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CHAPTER I : Description of Farmer Oak—An Incident

24 August 2023

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When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.

His Christian name was Gabriel, and on working days he was a young man of sound judgment, easy motions, proper dress, and general good character. On Sundays he was a man of misty views, rather given to postponing, and hampered by his best clothes and umbrella: upon the whole, one who felt himself to occupy morally that vast middle space of Laodicean neutrality which lay between the Communion people of the parish and the drunken section,—that is, he went to church, but yawned privately by the time the congregation reached the Nicene creed, and thought of what there would be for dinner when he meant to be listening to the sermon. Or, to state his character as it stood in the scale of public opinion, when his friends and critics were in tantrums, he was considered rather a bad man; when they were pleased, he was rather a good man; when they were neither, he was a man whose moral colour was a kind of pepper-and-salt mixture.

Since he lived six times as many working-days as Sundays, Oak’s appearance in his old clothes was most peculiarly his own—the mental picture formed by his neighbours in imagining him being always dressed in that way. He wore a low-crowned felt hat, spread out at the base by tight jamming upon the head for security in high winds, and a coat like Dr. Johnson’s; his lower extremities being encased in ordinary leather leggings and boots emphatically large, affording to each foot a roomy apartment so constructed that any wearer might stand in a river all day long and know nothing of damp—their maker being a conscientious man who endeavoured to compensate for any weakness in his cut by unstinted dimension and solidity.

Mr. Oak carried about him, by way of watch, what may be called a small silver clock; in other words, it was a watch as to shape and intention, and a small clock as to size. This instrument being several years older than Oak’s grandfather, had the peculiarity of going either too fast or not at all. The smaller of its hands, too, occasionally slipped round on the pivot, and thus, though the minutes were told with precision, nobody could be quite certain of the hour they belonged to. The stopping peculiarity of his watch Oak remedied by thumps and shakes, and he escaped any evil consequences from the other two defects by constant comparisons with and observations of the sun and stars, and by pressing his face close to the glass of his neighbours’ windows, till he could discern the hour marked by the green-faced timekeepers within. It may be mentioned that Oak’s fob being difficult of access, by reason of its somewhat high situation in the waistband of his trousers (which also lay at a remote height under his waistcoat), the watch was as a necessity pulled out by throwing the body to one side, compressing the mouth and face to a mere mass of ruddy flesh on account of the exertion required, and drawing up the watch by its chain, like a bucket from a well.

But some thoughtful persons, who had seen him walking across one of his fields on a certain December morning—sunny and exceedingly mild—might have regarded Gabriel Oak in other aspects than these. In his face one might notice that many of the hues and curves of youth had tarried on to manhood: there even remained in his remoter crannies some relics of the boy. His height and breadth would have been sufficient to make his presence imposing, had they been exhibited with due consideration. But there is a way some men have, rural and urban alike, for which the mind is more responsible than flesh and sinew: it is a way of curtailing their dimensions by their manner of showing them. And from a quiet modesty that would have become a vestal, which seemed continually to impress upon him that he had no great claim on the world’s room, Oak walked unassumingly and with a faintly perceptible bend, yet distinct from a bowing of the shoulders. This may be said to be a defect in an individual if he depends for his valuation more upon his appearance than upon his capacity to wear well, which Oak did not.

He had just reached the time of life at which “young” is ceasing to be the prefix of “man” in speaking of one. He was at the brightest period of masculine growth, for his intellect and his emotions were clearly separated: he had passed the time during which the influence of youth indiscriminately mingles them in the character of impulse, and he had not yet arrived at the stage wherein they become united again, in the character of prejudice, by the influence of a wife and family. In short, he was twenty-eight, and a bachelor.

The field he was in this morning sloped to a ridge called Norcombe Hill. Through a spur of this hill ran the highway between Emminster and Chalk-Newton. Casually glancing over the hedge, Oak saw coming down the incline before him an ornamental spring waggon, painted yellow and gaily marked, drawn by two horses, a waggoner walking alongside bearing a whip perpendicularly. The waggon was laden with household goods and window plants, and on the apex of the whole sat a woman, young and attractive. Gabriel had not beheld the sight for more than half a minute, when the vehicle was brought to a standstill just beneath his eyes.

