For the next few weeks, a melancholy air lands over Hundreds Hall. Faraday continues his weekly visits for Roderick’s treatment. As he walks around the house, he often thinks he hears Gyp but then realizes that is impossible. Other members of the household report similar experiences, including Mrs. Ayers and Mrs. Bazeley. The first time Faraday speaks to Caroline after Gyp’s death, he finds she does not want to discuss it. However, she does offer him an apology for behaving rudely on the night of Gyp’s death.
Although Hundreds was declining before Gyp’s death, his demise has turned an already gloomy place even more dour. Additionally, there is another hint that something otherworldly is haunting the house, as the Ayers family all think they’ve heard Gyp wandering around. However, unlike Betty, none of them interpret the sounds as proof of paranormal activity.
Faraday worries about Caroline. Although her behavior has not radically changed, Faraday can tell by looking at her that she is upset. One day, he asks Roderick about Caroline, but Roderick has nothing to say. Faraday can tell that Roderick is still doing poorly. If anything, the events of the party have been harder on Roderick than Caroline. Faraday wants to help but is not sure what to do.
Since the party, Roderick has largely disappeared into the background, where he is apparently suffering. Again, this passage provides a hint that Roderick’s problems are more serious than Faraday realizes.
Ultimately, Faraday decides to betray Mrs. Ayers’s trust and tell Roderick that he heard about his behavior on the night of the party. Immediately, Roderick is upset and feels betrayed. He complains that Mrs. Ayers gossips too much, even though she doesn’t know what goes on right under her nose. Faraday is puzzled; he isn’t sure what Roderick means. Apparently, Roderick has a secret, but he isn’t willing to share it with Faraday. In a rage, Roderick gets up before the end of his treatment, and Faraday decides it would be best to leave.
Here, there is further evidence that something mysterious is going on at Hundreds. Whatever the problem is, it has now come between Roderick and his mother. This is the first time one member of the Ayers family has openly cast critical judgment on another. Although the Ayerses have been a tight-knit unit, they are beginning to fray.
The following week, Faraday returns to Hundreds to see Roderick, who is in a better mood, though his face is bruised. Faraday is concerned, but Roderick quickly explains the bruises away. According to Roderick, he went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and ran into a door, knocking himself out. Though Roderick is dismissive, Caroline is deeply concerned and tries to impress the seriousness of the injury upon Faraday.
There are several sections of the novel where a number of inexplicable occurrences will happen in a row at Hundreds. Every time, Roderick or someone else will explain them away with a rational explanation. However, with each subsequent incident, the rationalizations becomes less convincing.
The topic of conversation makes Roderick angry and he refuses to let Faraday perform the usual treatment. He acts ungratefully toward Faraday, which bothers Caroline. However, Faraday maintains a level head and tells Roderick that he doesn’t have to undergo the treatment if he does not want to.
Again, Roderick is unfair to Faraday, who treats the Ayerses better than one could reasonably expect given the circumstances. Likewise, Caroline continues to demonstrate that she is the more compassionate and reasonable of the two siblings.
A few days later, Roderick hurts himself again. This time, he says, he tripped over a footstool, which was not in its usual place, in the middle of the night. Again, Roderick tries to dismiss the incident, though his family members are concerned. Mrs. Ayers asks Faraday what he thinks is really going on. However, Faraday is perplexed. He knows something is wrong with Roderick but doesn’t know what.
The footstool incident continues the pattern of odd happenings at Hundreds. Recall that Betty was blamed for leaving objects in the wrong places; yet that explanation doesn’t seem to account for all that’s happening. At this point, everyone knows that there is something Roderick is not telling them, but they have no idea what.
Later in the week, Faraday returns to Hundreds and speaks privately with Caroline. Caroline is convinced that there is something Roderick is not telling her. Apparently, he has nightmares, which he thinks are real. One night, Roderick came into Caroline’s room and asked her to stop making a racket, even though Caroline was sound asleep. In this instance, Roderick swears that he heard Caroline moving furniture around, even though she has been sound asleep. Like everything else, Roderick dismisses this incident when someone brings it up to him. Faraday wonders whether Roderick has been having seizures. However, Caroline tells him that she knows what seizures look like and she does not think that Roderick has epilepsy.
Here, there are even more strange incidents at Hundreds, though at least one of them sounds like it only occurred in Roderick’s head. Faraday looks for a rational, medical explanation of what occurred, but Caroline quickly shoots down the only one he can come up with.
Caroline tells Faraday that she recently saw something peculiar in Roderick’s room. She asks Faraday if he will come to look at it, although she does not say what it is. When they reach the bedroom, Caroline points to a strange mark on the back of Roderick’s door. It looks like a scorch mark, but Caroline knows that Roderick doesn’t use candles in his room. Additionally, when Caroline pointed the mark out to Roderick, he behaved as if it disturbed him.
