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Clasping his sixpence, Johnny Nunsuch starts off for home. Frightened by a strange light, he returns to the bonfire and Eustacia. Not wanting to intrude on Eustacia and Wildeve, he retraces his steps. In his terror, he slips and falls right at the feet of Diggory Venn. The child lets slip that Eustacia is meeting Wildeve. After the departure of Johnny, Venn returns to what he has been doing and then reads an old letter from Thomasin rejecting his offer of marriage. It is this thwarted love that has plunged him into the reddle trade. The next evening Diggory, eavesdropping on Wildeve and Eustacia, manages to overhear their conversation. Wildeve wants Eustacia to go away to America with him, but she does not wish to commit herself. Venn decides to call on Eustacia as soon as possible.
The chance meeting between Johnny Nunsuch and Diggory Venn is a fateful coincidence. Terrified of the red figure beside the fire, the lad tries to flee, but it is no use. Fate has decreed otherwise. Down he comes tumbling, sixpence and all, right at the feet of the reddleman. Then the reddleman is innocently informed about the meeting between Wildeve and Eustacia, and that there will be another one the next day. The next evening, Venn cannot resist eavesdropping on the couple.
Hardy mentions that the reddleman was the favorite bogeyman that Wessex mothers used to threaten their erring children: "the reddleman is coming for you." Because the reddleman cannot escape from his red color, it is almost like he is a caricature of Satan.