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Far from the Madding Crowd

34.
Home Again -- A Trickster
THAT same evening at dusk Gabriel was leaning over Coggan's garden-gate,
taking an up-and-down survey before retiring to rest.
A vehicle of some kind was softly creeping along the grassy margin of the lane.
From it spread the tones of two women talking. The tones were natural and not at
all suppressed. Oak instantly knew the voices to he those of Bathsheba and
Liddy.
The carriage came opposite and passed by. It was Miss Everdene's gig, and
Liddy and her mistress were the only occupants of the seat. Liddy was asking
questions about the city of Bath, and her companion was answering them
listlessly and unconcernedly. Both Bathsheba and the horse seemed weary.
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.
He lingered and lingered on, till there was no difference between the eastern and
western expanses of sky, and the timid hares began to limp courageously round
the dim hillocks. Gabriel might have been there an additional half- hour when a
dark form walked slowly by. "Good-night, Gabriel," the passer said.
It was Boldwood. "Good-night, sir," said Gabriel.
Boldwood likewise vanished up the road, and Oak shortly afterwards turned
indoors to bed.
Farmer Boldwood went on towards Miss Everdene's house. He reached the front,
and approaching the entrance, saw a light in the parlour. The blind was not
drawn down, and inside the room was Bathsheba, looking over some papers or
letters. Her back was towards Boldwood. He went to the door, knocked, and
waited with tense muscles and an aching brow.
Boldwood had not been outside his garden since his meeting with Bathsheba in
the road to Yalbury. Silent and alone, he had remained in moody meditation on
woman's ways, deeming as essentials of the whole sex the accidents of the
single one of their number he had ever closely beheld. By degrees a more
charitable temper had pervaded him, and this was the reason of his sally to-night.
He had come to apologize and beg forgiveness of Bathsheba with something like
a sense of shame at his violence, having but just now learnt that she had
returned -- only from a visit to Liddy, as he supposed, the Bath escapade being
quite unknown to him.
He inquired for Miss Everdene. Liddy's manner was odd, but he did not notice it.
She went in, leaving him standing there, and in her absence the blind of the room
containing Bathsheba was pulled down. Boldwood augured ill from that sign.
Liddy came out.
"My mistress cannot see you, sir," she said.
The farmer instantly went out by the gate. He as unforgiven -- that was the issue
of it all. He had seen her who was to him simultaneously a delight and a torture,
sitting in the room he had shared with her as a peculiarly privileged guest only a
little earlier in the summer, and she had denied him an entrance there now.
 
 
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