“The tailboard of the waggon is gone, Miss,” said the waggoner.

“Then I heard it fall,” said the girl, in a soft, though not particularly low voice. “I heard a noise I could not account for when we were coming up the hill.”

“I’ll run back.”

“Do,” she answered.

The sensible horses stood—perfectly still, and the waggoner’s steps sank fainter and fainter in the distance.

The girl on the summit of the load sat motionless, surrounded by tables and chairs with their legs upwards, backed by an oak settle, and ornamented in front by pots of geraniums, myrtles, and cactuses, together with a caged canary—all probably from the windows of the house just vacated. There was also a cat in a willow basket, from the partly-opened lid of which she gazed with half-closed eyes, and affectionately surveyed the small birds around.

The handsome girl waited for some time idly in her place, and the only sound heard in the stillness was the hopping of the canary up and down the perches of its prison. Then she looked attentively downwards. It was not at the bird, nor at the cat; it was at an oblong package tied in paper, and lying between them. She turned her head to learn if the waggoner were coming. He was not yet in sight; and her eyes crept back to the package, her thoughts seeming to run upon what was inside it. At length she drew the article into her lap, and untied the paper covering; a small swing looking-glass was disclosed, in which she proceeded to survey herself attentively. She parted her lips and smiled.

It was a fine morning, and the sun lighted up to a scarlet glow the crimson jacket she wore, and painted a soft lustre upon her bright face and dark hair. The myrtles, geraniums, and cactuses packed around her were fresh and green, and at such a leafless season they invested the whole concern of horses, waggon, furniture, and girl with a peculiar vernal charm. What possessed her to indulge in such a performance in the sight of the sparrows, blackbirds, and unperceived farmer who were alone its spectators,—whether the smile began as a factitious one, to test her capacity in that art,—nobody knows; it ended certainly in a real smile. She blushed at herself, and seeing her reflection blush, blushed the more.

The change from the customary spot and necessary occasion of such an act—from the dressing hour in a bedroom to a time of travelling out of doors—lent to the idle deed a novelty it did not intrinsically possess. The picture was a delicate one. Woman’s prescriptive infirmity had stalked into the sunlight, which had clothed it in the freshness of an originality. A cynical inference was irresistible by Gabriel Oak as he regarded the scene, generous though he fain would have been. There was no necessity whatever for her looking in the glass. She did not adjust her hat, or pat her hair, or press a dimple into shape, or do one thing to signify that any such intention had been her motive in taking up the glass. She simply observed herself as a fair product of Nature in the feminine kind, her thoughts seeming to glide into far-off though likely dramas in which men would play a part—vistas of probable triumphs—the smiles being of a phase suggesting that hearts were imagined as lost and won. Still, this was but conjecture, and the whole series of actions was so idly put forth as to make it rash to assert that intention had any part in them at all.

The waggoner’s steps were heard returning. She put the glass in the paper, and the whole again into its place.

When the waggon had passed on, Gabriel withdrew from his point of espial, and descending into the road, followed the vehicle to the turnpike-gate some way beyond the bottom of the hill, where the object of his contemplation now halted for the payment of toll. About twenty steps still remained between him and the gate, when he heard a dispute. It was a difference concerning twopence between the persons with the waggon and the man at the toll-bar.

“Mis’ess’s niece is upon the top of the things, and she says that’s enough that I’ve offered ye, you great miser, and she won’t pay any more.” These were the waggoner’s words.

“Very well; then mis’ess’s niece can’t pass,” said the turnpike-keeper, closing the gate.

Oak looked from one to the other of the disputants, and fell into a reverie. There was something in the tone of twopence remarkably insignificant. Threepence had a definite value as money—it was an appreciable infringement on a day’s wages, and, as such, a higgling matter; but twopence—“Here,” he said, stepping forward and handing twopence to the gatekeeper; “let the young woman pass.” He looked up at her then; she heard his words, and looked down.

