There's going to be an archery match at Cardell Chase today, and Gwendolen sees it as a great opportunity for Grandcourt to propose to her.
Gwendolen goes down to breakfast and chats with Mrs. Davilow. She finds a couple of letters at her place at the breakfast table.
Mr. Gascoigne can't go to the archery match. Gwendolen's a little bit disappointed, because she feels like she's going to have to make a huge decision today.
The narrator describes Cardell Chase and the plan for what's going to happen that day.
When Gwendolen and Grandcourt are together, it doesn't look to the outside observer that their relationship has changed at all since the first day they met.
Gwendolen and Grandcourt chat a little bit. He says he feels like he's losing a lot of time by being uncertain of things.
Right at this moment, Grandcourt notices that they are within sight of everyone and that the point where they're walking is really steep. He helps Gwendolen down and loses his opportunity to propose.
Mrs. Arrowpoint and Mrs. Davilow watch the two come down the incline. Mrs. Arrowpoint has decided that Grandcourt is not good enough for Catherine – if she's refused Lord Slogan, why should she want someone like him? (Masking insecurity, anyone?)
Mrs. Arrowpoint announces, a little too loudly, that Grandcourt isn't as great as Sir Hugo is, and that there's no way of telling that Grandcourt will even outlive his uncle. Mrs. Davilow cheerfully agrees, but mostly because she figures that Gwendolen is the winner and Catherine is the loser in this situation.
While Grandcourt strolls around with a cigar, Lush runs around making himself especially useful to everyone. Gwendolen is not pleased that Lush is so obsequious.
Gwendolen runs to get her bow and arrow before Lush can get them for her (not that he was planning on doing so). The valet hands over her bow as well as a letter. She notices that the letter is in a lady's handwriting.
Gwendolen reads the letter. It basically says that, if Gwendolen has any doubts as to whether or not she should accept Grandcourt's proposal, she should break away from the group and meet this person at a spot called the Whispering Stones. She's going to learn a very special secret.
The letter shocks Gwendolen, but her first thought is that it has come right in the nick of time.
The party goes on, getting more fun and more exciting for everyone.
The group roves about for an hour or so. Gwendolen finally falls back from the group and goes back to the Whispering Stones.
Gwendolen sees a lady who "must once have been exceedingly handsome" (14.37) and two children.
The lady approaches Gwendolen and asks if she has accepted a proposal from Grandcourt. Gwendolen says that she hasn't.
The woman makes Gwendolen promise to keep her secret and not to tell anyone that they've seen each other. Gwendolen's like, "OK, sure."
The woman introduces herself as Lydia Glasher and says that she's the only one that Grandcourt should marry. She says that she left her husband for Grandcourt nine years ago and that they have four children together, including the two that Gwendolen sees before her.
Gwendolen says that she won't interfere with Lydia's wishes.
Then Lydia tells Gwendolen that she's really pretty, but that she (Lydia) was also pretty once – and now look at her: her life sucks.
Lydia tells Gwendolen that her life is representative of all women's lives. Gwendolen is horrified. Lydia lets her go.
Gwendolen is now convinced as to what she's going to do.
Gwendolen runs into her mom, who tries to get Gwendolen to spill about whether or not she spoke with Grandcourt.
Gwendolen says she's tired and wants to go home.
The rest of the gang reappears, including Grandcourt. He asks if she's really leaving. She replies coldly that she is. He's like, "Can I see you tomorrow?" She's like, "Uh, if you want."
In the carriage, Gwendolen tells her mom that she plans to join the Langens in Dover. She also says that she's not going to marry Grandcourt.
In fact, Gwendolen says that all men are bad people and that she's never going to get married.
Mrs. Davilow is confused and asks what happened to change Gwendolen's mind like this. Gwendolen's like, "Don't worry about it, mom." She tells Mrs. Davilow that if she's going to be unhappy, it should be her own decision.
That evening, they pack up Gwendolen's things.
The next day, Grandcourt comes by to visit. Nobody is home.