On a dark, snowy night, at a public path by a river and a high wall on Melchester Moor, it seems that the cloudy heavens and white earth are closing in on each other. A clock strikes ten and a small outline emerges on the path. The figure counts the windows on the high wall, then stops to throw some snow onto one window. A male voice finally emerges and asks who’s there. The little figure asks for Sergeant Troy, and a suspicious voice identifies himself as such. It’s his wife, Fanny Robbin, the figure cries, as she calls his name (Frank) with emotion.
Another chapter opens with a description of the natural environment that both portrays a bucolic landscape and implies a more ominous context at the same time. We’ve shifted to the point of view of Fanny, although her self-identification as Troy’s wife seems not to align with the rumor that she “ran away” with the soldiers.
They speak in tones which are not that of husband and wife. Fanny asks Troy to come down, and he says he’s happy to see her, but cannot come out. She asks for a date—he says he doesn’t quite remember promising, but that she’ll have to get proper clothes before they can be married. She adds that they’ll have to be published in both his parish and hers. She begins to cry, saying that he did promise, and he says if he did so they will be married. He forgot to ask permission from the officers—he’s just surprised that she’s come so suddenly. She apologizes for worrying him, and asks him to come see her the next day at Mrs. Twills’s in North Street. He agrees and shuts the window: male voices, laughing, can be heard inside.
Throughout this passage, Fanny’s earnestness contrasts with Troy’s more cavalier attitude regarding their relationship. Fanny has thought of everything, prepared everything, for their wedding, whereas Troy cannot even recall having promised to get married. Still, he seems to want to appease her enough to maintain their relationship and to agree to see her the next day. The soldiers’ laughs, nonetheless, imply that they, at least, think the relationship to be less than serious.