The day after his visit to Hundreds, Faraday feels like himself again. He sends a prescription for Betty out to Hundreds, but otherwise has no contact with the Ayerses for quite some time. However, as Faraday goes about his daily business, he often finds himself thinking of Hundreds and the state of disrepair it has fallen into.
Here, one begins to get the sense that there is something irrational about Faraday’s relationship to Hundreds. The manor home has barely featured in his life, yet he finds himself spending a significant amount of time thinking about it. One of this novel’s main themes is unconscious desire, and Faraday’s feelings about Hundreds certainly fall into this category. However, the full picture of his desire, and whether it is benign, has yet to be seen.
About a month after he visits Hundreds, Faraday sees Gyp and Caroline walking on the side of the road while he is coming home from work. Faraday pulls over and says hello. Caroline smiles when she sees him and offers some blackberries she has been picking. They eventually start talking about Betty. Caroline says Betty recovered almost immediately and asks if Faraday sent her fake pills. Faraday does not answer the question, and Caroline does not press the matter as Gyp begins barking, distracting her.
Caroline turns to leave, but before she can, Faraday offers her a ride home. Caroline gratefully accepts, and she and Gyp get in the car. Again, Faraday notes Caroline’s appearance, this time especially focusing in on her unshaved legs. On the way to Hundreds, Faraday and Caroline talk about the state of the Ayers home. Caroline explains that things really are as bad as they seem—perhaps worse, even. At first, Caroline speaks to Faraday “as if to someone of her own class.” However, she soon becomes self-conscious and apologizes for speaking so bluntly. Her apology creates an awkward silence for the rest of the drive.
Notably, Faraday regularly focuses in on Caroline’s appearance, especially the features he finds unattractive. It is as though she is both alluring and repulsive to him. As Faraday and Caroline speak, the social gulf that exists between them once again makes itself known. To make matters worse, they are both aware of their class differences, creating an awkward situation. Additionally, Caroline’s words suggest that she only finds it appropriate to tell her true feelings to someone of her own class, even when talking about the downfall of Hundreds.
When Caroline and Faraday arrive at Hundreds, Caroline thanks Faraday for the ride. She also apologizes again for what she said earlier. She tells Faraday that she knows she has led a privileged life and is aware of how outsiders view Hundreds Hall. Faraday dismisses Caroline’s apology and insists he was not offended. He also offers to return soon to help Roderick with his leg injury. Caroline thanks Faraday for the kindness but tells him they cannot afford his services.
Although imperfect, Caroline is perhaps the most endearing member of the Ayers family because she recognizes how she must look and sound to anyone of a lower social standing. She has a sensitivity and social awareness that both her mother and brother often lack.
In response, Faraday offers to work for free. He thinks he can get a paper published based on his treatment of Roderick and therefore does not need to charge him. Although she is initially skeptical, Caroline eventually comes around to the idea. She recommends that Faraday come inside to pitch the idea to Roderick. Faraday tries to push the visit to a later date because he has patients to attend to, but Caroline insists, so he stays after all.
Faraday regularly insists he must go and see more patients, only to be lured into Hundreds. His actions—as well as Caroline’s insistence—suggest that the rich Ayers family are more deserving of his attention than his other patients, who presumably have less money, or at least less prestige.
Caroline takes Faraday to Roderick, who is milking a cow. Faraday explains his plan to Roderick, who appears skeptical. Like Caroline, Roderick is worried about the cost of the treatment. He thinks that even the electricity would be too much to pay for. Faraday explains the machine he uses does not require electricity from Hundreds to function, meaning Roderick will not have to pay anything. Realizing he has no other excuse, Roderick agrees to try the treatment. Caroline promises Faraday that she will make Roderick show up for his appointment, which will take place at Hundreds. Faraday shakes Caroline’s hand as though they’ve just struck a bargain and then leaves.
Despite his wealth, Roderick often works on the family farm to try to make ends meet. His work shows what a peculiar social class he exists within; that is, although Roderick is rich relative to those around him, the only way for him to keep his wealth is to partake in labor, as though he belongs to a lower class. Roderick’s paradox is again highlighted when he admits that he does not think he can afford Faraday’s treatment.
