
Henchard's dear comrade at a critical time. Not the least
amusing of her safeguards was her resolute avoidance of a
French word if one by accident came to her tongue more
readily than its English equivalent. She shirked it with
the suddenness of the weak Apostle at the accusation, "Thy
speech bewrayeth thee!"
Expectancy sat visibly upon Lucetta the next morning. She
dressed herself for Mr. Henchard, and restlessly awaited his
call before mid-day; as he did not come she waited on
through the afternoon. But she did not tell Elizabeth that
the person expected was the girl's stepfather.
They sat in adjoining windows of the same room in Lucetta's
great stone mansion, netting, and looking out upon the
market, which formed an animated scene. Elizabeth could see
the crown of her stepfather's hat among the rest beneath,
and was not aware that Lucetta watched the same object with
yet intenser interest. He moved about amid the throng, at
this point lively as an ant-hill; elsewhere more reposeful,
and broken up by stalls of fruit and vegetables.
The farmers as a rule preferred the open carrefour for
their transactions, despite its inconvenient jostlings and
the danger from crossing vehicles, to the gloomy sheltered
market-room provided for them. Here they surged on this one
day of the week, forming a little world of leggings,
switches, and sample-bags; men of extensive stomachs,
sloping like mountain sides; men whose heads in walking
swayed as the trees in November gales; who in conversing
varied their attitudes much, lowering themselves by
spreading their knees, and thrusting their hands into the
pockets of remote inner jackets. Their faces radiated
tropical warmth; for though when at home their countenances
varied with the seasons, their market-faces all the year
round were glowing little fires.
All over-clothes here were worn as if they were an
inconvenience, a hampering necessity. Some men were well
dressed; but the majority were careless in that respect,
appearing in suits which were historical records of their
wearer's deeds, sun-scorchings, and daily struggles for many
years past. Yet many carried ruffled cheque-books in their
pockets which regulated at the bank hard by a balance of
never less than four figures. In fact, what these gibbous
human shapes specially represented was ready money--money
insistently ready--not ready next year like a nobleman's--
often not merely ready at the bank like a professional
man's, but ready in their large plump hands.
It happened that to-day there rose in the midst of them all
two or three tall apple-trees standing as if they grew on
the spot; till it was perceived that they were held by men
from the cider-districts who came here to sell them,
bringing the clay of their county on their boots.
Elizabeth-Jane, who had often observed them, said, "I wonder
if the same trees come every week?"
"What trees?" said Lucetta, absorbed in watching for
Elizabeth replied vaguely, for an incident checked her.
Behind one of the trees stood Farfrae, briskly discussing a
sample-bag with a farmer. Henchard had come up,
accidentally encountering the young man, whose face seemed
to inquire, "Do we speak to each other?"
She saw her stepfather throw a shine into his eye which
answered "No!" Elizabeth-Jane sighed.
"Are you particularly interested in anybody out there?" said
"O, no," said her companion, a quick red shooting over her
Luckily Farfrae's figure was immediately covered by the
Lucetta looked hard at her. "Quite sure?" she said.
"O yes," said Elizabeth-Jane.
Again Lucetta looked out. "They are all farmers, I
suppose?" she said.
"No. There's Mr. Bulge--he's a wine merchant; there's
Benjamin Brownlet--a horse dealer; and Kitson, the pig
breeder; and Yopper, the auctioneer; besides maltsters, and
millers--and so on." Farfrae stood out quite distinctly now;
but she did not mention him.
The Saturday afternoon slipped on thus desultorily. The
market changed from the sample-showing hour to the idle hour
before starting homewards, when tales were told. Henchard
had not called on Lucetta though he had stood so near. He
must have been too busy, she thought. He would come on
Sunday or Monday.
The days came but not the visitor, though Lucetta repeated
her dressing with scrupulous care. She got disheartened.
It may at once be declared that Lucetta no longer bore
towards Henchard all that warm allegiance which had
characterized her in their first acquaintance, the then
unfortunate issue of things had chilled pure love
considerably. But there remained a conscientious wish to
bring about her union with him, now that there was nothing
to hinder it--to right her position--which in itself was a
happiness to sigh for. With strong social reasons on her
side why their marriage should take place there had ceased
to be any worldly reason on his why it should be postponed,
since she had succeeded to fortune.
Tuesday was the great Candlemas fair. At breakfast she said
to Elizabeth-Jane quite coolly: "I imagine your father may
call to see you to-day. I suppose he stands close by in the
market-place with the rest of the corn-dealers?"
She shook her head. "He won't come."
"He has taken against me," she said in a husky voice.
"You have quarreled more deeply than I know of."
Elizabeth, wishing to shield the man she believed to be her
father from any charge of unnatural dislike, said "Yes."
"Then where you are is, of all places, the one he will
Elizabeth nodded sadly.
Lucetta looked blank, twitched up her lovely eyebrows and
lip, and burst into hysterical sobs. Here was a disaster--
her ingenious scheme completely stultified.
"O, my dear Miss Templeman--what's the matter?" cried her
"I like your company much!" said Lucetta, as soon as she
"Yes, yes--and so do I yours!" Elizabeth chimed in
"But--but--" She could not finish the sentence, which was,
naturally, that if Henchard had such a rooted dislike for
the girl as now seemed to be the case, Elizabeth-Jane would
have to be got rid of--a disagreeable necessity.
A provisional resource suggested itself. "Miss Henchard--
will you go on an errand for me as soon as breakfast is
over?--Ah, that's very good of you. Will you go and order--
" Here she enumerated several commissions at sundry shops,
which would occupy Elizabeth's time for the next hour or
two, at least.
"And have you ever seen the Museum?"
Elizabeth-Jane had not.
