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pellucid expanse in the western sky, am-daring attempt. Moreover, to raise susaranthine glosses came over them then, picion to conviction itself, there were and the unresting world wheeled her gipsies in Weatherbury Bottom. round to a contrasting prospect eastward, Maryann, who had been afraid to shout in the shipe of indecisive and palpitating in the robber's presence, having' seen stars. She gazed upon their silent throes him depart, had no fear. She hastily amid the shades of space, but realized slipped on her clothes, stumped down none at all. Her troubled spirit was far the disjointed staircase with its hundred away with Troy.
creaks, ran to Coggan's, the nearest
house, and raised an alarm. Coggan CHAPTER XXXII.
called Gabriel, who now again lodged in NIGHT: HORSES TRAMPING.
his house as at first, and together they
went to the paddock. Beyond all doubt The village of Weatherbury was quiet the horse was gone. as the graveyard in its midst, and the “Listen !” said Gabriel. living were lying well-nigh as still as the They listened. Distinct upon the stagdead. The church clock struck eleven. nant air came the sounds of a trotting The air was so empty of other sounds horse passing over Weatherbury Hill that the whirr of the clockwork immedi- just beyond the gipsies' encampment in ately before the strokes was distinct, and Weatherbury Bottom. so was also the click of the same at their “That's our Dainty - I'll swear to her close. The notes flew forth with the step,” said Jan. usual blind obtuseness of inanimate “Mighty me ! Won't mis'ess storm things — flapping and rebounding among and call us stupids when she comes walls, undulating against the scattered back!” moaned Maryann. “How I clouds, spreading through their inter- wish it had happened when she was at stices into unexplored miles of space. home, and none of us had been answer
Bathsheba's crannied and mouldy halls able !”. were to-night occupied only by Maryann, “We must ride after,” said Gabriel. Liddy being, as was stated, with her sis- decisively.” “I'll be responsible to Miss ter, whom Bathsheba had set out to visit. Everdene for what we do. Yes, we'll A few minutes after eleven had struck, follow.” Maryann turned in her bed with a sense “Faith, I don't see how,” said Coggan. of being disturbed. She was totally un- “ All our horses are too heavy for that conscious of the nature of the interrup- trick except little Poppet, and what's she tion to her sleep. It led to a dream, and between two of us ? - If we only had the dream to an awakening, with an un- that pair over the hedge we might do easy sensation that something had hap- something." pened. She left her bed and looked out “Which pair ?" of the window. The paddock abutted on “Mr. Boldwood's Tidy and Moll.” this end of the building, and in the pad. “Then wait here till I come hither dock she could just discern by the uncer-again,” said Gabriel. He ran down the tain gray a moving figure approaching the hill towards Farmer Boldwood's. horse that was feeding there. The fig. “Farmer Boldwood is not at home," ure seized the horse by the forelock, and, said Maryann. led it to the corner of the field. Here “All the better," said Coggan. “I she could see some object which circum- know what he's gone for." siances proved to be a vehicle, for after a Less than five minutes brought up Oak few minutes' spent apparently in harness- again, running at the same pace, with two ing, she heard the trot of the horse down halters dangling from his hand. the road, mingled with the sound of light1 “ Where did you find 'em ?” said Cog. wheels.
