Carol goes another month only seeing Erik Valbourg in casual situations, but he shows up on her doorstep the next time he sees Will heading into the country. He says he can't take it anymore and that he needs to see her. He wants her to come for a walk with him.
Erik and Carol head deep enough into nature for no one to find them.
Erik recites a little poem he wrote for Carol, and she realizes that it's terrible. She then thinks about sitting with him and kissing him. But as they walk, some headlights come down the road… and who is it but Carol's husband Will, not looking too impressed. He orders them into the car and drives Erik back into town.
Once Erik is gone, Will tells Carol he knows all about her crush on Erik, and he wants things between them to stop immediately. He calls Erik a loser, which makes Carol really mad. She defends Erik and says she admires his ambition. Will fights back by saying that Erik is a no-talent hack who likes to talk a big game. Some sad part of Carol realizes that Will is right. Erik will probably never be able to make good on his dreams.
Eventually, Carol feels awful about what she's done. She realizes that she doesn't appreciate Will enough and begs his forgiveness. For a guy who's been cheated on, Will seems pretty willing to forget the whole affair ever happened.
Not long after, Erik Valbourg gets on a train and leaves Gopher Prairie to pursue his dreams. Shortly after that, Erik's father shows up at Carol's house and demands to know where Erik is. He wants Erik to come home to work on the family farm, and he blames Carol for putting all kinds of crazy ideas in the boy's head. Carol tells him to get lost, and he basically calls her a loose woman.
Now everyone in town knows about Carol's little affair with Erik. She can feel their judgment everywhere she goes. So she decides to take off for California, and Will comes with her.