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Far from the Madding Crowd

18.
Boldwood in Meditation – Regret
BOLDWOOD was tenant of what was called Little Weatherbury Farm, and his
person was the nearest approach to aristocracy that this remoter quarter of the
parish could boast of. Genteel strangers, whose god was their town, who might
happen to be compelled to linger about this nook for a day, heard the sound of
light wheels, and prayed to see good society, to the degree of a solitary lord, or
squire at the very least, but it was only Mr. Boldwood going out for the day. They
heard the sound of wheels yet once more, and were re-animated to expectancy:
it was only Mr. Boldwood coming home again.
His house stood recessed from the road, and the stables, which are to a farm
what a fireplace is to a room, were behind, their lower portions being lost amid
bushes of laurel. Inside the blue door, open half-way down, were to be seen at
this time the backs and tails of half-a-dozen warm and contented horses standing
in their stalls; and as thus viewed, they presented alternations of roan and bay, in
shapes like a Moorish arch, the tail being a streak down the midst of each. Over
these, and lost to the eye gazing in from the outer light, the mouths of the same
animals could be heard busily sustaining the above-named warmth and
plumpness by quantities of oats and hay. The restless and shadowy figure of a
colt wandered about a loose-box at the end, whilst the steady grind of all the
eaters was occasionally diversified by the rattle of a rope or the stamp of a foot.
Pacing up and down at the heels of the animals was Farmer Boldwood himself.
This place was his almonry and cloister in one: here, after looking to the feeding
of his four- footed dependants, the celibate would walk and meditate of an
evening till the moon's rays streamed in through the cobwebbed windows, or total
darkness enveloped the scene.
His square-framed perpendicularity showed more fully now than in the crowd and
bustle of the market-house. In this meditative walk his foot met the floor with heel
and toe simultaneously, and his fine reddish-fleshed face was bent downwards
just enough to render obscure the still mouth and the well-rounded though rather
prominent and broad chin. A few clear and thread-like horizontal lines were the
only interruption to the otherwise smooth surface of his large forehead.
The phases of Boldwood's life were ordinary enough, but his was not an ordinary
nature. That stillness, which struck casual observers more than anything else in
his character and habit, and seemed so precisely like the rest of inanition, may
have been the perfect balance of enormous antagonistic forces -- positives and
negatives in fine adjustment. His equilibrium disturbed, he was in extremity at
once. If an emotion possessed him at all, it ruled him; a feeling not mastering him
was entirely latent. Stagnant or rapid, it was never slow. He was always hit
mortally, or he was missed.
He had no light and careless touches in his constitution, either for good or for
evil. Stern in the outlines of action, mild in the details, he was serious throughout
all. He saw no absurd sides to the follies of life, and thus, though not quite
companionable in the eyes of merry men and scoffers, and those to whom all
things show life as a jest, he was not intolerable to the earnest and those
 
 
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