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Chapter 53: Concurritur--horae Momento
Outside the front of Boldwood's house a group of men stood in the dark, with their faces towards the door, which occasionally opened and closed for the passage of some guest or servant, when a golden rod of light would stripe the ground for the moment and vanish again, leaving nothing outside but the glowworm shine of the pale lamp amid the evergreens over the door.
"He was seen in Casterbridge this afternoon--so the boy said," one of them remarked in a whisper. "And I for one believe it. His body was never found, you know."
"'Tis a strange story," said the next. "You may depend upon't that she knows nothing about it."
"Not a word."
"Perhaps he don't mean that she shall," said another man.
"If he's alive and here in the neighbourhood, he means mischief," said the first. "Poor young thing: I do pity her, if 'tis true. He'll drag her to the dogs."
"O no; he'll settle down quiet enough," said one disposed to take a more hopeful view of the case.
"What a fool she must have been ever to have had anything to do with the man! She is so self-willed and independent too, that one is more minded to say it serves her right than pity her."
"No, no. I don't hold with 'ee there. She was no otherwise than a girl mind, and how could she tell what the man was made of? If 'tis really true, 'tis too hard a punishment, and more than she ought to hae.--Hullo, who's that?" This was to some footsteps that were heard approaching.
"William Smallbury," said a dim figure in the shades, coming up and joining them. "Dark as a hedge, to-night, isn't it? I all but missed the plank over the river ath'art there in the bottom--never did such a thing before in my life. Be ye any of Boldwood's workfolk?" He peered into their faces.
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