Summary and Analysis
Despite her promise not to reject Boldwood before his return, Bathsheba could not wait. "The farewell words of Troy, who had accompanied her to her very door, still lingered in her ears. He had bidden her adieu for two days, which were, so he stated, to be spent in Bath visiting some friends. He had also kissed her a second time."
Restless and perturbed, Bathsheba impulsively wrote to Boldwood that she could not marry him. Taking the letter to the kitchen for one of the maids to mail, she overheard the servants gossiping about her latest romance. Furiously insisting that she hated Troy, but with the next breath defending him, she forbade their gossip. Alone with Liddy, Bathsheba confided her love, begging reassurance that all the stories circulating about Troy were not true. Eager to please her mistress, Liddy agreed with all her statements. Bathsheba turned on her: "Mind this, Lydia Smallbury, if you repeat anywhere a single word of what I have said to you inside this closed door, I'll never trust you, or love you, or have you with me a moment longer — not a moment!"
"'I don't want to repeat anything,' said Liddy, with womanly dignity of a diminutive order; 'but I don't wish to stay with you. And, if you please, I'll go at the end of the harvest, or this week, or today . . . I don't see that I deserve to be put upon and stormed at for nothing!'"
Liddy's words led to a tearful reconciliation; she promised always to be Bathsheba's friend, shedding a few more tears "not from any particular necessity, but from an artistic sense of making herself in keeping with the remainder of the picture."
Hardy's portrait of feminine frailty and women's weapons is not without humor. Bathsheba does not wish to think ill of Troy, does not want to believe the stories about him, and fights against the possibility of their truth.
Liddy envies her mistress her femininity and her conquests. She is also proud of her position and dignity. Both girls enjoy having a good cry. They agree that "God likes us to be good friends." Liddy assures her mistress that, while Bathsheba is a match for any man, she is not mannish. "O no, not mannish; but so almighty womanish that 'tis getting on that way sometimes. I wish I had half your failing that way. 'Tis a great protection to a poor maid in these illegit'mate days!"