The Mayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
Chapter 27

The harvest is impending, and since the prices have been low, Farfrae purchases a good deal. As if blessed by Farfrae’s golden touch, his rewards are numerous - the excellent weather takes a horrible downturn, and the rains and storms the hermit predicted come in full force. If Henchard had waited, he would have avoided a loss. On the other hand, Farfrae’s investments are immensely prosperous, and the town expects that he will soon be appointed mayor. Their rivalry intensifies.

One night, there is a wagon crash between one from Farfrae’s employ and one from Henchard’s. Although Lucetta says that Henchard’s employee is at fault, Henchard’s employee says that she cannot be trusted since she would say anything for her beloved Farfrae. A constable arrives at the scene, and citing that nothing can be done until morning, Henchard immediately heads to Lucetta’s to determine if what his employee infers is true. He is told that Lucetta has a previous engagement to attend, but being in a lonely reverie, Henchard follows Lucetta when he sees her leave. She walks to a secret meeting with Farfrae where the conversation proves to Henchard that indeed Lucetta’s heart belongs to Farfrae.

That same evening, Henchard barges in on Lucetta at her home, startling her. He reminds her that she is promised to him in a marriage of propriety, but she says that she is a different woman now than she was then. Henchard bitterly denounces Farfrae as Lucetta’s intended lover, and Lucetta’s indignant defense of him outrages him even more. He threatens to reveal their prior intimacies if she does not agree to marry him. Lucetta is devastated, but Henchard shows no mercy. Elizabeth-Jane is called into the room and bears witness to Lucetta’s acceptance of Henchard’s proposal. She is thoroughly confused that Lucetta looks ill at her agreement and longs for Lucetta to be honest with her, but Lucetta is too overwhelmed to discuss the matter further.

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