`Good morning, Sergeant Troy,' he returned, in a ghastly voice. `A rambling, gloomy house this,' said Troy, smiling.

`Why - they may not be married!' suggested Coggan. `Perhaps she's not there.'

Gabriel shook his head. The soldier turned a little towards the east, and the sun kindled his scarlet coat to an orange glow.

`But it is a nice old house,' responded Gabriel.

`Yes - I suppose so; but I feel like new wine in an old bottle here. My notion is that sash-windows should be put throughout, and these old wainscoted walls brightened up a bit; or the oak cleared quite away, and the walls papered.'

`It would be a pity, I think.'

`Well, no. A philosopher once said in my hearing that the old builders, who worked when art was a living thing, had no respect for the work of builders who went before them, but pulled down and altered as they thought fit; and why shouldn't we? "Creation and preservation don't do well together," says he, "and a million of antiquarians can't invent a style." My mind exactly. I am for making this place more modern, that we may be cheerful whilst we can.'

The military man turned and surveyed the interior of the room, to assist his ideas of improvement in this direction. Gabriel and Coggan began to move on.

`Oh, Coggan,' said Troy, as if inspired by a recollection, `do you know if insanity has ever appeared in Mr Boldwood's family?'

Jan reflected for a moment.

`I once heard that an uncle of his was queer in his head, but I don't know the rights o't,' he said.

`It is of no importance,' said Troy lightly. `Well, I shall be down in the fields with you some time this week; but I have a few matters to attend to first. So good-day to you. We shall, of course, keep on just as friendly terms as usual. I'm not a proud man: nobody is ever able to say that of Sergeant Troy. However, what is must be, and here's half a-crown to drink my health, men.'

Troy threw the coin dexterously across the front plot and over the fence towards Gabriel, who shunned it in its fall, his face turning to an angry red. Coggan twirled his eye, edged forward, and caught the money in its ricochet upon the road.

`Very well - you keep it, Coggan,' said Gabriel with disdain, and almost fiercely. `As for me, I'll do without gifts from him!'

`Don't show it too much,' said Coggan musingly. `For if he's married to her, mark my words, he'll buy his discharge and be our master here. Therefore 'tis well to say "Friend" outwardly, though you say "Troublehouse" within.

`Well - perhaps it is best to be silent; but I can't go further than that. I can't flatter, and if my place here is only to be kept by smoothing him down, my place must be lost.'

A horseman, whom they had for some time seen in the distance, now appeared close beside them.

`There's Mr Boldwood,' said Oak. `I wonder what Troy meant by his question.'

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