Several days pass; Grace has been at Mr. Kinnear’s for almost a fortnight. Mr. Kinnear and Nancy are both away from home, and Grace is alone with McDermott. Jeremiah the peddler visits the house and Grace is delighted to see him. “In a new country,” she tells Dr. Jordan, “friends become old friends very quickly.” Grace invites Jeremiah in for some refreshments and the two begin chatting. Jeremiah says that he has heard Mr. Kinnear “has a hankering after the servant-girls” and that he hopes Grace “will not end up like Mary Whitney.” Grace realizes that Jeremiah also knows that George Parkinson fathered Mary Whitney’s child; she decides to share everything that has happened to her, including hearing Mary’s ghostly voice, with Jeremiah. He again warns Grace to be leery of Mr. Kinnear, saying “once a sheep is killed, the dog will get a taste for it, and must kill another”—a metaphor which unsettles Grace.
Grace is made uneasy by the inherent violence of Jeremiah’s dog and sheep metaphor. The fact that Jeremiah repeatedly cautions Grace about Mr. Kinnear suggests that Jeremiah sees Mr. Kinnear as having uncontrollable sexual urges, rather than as autonomous individual who can choose whether or not to seduce his servants. Coupled with McDermott’s turtle analogy, it would seem that the men of Grace’s society see the fellow members of their sex as being inherently and even excusably sexual. Though Jeremiah seems more aware of the violence of male sexuality (whereas McDermott is more focused on demeaning female sexuality), the fact that both these men seem to accept the fact that men can and will have sex with whomever they can shows how Grace’s society privileges men and strongly disadvantages women.
Jeremiah tells Grace that he is considering giving up peddling his wares in favor of working at fairs as a mesmerist. He invites Grace to come away with him, saying, “I don’t like the feel of things.” Grace tells Dr. Jordan that she was tempted by the idea, as she found Jeremiah very handsome. However, when Jeremiah admits that he has no intention of marrying Grace, even were she to run away with him, Grace tells him, “I think I had better stay here.”
Grace’s refusal to run away with Jeremiah when she finds out he will not marry her is evidence of her sense of propriety. Though she does not acknowledge it, Jeremiah’s aversion to marriage also seems to imply that he is more interested in winning Grace over as a sexual partner than as companion and equal. This serves to problematize Jeremiah as a character. This passage is also important because it is the first and only time that Grace expresses any attraction to a man. Even then, Grace’s attraction is lukewarm and has more to do with the fact that she remembers she is “fated” to marry a man whose name starts with a J, and that being with Jeremiah would allow her to buy fancier clothes and travel.
McDermott angrily enters the room, causing Grace to wonder if he had been eavesdropping on her conversation with Jeremiah. Jeremiah offers to sell McDermott some shirts, in an effort to diffuse the tense situation; McDermott buys four shirts. Grace tells Dr. Jordan, “these were the very shirts that figured so largely at the trial,” but that “the newspapers could not get the number of shirts right.” Grace sees Jeremiah out, unperturbed by McDermott’s displeasure, “as he [is] not [her] owner.” She tells Dr. Jordan, “Just knowing I could go away if I wanted to made me feel safer, and happier as well.”
Grace’s insistence on setting the record straight with regard to the number of shirts McDermott bought shows how important she believes detail to be in telling a true story. This passage also seems to contain a hint that Grace is less bothered by Mr. Kinnear’s advances toward her than she is by McDermott’s, because Mr. Kinnear is her “owner,” and thus has a certain “right” to her. Though Grace does not elaborate on this, it seems to be further proof that she views class status as integral to a person’s identity and behavior.