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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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