Gabriel’s features adhered throughout their form so exactly to the middle line between the beauty of St. John and the ugliness of Judas Iscariot, as represented in a window of the church he attended, that not a single lineament could be selected and called worthy either of distinction or notoriety. The red-jacketed and dark-haired maiden seemed to think so too, for she carelessly glanced over him, and told her man to drive on. She might have looked her thanks to Gabriel on a minute scale, but she did not speak them; more probably she felt none, for in gaining her a passage he had lost her her point, and we know how women take a favour of that kind.

The gatekeeper surveyed the retreating vehicle. “That’s a handsome maid,” he said to Oak.

“But she has her faults,” said Gabriel.

“True, farmer.”

“And the greatest of them is—well, what it is always.”

“Beating people down? ay, ’tis so.”

“O no.”

“What, then?”

Gabriel, perhaps a little piqued by the comely traveller’s indifference, glanced back to where he had witnessed her performance over the hedge, and said, “Vanity.”

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Articles
Far from the Madding Crowd
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Far From the Madding Crowd is Hardy’s fourth novel and this is considered to be his warmest and sunniest novel. Most of his major novels especially those written in his later years like Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure have tragic endings. But this novel is in line with happy, meaningful and conventional endings, with the marriage of the female protagonist Bathsheba to the unpretentious hero, Gabriel Oak who has been in love with her right through the narrative. This is a conventional love story where constancy in love, however unflashy and restrained, gets its just reward.
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PREFACE

24 August 2023
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In reprinting this story for a new edition I am reminded that it was in the chapters of “Far from the Madding Crowd,” as they appeared month by month in a popular magazine, that I first ventured to ad

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CHAPTER I : Description of Farmer Oak—An Incident

24 August 2023
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When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extendin

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CHAPTER II : NIGHT—THE FLOCK—AN INTERIOR—ANOTHER INTERIOR

24 August 2023
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It was nearly midnight on the eve of St. Thomas’s, the shortest day in the year. A desolating wind wandered from the north over the hill whereon Oak had watched the yellow waggon and its occupant in t

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CHAPTER III : A GIRL ON HORSEBACK—CONVERSATION

24 August 2023
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The sluggish day began to break. Even its position terrestrially is one of the elements of a new interest, and for no particular reason save that the incident of the night had occurred there Oak went

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CHAPTER IV : GABRIEL’S RESOLVE—THE VISIT—THE MISTAKE

24 August 2023
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The only superiority in women that is tolerable to the rival sex is, as a rule, that of the unconscious kind; but a superiority which recognizes itself may sometimes please by suggesting possibilities

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CHAPTER V : DEPARTURE OF BATHSHEBA—A PASTORAL TRAGEDY

24 August 2023
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The news which one day reached Gabriel, that Bathsheba Everdene had left the neighbourhood, had an influence upon him which might have surprised any who never suspected that the more emphatic the renu

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CHAPTER VI : THE FAIR—THE JOURNEY—THE FIRE

24 August 2023
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Two months passed away. We are brought on to a day in February, on which was held the yearly statute or hiring fair in the county-town of Casterbridge. At one end of the street stood from two to thre

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CHAPTER VII : RECOGNITION—A TIMID GIRL

24 August 2023
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Bathsheba withdrew into the shade. She scarcely knew whether most to be amused at the singularity of the meeting, or to be concerned at its awkwardness. There was room for a little pity, also for a ve

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CHAPTER VIII : THE MALTHOUSE—THE CHAT—NEWS

24 August 2023
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Warren’s Malthouse was enclosed by an old wall inwrapped with ivy, and though not much of the exterior was visible at this hour, the character and purposes of the building were clearly enough shown by

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CHAPTER IX : THE HOMESTEAD—A VISITOR—HALF-CONFIDENCES

24 August 2023
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By daylight, the bower of Oak’s new-found mistress, Bathsheba Everdene, presented itself as a hoary building, of the early stage of Classic Renaissance as regards its architecture, and of a proportion

