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A week later, Bathsheba sends a note to the farm stating that her business in Bath has kept her waiting, and she will be back in a few day's time. Another week passes, she does not return, and the oat harvest begins. As the farm hands are busy with the harvesting, they see Cainy Ball running towards them. Maryann feels uncomfortable; she has already expressed her fear for the mistress. Cainy Ball is returning from a holiday. He is very excited and tells them that he has been in Bath. In between his excited coughing and choking, he blurts out that he has seen Miss Everdene in the company of a soldier. He thinks that the soldier is Sergeant Troy.
Gabriel Oak is deeply affected by the news and tries to ask more questions of Cainy, but the boy is simply too overcome with all his strange experiences to give clear answers. Coggan consoles Oak and tells him that he should not be bothered about Bathsheba. Coggan warns Oak that Bathsheba will never love him; Gabriel agrees with Coggan on the matter.
This chapter is full of humor and caricature. Cainy's description of his trip to Bath is truly funny; it also serves to develop the plot. The chapter also provides social comment on the differences in worship and in clerical dress found in the various churches and chapels a hundred years ago.
All the farm-laborers can believe the worst of Bathsheba. Oak is the only person who desperately hopes that the worst will not happen. Cainy's narration to Oak that he has seen Bathsheba in Bath with a soldier is enough to trouble Gabriel. Coggan rightly advises him not to worry about Bathsheba. Since the woman will never love Oak, Coggan advises him not to worry about who she chooses for a sweetheart.