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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 offerings of the purest loves are but a self-indulgence, and no generosity at all.

Bathsheba, not being the least in love with him, was eventually able to look calmly at his offer. It was one which many women of her own station in the neighbourhood, and not a few of higher rank, would have been wild to accept and proud to publish. In every point of view, ranging from politic to passionate, it was desirable that she, a lonely girl, should marry, and marry this earnest, well-to-do, and respected man. He was close to her doors: his standing was sufficient: his qualities were even supererogatory. Had she felt, which she did not, any wish whatever for the married state in the abstract, she could not reasonably have rejected him, being a woman who frequently appealed to her understanding for deliverance from her whims. Boldwood as a means to marriage was unexceptionable: she esteemed and liked him, yet she did not want him. It appears that ordinary men take wives because possession is not possible without marriage, and that ordinary women accept husbands because marriage is not possible without possession; with totally differing aims the method is the same on both sides. But the understood incentive on the woman’s part was wanting here. Besides, Bathsheba’s position as absolute mistress of a farm and house was a novel one, and the novelty had not yet begun to wear off.

But a disquiet filled her which was somewhat to her credit, for it would have affected few. Beyond the mentioned reasons with which she combated her objections, she had a strong feeling that, having been the one who began the game, she ought in honesty to accept the consequences. Still the reluctance remained. She said in the same breath that it would be ungenerous not to marry Boldwood, and that she couldn’t do it to save her life.

Bathsheba’s was an impulsive nature under a deliberative aspect. An Elizabeth in brain and a Mary Stuart in spirit, she often performed actions of the greatest temerity with a manner of extreme discretion. Many of her thoughts were perfect syllogisms; unluckily they always remained thoughts. Only a few were irrational assumptions; but, unfortunately, they were the ones which most frequently grew into deeds.

The next day to that of the declaration she found Gabriel Oak at the bottom of her garden, grinding his shears for the sheep-shearing. All the surrounding cottages were more or less scenes of the same operation; the scurr of whetting spread into the sky from all parts of the village as from an armoury previous to a campaign. Peace and war kiss each other at their hours of preparation—sickles, scythes, shears, and pruning-hooks, ranking with swords, bayonets, and lances, in their common necessity for point and edge.

Cainy Ball turned the handle of Gabriel’s grindstone, his head performing a melancholy see-saw up and down with each turn of the wheel. Oak stood somewhat as Eros is represented when in the act of sharpening his arrows: his figure slightly bent, the weight of his body thrown over on the shears, and his head balanced side-ways, with a critical compression of the lips and contraction of the eyelids to crown the attitude.

His mistress came up and looked upon them in silence for a minute or two; then she said—

“Cain, go to the lower mead and catch the bay mare. I’ll turn the winch of the grindstone. I want to speak to you, Gabriel.”

Cain departed, and Bathsheba took the handle. Gabriel had glanced up in intense surprise, quelled its expression, and looked down again. Bathsheba turned the winch, and Gabriel applied the shears.

The peculiar motion involved in turning a wheel has a wonderful tendency to benumb the mind. It is a sort of attenuated variety of Ixion’s punishment, and contributes a dismal chapter to the history of gaols. The brain gets muddled, the head grows heavy, and the body’s centre of gravity seems to settle by degrees in a leaden lump somewhere between the eyebrows and the crown. Bathsheba felt the unpleasant symptoms after two or three dozen turns.

“Will you turn, Gabriel, and let me hold the shears?” she said. “My head is in a whirl, and I can’t talk.”

Gabriel turned. Bathsheba then began, with some awkwardness, allowing her thoughts to stray occasionally from her story to attend to the shears, which required a little nicety in sharpening.

“I wanted to ask you if the men made any observations on my going behind the sedge with Mr. Boldwood yesterday?”

“Yes, they did,” said Gabriel. “You don’t hold the shears right, miss—I knew you wouldn’t know the way—hold like this.”

He relinquished the winch, and inclosing her two hands completely in his own (taking each as we sometimes slap a child’s hand in teaching him to write), grasped the shears with her. “Incline the edge so,” he said.

Hands and shears were inclined to suit the words, and held thus for a peculiarly long time by the instructor as he spoke.

“That will do,” exclaimed Bathsheba. “Loose my hands. I won’t have them held! Turn the winch.”

Gabriel freed her hands quietly, retired to his handle, and the grinding went on.

“Did the men think it odd?” she said again.

“Odd was not the idea, miss.”

“What did they say?”

“That Farmer Boldwood’s name and your own were likely to be flung over pulpit together before the year was out.”

“I thought so by the look of them! Why, there’s nothing in it. A more foolish remark was never made, and I want you to contradict it: that’s what I came for.”

Gabriel looked incredulous and sad, but between his moments of incredulity, relieved.

“They must have heard our conversation,” she continued.

“Well, then, Bathsheba!” said Oak, stopping the handle, and gazing into her face with astonishment.

