back again, and made as if he were going to call upon Troy at the carrier's. But as he approached, some one opened the door and came out. He heard this person say `Good-night' to the inmates, and the voice was Troy's. This was strange, coming so immediately after his arrival. Boldwood, however, hastened up to him. Troy had what appeared to be a carpet-bag in his hand - the same that he had brought with him. It seemed as if he were going to leave again this very night.

Troy turned up the hill and quickened his pace. Boldwood stepped forward.

`Sergeant Troy?'

`Yes - I'm Sergeant Troy.'

`Just arrived from up the country, I think?'

`Just arrived from Bath.'

`I am William Boldwood.'


The tone in which this word was uttered was all that had been wanted to bring Boldwood to the point.

`I wish to speak a word with you,' he said.

`What about?'

`About her who lives just ahead there and about a woman you have wronged.'

`I wonder at your impertinence,' said Troy, moving on.

`Now look here,' said Boldwood, standing in front of him, `wonder or not, you are going to hold a conversation with me.'

Troy heard the dull determination in Boldwood's voice, looked at his stalwart frame, then at the thick cudgel he carried in his hand. He remembered it was past ten o'clock. It seemed worth while to be civil to Boldwood.

`Very well, I'll listen with pleasure,' said Troy, placing his bag on the ground, `only speak low for somebody or other may overhear us in the farmhouse there.'

`Well then - I know a good deal concerning your - Fanny Robin's attachment to you. I may say, too, that I believe I am the only person in the village, excepting Gabriel Oak, who does know it. You ought to marry her.'

`I suppose I ought. Indeed, I wish to, but I cannot.'


Troy was about to utter something hastily; he then checked himself and said, `I am too poor.' His voice was changed. Previously it had had a devil-may-care tone. It was the voice of a trickster now.

Boldwood's present mood was not critical enough to notice tones. He continued, `I may as well speak plainly; and understand, I don't wish to enter into the questions of right or wrong, woman's honour and shame, or to express any opinion on your conduct. I intend a business transaction with you.'

`I see,' said Troy. `Suppose we sit down here.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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