Study Guide

Hard Times Book 1, Chapter 13

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Book 1, Chapter 13


  • Stephen returns to his house and sees a candle shining in the window. Inside, he finds Rachael, taking care of a passed out Mrs. Blackpool.
  • Rachael tells Stephen that his wife has been injured, and that she could not just be allowed to die without someone caring for her. Oh, and the candle glows around Rachael's head like a halo. Shmoop verdict? Super-saint.
  • Stephen sees that there are two bottles on the table, one of which freaks him out when he sees the label. He asks Rachael to go home and get some sleep, but she says she'll stay there until three in the morning (see, what did we tell you? Super-duper-saint!).
  • Stephen stays awake for a little while, then dozes off and – symbolic dream alert! – has a crazy dream. In it, he is getting married, in front of a crowd of people who seem to hate him, and then realizes that actually he is there to die.
  • He wakes up and sees that his wife is awake but clearly completely out of it.
  • She sees the two bottles and picks up the one that scared him earlier. (We're going to step in and deal with the mystery here – one of the bottles is most likely alcohol of some sort, and the other, scary one is most likely some form of opiate – morphine – probably laudanum. Back in the day, they used that stuff for pain relief, but even then knew it to be addictive and dangerous – it probably creeps Stephen out because he knows how easy a fatal overdose would be.)
  • Stephen does nothing. His wife is just about to drink the deadly drink when…. Rachael wakes up, wrestles with Mrs. Blackpool, and gets the cup and bottle away from her.
  • Stephen snaps out of it, thanks Rachael for, you know, stopping him from indirectly killing his wife. He pledges his eternal loyalty and devotion to her, kisses the hem of her shawl, and thinks about how much he loves her as she goes home.

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