The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy
The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 26 Summary
- Henchard and Farfrae meet by chance in the street one morning.
- They nod to each other, and Henchard stops Farfrae to chat.
- They haven't talked in ages, and Farfrae is happy to be friends again.
- Henchard reminds him of the secret he'd told him a long time ago – about the young lady whose reputation was ruined and whom he'd been planning to marry before Susan reappeared.
- Farfrae remembers.
- Henchard still doesn't mention the lady by name.
- He says he has offered to marry the young lady but that she has refused.
- Farfrae says hey, Henchard has done his duty and doesn't owe the young lady anything anymore.
- Henchard agrees, but he doesn't want to let it go.
- He figures there's someone else – a rival – and he's not the kind of guy to back down.
- The next day, both Henchard and Farfrae visit at the same time.
- It's kind of awkward.
- Henchard realizes Farfrae must be his rival, which drives him crazy.
- Henchard decides to take out his anger against Farfrae by trying to out-compete him in business, so he hires a new manager.
- He looks up Joshua Jopp, the man who had wanted the job originally.
- Jopp is still out of work, and Henchard hires him on the spot.
- Jopp reminds Henchard that he had done business in Jersey, too, and had often seen Henchard there.
- It doesn't occur to Henchard that Jopp might therefore know something about Lucetta.
- He tells Jopp that his big plan is to out-compete Farfrae and drive him out of business.
- Henchard decides to play the market. If he buys a lot of grain for cheap before the harvest, then the harvest is bad, the supply will go down and the price will go up. He'd therefore be able to re-sell all that grain at a huge profit.
- The problem is that the weather is hard to predict.
- So Henchard resorts to asking a kind of old wizard who lives out in the country to predict the weather for him.
- The man tells him that the harvest will be crummy.
- Henchard is delighted and buys a ton of grain.
- But then the weather turns beautiful.
- The price of grain falls and falls.
- Henchard decides he can't afford to wait any longer and sells his grain at a huge loss.
- Henchard is disgusted and fires Jopp in his anger.
- Jopp is angry and determined to find a way to get revenge.
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