George and Robert go to the beach to find Maldon. Maldon does not seem to recognize George at first because of his beard, but when Maldon realizes it’s George, he seems frightened. George yells at Maldon for letting his daughter die. Robert suspects Maldon had a history of mistreating his daughter.
Maldon acts as if he has something to hide from George, thus adding to the air of suspicion surrounding Helen’s death. The reader also gains some insight into the relationship between Helen and her father.
A little boy runs up and starts talking to Maldon. George tells the boy, “I am your father…Will you love me?” The boy says he does not know George and that he only loves his grandpa. Maldon admits that Little Georgey has a temper, since he’s been spoiled.
Compounded with George’s grief is his estrangement from his own son. Georgey’s behavior is indicative of an impoverished childhood with little discipline or structure.
Maldon tells George how after George abandoned the family, they moved to Southampton, where Helen taught piano until her health declined.
Teaching was one of the few ways a woman could earn money (though not much) during the Victorian era.
George says Little Georgey should stay with Maldon. George says he will return to Australia as soon as possible. Maldon seems eager for him to leave. Robert thinks George should stay.
Robert cares for George’s wellbeing where Maldon just wants him gone (again, possibly hiding some secret). With his wife dead, nothing ties George to society any longer.
George asks the landlady more questions about his wife. She says Helen didn’t die in poverty and George wonders where Maldon got the money, but is too weary with grief to ask more questions. He and Robert leave, and George makes Robert the legal guardian of Georgey.
Yet another aspect of Helen’s death does not make sense to George, but he is still too distraught to question it. Robert becoming the guardian of George is a dramatic increase in his responsibility.
George discovers that the next ship to Australia does not leave for another month. In the meantime, Robert hatches a plan for them to vacation in Russia together. Before leaving, Robert writes to Alicia and receives a letter back asking them to buy a pair of sable fur coats for her “childish and silly” stepmother.
The formerly careless Robert shows great concern for his friend George. Alicia’s letter emphasizes Lady Audley’s materialism, and the word “childish” gives a different perspective on what other characters interpret as an innocent, charming spirit.