gan, turning round and leaping upon the Two varieties only of humanity could hedge without waiting for an answer. have entered the paddock with the ghost- “Under the eaves. I knew where they like glide of that mysterious figure. were kept," said Gabriel, following him. They were a woman and a gipsy man. A “ Coggan, you can ride bare-backed ? woman was out of the question in such there's no time to look for saddles.” an occupation at this hour, and the comer “Like a hero!” said Jan. could be no less than a thief, who might “ Maryann, you go to bed," Gabriel probably have known the weakness of the shouted to her from the top of the hedge. household on this particular night, and Springing down into Boldwood's pashave chosen it on that account for his tures, each pocketed his halter to hide it
from the horses, who, seeing the menl “The rest of the gipsies must have empty-handed, docilely allowed them- gone on earlier, or some other way," said selves to be seized by the mane, when Oak. “You saw there were no other the halters were dexterously slipped on. tracks ?” Having neither bit nor bridle, Oak and “Trew." They rode along silently for a Coggan extemporized the former by pass- long weary time. Coggan's watch struck ing the rope in each case through the one. He lighted another match, and exanimal's mouth and looping it on the amined the ground again. other side. Oak vaulted astride, and “'Tis a canter now," he said, “throwCoggan clambered up by aid of the bank, ing away the light. - A twisty rickety pace when they ascended to the gate and gal- for a gig. The fact is, they overdrove loped off in the direction taken by Bath- her at starting; we shall catch them yet.” sheba's horse and the robber. Whose Again they hastened on. Coggan's vehicle the horse had been harnessed to watch struck two. When they looked was a matter of some uncertainty. again the hoof-marks were so spaced as
Weatherbury Bottom was reached in to form a sort of zig-zag if united, like three or four minutes. They scanned the lamps along a street. the shady green patch by the roadside. “That's a trot, I know," said Gabriel. The gipsies were gone.
“Only a trot now,” said Coggan cheer“ The villains !” said Gabriel. “Which fully. We shall overtake him in time." way have they gone, I wonder ?”
They pushed rapidly on for yet two or “Straight on, as sure as God made three miles. “Ah! a moment,” said Jan. little apples,” said Jan.
“Let's see how she was driven up this “Very well; we are better mounted, hill. 'Twill help us.” A light was and must overtake 'em,” said Oak. promptly struck upon his gaiters as before, “Now, on at full speed !"
and the examination made. No sound of the rider in their van “Hurrah !” said Coggan. “ She could now be discovered. The road-metal walked up here — and well she might. grew softer and more clayey as Weath- We shall get them in two miles, for a erbury was left behind, and the late rain crown.” had wetted its surface to a somewhat They rode three and listened. No plastic, but not muddy state. They came sound was to be heard save a mill-pond to cross-roads. Coggan suddenly pulled trickling hoarsely through a hatch, and up Moll and slipped off.
suggesting gloomy possibilities of drown“What's the matter ?” said Gabriel. jing by jumping in. Gabriel dismounted
“We must try to track 'em, since we when they came to a turning. The tracks can't hear 'em,” said Jan, fumbling in his were absolutely the only guide as to the pockets. He struck a light, and held the direction that they now had, and great match to the ground. The rain had been caution was necessary to avoid confusing heavier here, and all foot and horse them with some others which had made tracks made previous to the storm had their appearance lately. been abraded and blurred by the drops, “What does this mean? - though I and they were now so many little scoops! guess,” said Gabriel, looking up at Cog. of water, which reflected the flame of the gan as he moved the match over the match like eyes. One set of tracks was ground about the turning. Coggan, who, fresh and had no water in them ; one pair no less than the panting horses, had of ruts was also empty, and not small; latterly shown signs of weariness, again canals, like the others. The footprints scrutinized the mystic characters. This forming this recent impression were full time only three were of the regular horseof information as to pace; they were in shoe shape. Every fourth was a dot. equidistant pairs, three or four feet apart, | He screwed up his face, and emitted a the right and left foot of each pair being long “ whew-w-w!” exactly opposite one another.
!“ Lame ? " said Oak. “ Straight on!” Jan exclaimed. “Tracks “Yes. Dainty is lamed; the nearlike that mean a stiff gallop. No wonder, foot-afore,” said Coggan slowly, staring we don't hear him. And the horse is still at the footprints. harnessed - look at the ruts. Ay, that's “We'll push on," said Gabriel, reour mare sure enough!"
mounting his humid steed. “ How do you know ?”
Although the road along its greater “Old Jimmy Hirris only shoed her last part had been as good as any turnpikeweek, and I'd swear to his make among road in the country it was nominally only ten thousand.”
