Summary and Analysis
A series of flashes and rumblings signaled the closeness of the storm. After the second peal of thunder, a candle was lit in Bathsheba's room. The fourth flash of lightning struck Oak's ricking-rod, and he paused momentarily to improvise a lightning rod. The fifth flash brought Bathsheba into the fields. Once she learned that Troy was asleep, she tried to help stow the sheaves. When a flash frightened her, Gabriel steadied her. Another "dance of death" split trees, and the pair realized they had had a narrow escape. Gabriel told Bathsheba to leave, but she replied, "You are kinder than I deserve! I will stay and help you."
When Gabriel would not explain the absence of the other men, Bathsheba said slowly, "I know it all — all. . . . They are . . . in a drunken sleep, and my husband among them." Bathsheba followed Gabriel to the barn and looked through the chinks: "All was in total darkness, as he had left it, and there still arose, as at the former time, the steady buzz of many snores." As Oak returned to his work, Bathsheba abruptly confessed the reason for her trip to Bath. She had intended to break off with Troy, but jealousy of a possible rival and her own distraction had led her to marry him instead.
The pair continued working in silence until Gabriel sent Bathsheba away because of her fatigue. He worked on, finally "disturbed . . . by a grating noise from the coach-house. It was the vane on the roof turning round, and this change in the wind was the signal for a disastrous rain."
This chapter deserves careful reading for its appeal to the senses. The structure, punctuated by flashes of lightning, shows nature in anger, illuminating character, and calling for self-realization and truthfulness.