The Mayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
Chapter 40
Summary

That evening, Henchard spies the figures and knows their intention. At Lucetta’s, he learns that a rider has been dispatched to get Farfrae, but Henchard’s good name has been lost and no one believes him when he says that Farfrae has been sidetracked to Weatherbury. Therefore, he seeks to remedy the situation by informing Farfrae himself. When he finally meets Farfrae on the road, he tries to explain the night’s events but to no avail. Farfrae also mistrusts his information and refuses to head back to Casterbridge, as Henchard beckons him to do. Farfrae knows that Lucetta might be ill, since she is pregnant, but his suspicion of Henchard is too great, thinking he will be ambushed by a gang hired by Henchard. Unable to convince Farfrae who rides off on a path away from town, Henchard curses himself for his schemes. He returns unsuccessfully to Lucetta’s to learn that she is gravely ill. When Henchard arrives back at his own home, Jopp informs him that an old sailor has paid him a visit, but Henchard pays it no heed.

Farfrae finally arrives back in Casterbridge, and Lucetta is comforted by his presence. Throughout a night of quiet discussion, Farfrae finally learns Lucetta’s secret, though how much Lucetta tells him and how much he learns on his own is unclear. Nonetheless, Henchard paces the town that evening, worried and lost in thought. He pays several visits to Lucetta that evening, comforted by the sight of Elizabeth-Jane even if he cannot see the mistress of the house. But on his last visit, he learns the awful news - Lucetta has died.

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