On every Saturday market day, Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane are inevitably at home, watching from their windows the maneuvers of Farfrae in the marketplace. He, however, never glances towards their window. Elizabeth-Jane does not guess how Farfrae’s attention has been removed from herself.
Neither Lucetta nor Elizabeth-Jane realizes that they are interested in the same man because the two women, despite their companionship, confess very little to each other. They never seem to have a strong friendship.
Two new purchases arrive on the same day: a brightly colored dress ordered by Lucetta and new farming machine, which the two ladies see from their window. The pair decides to go look at the new purchase, and, while observing it, Henchard appears and greets Elizabeth-Jane who, unknowingly, introduces him to Lucetta. As Henchard leaves, Elizabeth-Jane sees and hears him say to Lucetta, “you refused to see me,” but Lucetta does not respond, and Elizabeth-Jane cannot understand the interaction.
Lucetta’s gaudy dress stands in sharp contrast to Elizabeth-Jane’s more modest way of dressing. Lucetta, unlike Elizabeth-Jane, wishes to draw attention to herself, as evidenced by her showy dress. Elizabeth-Jane witnesses an interaction between Henchard and Lucetta. Eventually she is able to piece together their past connection, although neither tells her directly.
Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane meet Farfrae who is inspecting the machine, which was purchased at his recommendation. Elizabeth-Jane feels in the exchange between Farfrae and Lucetta that she is in the way.
Elizabeth-Jane’s feeling that she is “in the way” demonstrates that Lucetta and Farfrae have formed a connection.
As night falls, Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane continue to watch the scene outside their house. Elizabeth-Jane bemoans the fact that, as she believes, Henchard does not think her respectable. Lucetta comments upon women who get themselves into compromising situations through no fault of their own, and winces at Elizabeth-Jane’s reply that such women, although not despised by other women, are hardly respected.
Elizabeth-Jane and Lucetta each have their own set of worries: Elizabeth-Jane for her lost connection with her “father,” Lucetta for her reputation. Elizabeth-Jane makes it clear that she holds the standards of propriety as highly important.
After seeing how Farfrae acted around Lucetta, Elizabeth-Jane pays special attention to Lucetta’s actions and discovers a time when she leaves and returns flushed, and says aloud that Lucetta has seen Mr. Farfrae, which the other woman confirms. The next day, an agitated Lucetta says she has something on her mind. She tells Elizabeth-Jane a story about a woman who got herself into an unfortunate position through her affection for a man who could not marry her. Eventually, this man was able to marry her, but in the meantime she had met a second man whom she preferred.
Elizabeth-Jane confronts Lucetta about seeing Farfrae, an act of boldness surprising for her character. This boldness may be due to Elizabeth-Jane’s repressed jealousy. Lucetta presents her “confession” as a story about another woman. She is wary of admitting any fault of her own, or exposing her secret, even to Elizabeth-Jane.
Elizabeth-Jane refuses to pass any sort of judgment on the situation described or to advise Lucetta about what she ought to do. Elizabeth-Jane is not fooled by Lucetta’s pretense that her story is about another woman and knows that she speaks of her own situation. She wishes Lucetta was able to be fully confident and honest in her confession to her friend.
Elizabeth-Jane is able to see through Lucetta’s pretense, which shows both her intuition and Lucetta’s difficulty concealing her emotions. Lucetta does not trust Elizabeth-Jane or see her as a true friend. She has only used her presence to her advantage.