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CHAPTER X : MISTRESS AND MEN

24 August 2023
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Half-an-hour later Bathsheba, in finished dress, and followed by Liddy, entered the upper end of the old hall to find that her men had all deposited themselves on a long form and a settle at the lower

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CHAPTER XI : OUTSIDE THE BARRACKS—SNOW—A MEETING

24 August 2023
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For dreariness nothing could surpass a prospect in the outskirts of a certain town and military station, many miles north of Weatherbury, at a later hour on this same snowy evening—if that may be call

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CHAPTER XII : FARMERS—A RULE—AN EXCEPTION

24 August 2023
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The first public evidence of Bathsheba’s decision to be a farmer in her own person and by proxy no more was her appearance the following market-day in the cornmarket at Casterbridge. The low though e

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CHAPTER XIII : SORTES SANCTORUM—THE VALENTINE

24 August 2023
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It was Sunday afternoon in the farmhouse, on the thirteenth of February. Dinner being over, Bathsheba, for want of a better companion, had asked Liddy to come and sit with her. The mouldy pile was dre

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CHAPTER XIV : EFFECT OF THE LETTER—SUNRISE

24 August 2023
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At dusk, on the evening of St. Valentine’s Day, Boldwood sat down to supper as usual, by a beaming fire of aged logs. Upon the mantel-shelf before him was a time-piece, surmounted by a spread eagle, a

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CHAPTER XV : A MORNING MEETING—THE LETTER AGAIN

7 September 2023
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The scarlet and orange light outside the malthouse did not penetrate to its interior, which was, as usual, lighted by a rival glow of similar hue, radiating from the hearth. The maltster, after havin

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CHAPTER XVI : ALL SAINTS’ AND ALL SOULS’

7 September 2023
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On a week-day morning a small congregation, consisting mainly of women and girls, rose from its knees in the mouldy nave of a church called All Saints’, in the distant barrack-town before-mentioned, a

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CHAPTER XVII : IN THE MARKET-PLACE

7 September 2023
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On Saturday Boldwood was in Casterbridge market house as usual, when the disturber of his dreams entered and became visible to him. Adam had awakened from his deep sleep, and behold! there was Eve. Th

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CHAPTER XVIII : Boldwood in Meditation—Regret

8 September 2023
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Boldwood was tenant of what was called Little Weatherbury Farm, and his person was the nearest approach to aristocracy that this remoter quarter of the parish could boast of. Genteel strangers, whose

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CHAPTER XIX : THE SHEEP-WASHING—THE OFFER

8 September 2023
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Boldwood did eventually call upon her. She was not at home. “Of course not,” he murmured. In contemplating Bathsheba as a woman, he had forgotten the accidents of her position as an agriculturist—that

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CHAPTER XX : PERPLEXITY—GRINDING THE SHEARS—A QUARREL

8 September 2023
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“He is so disinterested and kind to offer me all that I can desire,” Bathsheba mused. Yet Farmer Boldwood, whether by nature kind or the reverse to kind, did not exercise kindness here. The rarest of

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CHAPTER XXI : TROUBLES IN THE FOLD—A MESSAGE

8 September 2023
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Gabriel Oak had ceased to feed the Weatherbury flock for about four-and-twenty hours, when on Sunday afternoon the elderly gentlemen Joseph Poorgrass, Matthew Moon, Fray, and half-a-dozen others, ca

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CHAPTER XXII : THE GREAT BARN AND THE SHEEP-SHEARERS

8 September 2023
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Men thin away to insignificance and oblivion quite as often by not making the most of good spirits when they have them as by lacking good spirits when they are indispensable. Gabriel lately, for the f

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CHAPTER XXIII : EVENTIDE—A SECOND DECLARATION

8 September 2023
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For the shearing-supper a long table was placed on the grass-plot beside the house, the end of the table being thrust over the sill of the wide parlour window and a foot or two into the room. Miss Eve

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CHAPTER XXIV : THE SAME NIGHT—THE FIR PLANTATION

8 September 2023
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Among the multifarious duties which Bathsheba had voluntarily imposed upon herself by dispensing with the services of a bailiff, was the particular one of looking round the homestead before going to b

