He went on to the barn，where the farm workers had already finished eating and started dancing. Gabriel had to wait until Sergeant Troy had finished his dance with Bathshe-ba before he could warn him about possible damage to the ricks. Troy，however，was enjoying himself too much to listen to Gabriel's message.
‘Friends，’he was saying，‘I've ordered brandy to be served to you all，so that we can celebrate my wedding properly. ’
‘No，Frank，don't give them brandy，’begged Bathsheba，‘it will only do them harm！’
‘Don't be silly！’said Troy. ‘Friends，let's send the women home！Then we men can drink and sing as much as we like！’Angrily，Bathsheba left the barn，followed by the other women.
Gabriel left soon afterwards Later，when he went to check that Bathsheba's sheep were safe，he noticed that they looked very frightened. They were crowded together in a corner，their tails pointing the same way. To the shepherd this meant they were expecting a storm. He went to look at the ricks again. Should the whole harvest of the farm，worth at least seven hundred and fifty pounds，be lost because of a woman's weakness？Never，if I can prevent it！thought Gabriel.
He returned to the barn to ask the other farm workers to help him cover the ricks. But the only noise he could hear coming from the barn was the men's loud and regular breathing，and when he entered，he found them all asleep，in-cluding Troy. The brandy，which they had been too polite to refuse，had made them drunk in a very short time，as they were not used to drinking anything stronger than beer. It was useless trying to wake them.
Gabriel left the barn，and returned to the ricks，two of which he managed to cover with the heavy material kept on the farm for this purpose. The only way to cover the other six ricks was by thatching them with straw，and this was a long and difficult job to do alone.
The moon disappeared，and there was a slow，light wind，like the breath of a dying man，as Gabriel climbed the ladder and started thatching high up on top of the third rick. Light－ning flashed in the sky，and there was a loud crash of thunder. In the sudden brightness Gabriel could see every tree around him，until the light disappeared just as suddenly，leaving him in the blackest darkness. He knew his position was dangerous，but considered his life was not valuable enough to worry about.
Another flash of lightning allowed him to see the figure of a woman running towards the rick. Was it Bathsheba？
‘Is that you，ma'am？’he called to the darkness.
‘Who's there？’said Bathsheba's voice.
‘It's Gabriel. I'm on the rick，thatching. ’
‘Oh Gabriel！I'm so worried about the ricks！Can we save them？The thunder woke me. I can't find my husband. Is he there？’
‘No，he isn't. He's—asleep in the barn. ’
‘He promised me the ricks would be covered，and he hasn't done it！Can I help you？Let me help！’
‘You can bring the straw up to me in armfuls，if you aren't afraid to climb the ladder in the dark，’said Gabriel.
‘I'll do anything to help！’she said. She started to go up and down the ladder，carrying the straw. In the brightness of the lightning Gabriel saw their two shadows，wildly enlarged，on the hill in front of him. Then came the loudest crash so far.
‘How terrible！’cried Bathsheba，and held on to his arm. The lightning flashed in a wild dance of death，and thunder came from every part of the huge sky. Bathsheba and Gabriel could only stare，and tremble at the strange and dangerous beauty of the storm.
As they watched，a tall tree in front of them seemed to be burning with a white flame. There was a final，violent crash of thunder，and in the bright light they saw that the tree had been torn in half by the lightning.
‘That was close to us！’said Gabriel. ‘We'd better go down. ’They climbed down and stood together in the darkness，Bathsheba seeming to think only of the storm，Gabriel thinking only of her.
At last he said，‘The storm appears to have passed，but the rain will be coming soon. I'll go up and finish thatching the ricks. ’
‘Gabriel，you are kind to me！Oh why aren't the others here？Don't tell me，I know. They're all drunk in the barn，aren't they？It was my husband's fault. Gabriel，I want to tell you something. ’The soft flashes of the dying lightning showed her face，very white against the black sky. ‘I care about your good opinion of me，so I want to explain why I went to Bath that night. It wasn't to marry Troy，it was to break off my relationship with him. Perhaps you wonder why I married him then？Well，I suppose I must tell you. It was because he told me he had seen a woman more beautiful than me，and said that if I wanted him as a husband，I must marry him at once！I was wild with love and jealousy，so I married him！’Gabriel did not reply.
‘I'll bring some more straw up to you，shall I？’she offered.
She made several more journeys before he noticed her tired－ness. ‘I think you'd better go indoors now，’he said，as gently as a mother. ‘I'll finish the work alone. ’
‘If I'm useless，I'll go，’said Bathsheba. ‘But，oh，if you fell…！’
‘You aren't useless，but you're tired. You've done well. ’
‘And you've done better，’she said gratefully. ‘Thank you a thousand times，Gabriel！Goodnight. ’
She disappeared in the darkness. He went on thatching in a kind of dream. She had spoken more warmly to him tonight than she had ever done when she was unmarried and free to speak as warmly as she liked.
The wind changed and became stronger. At the same time heavy rain started falling. As Gabriel worked on the top of the ricks，he suddenly remembered that，eight months before，he had been fighting against fire in the same place as desperately as he was fighting against water now—and for love of the same woman，who did not love him.
It was not until seven o'clock in the morning that Gabriel climbed down from the last rick，exhausted and wet to the skin. He noticed figures coming out of the barn，walking slowly and painfully to their homes. They all looked ashamed except Troy，who was whistling cheerfully as he entered the farmhouse. None of them thought of looking at the ricks.
On his way back to Coggan's house，Gabriel met Boldwood.
‘How are you，sir？’asked Gabriel.
‘Yes，it's a wet day. Oh，I'm very well，thank you. ’
‘You look a little different，sir. ’
‘No，you're wrong，Oak. I'm just the same. Nothing hurts me. But you look tired. ’
‘I've been working all night to get our ricks covered. Never worked so hard in my life！Yours are safe of course，sir？’
‘Oh yes. ’Boldwood added after a silence，‘What did you ask？’
‘Your ricks are all covered？’
‘No，none of them. I forgot to tell the men to thatch them. I expect most of my wheat will be destroyed in this rain. ’
‘Forgot，’repeated Gabriel to himself. It was difficult to believe that the most careful farmer in the area would lose all his harvest because of a moment's forgetfulness. This would never have happened before Boldwood fell in love with Bathsheba.
Boldwood clearly wanted to talk，although it was still raining heavily. ‘Oak，you knew I wanted to get married. ’
‘I thought my mistress was going to marry you，’said Gabriel sympathetically. ‘However，nothing that we expect ever happens. ’
He spoke with the calmness of a man used to disaster.
‘Perhaps the villagers laugh at me，’said Boldwood with a pretended lightness.
‘Oh no，I don't think so. ’
‘But the truth is that we were never engaged，so she never broke off the engagement，you see. ’But Boldwood could not remain calm. ‘Oh Gabriel，’he said wildly，‘I'm weak and foolish，and I feel it's better to die than to live！’After a silence，he continued more normally. ‘I've accepted the fact of her refusal now. I'm sorry，of course，but no woman has ever controlled my life. Well，good morning. ’