Will hasn't heard the gossip about the codicil in Mr. Casaubon's will.
He hasn't been invited to Brooke's house as often as before, but he continues to work on the Pioneer for Brooke.
Will is afraid that they're trying to keep him away from Dorothea, and is annoyed at the thought that they suspect him of trying to seduce a rich and newly widowed woman.
But he continues to see Brooke at the Pioneer office, and continues to coach him on speeches and politics.
Brooke is as inconsistent as ever, but, with help from Will, it's not showing as badly.
Or so Will hopes: the time has come for Brooke to give a public speech, and he's bad enough at speaking coherently in private that everyone is nervous for him.
The speech starts out okay, but then Brooke starts rambling about nothing.
And then someone in the crowd holds up a kind of effigy, or life-sized model, of Brooke on a stick to mimic him.
Brooke has always been easily distracted, and the effigy pulls him even further off track.
The speech really goes to pot when the crowd starts throwing rotten vegetables at him.
Will Ladislaw and the rest of the committee that has been working for Brooke look "grim" when Brooke comes back in from his failed speech.
Will considers quitting his job at the Pioneer. He wants to go away and do something brilliant that will elevate him socially. He wants to put himself on a level with Dorothea and erase the social gap between them.
He doesn't want to go without seeing Dorothea first.
But then Brooke tells him that he's planning on selling the Pioneer, and therefore he won't need Will to stay on as editor anymore.
This is just the excuse Will needed to leave Middlemarch to seek his fortune elsewhere, but he doesn't want to leave "because they are afraid" of him.
He has a feeling that Brooke and his friends are trying to push him away either because of politics or because of Dorothea.