"Have you heard a different story at all?" She looked at him so intently that Joseph's eyes quailed.
"Not a word, mistress, I assure 'ee!" he said. "Hardly anybody in the parish knows the news yet."
"I wonder why Gabriel didn't bring the message to me himself. He mostly makes a point of seeing me upon the most trifling errand." These words were merely murmured, and she was looking upon the ground.
"Perhaps he was busy, ma'am," Joseph suggested. "And sometimes he seems to suffer from things upon his mind, connected with the time when he was better off than 'a is now. 'A's rather a curious item, but a very understanding shepherd, and learned in books."
"Did anything seem upon his mind whilst he was speaking to you about this?"
"I cannot but say that there did, ma'am. He was terrible down, and so was Farmer Boldwood."
"Thank you, Joseph. That will do. Go on now, or you'll be late."
Bathsheba, still unhappy, went indoors again. In the course of the afternoon she said to Liddy, who had been informed of the occurrence, "What was the colour of poor Fanny Robin's hair? Do you know? I cannot recollect — I only saw her for a day or two."
"It was light, ma'am; but she wore it rather short, and packed away under her cap, so that you would hardly notice it. But I have seen her let it down when she was going to bed, and it looked beautiful then. Real golden hair."
"Her young man was a soldier, was he not?"
"Yes. In the same regiment as Mr. Troy. He says he knew him very well."
"What, Mr. Troy says so? How came he to say that?"
"One day I just named it to him, and asked him if he knew Fanny's young man. He said, 'Oh yes, he knew the young man as well as he knew himself, and that there wasn't a man in the regiment he liked better.'"
"Ah! Said that, did he?"
"Yes; and he said there was a strong likeness between himself and the other young man, so that sometimes people mistook them — "
"Liddy, for Heaven's sake stop your talking!" said Bathsheba, with the nervous petulance that comes from worrying perceptions.