'a byway. The last turning had brought
them into the high road leading to Bath. foolish of you not to know that I had taken Coggan recollected himself.
the trap and horse. I could neither • We shall have him now !” he ex wake Maryann nor get into the house, claimed.
though I hammered for ten minutes " Where?”
against her window-sill. Fortunately, I “ Petiton Turnpike. The keeper ofcould get the key of the coach-house, so that gate is the sleepiest man between I troubled no one further. Didn't you here and London – Dan Randall, that's think it might be me?" his name - knowed en for years, when “Why should we, miss?" he was at Casterbridge gate. Between “Perhaps not. Why, those are never the lameness and the gate 'tis a done Farmer Boldwood's horses! Goodness job.”
mercy! what have you been doing They now advanced with extreme cau- | bringing trouble upon me in this way? tion. Nothing was said until, against a What ! mustn't a lady move an inch from shady background of foliage, five white her door without being dogged like a bars were visible, crossing their route a thief?” little way ahead.
“But how were we to know, if you left “Hush - we are almost close !” said | no account of your doings,” expostulated Gabriel.
Coggan, “and ladies don't drive at these • Amble on upon the grass,” said Cog- hours as a jineral rule of society.”
“I did leave an account - and you • The white bars were blotted out in the would have seen it in the morning. I midst by a dark shape in front of them. wrote in chalk on the coach-house doors
The silence of this lonely time was that I had come back for the horse and pierced by an exclamation from that gig, and driven off ; that I could arouse quarter.
nobody, and should return soon." " Hoy-a-hoy! Gate!”
“But you'll consider, ma'am, that we It appeared that there had been a pre-couldn't see that till it got daylight.” vious call which they had not noticed, for " True," she said, and though vexed at on their close approach the door of the first she had too much sense to blame turnpike house opened, and the keeper them long or seriously for a devotion to came out half-dressed, with a candle in her that was as valuable as it was rare. his hand. The rays illumined the whole She added with a very pretty grace,
“Well, I really thank you heartily for “ Keep the gate close !” shouted Ga- taking all this trouble ; but I wish you briel. "He has stolen the horse !" had borrowed anybody's horses but Mr.
“ Who?" said the turnpike man. Boldwood's.”
Gabriel looked at the driver of the gig, ' “Dainty is lame, miss,” said Coggan. and saw a woman — Bathsheba, his mis- i " Can you go on?" tress.
“ It was only a stone in her shoe. I On hearing his voice she had turned her dismounted and pulled it out a hundred face away from the light. Coggan had, yards back. I can manage very well, however, caught sight of her in the mean- | thank you. I shall be in Bath by daywhile.
| light. Will you now return, please ?” " Why, 'tis mistress — I'll take my She turned her head - the gateman's oath !” he said, amazed.
candle shimmering upon her quick, clear Bathsheba it certainly was, and she eyes as she did so — passed through the had by this time done the trick she could gate, and was soon wrapped in the emdo so well in crises not of love, namely, bowering shades of mysterious summer mask a surprise by coolness of man- boughs. Coggan and Gabriel put about ner.
their horses, and, fanned by the velvety “ Well, Gabriel,” she enquired quietly, I air of this July night, retraced the road “where are you going?”
by which they had come. “ We thought "began Gabriel. “A strange vagary, this of hers, isn't
“I am driving to Bath,” she said, tak-lit, Oak?” said Coggan, curiously. ing for her own use the assurance that! “Yes,” said Gabriel, shortly. “Coggan, Gabriel lacked. “An important matter suppose we keep this night's work as made it necessary for me to give up my quiet as we can ?" visit to Liddy, and go off at once. What, “I am of one and the same mind.” . then, were you following me ?"
“Very well. We shall be home by “ We thought the horse was stole." three o'clock or so, and can creep into 66 Well — what a thing! How very | the parish like lambs."
