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The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
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THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE

by Thomas Hardy




1.


One evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reached
one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a
child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper
Wessex, on foot. They were plainly but not ill clad, though the thick
hoar of dust which had accumulated on their shoes and garments from
an obviously long journey lent a disadvantageous shabbiness to their
appearance just now.

The man was of fine figure, swarthy, and stern in aspect; and he
showed in profile a facial angle so slightly inclined as to be almost
perpendicular. He wore a short jacket of brown corduroy, newer than the
remainder of his suit, which was a fustian waistcoat with white horn
buttons, breeches of the same, tanned leggings, and a straw hat overlaid
with black glazed canvas. At his back he carried by a looped strap a
rush basket, from which protruded at one end the crutch of a hay-knife,
a wimble for hay-bonds being also visible in the aperture. His measured,
springless walk was the walk of the skilled countryman as distinct from
the desultory shamble of the general labourer; while in the turn and
plant of each foot there was, further, a dogged and cynical indifference
personal to himself, showing its presence even in the regularly