"Then you should do so at once. You can finish the morning
by going there. It is an old house in a back street--I
forget where--but you'll find out--and there are crowds of
interesting things--skeletons, teeth, old pots and pans,
ancient boots and shoes, birds' eggs--all charmingly
instructive. You'll be sure to stay till you get quite
Elizabeth hastily put on her things and departed. "I wonder
why she wants to get rid of me to-day!" she said sorrowfully
as she went. That her absence, rather than her services or
instruction, was in request, had been readily apparent to
Elizabeth-Jane, simple as she seemed, and difficult as it
was to attribute a motive for the desire.
She had not been gone ten minutes when one of Lucetta's
servants was sent to Henchard's with a note. The contents
DEAR MICHAEL,--You will be standing in view of my house to-
day for two or three hours in the course of your business,
so do please call and see me. I am sadly disappointed that
you have not come before, for can I help anxiety about my
own equivocal relation to you?--especially now my aunt's
fortune has brought me more prominently before society? Your
daughter's presence here may be the cause of your neglect;
and I have therefore sent her away for the morning. Say you
come on business--I shall be quite alone.
When the messenger returned her mistress gave directions
that if a gentleman called he was to be admitted at once,
and sat down to await results.
Sentimentally she did not much care to see him--his delays
had wearied her, but it was necessary; and with a sigh she
arranged herself picturesquely in the chair; first this way,
then that; next so that the light fell over her head. Next
she flung herself on the couch in the cyma-recta curve which
so became her, and with her arm over her brow looked towards
the door. This, she decided, was the best position after
all, and thus she remained till a man's step was heard on
the stairs. Whereupon Lucetta, forgetting her curve (for
Nature was too strong for Art as yet), jumped up and ran and
hid herself behind one of the window-curtains in a freak of
timidity. In spite of the waning of passion the situation
was an agitating one--she had not seen Henchard since his
(supposed) temporary parting from her in Jersey.
She could hear the servant showing the visitor into the
room, shutting the door upon him, and leaving as if to go
and look for her mistress. Lucetta flung back the curtain
with a nervous greeting. The man before her was not
A conjecture that her visitor might be some other person
had, indeed, flashed through Lucetta's mind when she was on
the point of bursting out; but it was just too late to
He was years younger than the Mayor of Casterbridge; fair,
fresh, and slenderly handsome. He wore genteel cloth
leggings with white buttons, polished boots with infinite
lace holes, light cord breeches under a black velveteen coat
and waistcoat; and he had a silver-topped switch in his
hand. Lucetta blushed, and said with a curious mixture of
pout and laugh on her face--"O, I've made a mistake!"
The visitor, on the contrary, did not laugh half a wrinkle.
"But I'm very sorry!" he said, in deprecating tones. "I
came and I inquired for Miss Henchard, and they showed me up
here, and in no case would I have caught ye so unmannerly if
I had known!"
"I was the unmannerly one," she said.
"But is it that I have come to the wrong house, madam?" said
Mr. Farfrae, blinking a little in his bewilderment and
nervously tapping his legging with his switch.
"O no, sir,--sit down. You must come and sit down now you
are here," replied Lucetta kindly, to relieve his
embarrassment. "Miss Henchard will be here directly."
Now this was not strictly true; but that something about the
young man--that hyperborean crispness, stringency, and
charm, as of a well-braced musical instrument, which had
awakened the interest of Henchard, and of Elizabeth-Jane and
of the Three Mariners' jovial crew, at sight, made his
unexpected presence here attractive to Lucetta. He
hesitated, looked at the chair, thought there was no danger
in it (though there was), and sat down.
Farfrae's sudden entry was simply the result of Henchard's
permission to him to see Elizabeth if he were minded to woo
her. At first he had taken no notice of Henchard's brusque
letter; but an exceptionally fortunate business transaction
put him on good terms with everybody, and revealed to him
that he could undeniably marry if he chose. Then who so
pleasing, thrifty, and satisfactory in every way as
Elizabeth-Jane? Apart from her personal recommendations a
reconciliation with his former friend Henchard would, in the
natural course of things, flow from such a union. He
therefore forgave the Mayor his curtness; and this morning
on his way to the fair he had called at her house, where he
learnt that she was staying at Miss Templeman's. A little
stimulated at not finding her ready and waiting--so fanciful
are men!--he hastened on to High-Place Hall to encounter no
Elizabeth but its mistress herself.
"The fair to-day seems a large one," she said when, by
natural deviation, their eyes sought the busy scene without.
"Your numerous fairs and markets keep me interested. How
many things I think of while I watch from here!"
He seemed in doubt how to answer, and the babble without
reached them as they sat--voices as of wavelets on a looping
sea, one ever and anon rising above the rest. "Do you look
out often?" he asked.
"Do you look for any one you know?"
Why should she have answered as she did?
"I look as at a picture merely. But," she went on, turning
pleasantly to him, "I may do so now--I may look for you.
You are always there, are you not? Ah--I don't mean it
seriously! But it is amusing to look for somebody one knows
in a crowd, even if one does not want him. It takes off the
terrible oppressiveness of being surrounded by a throng, and
having no point of junction with it through a single
"Ay! Maybe you'll be very lonely, ma'am?"
"Nobody knows how lonely."
"But you are rich, they say?"
"If so, I don't know how to enjoy my riches. I came to
Casterbridge thinking I should like to live here. But I
wonder if I shall."
"Where did ye come from, ma'am?"
"The neighbourhood of Bath."
