‘Gabriel，’she said simply，‘I'm afraid it's too late，but ride to Casterbridge for a doctor. Mr Boldwood has shot my husband Gabriel obeyed at once，and while riding along was tinking so hard about the shooting that in the darkness he failed to notice a man walking along the road to Casterbridge. That man was Boldwood，on his way to Casterbridge to confess to his crime.
Bathsheba ordered the body to be removed to her house，and by herself she washed and dressed her dead husband for burial. But when the doctor，the vicar and Gabriel arrived，and she no longer needed to be strong，her self-control finally broke，and she became very ill. On the doctor's advice she was put to bed，and her illness continued for several months.
At his trial the following March Boldwood was found guilty of murder，for which the usual punishment was death. However，Weatherbury people began to protest publicly that he should not be held responsible for the crime. Over the last few weeks the villagers had noticed how his moods changed from wild despair to feverish excitement. He had forgotten his farm and even lost the previous year's harvest. And a pile of carefully wrapped parcels of dresses and jewels was found at his house，addressed to‘Bathsheba Boldwood’and dated six years ahead. These were accepted by the judges as signs of his mad-ness，and in the end Boldwood was sent to prison for life. Gabriel knew that Bathsheba blamed herself for Troy's death，and would have blamed herself even more for Boldwood's.
Her health improved only very slowly. She hardly ever went out of the house or garden，and did not discuss her feelings with anyone，even Liddy. But by the summer she was begin-ning to spend more time in the open air，and one August evening she walked to the churchyard. She could hear the village children inside the church practising their singing for Sunday. She went straight to Fanny's grave，and read Troy's words on the large gravestone：
This stone was put up by Francis Troy in loving memory of Fanny Robin，who died on October 9，1866，aged 20Underneath，on the same stone，were the words she had added：
In the same grave lies Francis Troy who died on December 24，1867，aged 26
As she listened to the sweet voices of the children coming from the church，and thought of the pain she had experienced in her short life，tears came to her eyes. She wished she were as innocent as those children again. She was still crying when she suddenly noticed Gabriel Oak，who had come up the path on his way to the church，and was watching her sympathetically.
‘Are you going in？’she asked，trying to dry her tears.
‘I was，’he replied. ‘I'm one of the church singers，you know，and tonight's my practice evening. But I don't think I'll go in now. ’There was a pause，while they both tried to think of something to say. At last Gabriel said slowly，‘I haven't seen you，to speak to，for a long time. Are you better now？’
‘Yes，I am，’she replied. ‘I came to look at the gravestone. ’
‘Eight months ago it happened！’said Gabriel. ‘It seems like yesterday to me. ’
‘And to me it seems like years，long years ago. ’
‘There's something I must tell you，’said Gabriel，hesitating. ‘The fact is，I won't be your farm manager much longer. I'm thinking of leaving England，and farming in America. ’
‘Leaving England！’she cried in surprise and disappoint-ment. ‘But everyone thought you would rent poor Mr Bold-wood's farm and manage it yourself！’
‘The lawyers have offered it to me，it's true. But I'll be leaving Weatherbury next spring. I have my reasons. ’
‘And what shall I do without you？Oh Gabriel，we're such old friends！You've helped me so much in the past，and now that I'm more helpless than ever，you're going away！’
‘It's unfortunate，’said Gabriel unhappily. ‘It's because of that helplessness that I have to go，’and he walked so guickly out of the churchyard that she could not follow him.
In the next few months Bathsheba noticed miserably that Gabriel communicated with her as little as possible，and then only by messenger. She could not avoid thinking that he，the last friend she had，had lost interest in supporting her，and was about to desert her. On the day after Christmas she received the letter from him which she had been expecting. In it he explained that he would leave the farm in three months’time.
Bathsheba sat and cried bitterly over this letter. She was deeply hurt that Gabriel no longer loved her. She was also worried about having to manage the farm by herself again. She thought about it all morning，and was so depressed by the afternoon that she put on her cloak and found her way to where Gabriel lived. She knocked at the door.
‘Who is it？’said Gabriel，opening the door. ‘Oh，It's you，mistress！’
‘I won't be your mistress much longer，will I，Gabriel？’she said sadly.
‘Well，no，I suppose not. ’
Because these two people，who knew each other well，were meeting in a strange place，they felt like the strangers they were when they first met，and neither spoke for a moment.
‘Gabriel，perhaps I shouldn't have come，but I—I thought I must have offended you，and that's why you're going away.
‘Offended me！You couldn't do that，Bathsheba！’
‘Couldn't I？’she said gladly. ‘But then why are you going？’
‘I'm not going to America，you know. I decided not to，when you seemed against the idea. No，I've arranged to rent Mr Boldwood's farm，and I could have been your farm manager as well，if—well—if people hadn't said things about us. ’
‘What？’said Bathsheba，surprised. ‘What things？’
‘Well，if you must know，that I'm just waiting and hoping for the chance to marry you some day. ’
‘Marry me！That's too foolish—too soon—to think of！’
‘Yes，of course，it's foolish. I certainly agree. ’
‘“Too soon”were the words I used. ’
‘I'm sorry，but I think you said“too foolish”. ’
‘I'm sorry too，’she replied with tears in her eyes. ‘“Too soon”was what I said. But it doesn't matter a bit，not at all—but I only meant“too soon”. Indeed，you must believe me！’
Gabriel looked into her face for a long time. ‘Bathsheba，’he said，coming closer，‘If I only knew one thing—whether you'd allow me to love you，and marry you after all—if I only knew！’
‘But you never will know，’she whispered.
‘Because you never ask. ’
‘Oh！’said Gabriel delightedly. ‘My darling—’
‘You should never have sent me that cruel letter this morning. It shows you don't care a bit about me！’
‘Now Bathsheba，’he said，laughing，‘you know very well that I had to be very careful，as a single man working for you，a good-looking young woman. I've been so worried about your good name. That's why I was going to leave. ’
‘And that's the only reason？Oh，I'm so glad I came！’she cried thankfully，as she got up to leave. ‘I've thought so much more about you since I imagined you didn't even want to see me again. But Gabriel，I shouldn't have come to visit you！I seem to be courting you！How awful！’
‘Well，I've courted you，my beautiful Bathsheba，for a very long time，so one visit from you isn't much to ask. ’
As he walked back to the farmhouse with her，they talked of his plans for Boldwood's farm. They spoke very little of their feelings for each other. They were such old friends that expressions of love were probably unnecessary. Their shared interests and their long，friendly relationship had given them a complete understanding of each other's character，and this finally developed，after their wedding，into a love that nothing could destroy.