The French Lieutenant’s Woman

The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Charles Smithson Character Analysis

Charles is an upper-class amateur paleontologist who believes wholeheartedly in Darwin’s theory of evolution. In fact, he shares his first name with Darwin, gesturing to the importance of evolution to his life. Though Charles believes himself to be one of the “fittest” (in a Darwinian sense) who will advance the evolution of humans, he also struggles with a lack of faith in himself and a laziness about putting his passions and ideas into practice. He lacks motivation in paleontology because he knows he’ll never be one of the great figures of his era, and, though he doesn’t hesitate to critique Victorian society in theory, for a long time he lacks the courage to put his theories into practice for fear of social ostracism. Eventually, however, he decides that he must break off his engagement to Ernestina in order to marry Sarah, because he believes this is the morally correct thing to do, despite the fact that he knows his society will judge him harshly for this decision. Throughout the book, Charles labors to understand Sarah, whose actions become the consuming and destroying puzzle of his life.

Charles Smithson Quotes in The French Lieutenant’s Woman

The The French Lieutenant’s Woman quotes below are all either spoken by Charles Smithson or refer to Charles Smithson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fiction and History vs. Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay Books edition of The French Lieutenant’s Woman published in 1998.
Chapter 5 Quotes

For what had crossed her mind... was a sexual thought.... It was not only her profound ignorance of the reality of copulation that frightened her; it was the aura of pain and brutality that the act seemed to require....

Thus she had evolved a kind of private commandment—those inaudible words were simply “I must not”—whenever the physical female implications of her body, sexual, menstrual, parturitional, tried to force and entry into her consciousness. But though one may keep the wolves from one’s door, they still howl out there in the darkness. Ernestina wanted a husband, wanted Charles to be that husband, wanted children; but the payment she vaguely divined she would have to make for them seemed excessive.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson, Ernestina Freeman
Page Number: 28-29
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

[H]e saw in the strata an immensely reassuring orderliness in existence. He might perhaps have seen a very contemporary social symbolism in the way these gray-blue ledges were crumbling; but what he did see was a kind of edificiality of time, in which inexorable laws... very conveniently arranged themselves for the survival of the fittest and best, exemplia gratia Charles Smithson, this fine spring day, alone, eager and inquiring, understanding, accepting, noting and grateful. What was lacking, of course, was the corollary of the collapse of the ladder of nature: that if new species can come into being, old species very often have to make way for them.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson
Related Symbols: Fossils
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

Charles did not know it, but in those brief poised seconds above the waiting sea, in that luminous evening silence broken only by the waves’ quiet wash, the whole Victorian Age was lost. And I do not mean that he had taken the wrong path.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

In other words, to be free myself, I must give him [Charles], and Tina, and Sarah, even the abominable Mrs. Poulteney, their freedoms as well. There is only one good definition of God: the freedom that allows other freedoms to exist. And I must conform to that definition.

The novelist is still a god, since he creates...; what has changed is that we are no longer the gods of the Victorian image, omniscient and decreeing; but in the new theological image, with freedom our first principle, not authority.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff, Mrs. Poulteney
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

Darwinism, as its shrewder opponents realized, let open the floodgates to something far more serious than the undermining of the Biblical account of the origins of man; its deepest implications lay in the direction of determinism and behaviorism, that is, towards philosophies that reduce morality to a hypocrisy and duty to a straw hut in a hurricane.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

Charles, as you will have noticed, had more than one vocabulary. With Sam in the morning, with Ernestina across a gay lunch, and here in the role of Alarmed Propriety... he was almost three different men.... We may explain it biologically by Darwin’s phrase: cryptic coloration, survival by learning to blend with one’s surroundings—with the unquestioned assumptions of one’s age or social caste. Or we can explain this flight to formality sociologically. When one was skating over so much thin ice—ubiquitous economic oppression, terror of sexuality, the flood of mechanistic science—the ability to close one’s eyes to one’s own absurd stiffness was essential. Very few Victorians chose to question the virtues of such cryptic coloration, but there was that in Sarah’s look which did.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes

It was as if the woman had become addicted to melancholia as one becomes addicted to opium. Now do you see how it is? Her sadness becomes her happiness. She wants to be a sacrificial victim, Smithson. Where you and I flinch back, she leaps forward. She is possessed, you see.... Dark indeed. Very dark.

Related Characters: Dr. Grogan (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

“I understand.”

...“You cannot, Mr. Smithson. Because you are not a woman. Because you are not a woman who was born to be a farmer’s wife but educated to be something... better.... You were not born a woman with a natural respect, a love of intelligence, beauty, learning... I don’t know how to say it, I have no right to desire these things, but my heart craves them and I cannot believe it is all vanity.”

Related Characters: Charles Smithson (speaker), Sarah Woodruff (speaker)
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

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I did it so that people should point at me, should say, there walks the French Lieutenant’s Whore.... So that they should know I have suffered, and suffer, as others suffer in every town and village in this land. I could not marry that man. So I married shame.... It seemed to me then as if I threw myself off a precipice or plunged a knife into my heart. It was a kind of suicide. An act of despair, Mr. Smithson. I know it was wicked... blasphemous, but I knew no other way to break out of what I was.... What has kept me alive is my shame, my knowing that I am truly not like other women.... Sometimes I almost pity them. I think I have a freedom they cannot understand. No insult, no blame, can touch me. Because I have set myself beyond the pale. I am nothing, I am hardly human any more. I am the French Lieutenant’s Whore.

