Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Gabriel's interest in the young woman grows steadily. He regularly watches her as she goes to the shed to milk the cow each day, and feelings of love for her begin to form. He seeks and finds out her name; she is Bathsheba Everdene. She is staying with her aunt in a nearby cottage. Unfortunately for him, Bathsheba has no interest in Gabriel.
Another misfortune strikes Oak. The cow ceases to give milk, and Bathsheba stops coming to the shed. As a result, he is no longer able to see her on a regular basis; but this absence does not interrupt his feelings for her. Gabriel has reached a pitch of love where he keeps repeating her name in place of his normal whistling. He even starts liking the color of her black hair, when he has always sworn by brown hair. He soon plans to propose marriage to her and waits for an opportunity to visit her aunt.
On a fine January morning, Oak sets out to propose to Bathsheba, even though she has never encouraged him. Dressed carefully and tastefully, he takes his dog George along. Feeling a little unsure of himself and his plan, Gabriel knocks at the door of the aunt's cottage. Bathsheba's aunt tells him that her niece has gone out. He then tells the aunt about his plan to propose marriage to Bathsheba. However, Mrs. Hurst, Bathsheba's aunt, discourages him by relating that her niece has many proposals of marriage from suitable young men. She tells him that Bathsheba is not only good looking but also an excellent scholar who is trained to be a governess.
For the first time in his life, Oak regrets the fact that he is an ordinary sort of man and takes leave of the aunt. Bathsheba, however, races after him. She mischievously tells him that her aunt has been wrong to inform him about her many suitors. Delighted at her seeming words of encouragement, Gabriel once again tries taking her hand, but she pulls it back. He promises her that he will work hard and keep her happy all her life. Bathsheba answers him by stating that she has not decided about marriage. Gabriel tries to encourage her by offering many attractive aspects of their married life. The vain and naughty Bathsheba, however, refuses to be convinced by Gabriel's declaration of love. She tells him that she would never marry anyone whom she does not love, and she does not love him. Oak is disappointed and tells her that he would continue loving her always. Gabriel, in spite of his love, promises that he will never again propose marriage to her.
The practical Gabriel, hopelessly in love, entertains fanciful notions about Bathsheba and assumes she will accept his proposal of marriage. When he goes to her aunt's house and explains his intentions to Mrs. Hurst, she understands the situation. As one of the villagers, she knows and respects Gabriel, but recognizes his simplicity and plainness. She realizes her beautiful niece would never consent to marrying this kind man and urges him to forget Bathsheba, who has many suitors. But the vain Bathsheba, overhearing the conversation, does not want to give up a single suitor; she wants to be liked and admired by everyone. As a result, she pursues Oak after he leaves her aunt's house. In an irresponsible manner, she toys with Gabriel's feelings. Her mind does not work seriously enough for her to understand the consequences of her silly actions. In her rejection of him, she hurts Gabriel very badly, with hurt feelings, he swears he will never propose to her again. Ironically, the course of events in the novel will lead to another proposal that results in marriage.