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The conversation amongst the rustics at the Malthouse is humorous. It shows that they genuinely express their feelings. Although they gripe about some things related to Bathsheba, they have no real grudge to bear against their mistress. In fact, they appreciate some of her fine qualities. They also respect their new shepherd and are somewhat afraid of his power. Oak, however, does not enter the Malthouse as a picture of power; instead, he humbly comes in carrying four new lambs. He has brought them to be warmed by the fire. His powerfulness only comes out when the others criticize Bathsheba. He bangs his fist on the table, trying to stop their comments. Oak himself remains strongly supportive of his boss in every way.
Fate again comes into play in this chapter It is Fanny's misdelivered letter that brings Boldwood and Gabriel together. She has written him a note to thank him for his kindness and to return the shilling. Her letter also sets the plot in motion. Boldwood, who cared for Fanny as a child, has sought news about her to no avail; Oak, who met her only in passing and did not know her name receives a letter from her that reveals her whereabouts and her plans. Ironically, Bathsheba's future husband is the father of Fanny's child.