The chapter opens with some background info on Mr. Lydgate.
He's already half in love with Miss Vincy, but he's too young, poor, and ambitious to want to get married right away.
The narrator hints that Mr. Lydgate's fate will, at some point, be involved with Dorothea's, but she doesn't say how.
The narrator goes on to give some background info on the Vincys – they're an old, solid Middlemarch family, but even old families, we're told, change occasionally.
Miss Rosamond Vincy, the daughter of the family that all the old guys at the party were drooling over, was the prize student at a fancy private school in the county, and has just recently graduated and returned home to her family. She's proud of herself and her education and feels that she's above all the young men in the town. She wishes her father would invite that new young doctor, Mr. Lydgate, over for dinner.
Mr. Vincy was the mayor, and his sister had married a relative newcomer to the town of Middlemarch named Mr. Bulstrode. (Mr. Bulstrode was one of the men at the party at Mr. Brooke's house.)
Mr. Bulstrode is a rich banker, but no one knows much about his past before he came to Middlemarch and got married.
Mrs. Vincy is a plump and happy woman. Her sister had been the second wife of a rich and eccentric old guy named Mr. Featherstone. Featherstone has no children of his own, from either marriage, but plenty of nieces and nephews from both of his wives' families and some siblings of his own who all want a cut of his inheritance whenever he dies.
That's it for background on the Vincys: now the narrator tells us that it's a morning in October, sometime shortly before Mr. Casaubon becomes engaged to Dorothea, and it's past breakfast time at the Vincys' house.
Mr. Vincy has already gone to work with his younger son, Bob, and Mrs. Vincy is sitting with Rosamond, waiting for Fred to come down to breakfast.
Fred is the lazy son who likes sleeping in. Mrs. Vincy mentions that he never finished his degree at the university, and so we learn that he's home with his parents indefinitely.
He finally comes down, and Rosamond grumbles at him (in a dainty, ladylike way, of course – she's always dainty and ladylike) for ordering hot steak for breakfast. She doesn't like the smell of grilled steak in the late morning.
She asks about where he'd been the night before, and perks up when she hears that Lydgate had been at the same dinner party.
Fred doesn't tell her much: mostly that Lydgate is tall and dark, and probably a "prig."
Fred and Rosamond make plans to ride to Stone Court to visit their uncle Featherstone the next day.
Mrs. Vincy is glad to hear it – Mr. Featherstone's niece from his first wife is living with him to take care of him, and she's worried that this girl, Mary Garth, will get a larger chunk of the old man's fortune than her own children will.
Mrs. Vincy adds something disparaging about Mary Garth's parents' small and shabby house, and about Mary Garth's appearance, and Fred jumps to her defense.