On returning to Middlemarch, Will had hoped that he would encounter Dorothea somehow. However, he also came back because he was considering taking the money Bulstrode offered him in order to carry out a new social endeavor in the “Far West.” He also planned to spend time with his friends Lydgate and Rosamond, and if he ended up at Lowick Manor by some coincidence, then so be it. On discovering the scandal, he considered getting a coach straight to London—however, he ended up staying.
Will’s temptation to accept the money Bulstrode offered him either shows that he is not as honorable as we may have assumed, or that he is descending into a nihilistic spiral now that he knows he cannot have Dorothea. Perhaps he believes that without her, there is no point in living up to his moral principles anymore.
Following the incident with Dorothea, Will returns to the Lydgates’ and pretends that he and Rosamond have not yet seen each other. When Lydgate briefly has to leave the room, Rosamond hands Will a small note that he reads later that night, once he is in bed. In the note, Rosamond says that she explained the whole situation to Dorothea, who came to see her “and was very kind.” Will is overwhelmed, struck with frightened wonder about what will happen now.
The fact that Rosamond conveys her message to Will in secret via a note adds an extra sense of drama to this exchange. Will is finally faced with the question of whether to confess his feelings to Dorothea or keep them hidden—potentially forever.