Bathsheba's perturbed meditations by 'ing. She turned back towards the vil. the roadside bad ultimately evolved a lage. conclusion that there were only two Her walk was slow, for she wished not remedies for the present desperate state to enter Weatherbury till the cottagers of affairs. The first was merely to keep were in bed, and, particularly till BoldTroy away from Weatherbury till Bold wood was secure. Her plan was now to wood's indignation had cooled; the sec-drive to Bath during the night, see Ser. ond to listen to Oak's entreaties, and geant Troy in the morning before he set Boldwood's denunciations, and give up out to come to her, bid him farewell, and Troy altogether.
dismiss him : then to rest the horse thorAlas! Could she give up this new oughly (herself to weep the while, she love - induce hiin to renounce her by thought), starting early the next morning saying she did not like him - could no on her return journey. By this arrangemore speak to him, and beg him, for her ment she could trot Dainty gently all the good, to end his furlough in Bath, and see day, reach Liddy at Yalbury in the evenher and Weatherbury no more?
ling, and come home to Weatherbury with It was a picture full of misery, but for her whenever they chose - so nobody a while she contemplated it firmly, allow-would know that she had been to Bath at ing herself, nevertheless, as girls will, to all. dwell upon the happy life she would have This idea she proceeded to carry out, enjoyed had Troy been Boldwood, and with what success we have already seen. the path of love the path of duty-inflicting upon herself gratuitous tortures
CHAPTER XXXIII. by imagining him the lover of another woman, after forgetting her ; for she had
IN THE SUN: A HARBINGER. penetrated Troy's nature so far as to! A WEEK passed, and there were no estimate his tendencies pretty accurately, tidings of Bathsheba ; nor was there any but unfortunately loved him no less in explanation of her Gilpin's rig. thinking that he might soon cease to love Then a note came for Maryann, stating her – indeed considerably more
that the business which had called her She jumped to her feet. She would mistress to Bath still detained her there ; see him at once. Yes, she would implore but that she hoped to return in the course him by word of mouth to assist her in of another week. the dilemma. A letter to keep him away Another week passed. The oat-harcould not reach him in time, even if he vest began, and all the men were afield should be disposed to listen to it.
under a monochromatic Lammas sky, Was Bathsheba altogether blind to the amid the trembling air and short shadows obvious fact that the support of a lover's of noon. In-doors nothing was to be arms is not of a kind best calculated to heard save the droning of blue-bottle fiies ; assist a resolve to renounce him? Or out-of-doors the whetting of scythes and was she sophistically sensible, with a the hiss of tressy oat-ears rubbing tothrill of pleasure, that by adopting this gether as their perpendicular stalks of course of getting rid of him she was en- amber-yellow fell heavily to each swath. suring a meeting with him, at any rate Every drop of moisture not in the men's once more ?
| bottles and flagons in the form of cider It was now dark, and the hour must was raining as perspiration from their have been nearly ten. The only way to foreheads and cheeks. Drought was accomplish her purpose was to give up everywhere else. the idea of visiting Liddy at Yalbury, re-l They were about to withdraw for a turn to Weatherbury Farm, put the horse while into the charitable shade of a tree into the gig, and drive at once to Bath. ' in the fence, when Coggan saw a figure The scheme seemed at first impossible : l in a blue coat and brass buttons run. the journey was a fearfully heavy one, ning to them across the field. even for a strong horse ; it was most ven- “I wonder who that is ?” he said. turesome for a woman, at night, and! “I hope nothing is wrong about misalone.
tress," said Maryann, who with some But could she go on to Liddy's and other women were tying the bundles leave things to take their course ? No, (oats being always sheafed on this farm), .no, anything but that. Bathsheba was “but an unlucky token came to me in. full of a stiinulating turbulence, beside doors this morning. I went to unlock which caution vainly prayed for a hear the door and dropped the key, and it feil upon the stone floor and broke into two thoughts to Bathi and letting his eyes folpieces. Breaking a key is a dreadful low, “ I've seed the world at last - yes bodement. I wish mis'ess was home.” – and I've seed our missis – ahok-hok
“'Tis Cain Ball," said Gabriel, pausing hok !" from whetting his reaphook.
