The Mayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
Chapter 36

When Lucetta arrives home, she finds Jopp waiting for her at the door. Since Jopp knows Lucetta from Jersey where Jopp used to work, he hopes that Lucetta will support his petition to get a job from Farfrae. She refuses, and Jopp leaves dejected. When Jopp arrives back at the cottage, Henchard asks if he will return a parcel to Lucetta for him, which contains the letters. Jopp’s curiosity, aroused from slight suspicions that Lucetta and Henchard had previous relations, causes him to open the package but the letters do not keep his interest. He reseals the package and heads off to deliver the parcel as requested.

He comes across several townspeople who invite him to Mixen-Lane, a dark and sad place for the lower classes of society. The houses on the Lane are connected to the main moor by small planks, stretched across the river to act as makeshift bridges. The locals, with Jopp, head over to Peter’s Finger, an inn not unlike the Three Mariners on a low day and entered by a side alley. Inside are several customers, including the old furmity-woman, who asks Jopp about the parcel he carries. Soon, the whole inn is reading the letters, astonished that the writer is Mrs. Farfrae herself! One local, Mrs. Cuxsom, mentions the old custom of a skimmity-ride, a jocular ridiculing of suspected persons. Just then, a stranger approaches who appears middle-aged with a friendly demeanor. He enters the inn for a bit of rest, but seeing his present company, he thinks twice and heads towards the door to seek alternate arrangements for the night. As he leaves, he inquires about the skimmity-ride, hoping to see one to get a good laugh. He agrees to pay a sum of money for the locals to arrange one to premiere in Casterbridge within the next few weeks, while he is in town and departs. Jopp, after delighting at the beginning of the skimmity-ride arrangement, also leaves and returns the letters to Lucetta.

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