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The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy
The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 29 Summary
Lucetta is walking back along the road that leads to Port-Breedy, the town she just returned from. Elizabeth-Jane walks quickly to catch up with her. When they meet, they're about to turn back toward Casterbridge. They see a big bull coming toward them. It's got a ring in its nose and a long pole stuck through the ring. Ouch. Farmers used to use the rings to guide the bulls to market without getting too close to the horns. This one clearly got loose somehow. When the bull gets closer to them, they start to worry. They see a barn close by and make a break for it. The bull charges after them and follows them into the barn. The two ladies try to climb up onto a haystack, but Lucetta doesn't make it in time. Just before the bull gets to her, a tall man comes running into the barn and grabs the pole sticking out of the bull's nose ring. The man gets the bull under control and asks the ladies to come out. It's Henchard. Lucetta is understandably hysterical, since the bull almost killed her. Henchard offers to walk them back to town, and they set off together. Lucetta remembers that she left her muff (a furry hand warmer) in the barn, and Elizabeth-Jane runs back for it. When she gets back to the road, she sees Farfrae in an open carriage heading toward Casterbridge. She figures that's why Lucetta had chosen to walk out this way – she was hoping to meet Farfrae. She hitches a ride with Farfrae and tells him what happened with the bull, and that Henchard is walking Lucetta home. Farfrae doesn't try to overtake Henchard and Lucetta, but just gives Elizabeth-Jane a ride back to town and goes back to his own apartments. The movers are there. Apparently, he's planning on moving to a new house. Meanwhile, Lucetta and Henchard have had a good long talk. Henchard apologizes to Lucetta for having forced her into promising to marry him. He says it's fine if they postpone their marriage for a couple years. She asks if she can do something else – for instance loan him money, since he just lost so much before the harvest. He says he doesn't want her money, but that it would be nice if she could drop a hint to his banker that they're engaged, so the banker will extend the loan period for him. She isn't willing to do that. Finally, she says it's because she's already married. She got married to Farfrae in Port-Breedy! Henchard is shocked – after all, she'd promised to marry him. She begs him to forgive her and explains that she was in love with Farfrae and afraid that Henchard would tell him everything. So she decided to risk everything and marry him while she could. Henchard is furious.
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