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The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy
The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 39 Summary
Farfrae goes home and finds that someone has sent a note asking him to visit the town of Weatherbury on business. He'd been planning to go to Budmouth that evening, but the note makes the problem in Weatherbury seem more urgent, so he goes there instead. The note was actually from some of Farfrae's employees. They'd heard that the skimmity-ride was planned for that night, and they wanted him to be gone so he wouldn't be humiliated. They didn't worry about Lucetta, since they all believed that the scandal they'd heard was true. That evening at about eight o'clock, there's a commotion outdoors. Lucetta is sitting in her living room and doesn't think much of it. Then she hears her servants describing what they see out the window. It's a parade with two life-sized figures tied to a donkey. One of them is dressed as Henchard and the other is dressed just as Lucetta was that day at the royal procession! The whole town is out to see it. Elizabeth-Jane suddenly arrives. She's seen the parade and heard the gossip and has come to take care of Lucetta. She tries to close the windows, but Lucetta won't let her. Lucetta is almost hysterical. She's afraid her husband will find out and stop loving her. Lucetta faints and Elizabeth-Jane calls for the doctor. The doctor comes and says things are serious. Lucetta is pregnant, so the excitement and fainting fits are particularly bad for her. Elizabeth-Jane sends one of Farfrae's servants to go after him and bring him back. Unfortunately, Farfrae didn't tell anyone about his change of plan. The servants all think he went to Budmouth. Only Henchard, who saw him leave, knows he'd actually gone toward Weatherbury. The constable and police go around town trying to catch the organizers of the skimmity-ride, but no one owns up, and the constable just shrugs it off.
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