Related Characters: Sarah Woodruff (speaker), Charles Smithson
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 22 Quotes

A remarkable young woman, a remarkable young woman. And baffling. He decided that that was—had been, rather—her attraction: her unpredictability. He did not realize that she had two qualities as typical of the English as his own admixture of irony and convention. I speak of passion and imagination. The first quality Charles perhaps began dimly to perceive; the second he did not. He could not, for those two qualities of Sarah’s were banned by the epoch, equated in the first case with sensuality and in the second with the merely fanciful. This dismissive double equation was Charles’s greatest defect—and here he stands truly for his age.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 25 Quotes

The master went back into his room; and there entered his mind a brief image of that ancient disaster he had found recorded in the blue lias and brought back to Ernestina—the ammonites caught in some recession of water, a micro-catastrophe of ninety million years ago. In a vivid insight, a flash of black lightning, he saw that all life was parallel: that evolution was not vertical, ascending to a perfection, but horizontal. Time was the great fallacy; existence was without history, was always now, was always this being caught in the same fiendish machine. All those painted screens erected by man to shut out reality—history, religion, duty, social position, all were illusions, mere opium fantasies.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Ernestina Freeman
Related Symbols: Fossils
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 38 Quotes

To be sure there was something base in his rejection—a mere snobbism, a letting himself be judged and swayed by an audience of ancestors....

But there was one noble element in his rejection: a sense that the pursuit of money was an insufficient purpose in life. He would never be a Darwin or a Dickens, a great artist or scientist; he would at worst be a dilettante, a drone, a what-you-will that lets others work and contributes nothing. But he gained a queer sort of momentary self-respect in his nothingness, a sense that choosing to be nothing... was the last saving grace of a gentleman; his last freedom, almost.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson, Mr. Freeman
Page Number: 294
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 47 Quotes

In looking down as he dressed he perceived a red stain on the front tails of his shirt.

He had forced a virgin.

...She had not given herself to Varguennes. She had lied. All her conduct, all her motives in Lyme Regis had been based on a lie. But for what purpose. Why? Why? Why?

Blackmail!

To put him totally in her power!

And all those loathsome succubi of the male mind, their fat fears of a great feminine conspiracy to suck the virility from their veins, to prey upon their idealism, melt them into wax and mold them to their evil fancies... filled Charles’s mind with an apocalyptic horror.

...She was mad, evil, enlacing him in the strangest of nets... but why?

Related Characters: Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 354
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 48 Quotes

To uncrucify!

In a sudden flash of illumination Charles saw the right purpose of Christianity; it was not to celebrate this barbarous image, not to maintain it on high because there was a useful profit—the redemption of sins—to be derived from so doing, but to bring about a world in which the hanging man could be descended, could be seen not with the rictus of agony on his face, but the smiling peace of a victory brought about by, and in, living men and women.

He seemed as he stood there to see all his age... as the great hidden enemy of all his deepest yearnings. That was what had deceived him... the deception was in its very nature; and it was not human, but a machine.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson
Page Number: 363
Explanation and Analysis:

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And Charles thought: if they were truly dead, if there were no afterlife, what should I care of their view of me? They would not know, they could not judge.

Then he made the great leap: They do not know, they cannot judge.

Now what he was throwing off haunted, and profoundly damaged, his age. It is stated very clearly by Tennyson in In Memoriam.... There must be wisdom with great Death; the dead shall look me thro’ and thro’. Charles’s whole being rose up against those two foul propositions; against this macabre desire to go backwards into the future, mesmerized eyes on one’s dead fathers instead of on one’s unborn sons. It was as if his previous belief in the ghostly presence of the past had condemned him, without his ever realizing it, to a life in the grave.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson
Page Number: 365
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 58 Quotes

When he had had his great vision of himself freed from his age, his ancestry and class and country, he had not realized how much the freedom was embodied in Sarah; in the assumption of a shared exile. He no longer much believed in that freedom; he felt he had merely changed traps, or prisons. But yet there was something in his isolation that he could cling to; he was the outcast, the not like other men, the result of a decision few could have taken, no matter whether it was ultimately foolish or wise.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 427-28
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 60 Quotes

“You do not understand. It is not your fault. You are very kind. But I am not to be understood.”

“You forget you have said that to me before. I think you make it a matter of pride.”

“I meant that I am not to be understood even by myself. And I can’t tell you why, but I believe my happiness depends on my not understanding.”

Charles smiled, in spite of himself. “This is absurdity. You refuse to entertain my proposal because I might bring you to understand yourself.”

“I refuse, as I refused the other gentleman, because you cannot understand that to me it is not an absurdity.”

Related Characters: Charles Smithson (speaker), Sarah Woodruff (speaker)
Page Number: 452
Explanation and Analysis:

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And perhaps he did at last begin to grasp her mystery. Some terrible perversion of human sexual destiny had begun; he was no more than a footsoldier, a pawn in a far vaster battle; and like all battles it was not about love, but about possession and territory. He saw deeper: it was not that she hated man, not that she materially despised him more than other men, but that her maneuvers were simply a part of her armory, mere instruments to a greater end.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 453
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 61 Quotes

He... has already begun... to realize that life, however advantageously Sarah may in some way seem to fit the role of Sphinx, is not a symbol, is not one riddle and one failure to guess it, is not to inhabit one face alone or to be given up after one losing throw of the dice; but is to be, however inadequately, emptily, hopelessly into the city’s iron heart, endured. And out again, upon the unplumb’d, salt, estranging sea.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 467
Explanation and Analysis:

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Charles Smithson Character Timeline in The French Lieutenant’s Woman

