The Mayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
Chapter 34

The next morning, Elizabeth-Jane wakes early and heads over to speak with Farfrae, not wanting to disturb Lucetta. She alludes to Henchard’s motives for wanting to cause Farfrae harm, but Farfrae takes the warning lightly. However, in the back of his mind, he registers a slight more caution in his dealings with Henchard. Nonetheless, he tries to set Henchard up with a small seed shop out of his own money, but the other councilmen discourage his kind thought, saying that Henchard despises Farfrae and is undeserving of his kindness. This news reaches Henchard in a skewed manner unfortunately, so that Henchard believes that the councilmen wanted to grant him the small shop but that Farfrae smashes the idea. This riles up Henchard’s anger towards Farfrae even more.

Farfrae is very disheartened that Henchard hates him so dearly, and he discusses the matter with Lucetta who tries to comfort him. They receive news that Dr. Chalkfield has died and that there are plans to nominate Farfrae to succeed him as the mayor.

From that evening on, Lucetta is made uneasy about her past with Henchard and demands the return of her letters, which had never been returned to her. Henchard replies that they are still in his old safe, which is in Farfrae’s house now, and the next day, Henchard arrives at his old house to claim them. He endeavors cleverly to reveal Lucetta’s secret, even drinking sufficiently to prime himself for the brazenness, but he is unable to disclose the entire past. He even reads the letters to Farfrae, asking him to hear the folly of the words. Yet he cannot find it in himself to reveal the identity of the writer, even though he longs so greatly to hurt them both for causing him so much sorrow.

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