On a visit to Sutton Valence, Jack discovers Henrietta in floods of tears.  Her father has spoken to her on the subject of her long engagement to Martin, pressing her to set a date for their marriage.  She reveals her unhappiness to Jack.  He at last realises how much she loves him, and discovers within himself that her feelings are reciprocated.  He does his best to suppress them, urging Henrietta to do her duty and be a good wife to Martin.

Jack escorts her home, whereupon they overhear the confrontation between Mr Stuart and the Balchins.  The clergyman questions Balchin’s refusal to allow his daughter and grandchild to live under his roof.  Balchin is taken aback, having assumed that Mr Stuart would support him in condemning Winifred.  His claims that he had been a doting father are angrily countered by his daughter, who reveals that he has treated her as nothing more than a skivvy.  Much to Balchin’s surprise, Mr Stuart denounces him, highlighting his deficiencies, and pointing out the hypocrisy of his supposed piety.  He tells him: “God made no difference between the laws for men and women, Balchin…I know that the world has made such laws for itself, but I have no faith in their being credited in Heaven,” thereby challenging his adherence to the sexual double standard.

Balchin goes too far and blasphemes in front of the clergymen, thus revealing even more of his true character.  He is asked to leave immediately.  Mr Stuart gives Winifred and her baby a bed for the night and reassures her that her sin has been forgiven, intimating that it is far less serious than the sins of others.

Jack spends a sleepless night coming to terms with his newly-awakened love for Henrietta.  He is also pondering the resemblance of Winifred’s baby to Leofric.  In the morning he is called to the bedside of his father, who subsequently dies.  The narrator effectively declares “good riddance”.  When he attempts to organise his father’s affairs, he discovers that the Captain had squandered all his capital, thus leaving his wife and daughter penniless.  There is an implication that he had spent it on prostitutes as well as drink.  Leofric refuses to do anything to help his widowed mother, so Jack realises the full responsibility falls upon his shoulders.

In the meantime, Winifred has absconded.  Mr Stuart is particularly perturbed, as he had made arrangements for her to have a new home and security.  Feeling a great sense of shame, she felt it better to leave her former life entirely behind her.  Soon after, her father receives a letter informing him that he has been dismissed from his post.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9