Boldwood turns towards Casterbridge and descends into the town. He stops in front of the entrance to the jail, pulls the bell, and speaks in a low voice to the porter. He enters and the door closes behind him.
Boldwood expects that he’ll face death another way, by handing himself over to the authorities as a murderer.
Gabriel is one of the first to hear, and rushes to Boldwood’s house, where all the women are huddled against the walls like sheep in a storm. Bathsheba is sitting beside Troy’s body, his head in her lap, clasping one of his hands: she’s become herself again, the calm, cool personality of a great man’s mother. She says automatically to Gabriel that he must ride to a surgeon, though it’s useless. Barely understanding, Gabriel leaves and is half a mile away before realizing he should have stayed and sent another man. What had become of Boldwood? he wonders, and how had Troy reappeared? He passes a pedestrian about three miles from Casterbridge going in the same direction, but pays little heed.
Gabriel has been at Warren’s Malt-house all this time, having refused to attend Boldwood’s party, but as he arrives, Bathsheba seems to have regained her prior coolness and authority—even if the narrator describes this authority not by characterizing Bathsheba as a great woman herself, but as the kind of woman who would be the mother of a great man. It’s implied that the figure Gabriel passes may be Boldwood himself, on his way to Casterbridge to hand himself in at the jail.
The surgeon, Mr. Granthead, meets Liddy as he reaches the house. She tells him that Bathsheba locked herself in the room with Troy, wanting to know only when Gabriel or Mr. Thirdly arrived. These two enter at the same moment, and they all go upstairs. Bathsheba looks calm and rigid, but is grateful that they have come. She has lit candles around the corpse. The doctor enters and then returns to the hall, where he says that the body has been properly undressed and put in grave clothes: the women must have a stoic’s nerve. She says it’s simply a wife’s solicitude, and then, suddenly exhausted, sinks to the floor. That night Liddy keeps watch as Bathsheba moans that it’s all her fault.
Bathsheba knows now more than ever that she alone must bear responsibility for what has happened, only imagining that she might alleviate her isolation either through the doctor’s help or the presence of her friend and confidant, Gabriel. Bathsheba enacts some of the same mourning rituals that she did at Fanny’s death; indeed, part of what the doctor calls her stoicism stems from the fact that she has in some ways lived out this grieving process before, as well as the sense of guilt.