The following Sunday, Faraday returns to Hundreds with his medical equipment. Roderick meets him in the driveway, clearly still skeptical about the entire arrangement. Roderick guides Faraday up to his room in preparation for the treatment. Like everything in Hundreds, Roderick’s room is massive, though it has deteriorated over the years. Additionally, it is much messier than the other rooms in Hundreds. In particular, Faraday notes that Roderick’s desk is chaotic, as it is overflowing with open books, scraps of paper, and other miscellaneous objects.
Roderick’s treatment is Faraday’s excuse to be able to repeatedly return to Hundreds, the site of a peculiar desire that Faraday is yet to understand or realize the full extent of. As Faraday walks around Hundreds, its decline is once again apparent. Despite its obvious beauty, Hundreds is decaying, and even the aspects of the house that could be kept under control (like the messiness of Roderick’s desk) are not being tended to—suggesting the family’s inability to maintain their property as things currently stand.
Roderick is hesitant to begin the treatment, but he trusts Faraday and decides to give it a go. Before Faraday can start the treatment proper, he examines Roderick’s leg to get a sense of the injury. Then, Faraday attaches wires to Roderick and begins the electrical therapy. Roderick yelps at first but slowly grows used to the sensation of the machine. Faraday talks to Roderick as the machine runs. He notices that Roderick looks tired and asks him why. Roderick explains that he’s been busy with farm work. There is a lot to do on the farm, and Roderick doesn’t have enough money. As such, he does what he can himself, knowing that he will never be able to keep up.
Whenever Roderick and Faraday speak in the early chapters of the novel, it seems as though there is something Roderick is not telling Faraday. Although it is probably true that the farm exhausts Roderick, something else is beneath the surface, which Roderick does not feel comfortable sharing. Perhaps, like Caroline, he knows that his problems are not relatable to someone like Faraday, who could not possibly understand trying to keep up with a massive family property.
As Roderick speaks, Faraday remembers what Graham mentioned about “nervous trouble.” Faraday notices that Roderick talks “almost unwillingly,” and Faraday wonders if it has something to do with his exhaustion. Roderick realizes that he is talking too much and apologizes to Faraday. However, Faraday tells him he would happily hear more. If nothing else, the conversation helps distract from the treatment. After some time, the treatment ends, and Faraday unhooks Roderick from the machine. When Roderick can stand up again, he is pleased with the results. Watching Roderick, Faraday is satisfied, too. He then tells Roderick that he will write him a prescription to help even more. Roderick says that Faraday has done too much already, but Faraday insists.
The Ayerses regularly find themselves apologizing to Faraday, only for Faraday to assure them that what they say is no big deal. On the one hand, Faraday’s response could be read as servile reassurance to someone he sees as his social superior. On the other—and perhaps the two are not mutually exclusive—Faraday seems like he wants to learn as much as he can about the Ayers family, for better or worse. He has a morbid curiosity, and the best way to satisfy it is to keep Roderick talking.
Shortly after, Caroline and Gyp come into the room to see how the treatment went. Caroline complains about the messiness of Roderick’s room and how he doesn’t let Betty in to clean. In response, Roderick says he cannot keep Betty out of his room; he claims she is always coming in and moving his things around, so he cannot find them.
Here, the Ayers siblings contradict one another, in regard to Betty’s activity in Roderick’s room. This passage is the first of many references to objects being moved around in Hundreds Hall when they should not be. Eventually, the possibility of the supernatural will come into play in this novel, and passages like this one take on a new significance.
Caroline and Faraday leave Roderick to his papers. Caroline thanks Faraday for his work, and Faraday tells her to ensure that Roderick takes his medication. Caroline asks Faraday what he thinks about Roderick. Faraday mostly compliments him, though he does express his dismay at the state of Roderick’s room. Caroline agrees with Faraday’s assessment. She also offers Faraday a tour of the entire home before they sit for tea. Faraday accepts the request; part of the reason he offered the treatment in the first place was to see more of Hundreds.
Both Faraday and Caroline express dismay about Roderick’s room because they are worried about what it suggests regarding his psychological state. Although Roderick’s leg is the only obvious external sign of his time in war, Faraday knows that there are many internal factors that could still be at play as well.
