Far From the Madding Crowd

Far From the Madding Crowd Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Bathsheba is between amusement and concern: she’s not embarrassed. Hesitatingly, she says she does need a shepherd. The bystanders all say that he’s the one to hire. She asks them to tell him to speak to the bailiff, then rides off. Gabriel asks Bailiff Pennyways to get him a lodging; the bailiff can’t, but tells him he might have luck at Warren’s Malthouse.
Bathsheba recognizes the awkwardness of the situation, but unlike the first time Gabriel saw her, she’s no longer ashamed—he has seen her at her moment of vanity. The villagers as a group will, throughout the book, espouse general public opinion.
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Gabriel, astonished, walks to the village, thinking too of how quickly Bathsheba has changed from naïve girl to cool, calm supervisor. As he passes through the churchyard, he sees a pale, slim girl. He wishes her goodnight, then asks if she’s on the way to Warren’s Malthouse. She says yes, then, seemingly cheered by his friendliness, asks if he knows how late the Buck’s Head Inn is open. He says he’s not from Weatherbury; he’s just a shepherd (though she remarks that he seems like a farmer). She asks him not to mention in the parish that he’s seen her, at least for a day or two, as she’s poor and wants to keep anonymous. Gabriel agrees, then, hesitating, offers her a shilling. Gratefully, she accepts, and as he touches her wrist, he feels a throb of “tragic intensity” that he’s often felt in his over-driven lambs.
Although Bathsheba had become recognizable to Gabriel over the course of the last few pages, he now marvels at how much she’s changed now that she’s a wealthy landowner—a position that launches her into an entirely different realm than Gabriel, especially now that he’s penniless. Bathsheba’s newfound stature also contrasts profoundly to the precariousness and vulnerability of the girl that Gabriel meets at the churchyard: she seems to need the same kind of care and attention as his animals.
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