Summary and Analysis
"When Troy's wife had left the house at the previous midnight his first act was to cover the dead from sight." He then went upstairs to wait for morning.
"Fate had dealt grimly with him through the last four-and-twenty hours." He had taken the twenty pounds from Bathsheba and another seven pounds ten that he was able to muster and had gone to meet Fanny. To his chagrin, she again failed to appear. He waited until the stroke of eleven — "in fact, at that moment she was being robed in her grave-clothes by two attendants at the Union poorhouse." Having watched the bridge and parapet until his patience ran out, Troy called for his gig and went to the racetrack, but he kept his vow not to wager. Leaving town at nine, he regretted not having inquired about Fanny. His return home was a shock.
In the morning he arose, indifferent to Bathsheba's whereabouts. He walked to the vacant grave, then hastened to Casterbridge, where he sought out the stonemason. He asked for the best stone they had for twenty-seven pounds. He paid for it and gave directions for the inscription. In the afternoon he returned and saw the stone placed in the cart that would take it to Weatherbury. Toward dusk he traveled homeward, carrying a heavy basket. In the course of his journey he met the mason's men returning from the graveyard. They assured him that the stone had been set.
At ten, Troy entered the cemetery and found the grave near the rear tower of the Weatherbury church where the land had recently been cleared of rubble to make room for new charity graves. Troy fetched a spade and lantern and read the inscription on the stone. Then he opened the basket and took out several bulbs. He had chosen a variety so that there would be blossoms from early spring until late fall. "Troy, in his prostration at this time, had no perception that in the futility of these romantic doings, dictated by a remorseful reaction from previous indifference, there was any element of absurdity."
Just as he was finishing the planting, he felt rain and his lantern candle sputtered out. He groped his way to the north porch of the church and there fell asleep.
Troy's reversal to remorse is interesting. Where he had been callous and heedless, he is now precipitate in his contrition. Gravestone, planting — all must be done at once, and he spends every penny he has on them (although it should be remembered that this was the money he originally intended to give to Fanny). Nor is it surprising to have him remain in the churchyard, intent on completing his service to the departed as soon as he wakes.