The timeline below shows where the character Charles Smithson appears in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
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Charles suggests that Neptune won’t mind if they leave now, but Ernestina is surprised that he... (full context)
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Charles reassures Ernestina that his scientific disagreement with Mr. Freeman doesn’t matter. She points out that... (full context)
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Charles suddenly realizes that the figure at the end of the quay is a woman. Ernestina... (full context)
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...woman is holding her bonnet and wearing something that looks like a man’s riding coat. Charles speaks loudly to warn her of their presence, but she doesn’t react. When the wind... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Back in his rooms at the White Lion, Charles stares into the mirror. He feels vaguely defeated due to the lunch conversation at Aunt... (full context)
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...prosperous enough to make revolution seem unlikely. Although Das Kapital is about to be published, Charles is entirely unaware of Karl Marx and wouldn’t have believed it if someone told him... (full context)
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Charles’s grandfather, a baronet, was a foxhunter and a collector. In his old age he excavated... (full context)
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At Cambridge, Charles was actually learning until he fell in with a bad crowd and found himself sleeping... (full context)
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Charles eventually realized that only his family thought his grandfather’s archaeological pursuits a joke—other people truly... (full context)
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Even though Charles’s cynicism indicated moral deficiencies, he’s been much sought after by marriageable girls and their families,... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...her lips that suggests she’s not entirely obedient to men. This makes her irresistible to Charles. When Charles leaves Aunt Tranter’s house, Ernestina goes to her room. Through the window she... (full context)
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...times and there’s nothing to do, so she feels very mutinous towards her aunt. Luckily, Charles agreed to share her exile. Though Ernestina is more strong-willed than people realize, she respects... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...to let in an unseasonably beautiful morning, one of those days when nature goes wild. Charles sits up and stares at the sunlight, no longer feeling gloomy. Sam prepares to shave... (full context)
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Sam has worked for Charles for four years, and the two men know each other well. Charles accuses Sam of... (full context)
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Charles winks at himself in the mirror, then puts on a serious look, then smiles again.... (full context)
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Sam is ten years younger than Charles and is too absentminded and vain to be a good manservant. Now it’s impossible to... (full context)
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...and snobs’ attempts to rid themselves of it are a sign of social revolution. To Charles, Sam provides an opportunity to express bad humor based on educational privilege. Though this might... (full context)
Chapter 8
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That same morning, Ernestina wakes in a bad mood. When Charles calls at ten, he learns that she’s unwell and wants to rest. He can return... (full context)
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However, Charles specializes in petrified sea urchins, of which the shop has few specimens. These fossils are... (full context)
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Charles is wearing nailed boots, canvas gaiters, a long coat, a canvas hat, and a large... (full context)
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One shouldn’t laugh at Charles, even as he slips on the boulders. Birds fly ahead of him, and he comes... (full context)
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Charles calls himself a Darwinist even though he doesn’t entirely understand Darwin. Darwin upset the Linnaean... (full context)
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Charles finds a large piece of rock with clear fossil impressions on it. He decides to... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Let’s imagine that on the afternoon that Charles is walking down the shore, Mrs. Poulteney makes a list of pros and cons about... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...writing no one lives there, and it’s an entirely wild nature reserve. This is where Charles goes when he climbs up from the beach, and the eastern half of it is... (full context)
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After Charles cools himself in the stream, he tries to look around seriously but is distracted by... (full context)
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Charles begins to look for tests along the stream and in the woods, but he doesn’t... (full context)
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Charles steps back out of sight, unsure what to do. Then he steps forward again, curious.... (full context)
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Though Charles tries to step back, Sarah sees him and scrambles up. He bows to her, and... (full context)
Chapter 11
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At about the same time of Charles and Sarah’s meeting, Ernestina takes out her diary and turns to her bland entry from... (full context)
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...in part because her London fashions make Mary’s clothing seem so inadequate. She also thinks Charles is too good for Ernestina, so she often runs into him on purpose so she... (full context)
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...on Ernestina’s bedside table, but Ernestina made her move them farther away. She asked where Charles was, but Mary didn’t know, and she interrogated her about her interaction with Sam. Sam... (full context)
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...excellent education. She really has no reason for her worries about her social status, and Charles isn’t concerned about it. (full context)
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Charles met Ernestina the previous November at the house of a woman who wanted him to... (full context)
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...one January evening, Ernestina saw an old lady across the room. She went up to Charles and suggested that she could introduce him to the lady so that he could learn... (full context)
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Charles had, in fact, been growing worried that he would waste his life like his uncle... (full context)
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Soon after, Charles spoke with Ernestina’s father, and then went to find Ernestina in the conservatory, where she... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Charles walks to a cottage surrounded by meadows, where a man is herding cows. He realizes... (full context)
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Charles is about to return to the path when Sarah appears out of the woods and... (full context)
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Charles hails Sarah and she turns, surprised. Again, her face strikes Charles and draws him in.... (full context)
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Back in town, Charles stops at Aunt Tranter’s house to say that he’ll return for tea as soon as... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...one. Perhaps the novel is only a game, and the narrator is disguising himself in Charles or discussing his confusion about modern women like Sarah. Perhaps this is really a book... (full context)
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The narrator told Charles to return immediately to Lyme Regis when he left Sarah on the cliff, but instead... (full context)
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...sight of the Dairy by taking a path through the bracken, and the afternoon when Charles sees her from the Dairy, it’s because she’s late in returning to Mrs. Poulteney’s. Mrs.... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Ernestina has warned Charles that visitors to Lyme are expected to allow the residents to examine them. He goes... (full context)
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When Mrs. Tranter, Ernestina, and Charles are announced, Sarah makes to leave, but Mrs. Poulteney makes her stay. She wants to... (full context)
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...after Ernestina has left. Sarah’s reserve and defiance momentarily dissolve, and she smiles and nods. Charles is interested to see how Sarah will deal with his presence, but she entirely avoids... (full context)
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...servant. Mrs. Poulteney says that Mrs. Fairley saw Mary talking to a man that morning. Charles points out that it was probably Sam. Ernestina suggests that the two servants shouldn’t be... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Once Charles and Ernestina return to Aunt Tranter’s and are left alone, Ernestina bursts into tears and... (full context)
