The Mayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
Chapter 2

Henchard is awoken the next morning with a confused picture of yesterday’s occurrences. The sight of his wife’s wedding ring and the possession of the sailor’s money inside his pocket confirm that his nightmare is reality. Unsure of his next actions, he surveys the still-asleep town and walks away from the Fair field.

As he exits, he tries to recollect better the evening’s events. He wonders if he told anyone his name, but the real surprise is that his wife, Susan, took the transaction literally, owing to her simplicity. He is determined to find them and put up with whatever humiliation should stem from their recovery. He also swears an oath in a church to reflect the earnestness of his promise, stating that he, Michael Henchard, from this day forth counting 21 years (for each year of his life), will abstain completely from strong liquors as his personal punishment.

The search is difficult and fruitless. No one has seen his wife, their child, or the sailor, and even after spending all the sailor’s money in the endeavor, Henchard is still without any leads (though perhaps if he had not been so cautious with revealing the actual facts, the results would have been much improved). When he finally makes his way to a seaport (after some months), he learns that characters resembling his description had left from there shortly before. Discontinuing his search upon learning this news, Henchard finally resolves to settle in the town of Casterbridge.

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