"And I from near Edinboro'," he murmured. "It's better to
stay at home, and that's true; but a man must live where his
money is made. It is a great pity, but it's always so! Yet
I've done very well this year. O yes," he went on with
ingenuous enthusiasm. "You see that man with the drab
kerseymere coat? I bought largely of him in the autumn when
wheat was down, and then afterwards when it rose a little I
sold off all I had! It brought only a small profit to me;
while the farmers kept theirs, expecting higher figures--
yes, though the rats were gnawing the ricks hollow. Just
when I sold the markets went lower, and I bought up the corn
of those who had been holding back at less price than my
first purchases. And then," cried Farfrae impetuously, his
face alight, "I sold it a few weeks after, when it happened
to go up again! And so, by contenting mysel' with small
profits frequently repeated, I soon made five hundred
pounds--yes!"--(bringing down his hand upon the table, and
quite forgetting where he was)--"while the others by keeping
theirs in hand made nothing at all!"
Lucetta regarded him with a critical interest. He was quite
a new type of person to her. At last his eye fell upon the
lady's and their glances met.
"Ay, now, I'm wearying you!" he exclaimed.
She said, "No, indeed," colouring a shade.
"Quite otherwise. You are most interesting."
It was now Farfrae who showed the modest pink.
"I mean all you Scotchmen," she added in hasty correction.
"So free from Southern extremes. We common people are all
one way or the other--warm or cold, passionate or frigid.
You have both temperatures going on in you at the same
"But how do you mean that? Ye were best to explain clearly,
"You are animated--then you are thinking of getting on. You
are sad the next moment--then you are thinking of Scotland
"Yes. I think of home sometimes!" he said simply.
"So do I--as far as I can. But it was an old house where I
was born, and they pulled it down for improvements, so I
seem hardly to have any home to think of now."
Lucetta did not add, as she might have done, that the house
was in St. Helier, and not in Bath.
"But the mountains, and the mists and the rocks, they are
there! And don't they seem like home?"
She shook her head.
"They do to me--they do to me," he murmured. And his mind
could be seen flying away northwards. Whether its origin
were national or personal, it was quite true what Lucetta
had said, that the curious double strands in Farfrae's
thread of life--the commercial and the romantic--were very
distinct at times. Like the colours in a variegated cord
those contrasts could be seen intertwisted, yet not
"You are wishing you were back again," she said.
"Ah, no, ma'am," said Farfrae, suddenly recalling himself.
The fair without the windows was now raging thick and loud.
It was the chief hiring fair of the year, and differed quite
from the market of a few days earlier. In substance it was
a whitey-brown crowd flecked with white--this being the body
of labourers waiting for places. The long bonnets of the
women, like waggon-tilts, their cotton gowns and checked
shawls, mixed with the carters' smockfrocks; for they, too,
entered into the hiring. Among the rest, at the corner of
the pavement, stood an old shepherd, who attracted the eyes
of Lucetta and Farfrae by his stillness. He was evidently a
chastened man. The battle of life had been a sharp one with
him, for, to begin with, he was a man of small frame. He
was now so bowed by hard work and years that, approaching
from behind, a person could hardly see his head. He had
planted the stem of his crook in the gutter and was resting
upon the bow, which was polished to silver brightness by the
long friction of his hands. He had quite forgotten where he
was, and what he had come for, his eyes being bent on the
ground. A little way off negotiations were proceeding which
had reference to him; but he did not hear them, and there
seemed to be passing through his mind pleasant visions of
the hiring successes of his prime, when his skill laid open
to him any farm for the asking.
The negotiations were between a farmer from a distant county
and the old man's son. In these there was a difficulty.
The farmer would not take the crust without the crumb of the
bargain, in other words, the old man without the younger;
and the son had a sweetheart on his present farm, who stood
by, waiting the issue with pale lips.
"I'm sorry to leave ye, Nelly," said the young man with
emotion. "But, you see, I can't starve father, and he's out
o' work at Lady-day. 'Tis only thirty-five mile."
The girl's lips quivered. "Thirty-five mile!" she murmured.
"Ah! 'tis enough! I shall never see 'ee again!" It was,
indeed, a hopeless length of traction for Dan Cupid's
magnet; for young men were young men at Casterbridge as
"O! no, no--I never shall," she insisted, when he pressed
her hand; and she turned her face to Lucetta's wall to hide
her weeping. The farmer said he would give the young man
half-an-hour for his answer, and went away, leaving the
Lucetta's eyes, full of tears, met Farfrae's. His, too, to
her surprise, were moist at the scene.
"It is very hard," she said with strong feelings. "Lovers
ought not to be parted like that! O, if I had my wish, I'd
let people live and love at their pleasure!"
"Maybe I can manage that they'll not be parted," said
Farfrae. "I want a young carter; and perhaps I'll take the
old man too--yes; he'll not be very expensive, and doubtless
he will answer my pairrpose somehow."
"O, you are so good!" she cried, delighted. "Go and tell
them, and let me know if you have succeeded!"
Farfrae went out, and she saw him speak to the group. The
eyes of all brightened; the bargain was soon struck.
Farfrae returned to her immediately it was concluded.
"It is kind-hearted of you, indeed," said Lucetta. "For my
part, I have resolved that all my servants shall have lovers
if they want them! Do make the same resolve!"
Farfrae looked more serious, waving his head a half turn.
"I must be a little stricter than that," he said.
"You are a--a thriving woman; and I am a struggling hay-and-
"I am a very ambitious woman."
"Ah, well, I cannet explain. I don't know how to talk to
ladies, ambitious or no; and that's true," said Donald with
grave regret. "I try to be civil to a' folk--no more!"
"I see you are as you say," replied she, sensibly getting
the upper hand in these exchanges of sentiment. Under this
revelation of insight Farfrae again looked out of the window
into the thick of the fair.
Two farmers met and shook hands, and being quite near the
window their remarks could be heard as others' had been.
"Have you seen young Mr. Farfrae this morning?" asked one.
"He promised to meet me here at the stroke of twelve; but
I've gone athwart and about the fair half-a-dozen times, and
never a sign of him: though he's mostly a man to his word."
"I quite forgot the engagement," murmured Farfrae.
