‘Did anybody ever want to marry you, miss?’ Liddy ventured to ask when they were again alone. ‘Lots of ‘em, I daresay.’Bathsheba paused, as if about to refuse a reply but the temptation to say yes, since it was irresistible by aspiring virginity, in spite of her spleen at having been published as old. ‘A man wanted to once,’ she said, in a highly experienced tone and the image of Gabriel Oak, as the farmer, rose before her. ‘How nice it must seem!’ said Liddy, with the fixed features of mental realization. ‘And you wouldn’t have him?’ ‘He wasn’t quite good enough for me.’ ‘How sweet to be able to do disdain, when most of us are glad to say, “Thank you!” I seem I hear it. “No sir—I’m your better” or, “Kiss my foot, sir; my face is for mouths of consequence.” And did you love him, miss?’ ‘Oh no. But I rather liked him.’
—Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd, Chapter IX
Hot on the arrival and departure of Farmer Boldwood, Bathsheba’s maid
Liddy interrogates her mistress on her romantic past.
Kiss my foot, indeed! That’s the tag line for today’s installment, but
the previous sentence, “How sweet to be able to do disdain, when most
of us are glad to say, ‘Thank you!’ ” has its own charms as well.
Being able to reject a suitor is one of the perquisites of the gentry,