After sleeping with Helen at Oniton, Leonard was overcome with remorse. He felt himself profoundly undeserving of her, and blamed her for nothing, even though he was ruined by the expedition that had been entirely her idea. When she fled the hotel the next morning, she left the bill unpaid and took the Basts’ train tickets with her. The Basts sold everything they had to get back to London. Helen later tried to give him five thousand pounds, but “such a sum meant nothing to him,” and he refused it. He turns to his family for money, and by depending on them he will never fatally starve. He now feels more tenderly towards Jacky, having led his own affair, and he tries harder to beg for money for her sake.
Leonard blamed himself for everything that happened with Helen, even though most of it was her idea. Her self-absorbed panic the morning after sleeping with him left him more desperate than ever. Just like Margaret, Helen ceased to care about what happened to the Basts as soon as she had her own concerns on her mind. Even though Leonard was the one who realized that “money’s the real thing” and Helen insisted he was wrong, she now resorts to using her money to make things right between them and he refuses to accept it. He still honors his promise to provide for Jacky, and resorts to begging for help from his family.
Leonard briefly sees Margaret in St. Paul’s Cathedral one day and feels compelled to confess his mistake to her. He looks for her at Wickham Place, but the house where she used to live is gone. He tracks her down by talking to Henry’s servants, and leaves London early one morning for Howards End. He walks from the Hilton train station to the house, and Charles Wilcox passes him in his car. Leonard enters the house and makes his confession to Margaret: “I have done wrong.” Charles assaults him with a sword displayed on the wall, and books shower down upon Leonard as his heart pains him. Charles orders him brought outside and revived with water, but Leonard is dead. Miss Avery walks out of the house carrying the sword and calls it murder.
Leonard wants to relieve some of his guilt by asking Margaret’s forgiveness for sleeping with Helen. Like the night of his walking expedition, he bravely follows a path others would not. Putting all the blame on himself for a freely consensual affair is arguably patronizing towards Helen and her autonomy, but Leonard’s determination to do the right thing and apologize is admirable. Charles, meanwhile, takes patriarchal thinking to the next level, brutally attacking Leonard to defend Helen’s honor. Leonard perishes under the very books he once believed would improve his life,