Lydgate and various other Middlemarchers are having dinner at the Vincys' house.
The subject of who would be the chaplain of the new fever hospital comes up at dinner.
The matter will be decided by a vote from the board of directors, and Lydgate remarks that stuff like that is too often decided by popularity, instead of by who's the best person for the job.
After dinner, Rosamond and Lydgate have a chat in the drawing room about music and such, and then Rosamond is called upon to sing to the whole group.
Mr. Farebrother arrives just as a lot of the group is about to sit down to play whist (whist is a card game kind of like bridge or spades – played with four people, and often with bets).
He's a threadbare, unmarried forty-year-old vicar.
Lydgate likes him, but doesn't like that he plays whist for money.
The truth of the matter, though, is that Mr. Farebrother needs the money that he makes at cards to help support his old mother and aunt, who live with him.
Lydgate leaves the dinner party convinced that he's not actually in love with Rosamond – after all, he doesn't have enough money to support a wife, and he has his career to consider.
Rosamond, though, is thoroughly convinced that Lydgate must be in love with her (everyone else within a thirty-mile radius is), and is obsessed with the idea of marrying him and visiting his fancy relatives.