Farfrae’s plans to move, as he discussed with his servants, are a transition to joining Lucetta in High-Place Hall. Lucetta greets him upon on his arrival, and tells him that she has not yet shared the situation of their marriage with Elizabeth-Jane. She asks Farfrae if it would be okay with him if Elizabeth-Jane continues to live at High-Place Hall, as her friend, and as she has no other home. Farfrae agrees, but with some awkwardness, and perceives that Lucetta does not have any idea of quiet Elizabeth-Jane’s history with Farfrae.
Farfrae moves in with Lucetta because she has a nicer house, and greater wealth, than he does. For this time period, this was a non-traditional marriage. Because of her wealth, Lucetta is socially higher than Farfrae. Farfrae feels awkward at Elizabeth-Jane’s presence at High-Place Hall, which demonstrates that he knows he has wronged her in pursuing another woman, even if he did so for love.
Lucetta reminds Elizabeth-Jane of the story she told her about her “friend,” but the younger woman drops the pretense and says that she knows Lucetta to be the one in the story. Although embarrassed at being found out, Lucetta attempts to explain how her commitment to the first man (Henchard) was brought about the circumstances of their situation and the gossip of others. Elizabeth-Jane asks whether or not Lucetta has recently renewed her commitment to this man, having realized that he is her father. Lucetta pleads that she only did so under force and that she has discovered that Henchard is a man she would be afraid to marry.
Lucetta is invested in convincing Elizabeth-Jane that she did no wrong, as if, by doing so, she could be comfortable and confident about herself. She “pleads” with Elizabeth-Jane to understand how she was forced to agree to marry Henchard and her fear to marry him after learning what he did to his first wife. This plea does not include empathy for Elizabeth-Jane, or recognition that this terrible story involves her.
Elizabeth-Jane says that she ought to marry Henchard, given how far they are entangled. If Lucetta cannot marry Henchard, Elizabeth-Jane feels that the only other possibility is for her to remain single. She is clear in her judgment of the situation this time, saying that it is Henchard or no one for Lucetta. Impropriety has always been a primary concern of Elizabeth-Jane’s, and something to be avoided at all costs.
Elizabeth-Jane has changed her opinion. This may be due to Elizabeth-Jane knowledge of the identities of the main players in the situation. She gives strong advice that warns Lucetta away from Farfrae, and from impropriety, where before she refused to make any judgment.
Lucetta, overcome, shows Elizabeth-Jane the ring on her finger, at which Elizabeth-Jane happily assumes that Lucetta has, in fact, married Henchard. Lucetta corrects her, and invites her to still live in the house with herself and Farfrae. With great self-control, Elizabeth-Jane asks that she be allowed to consider the decision alone. She decides instantly that she cannot remain in the house, when Farfrae and she so nearly became engaged to each other.
Elizabeth-Jane’s misunderstanding of the ring on Lucetta’s finger increases the pain of the truth when it is finally made clear to her. This is a moment of dramatic irony: the reader knows that truth, but must watch Elizabeth-Jane misunderstand and suffer through the realization that Farfrae has married another.
Elizabeth-Jane finds lodgings nearly across the street from Henchard’s home and arranges to move there that very night. She knows that the annual sum from her father, plus her netting skills will earn enough money to support her. She leaves a note for Lucetta and departs. The town is celebrating the news of the marriage, and debating whether or not Farfrae will quit his business and set up on his wife’s money, or continue as a corn and wheat merchant.
Elizabeth-Jane, ever practical, secures a place to live and considers her finances before leaving High-Place Hall. Her emotions, however, show through in her inability to say farewell to Lucetta or Farfrae. The perspective of the villagers and their gossip is again displayed as they discuss this new surprise marriage.