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The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy
The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 18 Summary
Susan is sick. Henchard calls for the best doctor in town and she soon recovers. One morning soon after her illness, Henchard receives a letter. It's from the young lady in Jersey who ruined her reputation by spending too much time alone with him. She apologizes for having sent him so many love letters – and for the angry tone in the last few letters – after he informed her that he couldn't marry her because of Susan. She says she would like him to return all her letters so she can destroy them. She requests, though, that he give her the letters in person. She plans to travel from Jersey to Bristol to see her old, wealthy relative, and she'll stop briefly in Casterbridge on the way. She tells him the time and place that she'll change coaches in downtown Casterbridge, and asks Henchard to meet her there to hand her the packet of letters. Henchard figures this is only fair and wraps up the letters. He feels sorry for the young lady, whom we now know is named Lucetta. Henchard decides that if he's ever in a position to remarry (i.e., if Susan should ever die), he should marry Lucetta. When he goes to the place where she is supposed to change coaches, though, he finds that she isn't there. He figures she must have changed her plans at the last minute and goes on home. Meanwhile, Susan is getting worse. She writes a note to Henchard and seals it up with the heading: "To Mr. Michael Henchard. Not to be opened until Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day." She locks the note in her desk. Elizabeth-Jane is obviously upset at her mother's failing health. Her mother tells her that she's the one who wrote the notes that brought Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae together in the grain storage houses. She wanted Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae to be married, but that doesn't look likely now that Henchard and Farfrae aren't even on speaking terms. Then Susan dies.
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