“I have returned; and the day, indeed, is fixed,” writes Boyer to Selby, “but Oh! how different from my fond expectations!” When Boyer arrived at Eliza’s he found her arriving home in the company of Major Sanford, and she quickly resumed “the same indecision, the same loathness” to bring her courtship with Boyer to a marital close. She insisted that Major Sanford was just a friend, and that she had no romantic intentions toward him; however, recent gossip implies otherwise.
The town gossip is yet another reflection of their sexist and patriarchal society. Eliza can’t simply be friends with a man without also sleeping with him, and while Eliza’s behavior has been innocent, Boyer is growing convinced that her virtue is tainted. Still, the fact that Boyer doesn’t believe Eliza suggests that he has very little respect for her.
The next day, Boyer called on Eliza at home, but she was indisposed. Mrs. Wharton claimed that Eliza had not been sleeping well and had been recently been struck by headaches, but that she would meet him later in the garden. When Boyer returned at the agreed upon time, Eliza had gone out to the garden but requested that she not be disturbed. Curious, Boyer went to the garden anyway and found Eliza in the company of Major Sanford.
With this passage begins the hints that Eliza is struggling with some sort of illness. While these symptoms are certainly vague, Eliza’s health has clearly begun to suffer. Of course, Eliza is under enormous stress with her feelings for Sanford and her expected marriage to Boyer, but this suggests that her illness is more than simply depression or anxiety.
Upset, Boyer ran from the garden and Eliza quickly followed. They met in the parlor where Eliza burst into tears. “Will you,” she asked, “permit me to vindicate my conduct and explain my motives?” Boyer responded that there was no excuse for a woman who sacrificed her honor. “Too long has my peace of mind been sacrificed to the arts of a woman, whose conduct has proved her unworthy of my regard,” answered Boyer. “Farewell!”
Like Eliza’s friends, Boyer is intolerant and doesn’t allow her to explain. Eliza was attempting to tell Sanford that she intended to marry Boyer and could not see him anymore, but Boyer does not give her the chance to say this. He assumes that Eliza is immoral and lacking virtue, and therefore beyond explanation. This assumption reflects Boyers self-righteousness, but it also suggests that he actually has very little respect for Eliza or her feelings, despite professing to love her.