"Now you must go," said she; "must you not?"
"Yes," he replied. But he still remained.
"You had better go," she urged. "You will lose a customer.
"Now, Miss Templeman, you will make me angry," exclaimed
"Then suppose you don't go; but stay a little longer?"
He looked anxiously at the farmer who was seeking him and
who just then ominously walked across to where Henchard was
standing, and he looked into the room and at her. "I like
staying; but I fear I must go!" he said. "Business ought
not to be neglected, ought it?
"Not for a single minute."
"It's true. I'll come another time--if I may, ma'am?"
"Certainly," she said. "What has happened to us to-day is
"Something to think over when we are alone, it's like to
"Oh, I don't know that. It is commonplace after all."
"No, I'll not say that. O no!"
"Well, whatever it has been, it is now over; and the market
calls you to be gone."
"Yes, yes. Market--business! I wish there were no business
in the warrld."
Lucetta almost laughed--she would quite have laughed--but
that there was a little emotion going in her at the time.
"How you change!" she said. "You should not change like
"I have never wished such things before," said the
Scotchman, with a simple, shamed, apologetic look for his
weakness. "It is only since coming here and seeing you!"
"If that's the case, you had better not look at me any
longer. Dear me, I feel I have quite demoralized you!"
"But look or look not, I will see you in my thoughts. Well,
I'll go--thank you for the pleasure of this visit."
"Thank you for staying."
"Maybe I'll get into my market-mind when I've been out a few
minutes," he murmured. "But I don't know--I don't know!"
As he went she said eagerly, "You may hear them speak of me
in Casterbridge as time goes on. If they tell you I'm a
coquette, which some may, because of the incidents of my
life, don't believe it, for I am not."
"I swear I will not!" he said fervidly.
Thus the two. She had enkindled the young man's enthusiasm
till he was quite brimming with sentiment; while he from
merely affording her a new form of idleness, had gone on to
wake her serious solicitude. Why was this? They could not
Lucetta as a young girl would hardly have looked at a
tradesman. But her ups and downs, capped by her
indiscretions with Henchard had made her uncritical as to
station. In her poverty she had met with repulse from the
society to which she had belonged, and she had no great zest
for renewing an attempt upon it now. Her heart longed for
some ark into which it could fly and be at rest. Rough or
smooth she did not care so long as it was warm.
Farfrae was shown out, it having entirely escaped him that
he had called to see Elizabeth. Lucetta at the window
watched him threading the maze of farmers and farmers' men.
She could see by his gait that he was conscious of her eyes,
and her heart went out to him for his modesty--pleaded with
her sense of his unfitness that he might be allowed to come
again. He entered the market-house, and she could see him
Three minutes later, when she had left the window, knocks,
not of multitude but of strength, sounded through the house,
and the waiting-maid tripped up.
"The Mayor," she said.
Lucetta had reclined herself, and she was looking dreamily
through her fingers. She did not answer at once, and the
maid repeated the information with the addition, "And he's
afraid he hasn't much time to spare, he says."
"Oh! Then tell him that as I have a headache I won't detain
The message was taken down, and she heard the door close.
Lucetta had come to Casterbridge to quicken Henchard's
feelings with regard to her. She had quickened them, and
now she was indifferent to the achievement.
Her morning view of Elizabeth-Jane as a disturbing element
changed, and she no longer felt strongly the necessity of
getting rid of the girl for her stepfather's sake. When the
young woman came in, sweetly unconscious of the turn in the
tide, Lucetta went up to her, and said quite sincerely--
"I'm so glad you've come. You'll live with me a long time,
Elizabeth as a watch-dog to keep her father off--what a new
idea. Yet it was not unpleasing. Henchard had neglected
her all these days, after compromising her indescribably in
the past. The least he could have done when he found
himself free, and herself affluent, would have been to
respond heartily and promptly to her invitation.
Her emotions rose, fell, undulated, filled her with wild
surmise at their suddenness; and so passed Lucetta's
experiences of that day.
Poor Elizabeth-Jane, little thinking what her malignant star
had done to blast the budding attentions she had won from
Donald Farfrae, was glad to hear Lucetta's words about
For in addition to Lucetta's house being a home, that raking
view of the market-place which it afforded had as much
attraction for her as for Lucetta. The carrefour was
like the regulation Open Place in spectacular dramas, where
the incidents that occur always happen to bear on the lives
of the adjoining residents. Farmers, merchants, dairymen,
quacks, hawkers, appeared there from week to week, and
disappeared as the afternoon wasted away. It was the node
of all orbits.
From Saturday to Saturday was as from day to day with the
two young women now. In an emotional sense they did not
live at all during the intervals. Wherever they might go
wandering on other days, on market-day they were sure to be
at home. Both stole sly glances out of the window at
Farfrae's shoulders and poll. His face they seldom saw,
for, either through shyness, or not to disturb his
mercantile mood, he avoided looking towards their quarters.
Thus things went on, till a certain market-morning brought a
new sensation. Elizabeth and Lucetta were sitting at
breakfast when a parcel containing two dresses arrived for
the latter from London. She called Elizabeth from her
breakfast, and entering her friend's bedroom Elizabeth saw
the gowns spread out on the bed, one of a deep cherry
colour, the other lighter--a glove lying at the end of each
sleeve, a bonnet at the top of each neck, and parasols
across the gloves, Lucetta standing beside the suggested
human figure in an attitude of contemplation.
"I wouldn't think so hard about it," said Elizabeth, marking
the intensity with which Lucetta was alternating the
question whether this or that would suit best.
"But settling upon new clothes is so trying," said Lucetta.
