eBooks Cube


WHEN Troy's wife had left the house at the previous
midnight his first act was to cover the dead from sight.
This done he ascended the stairs, and throwing himself
down upon the bed dressed as he was, he waited miser-
ably for the morning.
Fate had dealt grimly with him through the last four-
and-twenty hours. His day had been spent in a way
which varied very materially from his intentions regard-
ing it. There is always an inertia to be overcome in
striking out a new line of conduct -- not more in our-
selves, it seems, than in circumscribing events, which
appear as if leagued together to allow no novelties in
the way of amelioration.
Twenty pounds having been secured from Bathsheba,
he had managed to add to the sum every farthing he
could muster on his own account, which had been seven
pounds ten. With this money, twenty-seven pounds ten
in all, he had hastily driven from the gate that morning
to keep his appointment with Fanny Robin.
On reaching Casterbridge he left the horse and trap
at an inn, and at five minutes before ten came back to
the bridge at the lower end of the town, and sat himself
upon the parapet. The clocks struck the hour, and no
Fanny appeared. In fact, at that moment she was being
robed in her grave-clothes by two attendants at the
Union poorhouse -- the first and last tiring-women the
gentle creature had ever been honoured with. The
quarter went, the half hour. A rush of recollection
came upon Troy as he waited: this was the second
time she had broken a serious engagement with him
In anger he vowed it should be the last, and at eleven
o'clock, when he had lingered and watched the stone
of the bridge till he knew every lichen upon their face
and heard the chink of the ripples underneath till they
oppressed him, he jumped from his seat, went to the inn
for his gig, and in a bitter mood of indifference con-
cerning the past, and recklessness about the future,
drove on to Budmouth races.
He reached the race-course at two o'clock, and re-
mained either there or in the town till nine, But
Fanny's image, as it had appeared to him in the sombre
shadows of that Saturday evening, returned to his mind,
backed up by Bathsheba's reproaches. He vowed he
would not bet, and he kept his vow, for on leaving the
town at nine o'clock in the evening he had diminish
his cash only to the extent of a few shillings.
He trotted slowly homeward, and it was now that
was struck for the first time with a thought that Fanny
had been really prevented by illness from keeping her
promise. This time she could have made no mistake
He regretted that he had not remained in Casterbridge
and made inquiries. Reaching home he quietly un-
harnessed the horse and came indoors, as we have seen,
to the fearful shock that awaited him.
As soon as it grew light enough to distinguish objects,
Troy arose from the coverlet of the bed, and in a mood
of absolute indifference to Bathsheba's whereabouts, a
almost oblivious of her existence, he stalked downstairs
and left the house by the back door. His walk was
towards the churchyard, entering which he searched
around till he found a newly dug unoccupied grave --
the grave dug the day before for Fanny. The position
of this having been marked, he hastened on to Caster-
bridge, only pausing
whereon he had last seen Fanny alive.
Reaching the town, Troy descended into a side
street and entered a pair of gates surmounted by a board
bearing the words, "Lester, stone and marble mason."
Within were lying about stones of all sizes and designs,
inscribed as being sacred to the memory of unnamed
persons who had not yet died.
Troy was so unlike himself now in look, word, and
deed, that the want of likeness was perceptible even to
his own consciousness. His method of engaging himself
in this business of purchasing a tomb was that of an
absolutely unpractised man. He could not bring him-
self to consider, calculate, or economize. He waywardly
wished for something, and he set about obtaining it like
a child in a nursery. 'I want a good tomb." he said to
the man who stood in a little office within the yard.
"I want as good a one as you can give me for twenty-
seven pounds,"
It was all the money he possessed.
"That sum to include everything?"
"Everything. Cutting the name, carriage to Weather-
bury, and erection. And I want it now at once ."
"We could not get anything special worked this
"If you would like one of these in stock it could be
got ready immediately."
"Very well." said Troy, impatiently. "Let's see what
you have."
"The best I have in stock is this one," said the stone-
cutter, going into a shed." Here's a marble headstone
beautifully crocketed, with medallions beneath of typical
subjects; here's the footstone after the same pattern,
and here's the coping to enclose the- grave. The
slabs are the best of their kind, and I can warrant them
"Well, I could add the name, and put it up at
visitor who wore not a shred of mourning. Troy then
settled the account and went away. In the afternoon
almost done. He waited in the yard till the tomb was
way to Weatherbury, giving directions to the two men
the grave of the person named in the inscription.
bridge. He carried rather a heavy basket upon his
occasionally at bridges and gates, whereon he deposited
returning in the darkness, the men and the waggon
the work was done, and, on being assured that it was,
Troy entered Weatherbury churchyard about ten
had marked the vacant grave early in the morning. It
extent from the view of passers along the road -- a spot
and bushes of alder, but now it was cleared and made
the ground elsewhere.
Here now stood the tomb as the men had stated, snow-
white and shapely in the gloom, consisting of head and
foot-stone, and enclosing border of marble-work uniting
them. In the midst was mould, suitable for plants.
Troy deposited his basket beside the tomb, and
vanished for a few minutes. When he returned he
carried a spade and a lantern, the light of which he
directed for a few moments upon the marble, whilst he
read the inscription. He hung his lantern on the lowest
bough of the yew-tree, and took from his basket flower-
roots of several varieties. There were bundles of snow-
drop, hyacinth and crocus bulbs, violets and double
daisies, which were to bloom in early spring, and of
carnations, pinks, picotees, lilies of the valley, forget-me-
not, summer's-farewell, meadow-saffron and others, for
the later seasons of the year.
Troy laid these out upon the grass, and with an im-
passive face set to work to plant them. The snowdrops
were arranged in a line on the outside of the coping,
the remainder within the enclosure of the grave. The
crocuses and hyacinths were to grow in rows; some of
the summer flowers he placed over her head and feet,
the lilies and forget-me-nots over her heart. The
remainder were dispersed in the spaces between these.
Troy, in his prostration at this time, had no percep-
tion that in the futility of these romantic doings, dictated
by a remorseful reaction from previous indifference, there
was any element of absurdity. Deriving his idiosyn-
crasies from both sides of the Channel, he showed at
such junctures as the present the inelasticity of the
Englishman, together with that blindness to the line
where sentiment verges on mawkishness, characteristic
of the French.
lt was a cloudy, muggy, and very dark night, and
the rays from Troy's lantern spread into the two old
yews with a strange illuminating power, flickering, as it
seemed, up to the black ceiling of cloud above. He
felt a large drop of rain upon the back of his hand, and
presently one came and entered one of the holes of the
lantern, whereupon the candle sputtered and went out-
Troy was weary and it being now not far from midnight,
and the rain threatening to increase, he resolved to leave
the finishing touches of his labour until the day should
break. He groped along the wall and over the graves
in the dark till he found himself round at the north side.
Here he entered the porch, and, reclining upon the
bench within, fell asleep.

Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
English Literature
Send this page to a friend
Nabou.com: the big site