Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Shepherd's Hut Tuesday - Gabriel Oak

Gabriel Oak's shepherd's hut in Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd is probably the most famous shed in fiction. Here's how we first meet it in Chapter 2:
"The hut stood on little wheels, which raised its floor about a foot from the ground. Such shepherds' huts are dragged into the fields when the lambing season comes on, to shelter the shepherd in his enforced nightly attendance."
He then brings a new-born lamb inside and has a nap while Hardy describes the interior:
"The inside of the hut, as it now presented itself, was cosy and alluring, and the scarlet handful of fire in addition to the candle, reflecting its own genial colour upon whatever it could reach, flung associations of enjoyment even over utensils and tools. In the corner stood the sheep-crook, and along a shelf at one side were ranged bottles and canisters of the simple preparations pertaining to ovine surgery and physic; spirits of wine, turpentine, tar, magnesia, ginger, and castor-oil being the chief. On a triangular shelf across the corner stood bread, bacon, cheese, and a cup for ale or cider, which was supplied from a flagon beneath. Beside the provisions lay the flute, whose notes had lately been called forth by the lonely watcher to beguile a tedious hour. The house was ventilated by two round holes, like the lights of a ship's cabin, with wood slides."
In the following chapter, he forgets to leave the sides open and nearly suffocates himself with the stove still burning inside. He is rescued by Bathsheba.
"It was not exactly the fault of the hut," she observed in a tone which showed her to be that novelty among women -- one who finished a thought before beginning the sentence which was to convey it. "You should, I think, have considered, and not have been so foolish as to leave the slides closed."

1 comment:

  1. This is hilarious! Sheds in fiction, what a great new avenue. Eng Lit students will be writing essays on the subject in years to come, like they do at the moment about houses in Dickens.

    You know, with a unpromising start like that, it's not surprising poor Bathsheba made the mistake of getting mixed up with Sergeant Troy, and then proceeded to take the entire novel to work out she should get together with lovely Gabriel Oak.