Synopsis

Winifred Balchin still looks poorly.  Her father criticises her appearance and lack of energy and pushes her over when she is trying to clean his boots.  Everyone laughs at her predicament, then leaves her on her own while they attend a village fete.  Much later, Winifred slips out to visit Leofric.  She confronts him with rumours she has heard that he is courting Rowney.  He is dismissive and accepts no responsibility for her wretched state.  He admits that he no longer loves her, to which she responds with cries of anguish.

Love is not going well for Jack, either.  He discovers that Rowney is planning to attend a ball with Leofirc, and she doesn’t respond favourably when he tries to assert his authority.  However, he perseveres, insisting on accompanying them.  Rowney spends the evening dancing with other men, and then she and Leofric manage to give Jack the slip.  The scales finally fall from his eyes and he realises they have run off together.

One of Leofric’s fellow officers directs Jack to where he is staying with Rowney.  Upon arrival, Jack immediately notices the remains of breakfast on the table, indicating that they have spent the night together.  In a contemptuous tone, Jack declares that he never wants to see Rowena again, but that he has a score to settle with Leofric.  Rowena is startled to realise that she has lost her power over him.  Jack reminds Leofric that he owes him £500 and that he has the power to ruin him.  When he discovers that Leofric has no intention of marrying Rowney, he issues him with an ultimatum: her must marry her in the morning or face debtor’s jail.  Although he had not considered making any form of commitment to his lover, he decides that marriage is preferable to utter ruin.

Rowena is horrified to overhear that Leofric’s intentions were entirely dishonourable, and realises she has chosen the wrong brother.  She has been duped by Leofric, just as she duped Jack.

Jack witnesses their marriage the next day and discharges Leofric’s debt, adding that he no longer considers him a brother.  Rowney begs for forgiveness, but he expresses only loathing for her – his virulent love having turned to equally virulent hate.

Mrs Wardlaw is distressed by the enmity between her son and stepson and is defensive regarding the behaviour of the former.  She seeks comfort in the company of a canting non-Conformist clergyman, Mr Jellicoe, who informs Jack that he had a lucky escape from a godless union.  An irate Jack physically removes him from the house by his collar, and threatens to kick him to the other side of the village if he displays such impudence again.  Conversely, Mr Stuart (a clergyman of the established church) provides comfort to Jack by expressing sympathy and compassion, rather than judgement and condemnation.

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