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CHAPTER XXV : THE NEW ACQUAINTANCE DESCRIBED

8 September 2023
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Idiosyncrasy and vicissitude had combined to stamp Sergeant Troy as an exceptional being. He was a man to whom memories were an incumbrance, and anticipations a superfluity. Simply feeling, consideri

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CHAPTER XXVI : SCENE ON THE VERGE OF THE HAY-MEAD

8 September 2023
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“Ah, Miss Everdene!” said the sergeant, touching his diminutive cap. “Little did I think it was you I was speaking to the other night. And yet, if I had reflected, the ‘Queen of the Corn-market’ (trut

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CHAPTER XXVII : HIVING THE BEES

8 September 2023
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The Weatherbury bees were late in their swarming this year. It was in the latter part of June, and the day after the interview with Troy in the hayfield, that Bathsheba was standing in her garden, wat

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CHAPTER XXVIII : THE HOLLOW AMID THE FERNS

8 September 2023
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The hill opposite Bathsheba’s dwelling extended, a mile off, into an uncultivated tract of land, dotted at this season with tall thickets of brake fern, plump and diaphanous from recent rapid growth,

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CHAPTER XXIX : PARTICULARS OF A TWILIGHT WALK

8 September 2023
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We now see the element of folly distinctly mingling with the many varying particulars which made up the character of Bathsheba Everdene. It was almost foreign to her intrinsic nature. Introduced as ly

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CHAPTER XXX : HOT CHEEKS AND TEARFUL EYES

8 September 2023
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Half an hour later Bathsheba entered her own house. There burnt upon her face when she met the light of the candles the flush and excitement which were little less than chronic with her now. The farew

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CHAPTER XXXI : BLAME—FURY

8 September 2023
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The next evening Bathsheba, with the idea of getting out of the way of Mr. Boldwood in the event of his returning to answer her note in person, proceeded to fulfil an engagement made with Liddy some f

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CHAPTER XXXII : NIGHT—HORSES TRAMPING

14 September 2023
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The village of Weatherbury was quiet as the graveyard in its midst, and the living were lying well-nigh as still as the dead. The church clock struck eleven. The air was so empty of other sounds that

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CHAPTER XXXIII : IN THE SUN—A HARBINGER

14 September 2023
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A week passed, and there were no tidings of Bathsheba; nor was there any explanation of her Gilpin’s rig. Then a note came for Maryann, stating that the business which had called her mistress to Bath

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CHAPTER XXXIV : HOME AGAIN—A TRICKSTER

14 September 2023
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That same evening at dusk Gabriel was leaning over Coggan’s garden-gate, taking an up-and-down survey before retiring to rest. A vehicle of some kind was softly creeping along the grassy margin of th

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CHAPTER XXXV : AT AN UPPER WINDOW

14 September 2023
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It was very early the next morning—a time of sun and dew. The confused beginnings of many birds’ songs spread into the healthy air, and the wan blue of the heaven was here and there coated with thin w

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CHAPTER XXXVI : WEALTH IN JEOPARDY—THE REVEL

14 September 2023
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One night, at the end of August, when Bathsheba’s experiences as a married woman were still new, and when the weather was yet dry and sultry, a man stood motionless in the stockyard of Weatherbury Upp

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CHAPTER XXXVII : THE STORM—THE TWO TOGETHER

14 September 2023
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A light flapped over the scene, as if reflected from phosphorescent wings crossing the sky, and a rumble filled the air. It was the first move of the approaching storm. The second peal was noisy, wit

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CHAPTER XXXVIII : RAIN—ONE SOLITARY MEETS ANOTHER

14 September 2023
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It was now five o’clock, and the dawn was promising to break in hues of drab and ash. The air changed its temperature and stirred itself more vigorously. Cool breezes coursed in transparent eddies ro

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CHAPTER XXXIX : COMING HOME—A CRY

