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Chapter 43: Fanny's Revenge (continued)
Bathsheba was lonely and miserable now; not lonelier actually than she had been before her marriage; but her loneliness then was to that of the present time as the solitude of a mountain is to the solitude of a cave. And within the last day or two had come these disquieting thoughts about her husband's past. Her wayward sentiment that evening concerning Fanny's temporary resting-place had been the result of a strange complication of impulses in Bathsheba's bosom. Perhaps it would be more accurately described as a determined rebellion against her prejudices, a revulsion from a lower instinct of uncharitableness, which would have withheld all sympathy from the dead woman, because in life she had preceded Bathsheba in the attentions of a man whom Bathsheba had by no means ceased from loving, though her love was sick to death just now with the gravity of a further misgiving.
In five or ten minutes there was another tap at the door. Liddy reappeared, and coming in a little way stood hesitating, until at length she said, "Maryann has just heard something very strange, but I know it isn't true. And we shall be sure to know the rights of it in a day or two."
"What is it?"
"Oh, nothing connected with you or us, ma'am. It is about Fanny. That same thing you have heard."
"I have heard nothing."
"I mean that a wicked story is got to Weatherbury within this last hour--that--" Liddy came close to her mistress and whispered the remainder of the sentence slowly into her ear, inclining her head as she spoke in the direction of the room where Fanny lay.
Bathsheba trembled from head to foot.
"I don't believe it!" she said, excitedly. "And there's only one name written on the coffin-cover."
"Nor I, ma'am. And a good many others don't; for we should surely have been told more about it if it had been true--don't you think so, ma'am?"
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