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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 first time since his prostration by misfortune, had been independent in thought and vigorous in action to a marked extent—conditions which, powerless without an opportunity as an opportunity without them is barren, would have given him a sure lift upwards when the favourable conjunction should have occurred. But this incurable loitering beside Bathsheba Everdene stole his time ruinously. The spring tides were going by without floating him off, and the neap might soon come which could not.

It was the first day of June, and the sheep-shearing season culminated, the landscape, even to the leanest pasture, being all health and colour. Every green was young, every pore was open, and every stalk was swollen with racing currents of juice. God was palpably present in the country, and the devil had gone with the world to town. Flossy catkins of the later kinds, fern-sprouts like bishops’ croziers, the square-headed moschatel, the odd cuckoo-pint,—like an apoplectic saint in a niche of malachite,—snow-white ladies’-smocks, the toothwort, approximating to human flesh, the enchanter’s night-shade, and the black-petaled doleful-bells, were among the quainter objects of the vegetable world in and about Weatherbury at this teeming time; and of the animal, the metamorphosed figures of Mr. Jan Coggan, the master-shearer; the second and third shearers, who travelled in the exercise of their calling, and do not require definition by name; Henery Fray the fourth shearer, Susan Tall’s husband the fifth, Joseph Poorgrass the sixth, young Cain Ball as assistant-shearer, and Gabriel Oak as general supervisor. None of these were clothed to any extent worth mentioning, each appearing to have hit in the matter of raiment the decent mean between a high and low caste Hindoo. An angularity of lineament, and a fixity of facial machinery in general, proclaimed that serious work was the order of the day.

They sheared in the great barn, called for the nonce the Shearing-barn, which on ground-plan resembled a church with transepts. It not only emulated the form of the neighbouring church of the parish, but vied with it in antiquity. Whether the barn had ever formed one of a group of conventual buildings nobody seemed to be aware; no trace of such surroundings remained. The vast porches at the sides, lofty enough to admit a waggon laden to its highest with corn in the sheaf, were spanned by heavy-pointed arches of stone, broadly and boldly cut, whose very simplicity was the origin of a grandeur not apparent in erections where more ornament has been attempted. The dusky, filmed, chestnut roof, braced and tied in by huge collars, curves, and diagonals, was far nobler in design, because more wealthy in material, than nine-tenths of those in our modern churches. Along each side wall was a range of striding buttresses, throwing deep shadows on the spaces between them, which were perforated by lancet openings, combining in their proportions the precise requirements both of beauty and ventilation.

One could say about this barn, what could hardly be said of either the church or the castle, akin to it in age and style, that the purpose which had dictated its original erection was the same with that to which it was still applied. Unlike and superior to either of those two typical remnants of mediævalism, the old barn embodied practices which had suffered no mutilation at the hands of time. Here at least the spirit of the ancient builders was at one with the spirit of the modern beholder. Standing before this abraded pile, the eye regarded its present usage, the mind dwelt upon its past history, with a satisfied sense of functional continuity throughout—a feeling almost of gratitude, and quite of pride, at the permanence of the idea which had heaped it up. The fact that four centuries had neither proved it to be founded on a mistake, inspired any hatred of its purpose, nor given rise to any reaction that had battered it down, invested this simple grey effort of old minds with a repose, if not a grandeur, which a too curious reflection was apt to disturb in its ecclesiastical and military compeers. For once mediævalism and modernism had a common stand-point. The lanceolate windows, the time-eaten archstones and chamfers, the orientation of the axis, the misty chestnut work of the rafters, referred to no exploded fortifying art or worn-out religious creed. The defence and salvation of the body by daily bread is still a study, a religion, and a desire.

To-day the large side doors were thrown open towards the sun to admit a bountiful light to the immediate spot of the shearers’ operations, which was the wood threshing-floor in the centre, formed of thick oak, black with age and polished by the beating of flails for many generations, till it had grown as slippery and as rich in hue as the state-room floors of an Elizabethan mansion. Here the shearers knelt, the sun slanting in upon their bleached shirts, tanned arms, and the polished shears they flourished, causing these to bristle with a thousand rays strong enough to blind a weak-eyed man. Beneath them a captive sheep lay panting, quickening its pants as misgiving merged in terror, till it quivered like the hot landscape outside.

