Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Ever since she has taken up the management of the farm, it is Bathsheba's task to inspect the farm grounds at night. With a lantern in her hand, she performs her inspection, sometimes examining a dark corner. Without her knowledge, Gabriel usually does this job before her to ensure that all is safe. On the night of the shearing feast, everything is still and calm as Bathsheba makes her regular rounds. When she is making her way back to the house through a path of fir trees, Bathsheba hears the sound of footsteps. Soon after she feels something tug at her skirt and is nearly thrown off her feet. A man's voice tells her that their clothes have somehow become entangled. He asks her for her lantern, and Bathsheba is shocked to see a soldier whose spur has caught on the trimming of Bathsheba's skirt. At first Bathsheba refuses his help to set them free, but she does not succeed in breaking away from him. As he tries to disentangle the spur, Bathsheba notices that he is a young. The sergeant, purposefully taking his time, watches Bathsheba and comments on her beauty. The soldier then identifies himself as Troy. Thoroughly confused by his presence and at the same time very flattered by his compliments, Bathsheba returns to her house and asks Liddy about Sergeant Troy.
Liddy tells her about the bad reputation that Troy has and claims that he has wasted his good education by enlisting as a soldier. Against her better judgment, Bathsheba feels a secret admiration for the young sergeant. She feels flattered by his praise of her beauty; in contrast the serious Boldwood has never once complimented her appearance, which is very important to Bathsheba..
Bathsheba's song in the previous chapter has prepared the reader for the introduction of Sergeant Troy. Troy's manner of speaking is just like the "winning tongue of the soldier in the song. Bathsheba is thoroughly flattered by the sergeant's compliments, despite being embarrassed. Liddy's account of Troy's background makes Bathsheba even more receptive to Troy's odd approach. Of course, neither Liddy nor Bathsheba know about his relationship with Fanny Robin.
Hardy does not want his readers to have any illusions about Troy. He is explicitly presented by Hardy as a rogue. He is a handsome and charming man, but he uses that charm to philander. His odd approach towards meeting Bathsheba shows his boldness. Liddy tries to warn her mistress that Troy is not what his appearance suggests.