`Be quiet!' said Bathsheba.

The further expression of Liddy's concern was continued by aspect instead of narrative.

`Why doesn't Mrs Coggan go to the door?' Bathsheba continued.

Rat-tat-tat-tat resounded more decisively from Bathsheba's oak.

`Maryann, you go!' said she, fluttering under the onset of a crowd of romantic possibilities.

`O ma'am - see, here's a mess!'

The argument was unanswerable after a glance at Maryann. `Liddy - you must,' said Bathsheba.

Liddy held up her hands and arms, coated with dust from the rubbish they were sorting, and looked imploringly at her mistress.

`There - Mrs Coggan is going!' said Bathsheba, exhaling her relief in the form of a long breath which had lain in her bosom a minute or more.

The door opened, and a deep voice said--

`Is Miss Everdene at home?'

`I'll see, sir,' said Mrs Coggan, and in a minute appeared in the room.

`Dear, what a thirtover place this world is!' continued Mrs Coggan (a wholesome-looking lady who had a voice for each class of remark according to the emotion involved; who could toss a pancake or twirl a mop with the accuracy of pure mathematics, and who at this moment showed hands shaggy with fragments of dough and arms encrusted with flour). `I am never up to my elbows, Miss, in making a pudding but one of two things do happen - either my nose must needs begin tickling, and I can't live without scratching it, or somebody knocks at the door. Here's Mr Boldwood wanting to see you, Miss Everdene.'

A woman's dress being a part of her countenance, and any disorder in the one being of the same nature with a malformation or wound in the other, Bathsheba said at once--

`I can't see him in this state. Whatever shall I do?'

Not-at-homes were hardly naturalized in Weatherbury farmhouses, so Liddy suggested - `Say you're a fright with dust, and can't come down.'

`Yes - that sounds very well,' said Mrs Coggan critically. `Say I can't see him - that will do.'

Mrs Coggan went downstairs, and returned the answer as requested, adding, however, on her own responsibility, `Miss is dusting bottles, sir, and is quite a object - that's why 'tis.'

`Oh, very well,' said the deep voice indifferently. `All I wanted to ask was, if anything had been heard of Fanny Robin?'

`Nothing, sir - but we may know to-night. William Smallbury is gone to Casterbridge, where her young man lives, as is supposed, and the other men be inquiring about everywhere.'

The horse's tramp then recommenced and retreated, and the door closed.

`Who is Mr Boldwood?' said Bathsheba.

`A gentleman-farmer at Little Weatherbury.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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