14 September 2023
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On the turnpike road, between Casterbridge and Weatherbury, and about three miles from the former place, is Yalbury Hill, one of those steep long ascents which pervade the highways of this undulating

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CHAPTER XL : ON CASTERBRIDGE HIGHWAY

14 September 2023
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For a considerable time the woman walked on. Her steps became feebler, and she strained her eyes to look afar upon the naked road, now indistinct amid the penumbræ of night. At length her onward walk

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CHAPTER XLI : SUSPICION—FANNY IS SENT FOR

14 September 2023
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Bathsheba said very little to her husband all that evening of their return from market, and he was not disposed to say much to her. He exhibited the unpleasant combination of a restless condition with

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CHAPTER XLII : JOSEPH AND HIS BURDEN—BUCK’S HEAD

14 September 2023
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A wall bounded the site of Casterbridge Union-house, except along a portion of the end. Here a high gable stood prominent, and it was covered like the front with a mat of ivy. In this gable was no win

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CHAPTER XLIII : FANNY’S REVENGE

14 September 2023
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“Do you want me any longer ma’am?” inquired Liddy, at a later hour the same evening, standing by the door with a chamber candlestick in her hand and addressing Bathsheba, who sat cheerless and alone i

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CHAPTER XLIV : UNDER A TREE—REACTION

14 September 2023
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Bathsheba went along the dark road, neither knowing 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 i

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CHAPTER XLV : TROY’S ROMANTICISM

15 September 2023
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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,

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CHAPTER XLVI : THE GURGOYLE: ITS DOINGS

15 September 2023
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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 t

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CHAPTER XLVII : ADVENTURES BY THE SHORE

15 September 2023
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Troy wandered along towards the south. A composite feeling, made up of disgust with the, to him, humdrum tediousness of a farmer’s life, gloomy images of her who lay in the churchyard, remorse, and a

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CHAPTER XLVIII : DOUBTS ARISE—DOUBTS LINGER

15 September 2023
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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

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CHAPTER XLIX : OAK’S ADVANCEMENT—A GREAT HOPE

15 September 2023
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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 feelin

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CHAPTER L : THE SHEEP FAIR—TROY TOUCHES HIS WIFE’S HAND

15 September 2023
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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

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CHAPTER LI : BATHSHEBA TALKS WITH HER OUTRIDER

15 September 2023
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The arrangement for getting back again to Weatherbury had been that Oak should take the place of Poorgrass in Bathsheba’s conveyance and drive her home, it being discovered late in the afternoon that

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CHAPTER LII : CONVERGING COURSES

15 September 2023
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I Christmas-eve came, and a party that Boldwood was to give in the evening was the great subject of talk in Weatherbury. It was not that the rarity of Christmas parties in the parish made this one a

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CHAPTER LIII : CONCURRITUR—HORÆ MOMENTO

15 September 2023
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Outside the front of Boldwood’s house a group of men stood in the dark, with their faces towards the door, which occasionally opened and closed for the passage of some guest or servant, when a golden

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CHAPTER LIV : AFTER THE SHOCK

15 September 2023
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Boldwood passed into the high road and turned in the direction of Casterbridge. Here he walked at an even, steady pace over Yalbury Hill, along the dead level beyond, mounted Mellstock Hill, and betwe

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CHAPTER LV : THE MARCH FOLLOWING—“BATHSHEBA BOLDWOOD”

15 September 2023
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We pass rapidly on into the month of March, to a breezy day without sunshine, frost, or dew. On Yalbury Hill, about midway between Weatherbury and Casterbridge, where the turnpike road passes over the

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CHAPTER LVI : BEAUTY IN LONELINESS—AFTER ALL

15 September 2023
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Bathsheba revived with the spring. The utter prostration that had followed the low fever from which she had suffered diminished perceptibly when all uncertainty upon every subject had come to an end.

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CHAPTER LVII : A FOGGY NIGHT AND MORNING—CONCLUSION

15 September 2023
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“The most private, secret, plainest wedding that it is possible to have.” Those had been Bathsheba’s words to Oak one evening, some time after the event of the preceding chapter, and he meditated a f

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