“Bother the boy !” said Gabriel. Oak was not bound by his agreement" Something is always going the wrong to assist in the corn-field ; but the har-way down your throat, so that you can't vest-month is an anxious time for a tell what's necessary to be told." farmer, and the corn was Bathsheba's, “Ahok! there! Please, Mister Oak, a so he lent a hand.
Ignat have just flewed into my stomach, “He's dressed up in his best clothes," and brought the cough on again!” said Matthew Moon. “He hev been “ Yes, that's just it. Your mouth is away from home for a few days, since always open, you young rascal.” he's had that felon upon his finger ; for “'Tis terrible bad to have a gnat fly a' said, since I can't work I'll have a down yer throat, pore boy !” said Mathollerday.”
thew Moon. “A good time for one - an excellent! “Well, at Bath you saw” – prompted time,” said Joseph Poorgrass, straighten- / Gabriel. ing his back; for he, like some of the “I saw our mistress," continued the others, had a way of resting a while from junior shepherd, “and a soldier, walking his labour on such hot days for reasons along. And by meby they got closer and preternaturally small; of which Cain closer, and then they went arm-in-crook, Ball's advent on a week-day in his Sun-like courting complete — hok-hok! like day clothes was one of the first magni- courting complete — hok ! - courting tude. "'Twas a bad leg allowed me to complete — " Losing the thread of read the Pilgrim's Progress, and Mark his narrative at this point simultaneously Clark learnt All-Fours in a whitlow.” with his loss of breath, their informant
• Ay, and my father put his arm out of looked up and down the field apparently joint to have time to go courting,” said for some clue to it. “Well, I see our Jan Coggan in an eclipsing tone, wiping mis'ess and a soldier -a-ha-a-wk!” his face with his shirt-sleeve and thrust-l “D- the boy !” said Gabriel. ing back his hat upon the nape of his “'Tis only my manner, Mister Oak, if neck.
| ye'll excuse it,” said Cain Ball, looking By this time Cainy was nearing the reproachfully at Oak, with eyes drenched group of harvesters, and was perceived in their own dew. to be carrying a large slice of bread and I “Here's some cider for bim - that'll ham in one hand, from which he took cure his throat,” said Jan Coggan, lifting mouthiuls as he ran, the other hand being a flagon of cider, pulling out the cork, and wrapped in a bandage. When he came applying the hole to Cainy's mouth; close, his mouth assumed the bell shape, Joseph Poorgrass, in the meantime, beand he began to cough violently.
ginning to think apprehensively of the “Now, Cainy !” said Gabriel, sternly. serious consequences that would follow " How many more times must I tell you Cainy Ball's strangulation in his cough, to keep from running so fast when you and the history of his Bath adventure are eating? You'll choke yourself some dying with him. day, that's what you'll do, Cain Ball." "For my poor self, I always say
- Hok-hok-hok !" replied Cain. “Alplease God,' afore I do anything," said crumb of my victuals went the wrong ! Joseph, in an unboastful voice ; and so way — hok-hok! That's what 'tis, Mis- i should you, Cain Ball. 'Tis a great safeter Oik! And I've been visiting to Bith guard, and might perhaps save you from because I had a felon on my thumb; being choked to death some day.” yes, and I've seen – ahok-hok !"
Mr. Coggan poured the liquor with unDirectly Cain mentioned Bath, they all stinted liberality at the suffering Cain's threw down their books and forks and circular mouth; half of it running down drew round him. Unfortunately the er- the side of the flagon, and half of what ratic crumb did not improve his narrative reached his mouth running down outside powers, and a supplementary hindrance his throat, and half of what ran in going was that of a sneeze, jerking from his the wrong way, and being coughed and pocket his rather large watch, which dan- sneezed around the persons of the gathgled in front of the young man pendu-ered reapers in the form of a rarefied lum-wise.
cider fog, which for a moment hung in “ Yes," he continued, directing his the sunny air like a small exhalation. LIVING AGE. VOL. VII, 332