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The next morning while Sam shaves Charles, Charles says that he doesn’t need Sam here, so he can return to London. Sam... (full context)
Chapter 16
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For the next five days, Charles is occupied with social visits and archery, which is a popular pastime with the ladies.... (full context)
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...that they spend time with each other. One evening, Aunt Tranter has gone out and Charles is lying on the sofa, watching Ernestina read a poem aloud. The poem is The... (full context)
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Charles encourages Ernestina to continue reading, and she reads about the Lord of La Garaye coming... (full context)
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The next day at lunch, Charles complains when Ernestina tries to discuss furnishings for their imagined future house. He doesn’t really... (full context)
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Eventually Charles climbs the bluff again to rejoin the path, and he sees Sarah coming towards him.... (full context)
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Charles can tell that Sarah wants him to leave, but he’s determined not to. Her eyes... (full context)
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Sarah says she didn’t know Charles was here, and she turns to go. Charles asks if he can say something he... (full context)
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Charles doesn’t think it was necessary for Sarah to hide, but she says bitterly that being... (full context)
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Sarah walks to the edge of the cliff. When she turns she looks at Charles very directly, and he smiles. She says she can’t leave Lyme. He feels slightly offended... (full context)
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Charles admits that he’s heard Sarah is mad, but he believes only that she’s punishing herself... (full context)
Chapter 17
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That evening, Charles, Ernestina, and Mrs. Tranter go to the Assembly Rooms. The Assembly Rooms are pleasant, and... (full context)
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Charles is there for a religious concert, though some of the more conservative residents are shocked... (full context)
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Eventually the concert begins, and Charles can examine his conscience. He’s become rather obsessed with the mystery of Sarah. He meant... (full context)
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Ernestina’s humor seems rather artificial tonight, and Charles’s smiles in response are equally fake. He keeps glancing at her as though he’s never... (full context)
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Charles begins to feel sorry for himself, and his mind conjures up images of Sarah. He... (full context)
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...the prostitutes he’s slept with before. He’s physically attractive, though he sometimes tries to imitate Charles’s gentlemanly gestures. He’s drawn to Mary’s innocence, and he wants to be entirely himself with... (full context)
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...said he’d never known anyone like her before, and he’ll show her around London when Charles and Ernestina get married. Mary was thrilled. Sam bowed to her and said to meet... (full context)
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The narrator doesn’t know whether Sam and Mary met the next morning. But when Charles came out of Mrs. Tranter’s house that day after talking to her about the servants’... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Over the next two days, Charles avoids thinking about paleontology or Sarah. But then Ernestina gets a migraine, so he has... (full context)
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Sarah is standing by the tunnel of ivy. Charles almost feels frightened that she appeared so silently. It seems she has followed him on... (full context)
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To Charles’s surprise, Sarah takes two excellent tests out of her pockets. She offers them to him,... (full context)
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Charles asks whether Sarah has considered his suggestion to leave Lyme. She implies that she would... (full context)
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Sarah says that Charles is an educated and well-traveled gentleman, whereas the other people around her are supposedly good... (full context)
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...way that Sarah has just done. She seems to be assuming that she’s equal to Charles. He feels insulted, but for some reason he doesn’t leave. He fails to recognize her... (full context)
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Sarah says she wants to tell Charles what happened to her the previous year. He falls back into convention and seems disapproving.... (full context)
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Charles thinks Sarah is threatening him with scandal, but she denies it. She is filled with... (full context)
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Sarah asks that Charles meet her for just an hour. She says that she would do whatever he advised... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Charles and Ernestina have planned a surprise party for Aunt Tranter that evening. They’re all going... (full context)
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Normally, Charles would have enjoyed the evening very much, particularly since Dr. Grogan makes some comments that... (full context)
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Charles and Dr. Grogan escort the ladies back home, and the doctor invites Charles to his... (full context)
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In this age, even though Charles and Dr. Grogan have different occupations, everyone who’s educated still knows enough to converse about... (full context)
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...out that everyone thinks they’re better than everyone else, and it will ruin the country. Charles points out that Bentham argued for making the most people happy as possible, but Grogan... (full context)
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Charles has had a similar argument with his uncle. Many people who fought for the Reform... (full context)
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Charles asks whether Dr. Grogan is interested in paleontology, and he admits that he thinks it’s... (full context)
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...and found satisfaction in it. Grogan thinks that Sarah similarly wants to be a victim. Charles asks whether Sarah has confided in anyone, but Grogan says she hasn’t. He confirms that... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Charles and Dr. Grogan have begun talking about paleontology. Charles says that the clergy have a... (full context)
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Charles casually asks whether Dr. Grogan has read Darwin. Grogan goes to his bookshelf and brings... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Sarah doesn’t look around as Charles approaches through the tunnel of ivy. It’s a beautiful day, and there are butterflies everywhere... (full context)
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Charles says it is only luck that he is rich and Sarah poor. He plans to... (full context)
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Sarah says she’s good at finding solitude, and she offers Charles the seat against the tree. She sits facing the ocean, so that her face is... (full context)
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Charles says he won’t judge Sarah too harshly. She hesitates, then begins her confession. She says... (full context)
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Charles says he understands, but Sarah says he can’t, because he’s not a woman who was... (full context)
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Charles urges Sarah to continue her story. Varguennes recovered, and he declared his love for her.... (full context)
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...her sense of loneliness returned once he was gone, and she was plunged into despair. Charles asks whether she didn’t become suspicious because Varguennes hid everything from Mrs. Talbot. Sarah says... (full context)
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...she could have left, and he didn’t rape her. Sarah finally turns to look at Charles, and she seems angry and defiant. She says she gave herself to Varguennes, so she... (full context)
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Charles reminds Sarah that he didn’t ask for this confession. She says she wants him to... (full context)
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Charles only somewhat understands what Sarah means. He can sympathize with the pain of being a... (full context)
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...nature and sexuality, but they idealize it. Because of this, Sarah’s openness seems idealized to Charles; it’s strange because it seems unrealistic. (full context)
