It's been eight months since Gwendolen and her family moved to Offendene (so, just for point of reference, it's still a couple of months before the gambling scenes in the first couple of chapters).
So, it's June in 1865 and there's a rumor going around the neighborhood. The narrator then stops and gives us a laundry list of things that weren't the rumor – the results of the Civil War in America, for instance.
The big news is that Diplow Hall, which is Sir Hugo Mallinger's place, is being prepared for a new tenant who will live there through the summer and through hunting season.
Now that we're on the edge of our seats, the narrator tells us that it's not Sir Hugo who will be living there, but rather his nephew, Mr. Mallinger Grandcourt. He is most likely going to be Sir Hugo's heir, since Sir Hugo doesn't have any sons – only daughters, who at this time and place could not inherit property or titles (lame).
The narrator tells us that if anyone marries Grandcourt, she'll be taken care of very nicely.
Then the narrator is like, "OK guys, I know this is silly, but there are some families in the area who are depending on the prospect that Grandcourt might marry their one of their daughters." Still, there are only a few people in Wessex who are of any concern here.
One family is the Arrowpoints at Quetcham (remember Mrs. Arrowpoint, who doesn't like Gwendolen?). They have a lot of money, but they worry about Catherine's position in society since she refused a marriage proposal from Lord Slogan, a rich Irishman.
Mr. Gascoigne is also starting to see Grandcourt as a potential match for Gwendolen, and we get the vibe that it's because he's finding Gwendolen too hard to manage and wants to foist her off on somebody else.
Then we find out that even though lots of people are chomping at the bit to get their daughters married to Grandcourt, it's the big topic that nobody can talk about – everyone's afraid of having their plans sabotaged by others.
Mrs. Gascoigne asks her husband if he knows anything about Grandcourt. Mr. Gascoigne doesn't know much. As usual, it takes about 200 words to get this out.
Mrs. Davilow is also interested in the possibility of hooking Gwendolen up with Grandcourt. She pictures him as being handsome and accomplished. She knows that if that's the case, she'd be thrilled to have Gwendolen marry him. She just doesn't know if Gwendolen will feel the same way.
Mrs. Davilow feels like she can't drop any hints to Gwendolen about a potential match with Grandcourt, because it will probably make Gwendolen inclined to dislike him even before she meets him. Ever since Gwendolen rejected Rex, Mrs. Davilow has been extra-curious about how Gwendolen's feelings work.
So, there's this archery meeting coming up, and the big topic of discussion is what Gwendolen plans to wear for the occasion.
Gwendolen tells her mom that none of the other girls stand a chance. Then she's like, "by the way I know you guys all want Grandcourt to fall for me." In response, Mrs. Davilow tells her that Catherine Arrowpoint is also charming, so nothing is certain.
Then Gwendolen makes up a big story of how she thinks things will shake out: Grandcourt will fall for her, find her a nice ring, and inherit his uncle's title and property. She will laugh at him. He'll resent it. He'll go after Catherine Arrowpoint, who will be married to a poor musician.
Then Gwendolen talks about how she pictures Grandcourt as a short guy with a long beard who tries hard to look taller. She also says that, "with a little murdering, he might get a title" (9.22). Mrs. Davilow feels uncomfortable.
Then Mrs. Davilow asks Gwendolen how she became so wicked. Gwendolen retorts by asking her why she didn't do a better job of bringing her up. As usual, Mrs. Davilow is totally crushed.
Gwendolen says a bunch of stuff to try to make up for hurting her mom's feelings.
We learn that Gwendolen and her uncle share a talent for archery.
We also learn that ever since Gwendolen rejected Rex, Mrs. Gascoigne and Anna have shied away from her. Gwendolen has tried to be nice to Anna. Neither of them dares to mention Rex's name.
Gwendolen realizes that her uncle will be ticked off if she refuses the next person who falls for her. Luckily, Mr. Middleton has left without making a bold move.
The narrator asks why anyone should expect Grandcourt to fall for Gwendolen if nobody else (besides Rex) has had the hots for her so far.
We also find out that the Arrowpoints assume that Grandcourt will fall for Catherine instead.