This picture of to-day in its frame of four hundred years ago did not produce that marked contrast between ancient and modern which is implied by the contrast of date. In comparison with cities, Weatherbury was immutable. The citizen’s Then is the rustic’s Now. In London, twenty or thirty-years ago are old times; in Paris ten years, or five; in Weatherbury three or four score years were included in the mere present, and nothing less than a century set a mark on its face or tone. Five decades hardly modified the cut of a gaiter, the embroidery of a smock-frock, by the breadth of a hair. Ten generations failed to alter the turn of a single phrase. In these Wessex nooks the busy outsider’s ancient times are only old; his old times are still new; his present is futurity.

So the barn was natural to the shearers, and the shearers were in harmony with the barn.

The spacious ends of the building, answering ecclesiastically to nave and chancel extremities, were fenced off with hurdles, the sheep being all collected in a crowd within these two enclosures; and in one angle a catching-pen was formed, in which three or four sheep were continuously kept ready for the shearers to seize without loss of time. In the background, mellowed by tawny shade, were the three women, Maryann Money, and Temperance and Soberness Miller, gathering up the fleeces and twisting ropes of wool with a wimble for tying them round. They were indifferently well assisted by the old maltster, who, when the malting season from October to April had passed, made himself useful upon any of the bordering farmsteads.

Behind all was Bathsheba, carefully watching the men to see that there was no cutting or wounding through carelessness, and that the animals were shorn close. Gabriel, who flitted and hovered under her bright eyes like a moth, did not shear continuously, half his time being spent in attending to the others and selecting the sheep for them. At the present moment he was engaged in handing round a mug of mild liquor, supplied from a barrel in the corner, and cut pieces of bread and cheese.

Bathsheba, after throwing a glance here, a caution there, and lecturing one of the younger operators who had allowed his last finished sheep to go off among the flock without re-stamping it with her initials, came again to Gabriel, as he put down the luncheon to drag a frightened ewe to his shear-station, flinging it over upon its back with a dexterous twist of the arm. He lopped off the tresses about its head, and opened up the neck and collar, his mistress quietly looking on.

“She blushes at the insult,” murmured Bathsheba, watching the pink flush which arose and overspread the neck and shoulders of the ewe where they were left bare by the clicking shears—a flush which was enviable, for its delicacy, by many queens of coteries, and would have been creditable, for its promptness, to any woman in the world.

Poor Gabriel’s soul was fed with a luxury of content by having her over him, her eyes critically regarding his skilful shears, which apparently were going to gather up a piece of the flesh at every close, and yet never did so. Like Guildenstern, Oak was happy in that he was not over happy. He had no wish to converse with her: that his bright lady and himself formed one group, exclusively their own, and containing no others in the world, was enough.

So the chatter was all on her side. There is a loquacity that tells nothing, which was Bathsheba’s; and there is a silence which says much: that was Gabriel’s. Full of this dim and temperate bliss, he went on to fling the ewe over upon her other side, covering her head with his knee, gradually running the shears line after line round her dewlap; thence about her flank and back, and finishing over the tail.

“Well done, and done quickly!” said Bathsheba, looking at her watch as the last snip resounded.

“How long, miss?” said Gabriel, wiping his brow.

“Three-and-twenty minutes and a half since you took the first lock from its forehead. It is the first time that I have ever seen one done in less than half an hour.”

The clean, sleek creature arose from its fleece—how perfectly like Aphrodite rising from the foam should have been seen to be realized—looking startled and shy at the loss of its garment, which lay on the floor in one soft cloud, united throughout, the portion visible being the inner surface only, which, never before exposed, was white as snow, and without flaw or blemish of the minutest kind.

“Cain Ball!”

“Yes, Mister Oak; here I be!”

Cainy now runs forward with the tar-pot. “B. E.” is newly stamped upon the shorn skin, and away the simple dam leaps, panting, over the board into the shirtless flock outside. Then up comes Maryann; throws the loose locks into the middle of the fleece, rolls it up, and carries it into the background as three-and-a-half pounds of unadulterated warmth for the winter enjoyment of persons unknown and far away, who will, however, never experience the superlative comfort derivable from the wool as it here exists, new and pure—before the unctuousness of its nature whilst in a living state has dried, stiffened, and been washed out—rendering it just now as superior to anything woollen as cream is superior to milk-and-water.

But heartless circumstance could not leave entire Gabriel’s happiness of this morning. The rams, old ewes, and two-shear ewes had duly undergone their stripping, and the men were proceeding with the shearlings and hogs, when Oak’s belief that she was going to stand pleasantly by and time him through another performance was painfully interrupted by Farmer Boldwood’s appearance in the extremest corner of the barn. Nobody seemed to have perceived his entry, but there he certainly was. Boldwood always carried with him a social atmosphere of his own, which everybody felt who came near him; and the talk, which Bathsheba’s presence had somewhat suppressed, was now totally suspended.