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Charles stares at Sarah, then sits again, feeling as though he’s just stepped back from a... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...has hidden his marriage from everyone in order to be an outcast, as she must. Charles objects that if every woman who had been deceived were to act as she does,... (full context)
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Charles remembers Dr. Grogan’s comment about patients who refuse to take medicine. He says that Sarah’s... (full context)
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Charles says that Sarah must leave Lyme. She replies that she would be leaving her shame... (full context)
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...hawthorn tree, saying that it only offends people if it’s in the town, not here. Charles says that she can’t mean it’s her duty to offend society. Sarah replies that society... (full context)
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Sarah asks again whether Charles thinks she should leave. He says she must, and her friends will help her financially.... (full context)
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Sarah leads the way down the bluff. Charles feels slight regret at the idea of not seeing her again, but he knows he’ll... (full context)
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Sarah stands against a tree, and Charles looks through the leaves to see Sam and Mary coming towards them, Sam’s arm around... (full context)
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...complex; it seems like she’s been waiting for the right moment to throw it at Charles. It shows that she’s not completely miserable, and there’s irony in her eyes. They seem... (full context)
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After several moments, Sarah lowers her eyes, and Charles sees that he’s about to fall over a cliff. He knows that Sarah would reciprocate... (full context)
Chapter 22
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As Charles walks back to Lyme, he feels that he’s been very foolish, but he’s escaped the... (full context)
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When Charles arrives at his rooms, he has a telegram from his uncle, Sir Robert, summoning him... (full context)
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...being inspected, Sir Robert has bad manners, the house is old-fashioned, she was jealous of Charles’s relationship with his uncle, and she was scared. She felt looked down on by the... (full context)
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Charles assures Ernestina that he’ll be back soon. Sir Robert has hinted that they might move... (full context)
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Charles tells Ernestina his suspicions and asks how he should respond. He’ll take whichever house Ernestina... (full context)
Chapter 23
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As Charles’s carriage passes the gatehouse of Winsyatt, he calls for it to stop so that he... (full context)
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...old man who acts as a living history of Winsyatt. They turn and wave to Charles. One of them is hammering an iron rail straight, and Charles knows that it was... (full context)
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As the carriage drives up to the house, Charles feels that he is approaching an inheritance that explains his lack of focus up to... (full context)
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Charles also doesn’t guess what happened to Sarah when they parted the afternoon before. She hesitated... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Ernestina exclaims over the horribleness of what has happened. Charles says that Cupid doesn’t care about convenience, and old people are most susceptible to him.... (full context)
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Charles clarifies that Sir Robert has decided to marry, and if he has a son, Charles... (full context)
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Ernestina realizes that she needs to act differently. She runs to Charles and kisses his hand, but Charles isn’t fooled. She has received his news in a... (full context)
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Charles decides to change the subject, and asks what’s happened while he was gone. Ernestina reveals... (full context)
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...that Sarah should never have been employed by such an awful woman as Mrs. Poulteney. Charles asks whether there’s any danger that Sarah might have committed suicide. Aunt Tranter says that... (full context)
Chapter 25
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As Charles walks back to his rooms, he thinks of how to phrase a note to Dr.... (full context)
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...says that a boy brought the note that morning and hadn’t said who sent it. Charles has Sam lay out his night things. Standing at the window, Charles sees a boy... (full context)
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When Sam leaves, Charles opens the note. Sarah begs him to help her, saying she will be praying all... (full context)
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Charles paces angrily, and when he stops at the window he remembers what Sarah said about... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...have nearly enough money to make this a reality. He’s thinking about it while eating Charles’s dinner in the sitting room after Charles has left. (full context)
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...be called black mail. Sam is thinking about the word because he has guessed who Charles is supposedly trying to help. Mary has mentioned Sarah to him, and Charles is acting... (full context)
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The Winsyatt servants know that Sir Robert is ruining Charles. They think Charles should have worked harder to stay in his uncle’s good graces. They’ve... (full context)
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Charles and his uncle had been polite to each other because both felt guilty. Charles stiffly... (full context)
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Sir Robert finally said they must acknowledge that the marriage would change Charles’s prospects for the future, but no matter what happened, his uncle would help him. He... (full context)
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...of the world; Mrs. Tomkins has already made him see how gloomy his decorations were. Charles found it funny to hear his uncle worrying about such things. He asked when he... (full context)
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Because they were English gentlemen, they avoided discussing the marriage further. But when Charles insisted on returning to Lyme that night, Sir Robert didn’t make a fuss. Charles could... (full context)
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Charles knew that Sir Robert didn’t like Ernestina’s London habits or her family origins. Perhaps Sir... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Dr. Grogan’s housekeeper shows Charles up to the same room where they spoke before. Before long Grogan appears and welcomes... (full context)
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Charles reveals that he’s received a note from Sarah. He tells Dr. Grogan the truth about... (full context)
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Dr. Grogan goes to send the letter, then asks whether Charles has any idea where Sarah is now. He doesn’t, and Dr. Grogan says Charles can’t... (full context)
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...and acts foolishly. She likes being a victim and acts very melancholy. When she meets Charles, she admires him and acts sadder to make him more interested in her. He treats... (full context)
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Charles asks about Dr. Grogan’s accusation that Sarah meant to be fired. The doctor says that... (full context)
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Charles can’t believe Sarah would act this way. Dr. Grogan says that’s because he’s almost in... (full context)
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Charles swears that nothing improper has happened between himself and Sarah. Dr. Grogan believes him, but... (full context)
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Charles asks Grogan to tell him what to do, and Grogan says he needs to hear... (full context)
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Charles shakes Grogan’s hand, feeling better now that he’s been told what to do. He says... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...to preserve the purity of virgins, and a lack of psychological knowledge. Dr. Grogan gave Charles a book by Dr. Karl Matthaei, a German doctor, which he wrote to support an... (full context)
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Charles is shocked by what he has read. He can’t recognize hysteria as a desire for... (full context)
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Though it’s almost four in the morning, Charles is wide awake. He opens a window and wonders where Sarah is. He feels very... (full context)
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Charles paces his room, wondering if Sarah is, after all, brave for facing up to her... (full context)
Chapter 29
