Liddy assumed a smaller physiognomy, and shut her lips decisively.

This more was unexpected, and proportionately disconcerting. `What did he do?' Bathsheba said perforce.

`Didn't turn his head to look at you once all the service.'

`Why should he?' again demanded her mistress, wearing a nettled look. `I didn't ask him to.'

`Oh, no. But everybody else was noticing you; and it was odd he didn't. There, 'tis like him. Rich and gentlemanly, what does he care?'

Bathsheba dropped into a silence intended to express that she had opinions on the matter too abstruse for Liddy's comprehension, rather than that she had nothing to say.

`Dear me - I had nearly forgotten the valentine I bought yesterday,' she exclaimed at length.

`Valentine! who for, miss?' said Liddy. `Farmer Boldwood?'

It was the single name among all possible wrong ones that just at this moment seemed to Bathsheba more pertinent than the right.

`Well, no. It is only for little Teddy Coggan. I have promised him something, and this will be a pretty surprise for him. Liddy, you may as well bring me my desk and I'll direct it at once.

Bathsheba took from her desk a gorgeously illuminated and embossed design in post-octavo, which had been bought on the previous market-day at the chief stationer's in Casterbridge. In the centre was a small oval enclosure; this was left blank, that the sender might insert tender words more appropriate to the special occasion than any generalities by a printer could possibly be.

`Here's a place for writing,' said Bathsheba. `What shall I put?'

`Something of this sort, I should think,' returned Liddy promptly:--

`The rose is red,

The violet blue,

Carnation's sweet,

And so are you.'

`Yes, that shall be it. It just suits itself to a chubby-faced child like him,' said Bathsheba. She inserted the words in a small though legible handwriting; enclosed the sheet in an envelope, and dipped her pen for the direction.

`What fun it would be to send it to the stupid old Boldwood, and how he would wonder!' said the irrepressible Liddy, lifting her eyebrows, and indulging in an awful mirth on the verge of fear as she thought of the moral and social magnitude of the man contemplated.

Bathsheba paused to regard the idea at fill length. Boldwood's had begun to be a troublesome image - a species of Daniel in her kingdom who persisted in kneeling eastward when reason and common sense said that he might just as well follow suit with the rest, and afford her the official glance of admiration which cost nothing at all. She was far from being seriously concerned about his nonconformity. Still, it was faintly depressing that the most dignified and valuable man in the parish should withhold his eyes, and that a girl like Liddy should talk about it. So Liddy's idea was at first rather harassing than piquant.

`No, I won't do that. He wouldn't see any humour in it.'

`He'd worry to death,' said the persistent Liddy.

`Really, I don't care particularly to send it to Teddy,' remarked her mistress. `He's rather a naughty child sometimes.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.