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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