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Bathsheba makes her first appearance as farm-manager in the corn market at Casterbridge on the next market-day. The Corn Exchange hall is filled with excited farmers who have come to transact business deals with customers. In this group of yeomen (farm-managers), Bathsheba is the only woman. She feels nervous about the impression she will create and the reception she will receive. Realizing that she has to be practical in order to succeed, she builds up confidence and poise. She also adopts the professional manner of holding up the grains for inspection in the way the others do it.
Because of her professional manner, Bathsheba is soon admired by many of the yeomen; they welcome her into their group by categorizing her as a pretty woman rather than a competitor. Bathsheba, however, senses that one farmer is untouched by her presence and the power of her personality. His indifferent attitude mystifies Bathsheba. She notices that he is good looking and has a dignified air. Judging by his manner, Bathsheba concludes that he is an unmarried man.
While driving home with Liddy, Bathsheba expresses her satisfaction about her performance in the Corn Exchange. She then questions Liddy about the mysterious farmer who had paid no attention to her. At first Liddy is not able to guess his name, but when the farmer overtakes them in his carriage, Liddy recognizes him as Farmer Boldwood. Bathsheba's interest in Boldwood is aroused, and she asks more questions about him. Liddy tells her that Farmer Boldwood is rumored to have suffered disappointment in love when he was young and has, therefore, remained unmarried.
In this chapter, Hardy introduces a vivid picture of typical business transactions amongst farmers in the Corn Exchange. Bathsheba has come here as a farm manager for the first time, and is determined to do well. The other farmers admire her for beauty and competence. Her vanity finds fulfillment in the attention she gets from all the yeomen farmers. She is, however, hurt, perplexed, and a bit resentful about Farmer Boldwood's lack of interest in her. His ignoring her sparks Bathsheba's interest in Boldwood. Ironically, if she had welcomed Boldwood when he called on her at her house, he probably would have behaved better towards her at the Exchange and might not have shown the indifference that he exhibits to her now.