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The sun is rising when Charles leaves the White Lion. The sky is clear, the air sharp. The people whom he... (full context)
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Birds sing throughout the woods, and Charles feels like he’s in a perfect world where everything is unique. He watches a wren... (full context)
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Charles takes the path that’s out of sight of the Dairy. He feels like everything in... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Charles finds Sarah sleeping in the barn, curled up with her head on a scarf. For... (full context)
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Charles is worried they might be seen, so they go into the barn. Sarah confirms that... (full context)
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Sarah looks at Charles passionately, and she kisses his hand. He snatches it back, telling her to control herself,... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Ernestina wasn’t able to sleep that night. She saw the light on in Charles’s window late into the night, and she took it to mean that he was disappointed... (full context)
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...took out her diary. She wrote that she regretted being so angry in front of Charles, and she cried a lot when he left. She resolved to obey him even when... (full context)
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When Sam got up that morning, he learned that Charles had gone out and Sam was supposed to be ready to leave by noon. He... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Sam and Mary are as astonished to see Charles as he is to see them. They’re all frozen until Sarah appears briefly in the... (full context)
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Charles decides that he has acted in a way that could be hurting Sarah, so he... (full context)
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Charles tells Sarah that certain people want to put her in an asylum, so she shouldn’t... (full context)
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Charles doesn’t want to seem ashamed, so he invites Sarah to walk back to the path... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Ernestina can tell that Charles has been walking. He says he slept badly, and she says she did too. She... (full context)
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Finally, Charles sits and takes Ernestina’s hand, asking forgiveness and saying that he’s going to London to... (full context)
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Charles stands and pastes a fake smile to his face. He doesn’t like it when Ernestina... (full context)
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Ernestina stands to be kissed, but Charles can’t make himself kiss her mouth, so he kisses her temples. He finds he can’t... (full context)
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Mary is standing at the door with red cheeks. Charles makes sure she understands about what happened that morning. He pays her, though she tries... (full context)
Chapter 36
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Charles has given Sarah ten pounds, and it has changed her attitude towards the world. She... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Mr. Freeman listens to Charles solemnly and is silent when he finishes. They’re in Mr. Freeman’s study filled with books,... (full context)
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Mr. Freeman confirms that Charles still has a decent income of his own, and points out that Sir Robert might... (full context)
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Mr. Freeman opens Ernestina’s letter. Charles stares out a window into Hyde Park. He sees a girl sitting on a bench.... (full context)
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Charles suddenly feels like he’s become an employee. Mr. Freeman asks for permission to discuss another... (full context)
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Charles protests that he doesn’t know anything about business, but Mr. Freeman says he has the... (full context)
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...certainly nothing wrong with being a gentleman, but this is a time of action, and Charles should consider whether perhaps he should take an interest in commerce. He just wants him... (full context)
Chapter 38
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When Charles leaves the Freemans’ house, it’s dusk. He walks towards his club. When he runs into... (full context)
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Charles sees people of various lower-class professions in front of him. A boy runs up to... (full context)
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Charles sees a girl buying candles and begins to think about commerce. He sees Mr. Freeman’s... (full context)
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Charles finds himself on Oxford Street, by Mr. Freeman’s store. He walks into the street to... (full context)
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Charles can’t imagine how little of the ethos of the gentleman will be left by 1969,... (full context)
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...bad. If one has ever made a decision that rejects personal benefit, one cannot judge Charles as a snob. In fact, he’s struggling to overcome history. He feels he’s being asked... (full context)
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...to change in order to survive means that people have free will. But in reality, Charles feels trapped. He feels chilled with rage against everything Mr. Freeman stands for. He gets... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Though Charles has learned much since he was at Cambridge, he still finds milk punch and champagne... (full context)
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Sir Tom asks what Charles is doing out of Ernestina’s prison, and Charles jokes that he’s on parole. Sir Tom... (full context)
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Quite tipsy, Charles is helped into a cab with Sir Tom and Nathaniel. He sees them wink, but... (full context)
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...in all sorts of costumes. Their customers, on the other hand, all look the same. Charles enjoys the scene, particularly because it seems so far removed from the Freemans. (full context)
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Charles and his companions sit with a number of other men in the luscious salon in... (full context)
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This is more or less what happens at the brothel where Charles is, but the girls do indeed have sex with their customers. Charles enjoys the show... (full context)
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...a girl who seems less bold than the other prostitutes. Something about her appearance makes Charles stare, and finally he knocks for the cab to stop. The prostitute appears at the... (full context)
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They’re silent until the prostitute asks whether Charles wants her for the whole night, and he says he does. Later she remarks on... (full context)
Chapter 40
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When the cab stops, the prostitute runs up to a house and goes inside. Charles pays the driver, an old man who seems unable to look at him now. Charles... (full context)
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When the prostitute returns, Charles sits by the fire while she tends to it. Her delicate hands and her hair... (full context)
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A boy brings the food up. The prostitute gives Charles a glass of bad wine, and she eats her dinner. He can’t imagine they’ll ever... (full context)
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Charles is suddenly nauseous, but he’s also aroused. He continues to touch the prostitute, who sits... (full context)
Chapter 41
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It’s noon, and Sam is waiting impatiently in the kitchen. The cook says that Charles isn’t himself. She’s irritated with Sam, who keeps hinting at bad news but refuses to... (full context)
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Charles has a hangover, but he remembers everything. After he vomited, the prostitute got him into... (full context)
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Then the little girl began crying loudly. Charles looked out the window, but the prostitute must have gone far to find a cab.... (full context)
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Charles thought how strange it was that this was how his wild night ended. He smiled,... (full context)
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The prostitute returned and was frightened, then relieved, to find Charles with her daughter. He gave her the child and left five pounds on the table... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Charles felt physically and mentally sick on the way home, but he woke up feeling better.... (full context)
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...letters, one from Exeter and one from Lyme. He opens a letter from Grogan. When Charles returned after meeting Sarah, he sent Grogan a letter in which he pretended to still... (full context)
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Charles then opens the other letter, which contains only an address. He throws it into the... (full context)
