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by George Eliot

Middlemarch Book 3, Chapter 24 Summary

  • Unfortunately, the horse Fred buys turns out to have temper problems, and it gives itself a bum leg by kicking at the groom and catching its foot in a rope.
  • So now the horse is worthless, and Fred only has fifty pounds towards repaying the debt.
  • He decides that the only thing he can do is to go and confess everything to Mr. Garth, and then go and tell Mary himself.
  • (He knows his father will be too angry to lend him any money, so he doesn't bother asking.)
  • Mr. Garth isn't at his office, so Fred goes to his house.
  • Mrs. Garth is there, working in the kitchen while teaching two of the younger children at the same time.
  • Mrs. Garth is an intelligent and serious woman, but she feels motherly towards Fred in spite of his occasional stupidity.
  • She doesn't know anything about the debt that her husband had co-signed, though.
  • She's happy to see Fred, and invites him to sit and wait for Caleb to come home.
  • While Fred waits, Mrs. Garth tells him about their plan to send Alfred, the oldest of the boys, to school for a good education. They've been saving money for it, and have just scraped 92 pounds together for the purpose.
  • Fred winces when he hears this – all that money is going to have to go to pay the debt.
  • He tells them both when Mr. Garth comes home, and Mrs. Garth immediately realizes that they'll have to give up Alfred's school money, and borrow money from Mary, besides.
  • Fred leaves them to discuss it by themselves.
  • Mrs. Garth tells Caleb that he'll have to stop working for free so often.

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