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by George Eliot
Middlemarch Book 3, Chapter 23 Summary
Fred's debt, as you will no doubt remember from an earlier chapter, was for 160 pounds (quite a lot of money), and Caleb Garth had been a co-signer for it. Fred had gotten Mr. Garth to agree to sign it by assuring him that he'd pay it back promptly. Of course, if he doesn't pay it promptly, it'll be on Mr. Garth to pay it, and the Garths can't really afford it. Fred asked Mr. Garth to co-sign on it because he knew Mr. Garth would say yes, not because he thought the Garths would be able to pay it back. But Fred is young and self-confident, and felt sure that his old uncle, Mr. Featherstone, would give him enough money to pay back the debt. Caleb Garth is a respectable man, and was a builder and a manager of estates for a long time. He has since fallen on harder times, which is why his daughter, Mary Garth, has to work for Mr. Featherstone. Even back when the Garths were richer, they were still lower on the social scale than the Vincys, but Fred stayed friends with them even after Mr. Garth lost a lot of his business. But back to the debt: Mr. Featherstone only gave Fred a hundred pounds, so Fred is sixty pounds short of the total he needs to clear himself and Mr. Garth. He gave eighty to his mother immediately to keep for him, and kept the other twenty himself, hoping to make some investment or gamble that would somehow triple or quadruple it. Fred makes a plan to buy and sell a horse and make a profit, and gets the other eighty out of his mother to do so. He makes the bargain – he trades his own horse and fifty pounds in exchange for another horse, which he expects to get at least eighty pounds for when he goes to sell it.
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