Nodding his hat, Troy says he never imagined it was the farm’s mistress he had met the other night, the “Queen of the Corn-market,” as he’s heard. She indifferently thanks him for his help, but, looking hurt, he says there’s no need. He remarks that it’s a shame bad luck should plague a man for telling a woman she’s beautiful. She still would rather he leave, but he claims he’d rather her curses than another woman’s kisses. Bathsheba is left speechless.
Troy is clever and overly charming, but it’s implied here that he may be earnestly seeking Bathsheba’s attention, just as Bathsheba feigned indifference while inviting the attention of Boldwood. Troy’s bold language leaves Bathsheba stunned since she can’t fit him into her existing understanding of the world and of men.
Bathsheba simply says, turning away, that she can’t allow strangers to be bold and impudent even in praise—he should have said nothing. Much of the pleasure of a feeling, he replies, lies in being able to express a feeling on the spur of a moment. She says she hopes such strength extends to morals and religion, and Troy continues to joke and tease, while she tries to hide a smile. He asks for her forgiveness and she doesn’t accept it. As he continues, she cries he’s too profane, caught between distress and enjoyment. He says she surely must have heard what everyone thinks of her beauty: at first she demurs, then hesitatingly begins to agree.
Bathsheba continues to insist on proper behavior and morality, even though that’s not exactly in her nature—indeed, in some ways she and Troy are similar in their willingness to buck convention. As a woman, though, Bathsheba has to give greater care to her own behavior. But Troy manages to play to her vanity enough to make her even agree that other people have found her beautiful—and that she’s noticed it.
Troy cries that the truth has come out, but he says her beauty will do more harm than good, since it makes all men unable to be content with an ordinary woman. He asks if she reads French, then mentions a proverb that translates, “he chastens that loves well.” Bathsheba remarks at his rhetorical skill, but insists that she derives no pleasure from it: he says he isn’t so conceited as to think so. Still, he hopes she won’t judge his “uncontrolled tongue” too harshly. She says she hopes he won’t speak that way again. He says he’s leaving in a month to return to drill, so she’s taking away the small amount of pleasure he has.
Troy continues to flatter Bathsheba, relying on his cleverness and quick wit—even if it is almost entirely smoke and mirrors—to charm Bathsheba into getting her to be more and more attracted to him. Bathsheba can play this game as well; again, she has developed a flirtatious attitude that’s not too far from Troy’s, but here his greater sophistication conquers her less developed savviness.
Distracted, Bathsheba wonders what time it is: he looks at his watch, then cries that she should have his gold watch as a gift. Troy presses it into her hands, saying it was his father’s. She cries in wonder that she can’t accept it, but he retreats to avoid being handed it. Bathsheba pursues him in distress. He cries that he loves her even more than he loved his father, now in earnest: he had praised her beauty in jest, but his phrases have now moved him to greater sincerity. Bewildered, Bathsheba insists that his generosity is too great. She’s now excited, wild, and more beautiful than ever, and Troy is stunned that he ever joked about it. Finally, he agrees to take it back, as long as she agrees to speak with him while he stays there. Left alone, Bathsheba heart beats as she wonders how much of all this was true.
Bathsheba is both pleased and uncomfortable at Troy’s advances, but as she attempts to extract herself, Troy impulsively makes a hugely generous gift—one that underlines his impulsive nature in general, as well as the fact that many of his words seem not thought through. Now, though, Troy is somewhere between jesting and earnestness—he may have taken his joking too far, as he too suddenly falls under the spell of Bathsheba’s beauty and allure. Bathsheba, meanwhile, has lost her cool reasonableness entirely.