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It is the end of August, and Gabriel is standing in the yard where the ricks are stored. He observes the sky and the earth carefully. It seems like a terrible storm will soon break out. There are eight unprotected ricks that represent the produce from one-half of the farm for that year. Gabriel is worried as he looks at them and thinks of the coming storm.
Troy, now happy as the master of the farm by title, is giving a harvest supper and holding a dance. When Gabriel approaches the barn, he sees the bright decorations and the dancing in progress. Gabriel sends word to Troy that he would like to speak to him, but Troy refuses to come. Since Gabriel cannot walk up to Troy himself, he again sends a message that heavy rain will ruin the harvest if the ricks are not covered. Troy ignores Oak's advice.
Troy keeps up the celebration and orders a drink of brandy and water for each of the guests. Bathsheba begs him not to give it to the workers since they have already had much to drink. Some of the rustics even agree with her; but Troy shrugs off the suggestion and sends the women home so that the men may enjoy themselves. Bathsheba angrily leaves the barn, followed by the women and the children. Oak stays and has a little grog, not wanting to displease Troy. He then leaves the party. As he walks home, Gabriel notices signs of the insect and animal life preparing for the storm. The sheep are terrified and huddle close together for protection. Oak is now sure that the storm is near. He resolves to protect the uncovered ricks and save his beloved Bathsheba from suffering a heavy loss. He hurries to the barn to get some help, but all the men are dead asleep and he has to work alone. He manages to find coverings for the ricks and takes the key to the granary from Tall's wife. A few minutes later he begins to drag out four waterproof covers for two stacks; but he can find no more covers for the three other wheat stacks. He decides that he will slope the sheaves and protect the openings with wheat from some untied sheaves. After securing the wheat, Oak works to protect the barley by covering it with straw and leaves. The moon disappears and the air becomes still as he feverishly keeps working.
In this chapter, Hardy again contrasts Troy and Gabriel, Bathsheba's current husband and her future one. Troy is impressed with his position as manager of the farm. He organizes a marriage celebration in the barn to show off to workers and neighbors. He encourages the men at the party to drink to excess and even offers them brandy at the end of the evening. Nothing will interfere with his party, not even the news from Gabriel that the harvest is about to be ruined. Troy likes the status of farm manager, but he shuns the work and responsibility associated with it. Gabriel, on the other hand, loves farming and being close to the earth. He understands the hard work involved and is willing to make any sacrifice necessary. (Remember how he used to carry the lambs into his house and warm them by the fire.) Because he is in tune with nature, he senses the coming of the storm. He also notices the insects and animals as they scurry to protect themselves from the impending bad weather. He could care less about the party in the barn; in fact, he finds it difficult to even observe the festivities and refuses to enter into them. When he tries to tell Troy during the party that the crops will be ruined, he is ignored. Because he is devoted to Bathsheba as well as the farm, he tries to save the harvest by himself. Knowledge, honor, and duty drive Gabriel; ignorance and irresponsibility drive Tory, in sharp contrast.