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The Mayor of Casterbridge begins at a country fair near Casterbridge in Wessex Michael Henchard, a 21-year-old hay-trusser, argues with his wife Susan. Drunk on rum-laced furmity he auctions her off, along with their baby daughter Elizabeth-Jane, to Richard Newson, a passing sailor, for five guineas. Sober and remorseful the next day, he is too late to locate his family. He vows not to touch liquor again for 21 years.