"You are that person" (pointing to one of the arrangements),
"or you are THAT totally different person" (pointing to
the other), "for the whole of the coming spring and one of
the two, you don't know which, may turn out to be very
It was finally decided by Miss Templeman that she would be
the cherry-coloured person at all hazards. The dress was
pronounced to be a fit, and Lucetta walked with it into the
front room, Elizabeth following her.
The morning was exceptionally bright for the time of year.
The sun fell so flat on the houses and pavement opposite
Lucetta's residence that they poured their brightness into
her rooms. Suddenly, after a rumbling of wheels, there were
added to this steady light a fantastic series of circling
irradiations upon the ceiling, and the companions turned to
the window. Immediately opposite a vehicle of strange
description had come to a standstill, as if it had been
placed there for exhibition.
It was the new-fashioned agricultural implement called a
horse-drill, till then unknown, in its modern shape, in this
part of the country, where the venerable seed-lip was still
used for sowing as in the days of the Heptarchy. Its
arrival created about as much sensation in the corn-market
as a flying machine would create at Charing Cross. The
farmers crowded round it, women drew near it, children crept
under and into it. The machine was painted in bright hues
of green, yellow, and red, and it resembled as a whole a
compound of hornet, grasshopper, and shrimp, magnified
enormously. Or it might have been likened to an upright
musical instrument with the front gone. That was how it
struck Lucetta. "Why, it is a sort of agricultural piano,"
"It has something to do with corn," said Elizabeth.
"I wonder who thought of introducing it here?"
Donald Farfrae was in the minds of both as the innovator,
for though not a farmer he was closely leagued with farming
operations. And as if in response to their thought he came
up at that moment, looked at the machine, walked round it,
and handled it as if he knew something about its make. The
two watchers had inwardly started at his coming, and
Elizabeth left the window, went to the back of the room, and
stood as if absorbed in the panelling of the wall. She
hardly knew that she had done this till Lucetta, animated by
the conjunction of her new attire with the sight of Farfrae,
spoke out: "Let us go and look at the instrument, whatever
Elizabeth-Jane's bonnet and shawl were pitchforked on in a
moment, and they went out. Among all the agriculturists
gathered round the only appropriate possessor of the new
machine seemed to be Lucetta, because she alone rivalled it
They examined it curiously; observing the rows of trumpet-
shaped tubes one within the other, the little scoops, like
revolving salt-spoons, which tossed the seed into the upper
ends of the tubes that conducted it to the ground; till
somebody said, "Good morning, Elizabeth-Jane." She looked
up, and there was her stepfather.
His greeting had been somewhat dry and thunderous, and
Elizabeth-Jane, embarrassed out of her equanimity, stammered
at random, "This is the lady I live with, father--Miss
Henchard put his hand to his hat, which he brought down with
a great wave till it met his body at the knee. Miss
Templeman bowed. "I am happy to become acquainted with you,
Mr. Henchard," she said. "This is a curious machine."
"Yes," Henchard replied; and he proceeded to explain it, and
still more forcibly to ridicule it.
"Who brought it here?" said Lucetta.
"Oh, don't ask me, ma'am!" said Henchard. "The thing--why
'tis impossible it should act. 'Twas brought here by one of
our machinists on the recommendation of a jumped-up
jackanapes of a fellow who thinks----" His eye caught
Elizabeth-Jane's imploring face, and he stopped, probably
thinking that the suit might be progressing.
He turned to go away. Then something seemed to occur which
his stepdaughter fancied must really be a hallucination of
hers. A murmur apparently came from Henchard's lips in
which she detected the words, "You refused to see me!"
reproachfully addressed to Lucetta. She could not believe
that they had been uttered by her stepfather; unless,
indeed, they might have been spoken to one of the yellow-
gaitered farmers near them. Yet Lucetta seemed silent, and
then all thought of the incident was dissipated by the
humming of a song, which sounded as though from the interior
of the machine. Henchard had by this time vanished into the
market-house, and both the women glanced towards the corn-
drill. They could see behind it the bent back of a man who
was pushing his head into the internal works to master their
simple secrets. The hummed song went on--
"'Tw--s on a s--m--r aftern--n,
A wee be--re the s--n w--nt d--n,
When Kitty wi' a braw n--w g--wn
C--me ow're the h--lls to Gowrie."
Elizabeth-Jane had apprehended the singer in a moment, and
looked guilty of she did not know what. Lucetta next
recognized him, and more mistress of herself said archly,
"The 'Lass of Gowrie' from inside of a seed-drill--what a
Satisfied at last with his investigation the young man stood
upright, and met their eyes across the summit.
"We are looking at the wonderful new drill," Miss Templeman
said. "But practically it is a stupid thing--is it not?"
she added, on the strength of Henchard's information.
"Stupid? O no!" said Farfrae gravely. "It will
revolutionize sowing heerabout! No more sowers flinging
their seed about broadcast, so that some falls by the
wayside and some among thorns, and all that. Each grain
will go straight to its intended place, and nowhere else
"Then the romance of the sower is gone for good," observed
Elizabeth-Jane, who felt herself at one with Farfrae in
Bible-reading at least. "'He that observeth the wind shall
not sow,' so the Preacher said; but his words will not be to
the point any more. How things change!"
"Ay; ay....It must be so!" Donald admitted, his gaze fixing
itself on a blank point far away. "But the machines are
already very common in the East and North of England," he
Lucetta seemed to be outside this train of sentiment, her
acquaintance with the Scriptures being somewhat limited.
"Is the machine yours?" she asked of Farfrae.
"O no, madam," said he, becoming embarrassed and deferential
at the sound of her voice, though with Elizabeth Jane he was
quite at his ease. No, no--I merely recommended that it
should be got."
In the silence which followed Farfrae appeared only
conscious of her; to have passed from perception of
Elizabeth into a brighter sphere of existence than she
appertained to. Lucetta, discerning that he was much mixed
that day, partly in his mercantile mood and partly in his
romantic one, said gaily to him--
"Well, don't forsake the machine for us," and went indoors
with her companion.
