by E.M. Forster
Howards End Chapter 26 Summary
- The next morning, Margaret observes as the men of the party go for a swim, and is then summoned up to Evie's room to view the wedding dress.
- The women are all practically hysterical over the dress – they're ecstatically screaming and fussing over Evie, and are generally acting like stereotypical silly women.
- After breakfast, Margaret and Mr. Wilcox chat about the practicalities of the wedding. Margaret seems to really love him, albeit in a somewhat odd way. They go together through the house, looking for Burton, the butler.
- Margaret is trying to get used to Oniton, and to figure out the workings of the house.
- The wedding happens uneventfully, and everyone is pleased by everything. Evie and Percy leave on their honeymoon, and Margaret and Mr. Wilcox talk about their own wedding. Margaret doesn't want to talk about where they'll have their wedding; instead, she's interested in the evening, and looking out at Oniton.
- Some unexpected visitors show up: it's Helen, with the Basts in tow. She's furious, and she tells Margaret angrily that Leonard and Jacky are "starving," and that it's their fault.
- Margaret and Helen get into a fight: Margaret is justifiably angry that Helen has disrupted the wedding, and that she's embarrassed her sister in front of her new friends and family.
- Margaret confronts the Basts. Jacky is confused by what's going on, and Leonard is embarrassed.
- Helen explains her so-called logical reasons for this visit. She's convinced that it's the Schlegels' fault, and Mr. Wilcox's, for telling Leonard to leave the Porphyrion, and she wants Mr. Wilcox to fix the situation somehow.
- Margaret basically says that there's no hope – in her opinion, it's not anyone's fault, and there's nothing to be done. She offers to put the Basts up at the local hotel, and says that they can pay her back later.
- Leonard gets upset at this, saying that he'll never find another job, and that he and Jacky are destined for poverty – in the world they live in, if a lower-class man loses his job, he's lost for life. We're reminded again of the difference that being born with money makes.
- Margaret doesn't know how to respond to this; she invites the Basts to eat something at the wedding party while she figures things out.
- Margaret and Helen have a quick conference – the older sister convinces the younger to take the Basts to the hotel, and says that she will talk to Mr. Wilcox about it in her own way.
- Margaret goes back to Mr. Wilcox, who wants to know what's up. She explains that Helen's here, and he thinks that she's there for Evie's wedding. Margaret says that she's sent them off to the hotel, and that she'll explain later.
- This just makes Mr. Wilcox more curious, so Margaret explains right away about the Basts and their situation.
- Mr. Wilcox says that he'll do what he can for Leonard, but can't guarantee anything – and furthermore, in the future, he can't always have room for her protégés.
- Margaret is happy; as usual, she admires men and their capability. Despite Henry's flaws, she has confidence in him.
- Henry and Margaret stumble upon Jacky, and Margaret is disturbed by her – she feels like the woman represents a kind of infringement upon the world that she knows, even though Jacky isn't at all malicious. She's eating wedding cake and is obviously drunk.
- Mr. Wilcox sternly tries to send Jacky away – but she recognizes him, and calls him "Hen." They obviously know each other – but how?
- Margaret, trying to be discreet, tells Mr. Wilcox in French that Mr. Bast isn't at all like his wife.
- Jacky keeps trying to talk to Mr. Wilcox, and tells him that she loves him. Margaret is totally confused, for good reason.
- Mr. Wilcox is sure that this is a set-up, and that Margaret and Helen have been plotting against him. He admits to having had "a man's past," and says that Margaret is set free from their engagement. She's still confused and horrified.
- Margaret knows that life can be darker than she thinks…but she can't quite make herself comprehend the situation.
- Colonel Fussell comes along and Margaret and Henry pretend that everything's OK. As soon as he goes away, though, they have a confrontation. Margaret asks if Jacky was Henry's mistress: she was, ten years ago. Margaret goes away, deciding that the affair was the last Mrs. Wilcox's problem, not hers.
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