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Sam says he wants to start a shop. Charles asks whether he has the money, and Sam says he’s saved some. To Charles’s astonishment,... (full context)
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Sam is terribly disappointed. Charles assures him that he’ll pay him more if he marries Mary, but Sam isn’t cheered.... (full context)
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Downstairs, Sam reads Charles’s telegraph to Ernestina, announcing his return to Lyme. Earlier that morning, Sam used steam to... (full context)
Chapter 43
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After his night with the prostitute, Charles has decided that he’ll go through with his marriage to Ernestina, though he never really... (full context)
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When the train gets to Exeter, Sam asks whether they’re staying the night there, and Charles says they’ll continue on. Sam was sure they were going to stay, but when Charles... (full context)
Chapter 44
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When Charles and Sam arrive in Lyme, Charles goes to Aunt Tranter’s house. Everyone is thrilled to... (full context)
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Charles gives Ernestina a small box. When she opens it she finds a brooch, and she... (full context)
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The story ends here. The narrator doesn’t know what happens to Sarah, but Charles never sees her again. He and Ernestina have, perhaps, seven children. Sir Robert has two... (full context)
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However, Mrs. Poulteney dies soon after Charles returns to Lyme. When she arrives at the gates of heaven with all of her... (full context)
Chapter 45
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...an effect on how they actually act, and the last two chapters have been what Charles imagines will happen as he takes the train from London to Exeter. Perhaps the reader... (full context)
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Charles has in fact decided to go through with his marriage. However, he’s also obsessed with... (full context)
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Once Charles leaves, Sam asks the cab driver if he knows where Endicott’s Family Hotel is, which... (full context)
Chapter 46
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In the hotel, Charles knocks on an open door and finds Mrs. Endicott. He asks after Sarah, and Mrs.... (full context)
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Charles follows the maid to Sarah’s room and finds her sitting by the fire with her... (full context)
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Sarah invites Charles to sit down, which he does. He asks if she’s given Mrs. Tranter her address,... (full context)
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As Sarah wipes away tears, Charles feels an extreme sexual lust. He suddenly realizes that he feels the need to see... (full context)
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...It feels like they look into each other’s eyes forever. Finally their fingers intertwine and Charles kisses her passionately, violently, all over her face. He touches her hair. Then he buries... (full context)
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Sarah seems almost to have fainted. Charles carries her into the bedroom and throws her on the bed. He kisses her hand... (full context)
Chapter 47
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Charles and Sarah lie silently. Charles feels horrified; everything he knows has been destroyed. He’s vaguely... (full context)
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Sarah says that Charles can’t marry her, but he says he must in order to preserve his self-respect. She... (full context)
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Sarah says she only wants Charles to be happy, and now she knows he has loved her, she can stand anything.... (full context)
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Charles goes into the other room to dress and sees a red stain on his shirt.... (full context)
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This time, Charles believes Sarah when she says she’s not worthy of him. She admits that when she... (full context)
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Sarah tells Charles to leave, but he doesn’t. She sees his worry in his face and says that... (full context)
Chapter 48
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Charles hurries past Mrs. Endicott before she can ask him anything. It’s raining, and he only... (full context)
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...of their fellow humans, which makes it more difficult to reject Christ, who represents compassion. Charles doesn’t really want to be an agnostic; his belief in science tells him he doesn’t... (full context)
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Someone tries to enter the church, but the door is locked. Charles begins to pace the aisle, looking down at the worn gravestones in the floor. Eventually... (full context)
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The dialogue continues. Sarah loves only one thing more than Charles, and she has given it to him, but he’s not brave enough to give it... (full context)
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Charles approaches the altar and looks at the cross. He goes right up to it, and... (full context)
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Since he entered the church, Charles has felt that there’s a crowd behind him. He turns, but it’s empty. He thinks... (full context)
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Christ seems to come alive with these revelations, which partly uncrucify him. Charles begins to pace again, seeing a new world. In a similar moment, Mrs. Poulteney went... (full context)
Chapter 49
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Charles returns the key to the curate at his house. When the man insists he wants... (full context)
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A modern man would have returned immediately to Sarah, but Charles feels he must end his other obligations first. He begins to see why Sarah has... (full context)
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Charles has at least two minds. Walking back to his hotel, he thinks about what he’ll... (full context)
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Charles now writes a letter to Sarah. He says he feels both that he knows her... (full context)
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Charles feels like a stranger to himself, but he feels that he’s done something brave and... (full context)
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When Sam returns, he tells Charles that there was no answer to his letter. The carriage is ready for them. When... (full context)
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...begins to despair, but Sam says he doesn’t care about their employers anymore. He’ll leave Charles to be with Mary and take whatever job he can get. Mary points out that... (full context)
Chapter 50
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When Charles arrives in Lyme, he goes to his room and paces, preparing to talk to Ernestina.... (full context)
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Ernestina begins to accept Charles’s words. Charles fears that she’ll faint or become hysterical, but she seems only to shiver.... (full context)
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Ernestina asks why Charles has suddenly come to this conclusion, and he replies that he was disappointed that Mr.... (full context)
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...he thinks badly of himself, and she wanted to make him see his own value. Charles replies that her words mean a lot, but they can’t change anything. She pleads with... (full context)
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Ernestina begins to weep but continues to look straight at Charles. She falls to her knees, and he feels disgusted by his way of twisting the... (full context)
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...a silence, she says coldly that there’s a course of action she can take, since Charles has broken his vow. Charles agrees she has this right. She wants everyone to know... (full context)
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Ernestina guesses that this unknown woman is an aristocrat. She says aristocrats like Charles are no good and think their rank gives them an excuse to do whatever they... (full context)
Chapter 51
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Dr. Grogan meets Charles on his doorstep. Charles tells him that he has broken off his engagement and Ernestina... (full context)
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Charles returns to his rooms feeling like a traitor. Sam enters, looking shocked. Charles has him... (full context)
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Sam grins when he hears Charles slam the door, but he soon feels deserted and knows that he deserves it, as... (full context)
Chapter 52
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...upstairs, where she finds Dr. Grogan. He tells her what has happened. She can’t believe Charles would do such a thing. Ernestina refuses to say what he told her. Aunt Tranter... (full context)