He crossed over towards Bathsheba, who turned to greet him with a carriage of perfect ease. He spoke to her in low tones, and she instinctively modulated her own to the same pitch, and her voice ultimately even caught the inflection of his. She was far from having a wish to appear mysteriously connected with him; but woman at the impressionable age gravitates to the larger body not only in her choice of words, which is apparent every day, but even in her shades of tone and humour, when the influence is great.

What they conversed about was not audible to Gabriel, who was too independent to get near, though too concerned to disregard. The issue of their dialogue was the taking of her hand by the courteous farmer to help her over the spreading-board into the bright June sunlight outside. Standing beside the sheep already shorn, they went on talking again. Concerning the flock? Apparently not. Gabriel theorized, not without truth, that in quiet discussion of any matter within reach of the speakers’ eyes, these are usually fixed upon it. Bathsheba demurely regarded a contemptible straw lying upon the ground, in a way which suggested less ovine criticism than womanly embarrassment. She became more or less red in the cheek, the blood wavering in uncertain flux and reflux over the sensitive space between ebb and flood. Gabriel sheared on, constrained and sad.

She left Boldwood’s side, and he walked up and down alone for nearly a quarter of an hour. Then she reappeared in her new riding-habit of myrtle green, which fitted her to the waist as a rind fits its fruit; and young Bob Coggan led on her mare, Boldwood fetching his own horse from the tree under which it had been tied.

Oak’s eyes could not forsake them; and in endeavouring to continue his shearing at the same time that he watched Boldwood’s manner, he snipped the sheep in the groin. The animal plunged; Bathsheba instantly gazed towards it, and saw the blood.

“Oh, Gabriel!” she exclaimed, with severe remonstrance, “you who are so strict with the other men—see what you are doing yourself!”

To an outsider there was not much to complain of in this remark; but to Oak, who knew Bathsheba to be well aware that she herself was the cause of the poor ewe’s wound, because she had wounded the ewe’s shearer in a still more vital part, it had a sting which the abiding sense of his inferiority to both herself and Boldwood was not calculated to heal. But a manly resolve to recognize boldly that he had no longer a lover’s interest in her, helped him occasionally to conceal a feeling.

“Bottle!” he shouted, in an unmoved voice of routine. Cainy Ball ran up, the wound was anointed, and the shearing continued.

Boldwood gently tossed Bathsheba into the saddle, and before they turned away she again spoke out to Oak with the same dominative and tantalizing graciousness.

“I am going now to see Mr. Boldwood’s Leicesters. Take my place in the barn, Gabriel, and keep the men carefully to their work.”

The horses’ heads were put about, and they trotted away.

Boldwood’s deep attachment was a matter of great interest among all around him; but, after having been pointed out for so many years as the perfect exemplar of thriving bachelorship, his lapse was an anticlimax somewhat resembling that of St. John Long’s death by consumption in the midst of his proofs that it was not a fatal disease.

“That means matrimony,” said Temperance Miller, following them out of sight with her eyes.

“I reckon that’s the size o’t,” said Coggan, working along without looking up.

“Well, better wed over the mixen than over the moor,” said Laban Tall, turning his sheep.

Henery Fray spoke, exhibiting miserable eyes at the same time: “I don’t see why a maid should take a husband when she’s bold enough to fight her own battles, and don’t want a home; for ’tis keeping another woman out. But let it be, for ’tis a pity he and she should trouble two houses.”

As usual with decided characters, Bathsheba invariably provoked the criticism of individuals like Henery Fray. Her emblazoned fault was to be too pronounced in her objections, and not sufficiently overt in her likings. We learn that it is not the rays which bodies absorb, but those which they reject, that give them the colours they are known by; and in the same way people are specialized by their dislikes and antagonisms, whilst their goodwill is looked upon as no attribute at all.

Henery continued in a more complaisant mood: “I once hinted my mind to her on a few things, as nearly as a battered frame dared to do so to such a froward piece. You all know, neighbours, what a man I be, and how I come down with my powerful words when my pride is boiling wi’ scarn?”

“We do, we do, Henery.”

“So I said, ‘Mistress Everdene, there’s places empty, and there’s gifted men willing; but the spite’—no, not the spite—I didn’t say spite—‘but the villainy of the contrarikind,’ I said (meaning womankind), ‘keeps ’em out.’ That wasn’t too strong for her, say?”

“Passably well put.”

