Hot Cheeks and Tearful Eyes

Half an hour later Bathsheba entered her own house. There burnt upon her face when she met the light of the candles the flush and excitement which were little less than chronic with her now. The farewell words of Troy, who had accompanied her to the very door, still lingered in her ears. He had bidden her adieu for two days, which were, so he stated, to be spent at Bath in visiting some friends. He had also kissed her a second time.

It is only fair to Bathsheba to explain here a little fact which did not come to light till a long time afterwards: that Troy's presentation of himself so aptly at the roadside this evening was not by any distinctly preconcerted arrangement. He had hinted - she had forbidden; and it was only on the chance of his still coming that she had dismissed Oak, fearing a meeting between them just then.

She now sank down into a chair, wild and perturbed by all these new and fevering sequences. Then she jumped up with a manner of decision, and fetched her desk from a side table.

In three minutes, without pause or modification, she had written a letter to Boldwood, at his address beyond Casterbridge, saying mildly but firmly that she had well considered the whole subject he had brought before her and kindly given her time to decide upon; that her final decision was that she could not marry him. She had expressed to Oak an intention to wait till Boldwood came home before communicating to him her conclusive reply. But Bathsheba found that she could not wait.

It was impossible to send this letter till the next day; yet to quell her uneasiness by getting it out of her hands, and so, as it were, setting the act in motion at once, she arose to take it to any one of the women who might be in the kitchen.

She paused in the passage. A dialogue was going on in the kitchen, and Bathsheba and Troy were the subject of it.

`If he marry her, she'll gie up farming.'

`'Twill be a gallant life, but may bring some trouble between the mirth - so say I.'

`Well, I wish I had half such a husband.'

Bathsheba had too much sense to mind seriously what her servitors said about her; but too much womanly redundance of speech to leave alone what was said till it died the natural death of unminded things. She burst in upon them.

`Who are you speaking of?' she asked.

There was a pause before anybody replied. At last Liddy said frankly, `What was passing was a bit of word about yourself, miss.'

`I thought so! Maryann and Liddy and Temperance - now I forbid you to suppose such things. You know I don't care the least for Mr Troy - not I. Everybody knows how much I hate him. - Yes,' repeated the froward young person, `hate him!'

`We know you do, miss,' said Liddy; `and so do we all.'

`I hate him too,' said Maryann.

`Maryann - O you perjured woman! How can you speak that wicked story!' said Bathsheba excitedly `You admired him from your heart only this morning in the very world, you did. Yes, Maryann, you know it!'

`Yes, miss, but so did you. He is a wild scamp now, and you are right to hate him.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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