Study Guide

Howards End Chapter 14

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Chapter 14

  • The next day, the mystery of Mrs. Lanoline is solved. Her missing husband turns out to be our old friend, Leonard Bast, who stops by to explain about his wife's visit.
  • The three Schlegels rush down, and though they expect a gallivanting philanderer, they instead find a downtrodden, pale young man. He has the air of someone who's been crushed by the city, though he should have grown up healthy and happy in the countryside.
  • Leonard explains that he still had Margaret's calling card from that fateful meeting at the concert two years ago – the Schlegels don't remember him. He says that he'd told his wife that he had a call to make, and she found the card and assumed that he was visiting Wickham Place.
  • Helen pushes further; it's obvious that he hasn't told them the whole truth.
  • It emerges that Leonard left home Saturday afternoon, but Mrs. Bast came looking for him Sunday afternoon. It all looks very fishy.
  • Leonard sees that the Schlegels assume the worst about him, and wants to clear his name. He asks if they've read a number of books that he finds inspirational, but Helen and Tibby have no patience for this literary justification – they (and we) want to know what he was really up to.
  • Apparently the answer is simple: he walked. And walked. And walked. Leonard walked all alone, all night.
  • At this point, Tibby gives up and leaves, but his sisters are enthused by the idea. They ask for the details – apparently he started in Wimbledon, and went through the woods, off the road. The women are impressed.
  • Leonard walked until dawn, found a train station, and took a train back to London. Unfortunately, the dawn was not as beautiful as poets would have us believe.
  • Leonard tries to explain what he was feeling as this all happened – mostly hungry and tired – but also determined. He's certain that there must be more to life than simply going to the office and living a limited existence. Overwhelmed, he retreats to his literary heroes, not fully understanding that there's something in him that doesn't just come from his reading.
  • Margaret and Helen reassure their new friend that they don't think he was being foolish – rather, they think his adventure was marvelous.
  • The Schlegels invite Leonard back, but he refuses, saying that this talk has been one of the best things in his life, and he doesn't want to spoil it.
  • Leonard rushes away, intoxicated by his interaction with these fascinating people.
  • We hear a bit about Leonard and Jacky's dull, unhappy marriage; apparently, Margaret's calling card has been a point of contention for the last two years. For Jacky, it's an infuriating mystery, while for Leonard (who never told her how he got it in the first place), it's a symbol of the kind of life he longs for, that Jacky will never understand.
  • When Leonard returned home Sunday night, he found the card missing, figured out what his wife was up to, and taunted Jacky by saying that he knows where she has been (to see the Schlegels), but she doesn't know what he's been up to. She halfheartedly demands an explanation, but he offers none to her.
  • Leonard walks home from Wickham Place gleefully, feeling as though his life has changed. He realizes that – shock and horror! – he's forgotten to put his hat on, and people are staring. He dons it, and continues on his way, with no outward sign of his inner turmoil showing.

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