Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) is Thomas Hardy's fourth novel and his first major literary success. Gabriel Oak is a young shepherd. With the savings of a frugal life, and a loan, he has leased and stocked a sheep-farm. He falls in love with a newcomer eight years his junior, Bathsheba Everdene, a proud beauty who arrives to live with her aunt, Mrs. Hurst. The dashing Sergeant Francis "Frank" Troy returns to his native Weatherbury and by chance encounters Bathsheba one night. Gabriel observes Bathsheba's interest in the young soldier and tries to discourage it, telling her she would be better off marrying Boldwood. Bathsheba soon discovers that her new husband is an improvident gambler with little interest in farming. Throughout her tribulations, she comes to rely more and more on her oldest and only real friend, Gabriel.