In this section, the mystery thickens as Faraday learns more information which only deepens his confusion. Still, Betty is the only one so far to suggest a paranormal explanation. It does not even enter Faraday or Caroline’s minds as they examine the strange mark in Roderick’s room. The marks are not only mysterious, but they also indicate that someone or something caused even more damage to the already declining Hundreds Hall.
Faraday scrutinizes the mark and sees that it looks like it developed from within the wood itself. He asks Caroline if the mark may have been there for a long time, and she didn’t realize it. Caroline says that she is sure someone would have spotted it before now if that was the case. Indeed, Faraday himself, who is in Roderick’s room regularly for the treatment, does not recall seeing the mark.
Faraday attempts a rational explanation, but it does not add up to either Caroline or himself. Faraday’s suggestion that the mark came from within the wood suggests it is yet another sign of decay around Hundreds Hall.
Faraday hypothesizes that Betty could have made the mark. However, Caroline dismisses this hypothesis as well. Additionally, Caroline points out another mark on the ceiling that looks the same as the one on the door. This new piece of evidence makes both of Faraday’s hypotheses seem unlikely. Then, Caroline takes Faraday to an ottoman and shows him yet another mark that looks the same as the other two. At this point, Faraday is confused and says that the marks must have been around for some time. Alternatively, he posits that they could result from a chemical reaction.
Again, Faraday tries to rationalize the mark away, but the second mark on the ceiling immediately makes his hypotheses incredibly unlikely, if not impossible. The fact that there are multiple marks suggests that if someone made them, they did not do so by accident.
Caroline hopes that Faraday is correct, but she is skeptical. She seems to think the marks are somehow related to Roderick’s injury. She wonders if Roderick has been making the marks in his sleep somehow. Faraday considers this hypothesis. Then, Caroline begins speaking about Roderick’s state following the war. Her account is similar to that of Mrs. Ayers. Following the war, Roderick was temperamental and unpredictable. He regularly spoke of death, and Caroline implies he could have been suicidal. Caroline worries Roderick is reverting to his former state. She wants to help him, but she does not know how.
Caroline provides the first hypothesis for the origin of the marks which seems possible. Given Roderick’s state when he sleeps, it is possible he could have made the marks, but been unaware of having done so. Still, questions remain: why do the marks look like they came from within the wood and how did Roderick make them?
Caroline wonders if everything would be better if the family got rid of Hundreds. Faraday tells Caroline she cannot mean what she says, but Caroline insists it is true. She thinks Hundreds is a tremendous drain on the entire family, especially Roderick. Faraday looks around, and, for a moment, he realizes what Caroline means. Caroline thanks Faraday for his help and warns him to be careful. She doesn’t want the house to drain him as well.
Faraday’s reaction to Caroline’s view of Hundreds is surprising. Up to this point in the novel, although he has admired Hundreds, he has also pointed out its myriad flaws. Certainly, for a supposedly rational-minded man like Faraday, the idea of selling Hundreds should not sound like a ludicrous idea. The fact that it does suggests that Faraday has an irrational attachment to the manor home himself.
A few days later, Faraday sees Roderick in town. It is the first time he has ever spotted Roderick away from Hundreds. When Faraday calls Roderick’s name, he looks frightened, like someone is hunting him. Faraday asks Roderick what brings him to town. Apparently, Roderick is selling off some of his land and had to come into town to finalize the deal.
Roderick’s appearance in town is problematic beyond just how he looks physically. This is the only time in the novel where Roderick shows his face in town—and right after a scandal, at that—which suggests desperation on his part. Indeed, the Ayerses are forced to sell some land, indicating the ongoing decline of Hundreds.
Faraday asks Roderick to join him at his house. At first, Roderick declines the offer, but Faraday insists. Eventually, Roderick gives in and goes inside for a few minutes. Faraday brings Roderick a drink, figuring he could use one. The glass shakes in Roderick’s hand. Faraday tells Roderick that he looks done in. As usual, Roderick dismisses his concerns and blames his problems on the land sale.
Most likely, Roderick is not lying when he says the land sale is weighing heavily on his mind. However, there is obviously something else as well, which he refuses to share with Faraday. Symbolically, Roderick’s physical decline and Hundreds’ decay are of a piece; both represent the gradual destruction of a class that refuses to willingly leave its place in the social hierarchy.
Faraday thinks Roderick might still be fixated on the Baker-Hyde affair. He advises Roderick to let the incident go and to be happy about what he has. After all, many people envy the Ayres family. Roderick is astonished to hear Faraday’s thoughts on the matter. He thinks Faraday does not understand what it is like to run Hundreds and he goes on an angry rant about how the house is likely to ruin him and his family.
Even though Faraday’s advice is not unreasonable, Roderick is not in the mood to hear it. Roderick’s life peaked as a child and ever since it has gradually gone downhill. He is not poor—or anywhere near it—but he is the poorest he has ever been, which to him is devastating. Additionally, there is something else going on at Hundreds which only Roderick knows about.
