Robert returns to Fig-tree Court to find no trace of George. He then goes to Southampton, to Mr. Maldon’s cabin. There he finds Mr. Maldon and Little Georgey. Robert remarks how Georgey looks like his father but is completely unlike George in behavior. The house is dirty and smells of tobacco and brandy.
Braddon realistically depicts the rundown dwellings of the Victorian poor. Georgey’s difference in personality from his father show the impact one’s upbringing can have on their behavior.
Maldon tells Robert that George stopped by late the previous evening but left after an hour. According to Maldon, George intends to go back to Australia and is leaving from Liverpool that night. Robert questions why George would do this without telling him or picking up his possessions. Maldon says George has acted strange ever since Helen’s death. Robert still thinks it’s not like George to be so cruel.
Despite his previously established questionable character, Maldon’s story is plausible, given that George did previously state his intention to go back to Australia. Robert’s suspicion grows anyway.
Robert asks Georgey if he saw George last night. The little boy says he didn’t. Maldon says Georgey was asleep when George came. Georgey then asks for the pretty lady who gave him his gold watch. Maldon claims that his grandson is talking about Maldon’s old captain’s wife, and Georgey’s watch is getting cleaned.
Georgey often reveals key details contradicting Maldon’s story. Being a young child, Georgey is too innocent and too ignorant to lie and keep up Maldon’s schemes. The reader will learn later that the “pretty lady” is Lady Audley, the boy’s mother.
Maldon reveals to Robert that he pawned the watch because he needed the money. He says that George and others have mistreated him. He continues to lament his poverty and then takes Georgey to bed.
Despite his vices, Maldon views himself as a victim of circumstance, thus showing how one’s perspective can contradict the reality that other characters observe, especially when one’s perspective is influenced by poverty.
Left alone in the living room, Robert goes to light his cigar on the fireplace. There, he finds a half-burned scrap of paper, part of a telegram that reads, “____alboys came to _______ last night, and left by the mail for London, on his way for Liverpool, whence he was to sail for Sydney.” Robert wonders what this could mean and decides to go to Liverpool.
Given that this telegram seems to repeat what Maldon just said to Robert, it becomes a crucial piece of evidence, turning Robert’s suspicions into a full-blown conspiracy he feels compelled to investigate.