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...and she beckons her outside and asks what happened. Mary says that Ernestina fainted when Charles was there and when she came to she wouldn’t speak. When Mary got her up... (full context)
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...Sam has quit and they don’t know what they’ll do. She explains that Sam knew Charles was going to break his engagement, but they were too scared to tell Mrs. Tranter.... (full context)
Chapter 53
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Dr. Grogan tells Charles that Ernestina is sleeping. He demands that Charles explain himself, and he does. He says... (full context)
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Grogan can’t figure out how to deal with Charles’s breach of convention. He’s an experienced man, but he’s lived in Lyme for a long... (full context)
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Grogan asks if Charles will marry Sarah. Charles is glad to hear his tone change, because he actually cares... (full context)
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Grogan says he won’t judge Charles based on law or religion, but Charles wants to be admirably rational and scientific, as... (full context)
Chapter 54
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Charles tries to find Sam before he leaves Lyme, but he can’t. As his carriage draws... (full context)
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In Exeter, Charles goes straight to Endicott’s Family Hotel, imagining the purity of his reunion with Sarah. He... (full context)
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Charles collapses in his carriage. He wonders why Sam didn’t deliver the letter. He realizes Sam... (full context)
Chapter 55
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On the train the next morning, Charles sits in a first-class compartment, giving people looks to keep them from joining him. Just... (full context)
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When Charles has been asleep for a while, the other man begins to stare at him. He... (full context)
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As the narrator stares at Charles, he wonders what he’s going to do with him. He could end the story here,... (full context)
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...it, since the reader knows what’s happened since then. The narrator doesn’t want to fix Charles’s fight. He decides that the only way he can remain neutral is to show two... (full context)
Chapter 56
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Three weeks pass, and Charles hasn’t found Sarah, though he’s hired four detectives to look for her. They’ve checked governess... (full context)
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Before long, Charles receives a letter from Mr. Freeman’s lawyers telling him to go to their offices at... (full context)
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Mr. Aubrey, one of Mr. Freeman’s lawyers, says that Charles’s letter to Mr. Freeman is evidence of his guilt. Mr. Montague protests his language, and... (full context)
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Mr. Aubrey says that he’s never had to deal with such awful behavior as Charles has exhibited, and he thinks he should be made an example of. Charles is red,... (full context)
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Charles and Montague go out to the waiting room and read the document. It says that... (full context)
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Montague advises that Charles sign the document as is, and they can later argue it was too harsh, if... (full context)
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Charles falls into a depression after this and refuses to see anyone. One day his detectives... (full context)
Chapter 57
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...what Mary saw, but part of him almost expected it to happen. He knows what Charles did after he quit, and he feels slightly bad. Sam and Mary are in a... (full context)
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...happy. Back in Lyme, he threw himself on Aunt Tranter’s mercy, making it seem like Charles had promised him a loan of four hundred pounds and he was very brave to... (full context)
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...he’s done. Furthermore, the only secret between him and Mary is what he did with Charles’s letter. He still wants to start a shop of his own, but Mary insists that... (full context)
Chapter 58
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Charles has been traveling during these twenty months. He’s gone all over Europe and even reached... (full context)
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Charles turns to poetry for expression of emotions. He especially likes Tennyson, comparing him to Darwin,... (full context)
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Charles writes only to Montague, who puts advertisements in the London papers to try to find... (full context)
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Finally Charles gets so bored that he decides to make a change. He’s traveled with two Americans... (full context)
Chapter 59
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Charles is seasick on his trip across the Atlantic, and he begins to regret going. But... (full context)
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Charles sees Sarah’s directness in the Americans he meets, and he begins to think well of... (full context)
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Charles finds much both good and bad in the United States. He spends a month in... (full context)
Chapter 60
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It’s a beautiful day at the end of May when Charles arrives in Chelsea. Montague had received a name and address in the mail, and Charles... (full context)
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Charles approaches Sarah’s house. He doesn’t know much about this area. The Thames is disgusting and... (full context)
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Charles follows the girl up the stairs, noting the walls crowded with painting of a modern... (full context)
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...skirt, a belt, and a striped blouse. Her hair is tied with a bright ribbon. Charles thinks she looks younger than before, and he feels like he’s back in America, because... (full context)
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Eventually, Sarah asks how Charles found her, and he realizes that she didn’t send the address, and she’s not grateful... (full context)
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Charles learns that Sarah has lived here for a year. He wants to ask what her... (full context)
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Charles explains what has happened to him since he last saw Sarah, but she only stares... (full context)
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Sarah says that she wanted to do what was best after deceiving and hurting Charles. She didn’t realize until their meeting in Exeter that she had been mad the whole... (full context)
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Sarah denies she’s saying that she never loved Charles, but he insists that she’s saying she never saw him as anything more than something... (full context)
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Some part of Charles admires Sarah for this speech. He can tell that her time in London has anchored... (full context)
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Charles decides to be more sentimental, so he asks whether Sarah has thought about him. She... (full context)
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Charles remarks that Sarah has enjoyed ruining his life. He accuses her of sending her address... (full context)
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Finally Charles asks what he’s supposed to understand from Sarah’s request, and she says someone less honorable... (full context)
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Charles returns to the studio. He now understands that Christina Rossetti has formed Sarah’s way of... (full context)
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Charles stares at the little girl. She tries to give him her doll, and he kneels... (full context)
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Charles asks the girl’s name, and Sarah says it’s Lalage. She explains that Mr. Rossetti saw... (full context)
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Finally Sarah looks at Charles, and she’s crying. Her look is naked, the kind of look that changes lives and... (full context)
Chapter 61
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Charles says Sarah has gained pleasure from hurting him, and she will go to hell for... (full context)
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Sarah says Charles’s name again, and puts her hand on his arm. He stops. It seems like her... (full context)
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Sarah has always manipulated Charles, and she knew that he would reject her offer. He leaves the room. He wants... (full context)
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It may seem that Charles was foolish not to accept Sarah’s offer of friendship, and that the offer showed some... (full context)