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by George Eliot

Middlemarch Book 3, Chapter 31 Summary

  • 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.
  • At least she's pretty, though, right?

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