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Part One: At a country fair, drunken farmworker Michael Henchard sells his wife, Susan, and baby daughter, Elizabeth-Jane, to a passing sailor. Eighteen years later, Susan returns to Casterbridge with Elizabeth-Jane and is reunited with a now prosperous Henchard. Deeply regretting his past, Henchard feels compelled to offer to marry Susan, despite already having proposed to a young woman named Lucetta.