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Gwendolen is still smarting from Klesmer's criticism of her piano playing. She can't help but feel a little bit jealous of Catherine for having had advantages that she didn't have (i.e., lessons with Klesmer).
We learn that Gwendolen likes to see herself as being exceptional, and it's a downer for her when other people think she's just average. We also learn that Gwendolen doesn't like to dwell on negative thoughts, especially about herself.
Gwendolen wants her life to be exciting and special, too. She doesn't want her experiences to be commonplace.
Things have been sort of ho-hum. Gwendolen neglects tutoring her sister Alice, since she feels like Alice will be better at being ignorant than she will at being smart.
We learn that Gwendolen has a thing for acting and playing roles, particularly in what's called a tableau – a group of people depicting a scene by standing still, sort of like a human painting.
Gwendolen asks her mom if she thinks she's as attractive as Rachel, a popular actress at the time (apparently they did the first name thing like "Madonna" even in the nineteenth century…). Mrs. Davilow tells Gwen that she has better-looking arms but that her voice is not as tragic.
Gwendolen tells Anna to get everyone together so they can play charades.
Anna says they should wait for Rex because he's really good at charades.
Gwendolen tells Anna she bets that Rex isn't as great as everyone makes him out to be.
They talk about Mr. Middleton, who's really into Gwendolen. Anna tells Gwendolen to stop ridiculing him.
Gwendolen asks Anna what she'll do when she (Gwendolen) starts ridiculing Rex. Anna's eyes fill up with tears.
Anna points out that Gwendolen tends to disparage other people. She says that nobody ever saw anything worth ridiculing in Mr. Middleton before Gwendolen did. She hopes that Gwendolen won't do the same with Rex.
Rex finally shows up. Gwendolen doesn't find anything wrong with him. He and Anna are like two peas in a pod.
Rex, Anna, and Gwendolen start spending all their time together. As far as Rex is concerned, what Gwendolen wants, Gwendolen gets.
They all decide to put on a tableau. Gwendolen gives Mr. Middleton all of the serious, boring parts.
Mr. Middleton thinks he might have a chance with Gwendolen. He's kind of jealous that she and Rex are so close, but he's also like, "oh, whatever, they're cousins."
The narrator then tells us that Rex is majorly, totally, crazily, head-over-heels in love with Gwendolen.
The whole gang decides to put on a tableau from Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. They plan out exactly what it's going to look like.
During the tableau, Klesmer plays a chord of music. The panel that's hiding that scary painting swings open, and Gwendolen sees the terrifying painting. She freaks out and falls to her knees in fear.
Everyone makes a commotion to help Gwendolen out and to shut up the painting. Klesmer tells Gwendolen she was terrific, wanting her to believe that he thought all of it was acting (even though he knew she really freaked out).
It turns out that earlier, Isabel had tried to sneak a look at the painting but heard someone coming and didn't shut the panel all the way. She fesses up to Gwendolen. Gwendolen lets it go, mostly because she doesn't want everyone to remember the way she acted.
The narrator tells us that Mrs. Davilow knows just how sensitive Gwendolen is. Then the narrator tells us that there are no two ways about it: Rex is more in love with Gwendolen than ever.