Synopsis

Fifteen years later, the scene moves to Sutton Valence, near Maidstone.

We learn that Captain Wardlaw was forced to retire from the army following his second marriage, after his drinking came to the attention of senior officers.  John’s grandmother has also died, leaving him a legacy of several thousand pounds.  He is now required to support the entire family, including a new baby sister, on the interest.  Although he has by now reached majority, John’s good nature means that he continues to part with a considerable portion of his income, even though the Captain spends most of it on smoking and drinking.

The new Mrs Wardlaw soon realised the mistake she had made in imagining that the protection of a man like Captain Wardlaw was preferable to being a widow.  She seeks solace in Methodism, of which the authorial voice is highly critical.  Although she is not an unkind stepmother to John, her interests are entirely focused on Leofric.  This favouritism is demonstrated when an army commission that could not be afforded for John is somehow arranged for Leofric, who is subsequently stationed at nearby Maidsonte.  John decides instead to make his money by painting and sets himself up with an atelier in an unfavourable part of the house.  Unsatisfied with this arrangement, he decides to take £100 of his own money as an annual income and study in London.

Before leaving, he examines one of his canvasses with the models present.  Miss Henrietta, nicknamed Pussy, is the only child and heiress of the wealthy vicar, and is introduced as the heroine and a model of virtue.  She has posed for the figure of the fallen woman in the painting, who is supposed to be in fear of condemnation for child murder.  Winfred Balchin is also introduced.  She is the sixteen year old daughter of the parish sexton.  Her mother is dead, and she lives with her father and six brothers.  She blushes violent when she hears Leofric’s footsteps.

Henrietta is perturbed to learn that John (now known as Jack) is moving to London, but the ensuing discussion is interrupted by the arrival of her cousin, Martin Stuart, “a pale sickly-looking young man.”  Henrietta leaves with him, just as Leofric enters.  The narrator compares the two half-brothers, dismissing Leofric as effeminate.  They discuss the relative merits of the two models, Leofric being particularly lascivious in tone.  Jack blurts out that he doesn’t consider Henrietta to be beautiful, just as she is returning to retrieve a forgotten hankerchief.  Before Jack can recover from his flustered state, Leofric has started to escort a humiliated Henrietta home.

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