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Troy has left Weatherbury for two reasons. First of all, he is haunted by gloomy memories of Fanny Robin. Secondly, he is no longer interested in the company of Bathsheba. He walks towards the south until he comes to a hill, which he climbs. After watching the sea below, he decides to swim there before proceeding further with his journey. During his swim, he is taken unawares by a strong current, which carries him deep into the sea. Troy recalls many instances of drowning at this spot in the past. He is totally exhausted when he sees a boat with several sailors on it. He shouts to the sailors, who pick him up. Troy spends the night with the sailors on board the ship.
Weatherbury is filled with talk about Troy and his sudden departure. He has left to escape from the reality of his wife and from the memories of Fanny. Symbolically, Troy swims in the sea, as if to wash away his past; but Hardy has already clearly indicated that a person cannot easily erase past errors. As he swims, Troy, as always, is not in tune with nature. He does not realize how strong the current is and drifts far out from land. Fate is in his favor, for he is spied and saved by the sailors. Hardy contrives the plot in such a way that Troy is temporarily out of Weatherbury. At the appropriate time, he will dramatically re-emerge on the scene.