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Boldwood receives the Valentine card, which makes a deep impression on his serious mind. He does not even imagine that it could be a light-hearted joke meant to tease him. His feelings are aroused, and he wonders about the sender. He just cannot make a sure guess about the person who has sent the card. He finds it difficult to sleep and at the crack of dawn rises and makes his way to the fields.
The mailcart arrives and the postman hands him a letter. Boldwood opens it without looking at the name and address. He notices that it is actually for Gabriel Oak. He also sees Oak at a distance on the hill, going towards the Malthouse. Boldwood himself takes the letter to give to Oak.
The serious consequences of Bathsheba's thoughtless and foolish actions begin to unfold. Boldwood's emotions, which have been long dormant, are suddenly aroused. The element of mystery associated with the Valentine also builds suspense in the novel. At a very appropriate time, a letter to Gabriel is misdirected to Boldwood. When Boldwood opens the letter and sees it has been misdelivered, he sets off to take it to Gabriel. This provides the opportunity for Boldwood and Gabriel, two men who will vie for Bathsheba's love, to meet each other.
The valentine is a device useful for Hardy to develop the plot of his novel and reveal more about his characters. One is as much struck by Boldwood's complex nature in regards to the valentine as by Bathsheba's lack of sophistication in sending it. He has takes the valentine very seriously and has trouble going to sleep because of wondering about its sender; Bathsheba forgets all about sending it and has a peaceful night's sleep.