Hardy confesses, in the Life, that due to his impending marriage, the last chapters of Far from the Madding Crowd were ‘done at a gallop’.1 He posted them off to Stephen in August and was married to Emma in September. In line with this, it is interesting to note that a manuscript reading indicates a strong sense, in terms of narrative flow, thematic unity, stylistic coherency and consistency of characterisation, that the novel’s natural ending occurs around the time of Troy’s disappearance from Weatherbury.2