Close To The Madding Crowd-Happy Version of Far From the Madding Crowd

This is the version of Thomas Hardy's book "Far From The Madding Crowd". It is the happy version, where everything goes well. No copyright infringement intended. I just cried so much after reading it I had to make a happy version. I have also put it into more modern language. Enjoy!

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1. CHAPTER I: Description of Farmer Oak-An Incident

WHEN FARMER OAK SMILED, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and wrinkles appeared round them, spreading upon his face like the rays in a child’s sketch of the rising sun.

His name was Gabriel, and on working days he was a young man of sound judgment, easy motions, proper dress, and general good character. On Sundays he was a man of misty views, rather given to postponing activities, and hampered by his best clothes and umbrella: he went to church, but yawned privately and thought of what there would be for dinner when he meant to be listening to the sermon. To state his character as it stood in the scale of public opinion, when his friends and critics were in tantrums, he was considered rather a bad man; when they were pleased, he was rather a good man; when they were neither, he was a man whose moral colour was a kind of pepper-and-salt mixture.

He wore a low felt hat, spread out at the base by tight jamming upon the head for security in high winds, and a long coat; ordinary leather leggings and boots which were extremely large. Mr. Oak carried about him, by way of a watch, what may be called a small silver clock; as it was a watch by shape and intention, and a small clock because of its size. This instrument being several years older than Oak's grandfather, had the problem of going either too fast or not at all. The smaller of its hands, too, occasionally slipped round on the pivot, and thus, though the minutes were told with precision, nobody could be quite certain of the hour they belonged to. The stopping peculiarity of his watch Oak cured by thumps and shakes, and he escaped any evil consequences from the other two defects by constant comparisons with and observations of the sun and stars, and by pressing his face close to the glass of his neighbours' windows, till he could find the hour marked by the clocks within.

In his face one might notice that many of the hues and curves of youth had tarried on to manhood: rounded rather than clean-cut was his face. His height and breadth would have been sufficient to make his presence intimidating, had they been shown with that in mind. But there is a way some men have, rural and urban alike, for which the mind is more responsible than flesh and sinew: it is a way of reducing the natural scale their dimensions by their manner of showing them. As Oak was a modest man, not quite aware of his great size, he gave the impression of being of an average height, rather than an imposing one.

In short, he was twenty-eight, and single.

The field he was in this morning sloped to a ridge called Norcombe Hill. Through a spur of this hill ran the highway between Emminster and Chalk- Newton. Casually glancing over the hedge, Oak saw coming down the incline before him an ornamental spring waggon, painted yellow and happily marked, drawn by two horses, a waggoner walking alongside bearing a whip perpendicularly. The wagon was laden with household goods and window plants, and on the apex of the whole sat a woman, young and attractive. Gabriel had not beheld the sight for more than half a minute, when the vehicle was brought to a standstill just beneath his eyes.

"The tailboard of the waggon is gone, Miss." said the waggoner.

"I heard it fall," said the girl, in a soft, though not particularly low voice, "I heard a noise I could not account for when we were coming up the hill."

"I'll run back."

"Do," she answered.

The sensible horses stood perfectly still, and the waggoner's steps sank fainter and fainter in the distance. The girl on the summit of the load sat motionless, surrounded by tables and chairs with their legs upwards, backed by an oak settle, and ornamented in front by pots of geraniums, myrtles, and cactuses, together with a caged canary — all probably from the windows of the house just vacated. There was also a cat in a willow basket, and from the partly-opened lid of it the cat gazed with half-closed eyes, and affectionately surveyed the small birds around. The pretty girl waited for some time idly in her place, and the only sound heard in the stillness was the hopping of the canary up-and down the perches of its prison.

Then she looked attentively downwards. It was not at the bird, nor at the cat; it was at an oblong package tied in paper, and lying between them. She turned her head to see if the waggoner were coming. He was not yet in sight; and her-eyes crept back to the package, her thoughts seeming to run upon what was inside it. At length she drew the article into her lap, and untied the paper covering; a small swing looking-glass was disclosed, in which she proceeded to survey herself attentively. She parted her lips and smiled. It was a fine morning, and the sun lighted up to a scarlet glow the crimson jacket she wore, and painted a soft lustre upon her bright face and dark hair. The myrtles, geraniums, and cactuses packed around her were fresh and green, and at such a leafless season they invested the whole concern of horses, waggon, furniture, and girl with a peculiar charm.

What possessed her to indulge in such a performance in the sight of the sparrows, blackbirds, and unseen farmer who were alone its spectators, whether the smile began as a fake one, to test her capacity in that art, nobody knows; it ended certainly in a real smile. She blushed at herself, and seeing her reflection blush, blushed the more. The change from the customary spot and necessary occasion of such an act — from the dressing hour in a bedroom to a time of travelling out of doors — lent to the idle deed a novelty it did not importantly possess.

The picture was a delicate one. However, a cynical idea was irresistible by Gabriel Oak as he regarded the scene. There was no necessity whatever for her looking in the glass. She did not adjust her hat, or pat her hair, or press a dimple into shape, or do one thing to signify that any such intention had been her motive in taking up the glass. She simply observed herself as a fair product of Nature in the feminine kind, her thoughts seeming to glide into far-off though likely dramas in which men would play a part as her heroes, and she the princess in distress. Still, this was but conjecture, and the whole series of actions was so idly put forth as to make it rash to assert that intention had any part in them at all.

The waggoner's steps were heard returning. She put the glass in the paper, and the paper into its place. When the waggon had passed on, Gabriel withdrew from his point of watching, and descending into the road, followed the vehicle to the turnpike-gate some way beyond the bottom of the hill, where the object of his contemplation now halted for the payment of toll. About twenty steps still remained between him and the gate, when he heard a dispute. lt was a difference concerning twopence between the persons with the waggon and the man at the toll-bar.

"Mistress's niece is upon the top of the things, and she says that's enough that I've offered ye, you great miser, and she won't pay any more." These were the waggoner's words.

"Very well; then mistress's niece can't pass." said the turnpike-keeper, closing the gate.

Oak looked from one to the other of the disputants, and fell into a reverie. There was something in the tone of twopence remarkably insignificant. Threepence had a definite value as money — it was an appreciable infringement on a day's wages, and, as such, a higgling matter; but twopence…

" Here," he said, stepping forward and handing twopence to the gatekeeper; "let the young woman pass." He looked up at her then; she heard his words, and looked down. Gabriel's features adhered throughout their form of being totally average that not a single lineament could be selected and called worthy either of distinction or notoriety. The red-jacketed and dark- haired maiden seemed to think so too, for she carelessly glanced over him, and told her man to drive on. She might have looked her thanks to Gabriel on a minute scale, but she did not speak them; more probably she felt none, for in gaining her a passage he had lost her her point, and how women take a favour of that kind. The gatekeeper surveyed the retreating     vehicle.

"That's a beautiful woman!" he said to Oak.

"But she has her faults." said Gabriel.

"True, farmer."

"And the greatest of them is — well, what it is always."

"Beating people down? ay, 'tis so."

"Oh no. Not that."

"What, then?" Gabriel, perhaps a little piqued by the comely traveller's indifference, glanced back to where he had witnessed her performance over the hedge, and said, "Vanity."

 
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