"But she must be consulted; at any rate informed."
"Very well; go on."
They went up the hill to Bathsheba's house. When they stood at the entrance, Troy said, "Wait here a moment." Opening the door, he glided inside, leaving the door ajar.
Boldwood waited. In two minutes a light appeared in the passage. Boldwood then saw that the chain had been fastened across the door. Troy appeared inside, carrying a bedroom candlestick.
"What, did you think I should break in?" said Boldwood, contemptuously.
"Oh, no, it is merely my humour to secure things. Will you read this a moment? I'll hold the light."
Troy handed a folded newspaper through the slit between door and doorpost, and put the candle close. "That's the paragraph," he said, placing his finger on a line.
Boldwood looked and read —
On the 17th inst., at St. Ambrose's Church, Bath, by the
Rev. G. Mincing, B.A., Francis Troy, only son of the late
Edward Troy, Esq., M.D., of Weatherbury, and sergeant with
Dragoon Guards, to Bathsheba, only surviving daughter of
the late Mr. John Everdene, of Casterbridge.
"This may be called Fort meeting Feeble, hey, Boldwood?" said Troy. A low gurgle of derisive laughter followed the words.
The paper fell from Boldwood's hands. Troy continued —
"Fifty pounds to marry Fanny. Good. Twenty-one pounds not to marry Fanny, but Bathsheba. Good. Finale: already Bathsheba's husband. Now, Boldwood, yours is the ridiculous fate which always attends interference between a man and his wife. And another word. Bad as I am, I am not such a villain as to make the marriage or misery of any woman a matter of huckster and sale. Fanny has long ago left me. I don't know where she is. I have searched everywhere. Another word yet. You say you love Bathsheba; yet on the merest apparent evidence you instantly believe in her dishonour. A fig for such love! Now that I've taught you a lesson, take your money back again."
"I will not; I will not!" said Boldwood, in a hiss.
"Anyhow I won't have it," said Troy, contemptuously. He wrapped the packet of gold in the notes, and threw the whole into the road.
Boldwood shook his clenched fist at him. "You juggler of Satan! You black hound! But I'll punish you yet; mark me, I'll punish you yet!"
Another peal of laughter. Troy then closed the door, and locked himself in.
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.