"But there was one man who had more sense than to waste his time upon me." The information was put in this form that Liddy might not for a moment suppose her mistress was at all piqued. "A very good-looking man," she continued, "upright; about forty, I should think. Do you know at all who he could be?"
Liddy couldn't think.
"Can't you guess at all?" said Bathsheba with some disappointment.
"I haven't a notion; besides, 'tis no difference, since he took less notice of you than any of the rest. Now, if he'd taken more, it would have mattered a great deal."
Bathsheba was suffering from the reverse feeling just then, and they bowled along in silence. A low carriage, bowling along still more rapidly behind a horse of unimpeachable breed, overtook and passed them.
"Why, there he is!" she said.
Liddy looked. "That! That's Farmer Boldwood — of course 'tis — the man you couldn't see the other day when he called."
"Oh, Farmer Boldwood," murmured Bathsheba, and looked at him as he outstripped them. The farmer had never turned his head once, but with eyes fixed on the most advanced point along the road, passed as unconsciously and abstractedly as if Bathsheba and her charms were thin air.
"He's an interesting man — don't you think so?" she remarked.
"O yes, very. Everybody owns it," replied Liddy.
"I wonder why he is so wrapt up and indifferent, and seemingly so far away from all he sees around him."
"It is said — but not known for certain — that he met with some bitter disappointment when he was a young man and merry. A woman jilted him, they say."
"People always say that — and we know very well women scarcely ever jilt men; 'tis the men who jilt us. I expect it is simply his nature to be so reserved."
"Simply his nature — I expect so, miss — nothing else in the world."
"Still, 'tis more romantic to think he has been served cruelly, poor thing'! Perhaps, after all, he has!"
"Depend upon it he has. Oh yes, miss, he has! I feel he must have."
"However, we are very apt to think extremes of people. I shouldn't wonder after all if it wasn't a little of both — just between the two — rather cruelly used and rather reserved."
"Oh dear no, miss — I can't think it between the two!"
"That's most likely."
"Well, yes, so it is. I am convinced it is most likely. You may take my word, miss, that that's what's the matter with him."