Summary and Analysis
That same evening at dusk Gabriel was leaning over Coggan's garden-gate, taking an up-and-down survey before retiring to rest." A carriage approached and from within came the voices of two women — Bathsheba and Liddy. "The exquisite relief of finding that she was here again, safe and sound, overpowered all reflection and Oak could only luxuriate in the sense of it. All grave reports were forgotten."
A half-hour later Boldwood walked to Bathsheba's, but Liddy, acting rather strangely, did not admit him. He left at once, feeling that he had not been forgiven. Walking through the village, he saw the carrier's van draw up and Troy's scarlet figure emerge. Troy had once before stayed at the carrier's house. Boldwood, making a sudden decision, hurried home and then quickly returned to meet Troy. As the sergeant came up the hill, Boldwood accosted him, introducing himself and telling Troy that he knew why Fanny had run away. When Troy declared that he was too poor to marry Fanny, Boldwood offered to settle a sum on her. Troy was still reluctant. Boldwood lost his calm and accused Troy of having ruined his chances with Bathsheba. Troy questioned this. Again Boldwood proffered money, assuring Troy that Bathsheba was only toying with him. Troy accepted fifty pounds. Boldwood promised him five hundred more pounds the day he married Fanny. Although Troy said that he thought Fanny too menial for him to marry, he accepted the offer.
Bathsheba approached, not seeing Boldwood, and Troy went to meet her. The astounded Boldwood overheard their loving conversation and Bathsheba's assurance that she had sent the servants away. Troy sent her home, telling her that he would join her as soon as he fetched his carpetbag. Then, arrogantly, he invited Boldwood to accompany him. The devastated farmer lunged at Troy, then realized that he was helpless: Troy was in the bargaining position. Boldwood now pleaded Bathsheba's cause, begging Troy to preserve her honor by marrying her and amazing Troy with the intensity of his infatuation. Troy accepted the remaining twenty-one pounds Boldwood had brought with him. Although Bathsheba was not to know of the financial arrangement, he wished Boldwood to come along to inform her of the marriage plan.
At the door, Troy asked that Boldwood wait outside. After a moment, he thrust a newspaper through the door and held a candle for Boldwood to read of the marriage of Troy and Bathsheba in Bath. With derisive laughter and a moral lecture on Boldwood's being willing to believe the worst, Troy threw the money out toward the road and locked the door.
"Throughout the whole of that night Boldwood's dark form might have been seen walking about the hills and downs of Weatherbury like an unhappy Shade in the Mournful Fields by Acheron."
Hardy does some very deft weaving of the plot threads in this chapter. He has built suspense and now must satisfy curiosity. Bathsheba has made her choice. In the process, the cruel, taunting Troy and the pitiful, baffled Boldwood are contrasted masterfully. We know from the violent reactions (which suggest the influence of the Greek tragedies) that more trouble must follow. Boldwood is so devastated that we know he will not be able to renounce Bathsheba. And Fanny's fate is still unresolved.