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Mrs. Sparsit spends her "recovery" visit by snooping around Bounderby's house. She gets to be best buds with Harthouse, chatting with him about how well he seems to get along with Louisa. Mrs. Sparsit also notes how Louisa seems to have perked up since Harthouse has been around.
When Bounderby comes down to breakfast, Mrs. Sparsit serves him his tea – something a wife would normally do. When Louisa comes to breakfast, she couldn't care less about Mrs. Sparsit taking over the tea, which upsets Bounderby. He shouts and bangs his fist on the table, but Louisa just coldly ignores him.
Mrs. Sparsit keeps meddling like this. In private, though, she shakes her fist and curses at Bounderby's portrait.
Bitzer arrives from town to give Louisa a note that her mother is very ill. She takes the train to Coketown. It creeps her out that she has no childhood memories or emotions or nostalgic thoughts.
Mrs. Gradgrind is on her deathbed, generally out of it, being taken care of by Sissy and Louisa's sister Jane.
Suddenly, she sort of wakes up and asks to speak to Louisa alone. After Sissy and Jane leave, Mrs. Gradgrind busts out with a deep thought: "You learnt a great deal, Louisa, and so did your brother. Ologies of all kinds, from morning to night… But there is something – not an Ology at all – that your father has missed or forgotten, Louisa. I don't know what it is. I have often sat with Sissy near me, and thought about it."