Caroline begins leading Faraday around the house. Before long, they come to the plaster decoration that Faraday vandalized as a child. Faraday laughs when he sees the decoration and tells Caroline the story. Caroline finds the story amusing and wonders whether Mrs. Ayers would remember seeing Faraday on Empire Day. Faraday assures her that his presence was not memorable and asks her not to tell the story to Mrs. Ayers. Then, Caroline remarks that it is odd that Faraday had stepped in Hundreds before she and Roderick were born. Faraday hadn’t thought about this fact before, and he finds it striking.
Here, Caroline points out Faraday’s fundamental connection with Hundreds, which Faraday himself hadn’t even considered. On the face of it, the connection is not profound. However, it will stick with Faraday throughout the rest of the novel. Ironically, although Faraday’s first experience at Hundreds was profound for him, he knows the same cannot be said for Mrs. Ayers. As he suspects, it is unlikely Mrs. Ayers would remember his presence at Empire Day.
Caroline continues the tour. She spends a good deal of time explaining the portraits hung throughout the house. She also talks about spaces in the home that are now empty because the Ayerses have had to sell several prized possessions. Although Faraday enjoys the tour, he cannot help but notice that everything in the house is decaying in one way or another. At the end of the tour, Faraday thanks Caroline for showing him the house and calls it “lovely.” Caroline is skeptical about the compliment, though Faraday seems genuine. Caroline realizes that Faraday is right in a way, but she sees Hundreds as a “lovely monster” that “needs to be fed all the time, with money and hard work.” In particular, she worries about how hard it is for Roderick to be the master of such an estate.
Again, the decline of Hundreds Hall from its once glorious state is obvious to everyone, including Caroline. The slow death of Hundreds demonstrates the Ayers family’s refusal to let go of their past wealth, even if it means having to sell off the house piece by piece. Again, Caroline is the most reasonable member of her family in this regard, as she knows what the house looks like and does not seem as attached to it as Roderick and Mrs. Ayers. Despite its flaws, Faraday’s compliment is probably genuine. Like Roderick and Mrs. Ayers, Hundreds seems to have cast its spell on Faraday.
After the tour, Caroline and Faraday make their way to the parlor for tea. When they enter the room, Faraday sees Mrs. Ayres gluing a used stamp to an envelope. Faraday offers to deliver the letter when he goes into town, so Mrs. Ayers does not have to worry about the stamp. Mrs. Ayers thanks him for the kindness and for Roderick’s treatment.
Mrs. Ayres’s attempt to reuse a stamp shows just how desperate the family is to cling to what little wealth they have remaining. Faraday, who grew up significantly less wealthy, would never do such a thing.
Mrs. Ayers begins talking about a nearby manor home named Standish, which Mr. Baker-Hyde, an architect from London, just bought. Mrs. Ayers thinks that the Baker-Hydes are a lovely family, though as she is saying so, the sound of rattling china interrupts her. Betty enters the room with the tea, and Mrs. Ayers immediately chastises her for her clumsiness. Mrs. Ayers makes Betty flustered, though Faraday tries to help her and make her feel better by asking how she is doing. Faraday thinks Betty looks healthier, though he doesn’t have time to find out because Mrs. Ayers quickly dismisses her. Although she is harsh to Betty’s face, Mrs. Ayers softens after she leaves. She tells Caroline that it takes time to be a great parlourmaid, so they must give Betty time.
Although Mrs. Ayers is not excessively cruel to her servants, her behavior is still off-putting to Faraday. In the background of every interaction between Mrs. Ayers and Betty is the specter of how Mrs. Ayers treated Faraday’s mother. Even worse is the possibility of how Colonel Ayers treated his mother, given his reputation as a “brute.” Faraday never openly criticizes Mrs. Ayers for how she treats Betty, but it creates tension between them nonetheless.
After tea, Caroline shows Faraday to his car. She thanks him again for his help and offers him usage of the Ayerses’ park whenever he would like it. Apparently, the park provides a shortcut to some of Faraday’s patients, so he appreciates the offer and plans to take her up on it. As he drives away, he catches a glimpse of Roderick sitting in his room and looking defeated as he tries to sort through the endless papers and books on his desk.
Faraday continues to grow closer to the Ayers family and get more access to Hundreds. However, Roderick’s defeated look as he drives away is an ominous sign that things at Hundreds will continue to decline, and are perhaps even worse than Faraday knows.