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Half an hour later Bathsheba, along with Liddy, comes to the upper end of the old hall where all her farmhands are waiting for her. She pays them and gets acquainted with each one of them. Bathsheba does her job very efficiently, appearing to be in full command of the situation. She informs the men about the dismissal of the thieving bailiff and tells them about her resolve to manage her farm by herself. She inquires about Fanny Robin, but there is no news. It is told that William Smallbury is due to return from Casterbridge at six, perhaps with some information. It is already 5:45 o'clock and the wait will soon be over.
As Bathsheba pays the men, Henery Fray tries to win her approval; but Bathsheba firmly refuses to be influenced by Henery's suggestions. She then names Cainy Ball as under-shepherd to Gabriel Oak and inquires of Gabriel where he has learned to perform his job in such a fine way. Gabriel is left wonder-struck at Bathsheba's cool efficiency. He is also surprised at the change that has come over Bathsheba as mistress of her farm.
William Smallbury brings news that Fanny has run away with one of the soldiers of the Eleventh Dragoon Guards. The soldier's name is not known, but he is supposedly a sergeant in rank. Bathsheba instructs one of her men to give this information to Farmer Boldwood. Bathsheba then takes leave of her men. Before going, she cautions them that they should expect her to be like any good employer, even if she is a woman. She promises to be fair but strict with her employees.
In this chapter, Hardy begins to picture the changes that have occurred in Bathsheba. Her qualities as a solid farm-manager shine through, for she is sure of her dealings and is in complete control. As a result, she wins the respect and admiration of her workers. However, with Gabriel Oak, she is a bit too commanding. Her pride and vanity cause her to behave like this with a person whom she has known for quite some time. Hardy also reveals that Bathsheba's pride and vanity still exist. In his description of Liddy, the maid, Hardy has her assume the airs and sense of importance of her mistress.