“Miss Everdene, you mean,” she said, with dignity.

“I mean this, that if Mr. Boldwood really spoke of marriage, I bain’t going to tell a story and say he didn’t to please you. I have already tried to please you too much for my own good!”

Bathsheba regarded him with round-eyed perplexity. She did not know whether to pity him for disappointed love of her, or to be angry with him for having got over it—his tone being ambiguous.

“I said I wanted you just to mention that it was not true I was going to be married to him,” she murmured, with a slight decline in her assurance.

“I can say that to them if you wish, Miss Everdene. And I could likewise give an opinion to ’ee on what you have done.”

“I daresay. But I don’t want your opinion.”

“I suppose not,” said Gabriel bitterly, and going on with his turning, his words rising and falling in a regular swell and cadence as he stooped or rose with the winch, which directed them, according to his position, perpendicularly into the earth, or horizontally along the garden, his eyes being fixed on a leaf upon the ground.

With Bathsheba a hastened act was a rash act; but, as does not always happen, time gained was prudence insured. It must be added, however, that time was very seldom gained. At this period the single opinion in the parish on herself and her doings that she valued as sounder than her own was Gabriel Oak’s. And the outspoken honesty of his character was such that on any subject, even that of her love for, or marriage with, another man, the same disinterestedness of opinion might be calculated on, and be had for the asking. Thoroughly convinced of the impossibility of his own suit, a high resolve constrained him not to injure that of another. This is a lover’s most stoical virtue, as the lack of it is a lover’s most venial sin. Knowing he would reply truly she asked the question, painful as she must have known the subject would be. Such is the selfishness of some charming women. Perhaps it was some excuse for her thus torturing honesty to her own advantage, that she had absolutely no other sound judgment within easy reach.

“Well, what is your opinion of my conduct,” she said, quietly.

“That it is unworthy of any thoughtful, and meek, and comely woman.”

In an instant Bathsheba’s face coloured with the angry crimson of a Danby sunset. But she forbore to utter this feeling, and the reticence of her tongue only made the loquacity of her face the more noticeable.

The next thing Gabriel did was to make a mistake.

“Perhaps you don’t like the rudeness of my reprimanding you, for I know it is rudeness; but I thought it would do good.”

She instantly replied sarcastically—

“On the contrary, my opinion of you is so low, that I see in your abuse the praise of discerning people!”

“I am glad you don’t mind it, for I said it honestly and with every serious meaning.”

“I see. But, unfortunately, when you try not to speak in jest you are amusing—just as when you wish to avoid seriousness you sometimes say a sensible word.”

It was a hard hit, but Bathsheba had unmistakably lost her temper, and on that account Gabriel had never in his life kept his own better. He said nothing. She then broke out—

“I may ask, I suppose, where in particular my unworthiness lies? In my not marrying you, perhaps!”

“Not by any means,” said Gabriel quietly. “I have long given up thinking of that matter.”

“Or wishing it, I suppose,” she said; and it was apparent that she expected an unhesitating denial of this supposition.

Whatever Gabriel felt, he coolly echoed her words—

“Or wishing it either.”

A woman may be treated with a bitterness which is sweet to her, and with a rudeness which is not offensive. Bathsheba would have submitted to an indignant chastisement for her levity had Gabriel protested that he was loving her at the same time; the impetuosity of passion unrequited is bearable, even if it stings and anathematizes—there is a triumph in the humiliation, and a tenderness in the strife. This was what she had been expecting, and what she had not got. To be lectured because the lecturer saw her in the cold morning light of open-shuttered disillusion was exasperating. He had not finished, either. He continued in a more agitated voice:—

“My opinion is (since you ask it) that you are greatly to blame for playing pranks upon a man like Mr. Boldwood, merely as a pastime. Leading on a man you don’t care for is not a praiseworthy action. And even, Miss Everdene, if you seriously inclined towards him, you might have let him find it out in some way of true loving-kindness, and not by sending him a valentine’s letter.”

Bathsheba laid down the shears.

“I cannot allow any man to—to criticise my private conduct!” she exclaimed. “Nor will I for a minute. So you’ll please leave the farm at the end of the week!”

It may have been a peculiarity—at any rate it was a fact—that when Bathsheba was swayed by an emotion of an earthly sort her lower lip trembled: when by a refined emotion, her upper or heavenward one. Her nether lip quivered now.

“Very well, so I will,” said Gabriel calmly. He had been held to her by a beautiful thread which it pained him to spoil by breaking, rather than by a chain he could not break. “I should be even better pleased to go at once,” he added.

“Go at once then, in Heaven’s name!” said she, her eyes flashing at his, though never meeting them. “Don’t let me see your face any more.”

“Very well, Miss Everdene—so it shall be.”

And he took his shears and went away from her in placid dignity, as Moses left the presence of Pharaoh. 

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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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