It’s late June now, and Bathsheba is watching the Weatherbury bees swarming in a haze. Since all the others are engaged with the hay, Bathsheba has decided to hive these herself. As she prepares, Troy walks through the gate and declares he’ll help her. She says he must put on a veil and gloves: he tells her to transfer her outfit to himself, and she laughs once she sees him in it. He holds up the hive, shaking the bees from it, then says it makes one’s arm ache more than the sword-exercise.
Once again Troy interrupts Bathsheba as she’s in charge of another affair at the farm in order to show off to her. Troy also, nonetheless, is savvier than Boldwood or Gabriel—he knows not to come on too strong to Bathsheba, much less propose right away, and instead charms her little by little over time so that her feelings for him continue to develop.
Bathsheba says she’s never seen the sword-exercise, and after pausing she says she’d like to. Troy bends over and whispers a suggestion in a low voice: Bathsheba blushes and says she couldn’t—only, perhaps, if she brings Liddy. Troy looks coldly away and says there’s no reason to bring her. Bathsheba agrees to come alone, only for a short time.
Bathsheba has overcome her shyness and discomfort and is now increasingly confident enough to be as bold and flirtatious as Troy is to her, even if she still feels required to at least gesture towards standards for a virtuous woman.