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The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

by Edith Wharton

The House of Mirth Book 2, Chapter 6 Summary

  • While visiting the Gormers' country-house on Long Island, Lily goes on a long stroll by herself and bumps into George Dorset.
  • Lily wants nothing to do with George; she says it's inappropriate for them to meet under any circumstances because of the rumors.
  • George tries to apologize for what happened in Monte Carlo, claiming that he, too, was deceived.
  • Lily says she's sorry for whatever happened to him, but, considering that she was sacrificed to save his marriage, she'd rather not jeopardize it now.
  • George explains that he's a prisoner in his own marriage and that only Lily can set him free. He begs her to tell him the truth about Bertha – to testify firmly that she did indeed have an affair. He wants to end their marriage, but he can't until someone reveals with certainty that Bertha cheated on him.
  • Lily is suddenly struck by how great this temptation is (remember those letters she bought?). But she refuses to help George.
  • When Lily returns to the house from her walk, Mrs. Gormer reveals that Bertha Dorset stopped by to say hello.
  • This is very odd. Bertha Dorset, the social elite herself, would never stoop to making friends with a person of a lower social standing like Mrs. Gormer unless she had some other agenda. Lily realizes that, if Mrs. Gormer becomes friends with Bertha, she'll have to drop Lily like a hot potato.
  • Lily returns to the city and finds a small hotel to stay in for the winter season. With her finances severely strained, she realizes she has to marry Rosedale – and soon.
  • George Dorset pays Lily another visit, this time in her room at the hotel. He again begs for her to help him escape his marriage, but she again insists that she "know[s] nothing" about Bertha and Ned.

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