George is now an attendant for Sir Leicester and goes on a visit to an industrial town in the north of England to track down his brother, Mr. Rouncewell. When George arrives, in a landscape of sprawling factories and ironworks, and asks after his brother, he is shocked to find that Mr. Rouncewell owns almost everything in the town. He grows embarrassed about his own downtrodden state in life and is almost tempted to turn back. He goes on, however, and finds Watt in the factory.
Industrial growth was very booming during the 19th century in Britain ,and poor men who entered manufacturing as a profession had the opportunity to grow very wealthy. Always a proud man, George is ashamed of his lack of success beside his brother.
Watt goes to tell his father and, when George is shown into Mr. Rouncewell’s office, he tells his brother that his name is Mr. Steel. George tells Mr. Rouncewell that he once served with his brother, but Mr. Rouncewell recognizes him and is delighted. George is amazed at this warm reception, and Mr. Rouncewell takes George home for dinner and invites him to Watt’s wedding to Rosa, which will take place in a year’s time.
George wants to gauge his brother’s reaction to him before he reveals his identity. This is uncharacteristic for George, who is usually straightforward to a fault and doesn’t like lies or deception.
George is impressed with his brother’s success—his home is extremely luxurious—and is delighted to meet the family. However, he tells his brother that he wants Mrs. Rouncewell to erase him from the will; since he has no children, he wants Mr. Rouncewell’s family to inherit everything. Mr. Rouncewell says that there is no way Mrs. Rouncewell will be induced to do this because her love for George is so great, but he reminds him that, when George inherits his wealth, he may then bequeath it as he likes.
Mr. Rouncewell has made himself very wealthy and improved his circumstances through pure hard work, something which was not possible for poor men before the 19th century. George is very honorable and does not want to inherit money when he has nothing to spend it on and when it would deprive someone else.
The brothers are very alike and get on well. Mr. Rouncewell hopes to incorporate George into the family business, but George explains that he has taken a post as Sir Leicester Dedlock’s attendant. Mr. Rouncewell seems unhappy about this, but George tells him that he has grown used to being ordered about as a soldier and that he cannot stick to things without this discipline. Mr. Rouncewell accepts this and is pleased for his brother.
George is not cut out to make his own fortune because he lacks discipline and drive. He knows and accepts this and is happy to work as an assistant for Sir Leicester. With this, Dickens suggests that, although it is possible to make oneself wealthy in the 19th century, it takes a certain level of grit and determination.
George asks Mr. Rouncewell to look at a letter he has written. The letter is to Esther and tells her that, a long time ago, he was given a letter for her mother from Captain Hawdon, with whom the trooper served. George then gave this letter to Mr. Tulkinghorn but did not know what the lawyer planned to do with it. He explains that he did not know that Captain Hawdon was alive, he was believed to have been drowned on a voyage, and that, if he had known, he would have done anything to help her father. Mr. Rouncewell approves of the letter and George agrees when his brother suggests that he ride with him some of the way back to Chesney Wold.
George was never able to give Captain Hawdon’s letter to Lady Dedlock because he could not identify her in her new position. Instead, he kept the letter and gave it to Mr. Tulkinghorn because he did not realize the importance of the secret it contained. He wants Esther to know that he did not willingly conspire against her or her mother.