Summary and Analysis
One of the ugly gargoyles of the church parapet jutted out over the area newly assigned for charity graves. This stony land had been uncared for, and as a heavy downpour developed, water gushed forth, falling upon the grave of Fanny Robin some seventy feet below. The carefully planted bulbs were washed away and floated off in the mud.
When he awoke, Troy was stunned into disbelief "The planting of flowers on Fanny's grave had been perhaps but a species of elusion of the primary grief, and now it was as if his intention had been known and circumvented. Almost for the first time in his life Troy, as he stood by this dismantled grave, wished himself another man." Not informing anyone, he left the village.
Bathsheba remained imprisoned by her own choice. The night before, Liddy had noticed the light of Troy's lantern in the graveyard, and they both had watched it for a time, not knowing whose it was.
In the morning both women commented on the heavy rain and the noise of the water coming from the spouts. Liddy noted that the water used to merely spatter on the stones, but "this was like the boiling of a pot." Asking whether Bathsheba wished to see the gravesite, Liddy also volunteered the information that the master must have gone to Budmouth, for Laban had seen him on that road.
Bathsheba went to Fanny's corner of the churchyard. Here she saw the spattered tomb. Gabriel was standing nearby. He had already seen the inscription: "Erected by Francis Troy in Beloved Memory of Fanny Robin." He looked to see how Bathsheba would react to this. He himself was astonished, but Bathsheba was calm. She asked Gabriel to fill in the hole, and, picking up the plants, she carefully set back those that had been washed out. She requested Gabriel to ask the wardens to redirect the mouth of the gargoyle to a different angle. Before departing, she wiped the tomb clean.
Providence is often hostile to man in Hardy's world. Troy wants to change, as his gesture toward Fanny shows, "but to find that Providence, far from helping him into a new course . . . actually jeered his first trembling and critical attempt in that kind, was more than nature could bear."