I was off to reason with young Sergeant Troy. Hnaef's concerns over Troy's dalliances with Bathsheba are neither here nor there. After all, Hnaef himself has other reasons not to go falling in love with lively young ladies. Such as his wife, and the small hand-gun she's purchased.
But that Troy has abandoned a young lady - and one who has, as we would say in the 21st century in Bedfordshire, a bun in the oven - that upsets me. He may not be a bachelor of this parish strictly speaking, being of the parish next door, but all the same I object to trifling with ladies' hearts and leaving them in the lurch. So I arranged to meet him out at on the heath. He knew that I was keen he should seek rapprochement with Fanny Robin, and I think he thought that he would be able to use his dashing ways and winning tongue to persuade me to the contrary.
An odd chap, Troy. He clearly thought that, single as I am, he would be able to charm me even at the range of a score or even two dozen years. And he sought to dazzle me with the "sword drill". I dare say that I'm not the first lady to have observed this performance, but I'm pretty sure I was the oldest.
But it was quite thrilling. Apart from a momentary thought that I should perhaps be wearing safety equipment, I was relaxed at being clearly in the hands of an expert, while the sword whisked around my head to a distance of maybe a quarter of an inch.
He finished and presented arms. And I pointed over his shoulder and said "isn't that Mr Boldwood?"
Sergeant Troy made the mistake of turning to see, and I smashed him over the head with my cricket bat.
I'm glad I had my old Slazenger in the boot when we suddenly shot into the past. These Victorian bats are so much more unwieldy. Much smaller sweet spots, and would you believe they're sprung with whalebone? Ugh. So anyway, he got a few pounds of best Slazenger willow across his personal sweet spot, and fell to the ground. While he was laying there I got a few more whacks in, and then Hnaef and Charley dragged him off to the barouche. We've got him locked in the cellar - away from the wine, I hasten to add. He's still trying to persuade us to let him out at the minute but he's acutely aware he's only got another five days until his furlough comes to an end, and he could end up shot for desertion. I'm quietly confident that he's going to sign the little contract we've drawn up for him.