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The unexpected meeting proves awkward for both Bathsheba and Gabriel. Bathsheba feels pity for Gabriel's lowered position; at the same time, she is quite proud of her own elevated status. She truly needs a shepherd, and encouraged by the workmen, who are very impressed by Oak's abilities, she agrees to employ him. She sends Oak to her bailiff and promises to send refreshments for her workers at the Malthouse. After seeing the bailiff, Gabriel is to go there with the others.
On his way to the Malthouse, Oak is still amazed about his unexpected good fortune in again finding Bathsheba; he also thinks about their changed circumstances. When he reaches the churchyard, he meets a poorly dressed young woman and asks her the way to the Malthouse. Oak also intuits that the woman is troubled, although she does not ask him for any help. She only inquires about what time Buck's Head Inn closes. Since Gabriel is a stranger to the neighborhood, he is not able to answer her question. The poor, weak woman asks him not to mention the fact of their meeting. While bidding her good-bye, Oak feels her racing pulse. Out of his poverty, he gives her a shilling before he walks on towards Weatherbury.
In this chapter, Oak thinks about his own good fortune in winding up at Bathsheba's farm; he is also pleased that she has employed him as a shepherd. He does, however, seem somewhat shy about asking her for employment once he knows her identity. Gabriel is truly a sensitive man. He is also a kind and generous one. Poverty- stricken himself, he gives the poorly dressed young woman a shilling, for he senses that she is needy. Hardy, in order to build suspense in the novel, keeps the identity of the woman a secret for the time being.
The contrasts between Gabriel and Bathsheba are again emphasized in this chapter. Gabriel's generosity contrasts to Bathsheba's selfishness. His humility contrasts to her vanity. Bathsheba's elevation in social status contrasts to Gabriel's recent financial losses.