The latter felt that she had been in the way, though why was
unaccountable to her. Lucetta explained the matter somewhat
by saying when they were again in the sitting-room--
"I had occasion to speak to Mr. Farfrae the other day, and
so I knew him this morning."
Lucetta was very kind towards Elizabeth that day. Together
they saw the market thicken, and in course of time thin away
with the slow decline of the sun towards the upper end of
town, its rays taking the street endways and enfilading the
long thoroughfare from top to bottom. The gigs and vans
disappeared one by one till there was not a vehicle in the
street. The time of the riding world was over the
pedestrian world held sway. Field labourers and their wives
and children trooped in from the villages for their weekly
shopping, and instead of a rattle of wheels and a tramp of
horses ruling the sound as earlier, there was nothing but
the shuffle of many feet. All the implements were gone; all
the farmers; all the moneyed class. The character of the
town's trading had changed from bulk to multiplicity and
pence were handled now as pounds had been handled earlier in
Lucetta and Elizabeth looked out upon this, for though it
was night and the street lamps were lighted, they had kept
their shutters unclosed. In the faint blink of the fire
they spoke more freely.
"Your father was distant with you," said Lucetta.
"Yes." And having forgotten the momentary mystery of
Henchard's seeming speech to Lucetta she continued, "It is
because he does not think I am respectable. I have tried to
be so more than you can imagine, but in vain! My mother's
separation from my father was unfortunate for me. You don't
know what it is to have shadows like that upon your life."
Lucetta seemed to wince. "I do not--of that kind
precisely," she said, "but you may feel a--sense of
disgrace--shame--in other ways."
"Have you ever had any such feeling?" said the younger
"O no," said Lucetta quickly. "I was thinking of--what
happens sometimes when women get themselves in strange
positions in the eyes of the world from no fault of their
"It must make them very unhappy afterwards."
"It makes them anxious; for might not other women despise
"Not altogether despise them. Yet not quite like or respect
Lucetta winced again. Her past was by no means secure from
investigation, even in Casterbridge. For one thing Henchard
had never returned to her the cloud of letters she had
written and sent him in her first excitement. Possibly they
were destroyed; but she could have wished that they had
never been written.
The rencounter with Farfrae and his bearings towards Lucetta
had made the reflective Elizabeth more observant of her
brilliant and amiable companion. A few days afterwards,
when her eyes met Lucetta's as the latter was going out, she
somehow knew that Miss Templeman was nourishing a hope of
seeing the attractive Scotchman. The fact was printed large
all over Lucetta's cheeks and eyes to any one who could read
her as Elizabeth-Jane was beginning to do. Lucetta passed
on and closed the street door.
A seer's spirit took possession of Elizabeth, impelling her
to sit down by the fire and divine events so surely from
data already her own that they could be held as witnessed.
She followed Lucetta thus mentally--saw her encounter Donald
somewhere as if by chance--saw him wear his special look
when meeting women, with an added intensity because this one
was Lucetta. She depicted his impassioned manner; beheld
the indecision of both between their lothness to separate
and their desire not to be observed; depicted their shaking
of hands; how they probably parted with frigidity in their
general contour and movements, only in the smaller features
showing the spark of passion, thus invisible to all but
themselves. This discerning silent witch had not done
thinking of these things when Lucetta came noiselessly
behind her and made her start.
It was all true as she had pictured--she could have sworn
it. Lucetta had a heightened luminousness in her eye over
and above the advanced colour of her cheeks.
"You've seen Mr. Farfrae," said Elizabeth demurely.
"Yes," said Lucetta. "How did you know?"
She knelt down on the hearth and took her friend's hands
excitedly in her own. But after all she did not say when or
how she had seen him or what he had said.
That night she became restless; in the morning she was
feverish; and at breakfast-time she told her companion that
she had something on her mind--something which concerned a
person in whom she was interested much. Elizabeth was
earnest to listen and sympathize.
"This person--a lady--once admired a man much--very much,"
she said tentatively.
"Ah," said Elizabeth-Jane.
"They were intimate--rather. He did not think so deeply of
her as she did of him. But in an impulsive moment, purely
out of reparation, he proposed to make her his wife. She
agreed. But there was an unsuspected hitch in the
proceedings; though she had been so far compromised with him
that she felt she could never belong to another man, as a
pure matter of conscience, even if she should wish to.
After that they were much apart, heard nothing of each other
for a long time, and she felt her life quite closed up for
"She suffered much on account of him; though I should add
that he could not altogether be blamed for what had
happened. At last the obstacle which separated them was
providentially removed; and he came to marry her."
"But in the interval she--my poor friend--had seen a man,
she liked better than him. Now comes the point: Could she
in honour dismiss the first?"
"A new man she liked better--that's bad!"
"Yes," said Lucetta, looking pained at a boy who was
swinging the town pump-handle. "It is bad! Though you must
remember that she was forced into an equivocal position with
the first man by an accident--that he was not so well
educated or refined as the second, and that she had
discovered some qualities in the first that rendered him
less desirable as a husband than she had at first thought
him to be."
"I cannot answer," said Elizabeth-Jane thoughtfully. "It is
so difficult. It wants a Pope to settle that!"
"You prefer not to perhaps?" Lucetta showed in her appealing
tone how much she leant on Elizabeth's judgment.
"Yes, Miss Templeman," admitted Elizabeth. "I would rather
Nevertheless, Lucetta seemed relieved by the simple fact of
having opened out the situation a little, and was slowly
convalescent of her headache. "Bring me a looking-glass.
How do I appear to people?" she said languidly.
"Well--a little worn," answered Elizabeth, eyeing her as a
critic eyes a doubtful painting; fetching the glass she
enabled Lucetta to survey herself in it, which Lucetta
"I wonder if I wear well, as times go!" she observed after a
"Where am I worst?"
