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Hard Times

Hard Times

by Charles Dickens

Hard Times Book 2, Chapter 8 Summary

Explosion

  • Harthouse smugly pats himself on the back for getting his hooks in Louisa so deeply that he "knew her heart in its last most delicate recesses." Still, he is not totally committed to getting her to cheat on Bounderby just yet.
  • Riding back from a political rally, he runs into Bounderby who announces that…the bank has been robbed! Of not very much money – about 150 pounds.
  • Louisa, Mrs. Sparsit, and Bitzer come up and confirm the story. Bitzer says that the money was taken from Tom's safe.
  • Bounderby adds that the suspects have been narrowed down to Stephen, who was seen lurking around the bank for two nights, and an old woman who is known to come to town every now and again to watch the bank.
  • Louisa doesn't want to believe it, launching Bounderby into a tirade about how the workers are the dregs of humanity. He then reminds Mrs. Sparsit how Stephen wanted to get rid of his wife, and how upsetting that was to all their highly moral principles. Harthouse smoothes things over by saying that if the suspects are guilty, then they should be punished.
  • Bounderby asks Mrs. Sparsit to spend a few days in the country house, away from the bank, to recover from the terrible shock she must have experienced – she quickly says yes.
  • Once in the house, Mrs. Sparsit puts on a good show. She constantly calls Louisa Miss Gradgrind instead of Mrs. Bounderby. She also makes little food treats for Bounderby (which is apparently something that a wife is supposed to do, but Louisa never does), and plays backgammon with him (something else Louisa really is not into).
  • At night, Louisa goes to Tom's room and asks him if there is anything that he wants to tell her. Tom pretends not to know what she is talking about. Louisa asks if she should tell anyone that she and Tom went to see Stephen before he left town. Tom tries to play it cool, tells her to do whatever she wants to do, and then fakes falling asleep.
  • After she leaves, he starts crying.

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