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The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy
The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 19 Summary
Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane are alone in the house now. Henchard regrets not having told his daughter that he is her real father, not Captain Newson. He decides to tell her. He says he and Susan were married when they were young. He skips over the whole wife-auction part. He just says they lost each other and that Susan had thought he was dead when she married Captain Newson. He, Henchard, is her real father! Elizabeth-Jane is, of course, upset. She's always loved Newson and thought of him as her father. He tells her she can go to bed and sleep on it, and in the morning he'll show her papers that will prove it to her. In the meantime, she agrees to use the last name Henchard from now on and even has a paragraph put into the town paper that announces the name change. Henchard goes upstairs to find his old marriage certificate. In her desk, he finds the letter she'd written for him. He sees the note that he shouldn't open it until Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day, but the seal is already broken and he figures it doesn't matter, anyway. The letter tells him that Elizabeth-Jane isn't the same child that he sold – that baby died shortly after the auction at the fair. Susan had another child, with Newson, and named her Elizabeth-Jane after the first child. So Elizabeth-Jane was Newson's child, after all! But Henchard doesn't feel he can go back downstairs and take it all back again, especially after Elizabeth-Jane agreed to take his last name and even put the advertisement in the newspaper. So he has to go on allowing Elizabeth-Jane to believe she's his daughter. But he begins to resent it. The next morning, Elizabeth-Jane comes downstairs ready to call Henchard "father" and to begin thinking of him as her real father. Henchard hardly appreciates it anymore.
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