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by George Eliot
Middlemarch Book 5, Chapter 52 Summary
Mr. Farebrother has gotten the news that he'll have the living at Lowick, and is celebrating with his mother, his aunt, and his sister. His sister tells him that he should marry now that he'll have a higher income, and suggests Mary Garth as a good choice. Farebrother doesn't say that he wouldn't like to marry Miss Garth, but just makes a joke about how it doesn't follow that any young woman he asked would like to marry him. After all Farebrother is pushing forty, and Mary Garth is only about twenty. Fred Vincy shows up a few days later as Mr. Farebrother is doing some last-minute packing for the move to the Lowick parsonage. Fred has been educated to be a clergyman, but he doesn't want to be a parson – he wants to be a farmer or something. He doesn't think he's serious enough to preach. Plus, he confides to Mr. Farebrother, he's in love with Mary Garth, and knows that she's dead set against his being a minister because she doesn't think he's fit for it. But he doesn't see anything else to do, and he needs a job. So, he asks Mr. Farebrother to speak to Mary for him. If she's not going to marry him one way or the other, he might as well say "screw it" and become a clergyman, whether she approves of it or not. Mr. Farebrother isn't exactly happy about this mission, since he's in love with Mary himself. But he agrees anyway. He goes to see Mary, and she tells him that she would never marry Fred if he were a clergyman, because he would make a mockery of the profession. Farebrother asks if she would marry Fred if he had a different profession, but Mary doesn't want to promise to marry him until he's done something with his life. Suddenly Mary realizes that Farebrother has a thing for her, too, and feels sorry for him, even though he hasn't said anything to her about it. But she's loved Fred her whole life and, even if she never married him, could never love anyone else. And she says so to Mr. Farebrother, and he leaves to report back to Fred.
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