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Lydgate tells Rosamond about Dorothea's odd devotion to her old husband.
Meanwhile, though, gossip about Lydgate and Rosamond has been spreading around Middlemarch.
Mrs. Plymdale (Ned's mother) is exasperated with Rosamond for the sake of her own rejected son.
So Mrs. Plymdale tells her friend, Harriet Bulstrode (Rosamond's aunt – if you remember, Harriet Bulstrode is Mr. Vincy's sister) that Rosamond and Lydgate are engaged, and pretends to be sorry about it for Rosamond's sake, since Lydgate hasn't got any money.
This is the first Mrs. Bulstrode has heard about it, so she goes to her niece and questions her about it.
Rosamond won't give her a straight answer, so Mrs. Bulstrode assumes that they're secretly engaged.
She warns Rosamond against marrying someone who can't support her.
Rosamond just responds with "yes, aunt," and "no, aunt" and blushes, so Mrs. Bulstrode gives up.
The next time Lydgate is over at their house for dinner, though (remember, Lydgate is working with Mr. Bulstrode on the new hospital), she questions him.
She's a little more roundabout than she was with Rosamond, but he gets the message.
He decides to avoid going to the Vincys' house as often to quiet the gossip.
But Rosamond gets depressed – she was sure that he was in love with her. The thought that it was all flirtation had never entered her pretty little head.
Lydgate has been taking care of Featherstone. Since Mrs. Vincy had asked him to let them know if he took a turn for the worse, Lydgate decides to swing by the Vincys' house to fill them in on Featherstone's condition.
He finds Rosamond by herself.
He's distant with her, and that upsets her. Just as he's about to leave, she tears up, and he notices.
He asks her what's wrong, and she begins to cry for real.
What's a guy to do? He kisses her until she stops crying, and suddenly finds that he's engaged to a pretty woman whom he can't really afford to support.