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Boldwood finally gains enough courage to pay Bathsheba a visit at her house. Bathsheba, however, is not at home. Boldwood understands that her busy life as a farm manager leaves her very little time. By not meeting and talking to her, Boldwood's emotion for Bathsheba grows stronger. He cannot see her small faults that he would know had they met and talked to each other. Boldwood, therefore, has an idealized picture of Bathsheba.
One day, at the end of May, when it is a perfect spring day, Boldwood decides to definitely meet Bathsheba and talk to her. When is told by her employees that she is at the sheep-washing pool, he goes to find her. Boldwood sees Bathsheba, dressed in stylish riding attire. She is supervising the work that her men are engaged in doing. Jan Coggan, Mark Clark, Poorgrass, Cain Ball, and Shepherd Oak are busy washing the sheep.
Boldwood goes up and greets Bathsheba, who instantly moves away and walks by the riverside to distance herself from Boldwood. He, however, follows her, and at a bend in the river, he calls to her. Bathsheba waits for him in a spot where they cannot be seen. Boldwood describes his love for her and asks Bathsheba to marry him. Bathsheba, keeping her feelings under control, tells him that she does not love him and, therefore, cannot marry him. Her response is a flashback to the time that she told Gabriel Oak the same thing.
Boldwood pleads with Bathsheba and says he does not mind marrying her even if she does not love him. Bathsheba's only response is to apologize to him for the thoughtless card that she had sent. Boldwood, however, is far too obsessed with the idea of marrying Bathsheba to even hear what she has to say. Unable to make him understand at the moment, Bathsheba begs of him to give her time to think, but warns him not to hope that she will marry him. She then turns away, leaving Boldwood in stunned silence. It takes him a while to come back to reality and return home.
In this chapter, Bathsheba is forced to realize how thoughtless she has been to Boldwood and reaps the harvest of her foolish act. Boldwood's calm demeanor has been ruffled by this vain and foolish woman, and he has set his goal as marriage to her. Bathsheba's honest reactions to and rejection of Boldwood's love are not surprising, for they are reflective of her earlier responses to Oak's proposal for marriage. Bathsheba's discomfiture over the emotion that she has triggered in Boldwood is not surprising either. Unfortunately her remorse and apology have a strange impact on Boldwood. He still entertains hope that ultimately Bathsheba may accept and marry him.