The Mayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
Chapter 24

Elizabeth-Jane is glad to hear that she is again in Lucetta’s favor, though she is aware that they both now have affections for Farfrae. One morning, Lucetta dons on new dress that arrives from London, and whimsically heads outdoors to catch a glimpse of Farfrae in her new outfit. The town is buzzing about a new seed machine, with various tubes and rivets. The two ladies come across Henchard, and Elizabeth-Jane makes the introductions, unaware of their past acquaintance. Elizabeth-Jane thinks she espies an intimate moment between the two, but she ignores it. Meanwhile, Farfrae enters, humming a song, which attracts both female admirers. Lucetta immediately jumps at the opportunity to converse with Farfrae, all but leaving Elizabeth-Jane out of the dialogue.

Lucetta inquires further about Elizabeth-Jane’s relationship with Henchard, but she is reminded painfully of her past. She attempts to brighten her spirits by seeking further encounters with Farfrae. Elizabeth-Jane is aware of these hopeful sightings, although she only speaks demurely about the subject, never revealing her own feelings for the man. One day, Lucetta confides her past relationship with Henchard to Elizabeth-Jane, although disguising the tale as the occurrences of a "friend." She then reveals that this friend is expecting a proposal from the first man who has wronged her but that she has fallen for another man! She hopes that Elizabeth-Jane will concur that her actions have been correct, but Elizabeth-Jane cannot advise her on the situation. Lucetta sighs, but she is relieved to have spoken of the subject to someone. Their conversation continues about Lucetta’s slowly fading appearance, and it is obvious from their interaction that although Elizabeth-Jane is younger, she is wiser. Later that night, Elizabeth-Jane is saddened that Lucetta does not reveal all the details of the story, but she has at least figured that the "she" in the story must be Lucetta.

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