"Under your eyes--I notice a little brownness there."
"Yes. That is my worst place, I know. How many years more
do you think I shall last before I get hopelessly plain?"
There was something curious in the way in which Elizabeth,
though the younger, had come to play the part of experienced
sage in these discussions. "It may be five years," she said
judicially. "Or, with a quiet life, as many as ten. With
no love you might calculate on ten."
Lucetta seemed to reflect on this as on an unalterable,
impartial verdict. She told Elizabeth-Jane no more of the
past attachment she had roughly adumbrated as the
experiences of a third person; and Elizabeth, who in spite
of her philosophy was very tender-hearted, sighed that night
in bed at the thought that her pretty, rich Lucetta did not
treat her to the full confidence of names and dates in her
confessions. For by the "she" of Lucetta's story Elizabeth
had not been beguiled.
The next phase of the supersession of Henchard in Lucetta's
heart was an experiment in calling on her performed by
Farfrae with some apparent trepidation. Conventionally
speaking he conversed with both Miss Templeman and her
companion; but in fact it was rather that Elizabeth sat
invisible in the room. Donald appeared not to see her at
all, and answered her wise little remarks with curtly
indifferent monosyllables, his looks and faculties hanging
on the woman who could boast of a more Protean variety in
her phases, moods, opinions, and also principles, than could
Elizabeth. Lucetta had persisted in dragging her into the
circle; but she had remained like an awkward third point
which that circle would not touch.
Susan Henchard's daughter bore up against the frosty ache of
the treatment, as she had borne up under worse things, and
contrived as soon as possible to get out of the inharmonious
room without being missed. The Scotchman seemed hardly the
same Farfrae who had danced with her and walked with her in
a delicate poise between love and friendship--that period in
the history of a love when alone it can be said to be
unalloyed with pain.
She stoically looked from her bedroom window, and
contemplated her fate as if it were written on the top of
the church-tower hard by. "Yes," she said at last, bringing
down her palm upon the sill with a pat: "HE is the
second man of that story she told me!"
All this time Henchard's smouldering sentiments towards
Lucetta had been fanned into higher and higher inflammation
by the circumstances of the case. He was discovering that
the young woman for whom he once felt a pitying warmth which
had been almost chilled out of him by reflection, was, when
now qualified with a slight inaccessibility and a more
matured beauty, the very being to make him satisfied with
life. Day after day proved to him, by her silence, that it
was no use to think of bringing her round by holding aloof;
so he gave in, and called upon her again, Elizabeth-Jane
He crossed the room to her with a heavy tread of some
awkwardness, his strong, warm gaze upon her--like the sun
beside the moon in comparison with Farfrae's modest look--
and with something of a hail-fellow bearing, as, indeed, was
not unnatural. But she seemed so transubstantiated by her
change of position, and held out her hand to him in such
cool friendship, that he became deferential, and sat down
with a perceptible loss of power. He understood but little
of fashion in dress, yet enough to feel himself inadequate
in appearance beside her whom he had hitherto been dreaming
of as almost his property. She said something very polite
about his being good enough to call. This caused him to
recover balance. He looked her oddly in the face, losing
"Why, of course I have called, Lucetta," he said. "What
does that nonsense mean? You know I couldn't have helped
myself if I had wished--that is, if I had any kindness at
all. I've called to say that I am ready, as soon as custom
will permit, to give you my name in return for your devotion
and what you lost by it in thinking too little of yourself
and too much of me; to say that you can fix the day or
month, with my full consent, whenever in your opinion it
would be seemly: you know more of these things than I."
"It is full early yet," she said evasively.
"Yes, yes; I suppose it is. But you know, Lucetta, I felt
directly my poor ill-used Susan died, and when I could not
bear the idea of marrying again, that after what had
happened between us it was my duty not to let any
unnecessary delay occur before putting things to rights.
Still, I wouldn't call in a hurry, because--well, you can
guess how this money you've come into made me feel." His
voice slowly fell; he was conscious that in this room his
accents and manner wore a roughness not observable in the
street. He looked about the room at the novel hangings and
ingenious furniture with which she had surrounded herself.
"Upon my life I didn't know such furniture as this could be
bought in Casterbridge," he said.
"Nor can it be " said she. "Nor will it till fifty years
more of civilization have passed over the town. It took a
waggon and four horses to get it here."
"H'm. It looks as if you were living on capital."
"O no, I am not."
"So much the better. But the fact is, your setting up like
this makes my beaming towards you rather awkward."
An answer was not really needed, and he did not furnish one.
"Well," he went on, "there's nobody in the world I would
have wished to see enter into this wealth before you,
Lucetta, and nobody, I am sure, who will become it more." He
turned to her with congratulatory admiration so fervid that
she shrank somewhat, notwithstanding that she knew him so
"I am greatly obliged to you for all that," said she, rather
with an air of speaking ritual. The stint of reciprocal
feeling was perceived, and Henchard showed chagrin at once--
nobody was more quick to show that than he.
"You may be obliged or not for't. Though the things I say
may not have the polish of what you've lately learnt to
expect for the first time in your life, they are real, my
"That's rather a rude way of speaking to me," pouted
Lucetta, with stormy eyes.
"Not at all!" replied Henchard hotly. "But there, there, I
don't wish to quarrel with 'ee. I come with an honest
proposal for silencing your Jersey enemies, and you ought to
"How can you speak so!" she answered, firing quickly.
"Knowing that my only crime was the indulging in a foolish
girl's passion for you with too little regard for
correctness, and that I was what I call innocent all the
time they called me guilty, you ought not to be so cutting!
I suffered enough at that worrying time, when you wrote to
tell me of your wife's return and my consequent dismissal,
and if I am a little independent now, surely the privilege
is due to me!"
