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The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy
The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 15 Summary
Elizabeth-Jane is beautiful, but the young men of Casterbridge aren't all in love with her. She doesn't dress flashily enough to attract anyone's interest. Farfrae is the only one who really notices her. One day she does splurge and buys a new bonnet and gloves and a new dress to match. She is shocked at how much attention she receives. She wishes she were better educated and starts reading more on her own to fill in the gaps in her education. Abel Whittle, one of Henchard's employees, shows up late to work again. Henchard yells at him – Whittle can't seem to wake up on time (this was before cell phone alarms), and doesn't know what to do about it. Henchard says that if it happens again he'll go in person to Whittle's house to wake him up. That scares the crap out of Whittle, but of course, it does happen again – the very next morning. Henchard is as good as his word: when Whittle doesn't show up, he marches up the street to Whittle's apartment, barges right in, stands at the foot of the bed, and yells at his employee to wake up. He doesn't even give Whittle a chance to pull on his trousers – he makes him march up the street to work in his undies and undershirt. Whittle is, of course, about ready to die of shame. Farfrae shows up then and tells Whittle to go home and put on some trousers. Whittle is afraid to do so unless Henchard tells him it's OK. Farfrae argues with Henchard about it and tells Henchard it's not right to shame the man publicly like this. Henchard backs down, but he's mad that Farfrae undercut him in front of everyone. Later that day, Henchard gets a message from some clients and starts to answer it, but the boy who carried the message says his parents would rather see Farfrae. Of course, Henchard isn't happy to hear this. He starts to feel jealous of Farfrae and is rude to him. Farfrae says he's sorry if he's hurt Henchard in any way, because of course it was unintentional if he did. Henchard immediately apologizes for being rude, and they're friends again, although Henchard is beginning to regret having told Farfrae all the secrets of his life.
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