“Yes; and I would have said it, had death and salvation overtook me for it. Such is my spirit when I have a mind.”

“A true man, and proud as a lucifer.”

“You see the artfulness? Why, ’twas about being baily really; but I didn’t put it so plain that she could understand my meaning, so I could lay it on all the stronger. That was my depth!... However, let her marry an she will. Perhaps ’tis high time. I believe Farmer Boldwood kissed her behind the spear-bed at the sheep-washing t’other day—that I do.”

“What a lie!” said Gabriel.

“Ah, neighbour Oak—how’st know?” said, Henery, mildly.

“Because she told me all that passed,” said Oak, with a pharisaical sense that he was not as other shearers in this matter.

“Ye have a right to believe it,” said Henery, with dudgeon; “a very true right. But I mid see a little distance into things! To be long-headed enough for a baily’s place is a poor mere trifle—yet a trifle more than nothing. However, I look round upon life quite cool. Do you heed me, neighbours? My words, though made as simple as I can, mid be rather deep for some heads.”

“O yes, Henery, we quite heed ye.”

“A strange old piece, goodmen—whirled about from here to yonder, as if I were nothing! A little warped, too. But I have my depths; ha, and even my great depths! I might gird at a certain shepherd, brain to brain. But no—O no!”

“A strange old piece, ye say!” interposed the maltster, in a querulous voice. “At the same time ye be no old man worth naming—no old man at all. Yer teeth bain’t half gone yet; and what’s a old man’s standing if so be his teeth bain’t gone? Weren’t I stale in wedlock afore ye were out of arms? ’Tis a poor thing to be sixty, when there’s people far past four-score—a boast weak as water.”

It was the unvarying custom in Weatherbury to sink minor differences when the maltster had to be pacified.

“Weak as water! yes,” said Jan Coggan. “Malter, we feel ye to be a wonderful veteran man, and nobody can gainsay it.”

“Nobody,” said Joseph Poorgrass. “Ye be a very rare old spectacle, malter, and we all admire ye for that gift.”

“Ay, and as a young man, when my senses were in prosperity, I was likewise liked by a good-few who knowed me,” said the maltster.

“’Ithout doubt you was—’ithout doubt.”

The bent and hoary man was satisfied, and so apparently was Henery Fray. That matters should continue pleasant Maryann spoke, who, what with her brown complexion, and the working wrapper of rusty linsey, had at present the mellow hue of an old sketch in oils—notably some of Nicholas Poussin’s:—

“Do anybody know of a crooked man, or a lame, or any second-hand fellow at all that would do for poor me?” said Maryann. “A perfect one I don’t expect to get at my time of life. If I could hear of such a thing ’twould do me more good than toast and ale.”

Coggan furnished a suitable reply. Oak went on with his shearing, and said not another word. Pestilent moods had come, and teased away his quiet. Bathsheba had shown indications of anointing him above his fellows by installing him as the bailiff that the farm imperatively required. He did not covet the post relatively to the farm: in relation to herself, as beloved by him and unmarried to another, he had coveted it. His readings of her seemed now to be vapoury and indistinct. His lecture to her was, he thought, one of the absurdest mistakes. Far from coquetting with Boldwood, she had trifled with himself in thus feigning that she had trifled with another. He was inwardly convinced that, in accordance with the anticipations of his easy-going and worse-educated comrades, that day would see Boldwood the accepted husband of Miss Everdene. Gabriel at this time of his life had out-grown the instinctive dislike which every Christian boy has for reading the Bible, perusing it now quite frequently, and he inwardly said, “‘I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets!’” This was mere exclamation—the froth of the storm. He adored Bathsheba just the same.

“We workfolk shall have some lordly junketing to-night,” said Cainy Ball, casting forth his thoughts in a new direction. “This morning I see ’em making the great puddens in the milking-pails—lumps of fat as big as yer thumb, Mister Oak! I’ve never seed such splendid large knobs of fat before in the days of my life—they never used to be bigger then a horse-bean. And there was a great black crock upon the brandish with his legs a-sticking out, but I don’t know what was in within.”

“And there’s two bushels of biffins for apple-pies,” said Maryann.

“Well, I hope to do my duty by it all,” said Joseph Poorgrass, in a pleasant, masticating manner of anticipation. “Yes; victuals and drink is a cheerful thing, and gives nerves to the nerveless, if the form of words may be used. ’Tis the gospel of the body, without which we perish, so to speak it.” 

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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

40

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

46

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,

47

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

48

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

51

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

52

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

53

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

55

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

56

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

57

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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