"Yes, it is," he said. "But it is not by what is, in this
life, but by what appears, that you are judged; and I
therefore think you ought to accept me--for your own good
name's sake. What is known in your native Jersey may get
"How you keep on about Jersey! I am English!"
"Yes, yes. Well, what do you say to my proposal?"
For the first time in their acquaintance Lucetta had the
move; and yet she was backward. "For the present let things
be," she said with some embarrassment. "Treat me as an
acquaintance, and I'll treat you as one. Time will--" She
stopped; and he said nothing to fill the gap for awhile,
there being no pressure of half acquaintance to drive them
into speech if they were not minded for it.
"That's the way the wind blows, is it?" he said at last
grimly, nodding an affirmative to his own thoughts.
A yellow flood of reflected sunlight filled the room for a
few instants. It was produced by the passing of a load of
newly trussed hay from the country, in a waggon marked with
Farfrae's name. Beside it rode Farfrae himself on horse-
back. Lucetta's face became--as a woman's face becomes when
the man she loves rises upon her gaze like an apparition.
A turn of the eye by Henchard, a glance from the window, and
the secret of her inaccessibility would have been revealed.
But Henchard in estimating her tone was looking down so
plumb-straight that he did not note the warm consciousness
upon Lucetta's face.
"I shouldn't have thought it--I shouldn't have thought it of
women!" he said emphatically by-and-by, rising and shaking
himself into activity; while Lucetta was so anxious to
divert him from any suspicion of the truth that she asked
him to be in no hurry. Bringing him some apples she
insisted upon paring one for him.
He would not take it. "No, no; such is not for me," he said
drily, and moved to the door. At going out he turned his
eye upon her.
"You came to live in Casterbridge entirely on my account,"
he said. "Yet now you are here you won't have anything to
say to my offer!"
He had hardly gone down the staircase when she dropped upon
the sofa and jumped up again in a fit of desperation. "I
WILL love him!" she cried passionately; "as for HIM--
he's hot-tempered and stern, and it would be madness to bind
myself to him knowing that. I won't be a slave to the past--
I'll love where I choose!"
Yet having decided to break away from Henchard one might
have supposed her capable of aiming higher than Farfrae.
But Lucetta reasoned nothing: she feared hard words from the
people with whom she had been earlier associated; she had no
relatives left; and with native lightness of heart took
kindly to what fate offered.
Elizabeth-Jane, surveying the position of Lucetta between
her two lovers from the crystalline sphere of a
straightforward mind, did not fail to perceive that her
father, as she called him, and Donald Farfrae became more
desperately enamoured of her friend every day. On Farfrae's
side it was the unforced passion of youth. On Henchard's
the artificially stimulated coveting of maturer age.
The pain she experienced from the almost absolute
obliviousness to her existence that was shown by the pair of
them became at times half dissipated by her sense of its
humourousness. When Lucetta had pricked her finger they
were as deeply concerned as if she were dying; when she
herself had been seriously sick or in danger they uttered a
conventional word of sympathy at the news, and forgot all
about it immediately. But, as regarded Henchard, this
perception of hers also caused her some filial grief; she
could not help asking what she had done to be neglected so,
after the professions of solicitude he had made. As
regarded Farfrae, she thought, after honest reflection, that
it was quite natural. What was she beside Lucetta?--as one
of the "meaner beauties of the night," when the moon had
risen in the skies.
She had learnt the lesson of renunciation, and was as
familiar with the wreck of each day's wishes as with the
diurnal setting of the sun. If her earthly career had
taught her few book philosophies it had at least well
practised her in this. Yet her experience had consisted
less in a series of pure disappointments than in a series of
substitutions. Continually it had happened that what she
had desired had not been granted her, and that what had been
granted her she had not desired. So she viewed with an
approach to equanimity the new cancelled days when Donald
had been her undeclared lover, and wondered what unwished-
for thing Heaven might send her in place of him.
It chanced that on a fine spring morning Henchard and
Farfrae met in the chestnut-walk which ran along the south
wall of the town. Each had just come out from his early
breakfast, and there was not another soul near. Henchard
was reading a letter from Lucetta, sent in answer to a note
from him, in which she made some excuse for not immediately
granting him a second interview that he had desired.
Donald had no wish to enter into conversation with his
former friend on their present constrained terms; neither
would he pass him in scowling silence. He nodded, and
Henchard did the same. They receded from each other several
paces when a voice cried "Farfrae!" It was Henchard's, who
stood regarding him.
"Do you remember," said Henchard, as if it were the presence
of the thought and not of the man which made him speak, "do
you remember my story of that second woman--who suffered for
her thoughtless intimacy with me?"
"I do," said Farfrae.
"Do you remember my telling 'ee how it all began and how it
"Well, I have offered to marry her now that I can; but she
won't marry me. Now what would you think of her--I put it
"Well, ye owe her nothing more now," said Farfrae heartily.
"It is true," said Henchard, and went on.
That he had looked up from a letter to ask his questions
completely shut out from Farfrae's mind all vision of
Lucetta as the culprit. Indeed, her present position was so
different from that of the young woman of Henchard's story
as of itself to be sufficient to blind him absolutely to her
identity. As for Henchard, he was reassured by Farfrae's
words and manner against a suspicion which had crossed his
mind. They were not those of a conscious rival.
Yet that there was rivalry by some one he was firmly
persuaded. He could feel it in the air around Lucetta, see
it in the turn of her pen. There was an antagonistic force
in exercise, so that when he had tried to hang near her he
seemed standing in a refluent current. That it was not
innate caprice he was more and more certain. Her windows
gleamed as if they did not want him; her curtains seem to
hang slily, as if they screened an ousting presence. To
discover whose presence that was--whether really Farfrae's