In the middle of his rant, Roderick suddenly stops and starts twitching. At first, Faraday thinks he is having a seizure but then realizes it is a panic attack. Roderick asks Faraday to turn around and not look at him. Faraday does as Roderick asks. He looks outside and describes his surroundings in an attempt to calm Roderick down. Roderick appreciates the gesture, and after some time, he settles down.
Roderick begs Faraday to turn away because he cannot bear for Faraday to see him in his weakest moment. This moment suggests that his circumstances have filled Roderick with shame. As usual, Faraday is empathetic, which helps to calm Roderick down.
Again, Faraday asks Roderick what is going on. However, Roderick tells Faraday that it would be better if he did not say. He doesn’t want the problem to “infect” Faraday. He also worries that Faraday will not believe him if he tells the truth. Faraday asks Roderick about his symptoms and when they first started. Roderick says that his problems began the night of the party, just as Faraday suspected.
Roderick’s various insinuations suggest that his explanation for what is going on at Hundreds will be more similar to Betty’s than Faraday’s. Ironically, he uses the medical term “infect” to describe what is unlikely to be a medical explanation.
Finally, Faraday gets Roderick to confess his trouble. However, before he says anything, Roderick swears Faraday to secrecy. He doesn’t want anyone to know the truth about Hundreds, especially Caroline and Mrs. Ayers. Faraday promises that he will not tell and gives Roderick another drink.
Faraday’s promise to Roderick is notable because of how Roderick reacted when a promise was broken previously. If Faraday breaks his promise to Roderick, it is unlikely that Roderick will continue to be honest with him about what is going on.
Roderick begins his story. He says he was uncomfortable throwing the party in the first place and only did so to appease Mrs. Ayers. The week leading up to the party was a great deal of work for everyone involved, which was stressful in and of itself. The night of the party, Roderick had to work overtime at the farm. When he got home, the guests were already arriving. As such, he snuck inside and began cleaning himself up.
The night of the party is stressful for Roderick, which, to Faraday, could read as a trigger for the “nervous trouble” Roderick is said to have. However, Roderick’s preface to his tale suggests that he will have a different explanation for what happened.
In the flashback, Roderick lays out his clothes for the night and then heads into another room to wash up. When he returns and begins dressing, he realizes the collar he had just set out is missing. Roderick calls Betty upstairs and asks her if she has moved it. Betty claims she did not touch his clothes, so Roderick sends her downstairs to the party. The absence of the collar bothers Roderick, who knows Mrs. Ayers wants him to look his best to impress their guests, and he only feels comfortable going downstairs while wearing it.
Again, strange things are happening in Roderick’s room—things both he and Betty claim to know nothing about. If an otherworldly presence is haunting Hundreds Hall, it seems to know Roderick’s insecurities, as the missing collar is significant enough for him not to show his face at the gathering taking place downstairs.
Then, something even stranger occurs. Roderick hears a splash in the room behind him, where he had just washed up. Roderick enters the room and finds his collar on his washing stand, submerged in water. Roderick tries to figure out how the collar could have ended up where it did. There is nothing near the stand for the collar to sit on and fall from. Furthermore, Roderick does not remember placing the collar in the washroom in the first place.
This passage is the first moment in the novel where a character describes something that—beyond a doubt—cannot rationally be explained away. Of course, there is always the possibility that Roderick is an unreliable narrator. However, other than that, there is no ordinary explanation for what occurred in Roderick’s room.
Roderick puts the collar on and begins looking for his cuff links. Again, he cannot find what he is looking for, even though he is sure of where he last left them. Frustrated, Roderick vents his frustration out loud to whatever “spirit” is playing tricks on him. As he does so, he sees a small black figure drop down from the ceiling in his mirror. However, when Roderick turns around, he does not see anything. Moments later, he hears the clinking of metal in his washroom. When Roderick goes in to find the source of the noise, he sees his cuff links sitting in the wash basin. At this point, Roderick does not know what to do. He is stressed about the party and terrified of whatever is happening in his room.
Roderick’s use of “spirit” is the first mention of a ghost in the novel, though when he uses it, he himself might not know how seriously he means it. However, if what Roderick describes is true, the only explanation is something supernatural. Of course, given Roderick’s former behavior, Faraday is unlikely to believe Roderick’s account is reliable.
Roderick looks into his shaving glass and watches sweat roll down his face. As he stares at his reflection, the entire fixture shakes violently. Neither Roderick nor Faraday has a rational explanation for how this happened. The shaving glass is attached to a large porcelain base that cannot move without a great deal of force.
Again, Roderick’s story continues to ramp up, making it less and less believable to Faraday. On a symbolic level—or a psychoanalytic level, which would have been an accepted form of analysis at the time—Roderick is being attacked by himself (or at least a reflected version of himself). The mirror—which reflects his appearance—is an extension of himself, and it is not happy with what it “sees.”
Moments later, the washing stand begins moving toward Roderick. Roderick is terrified. No one else is in the room and he doesn’t know what is causing any of this. He tells Faraday that it would be better if there were some sort of antagonist that he could see. As it stands, it seems like Roderick’s everyday possessions are rising up against him to torment him.
As Roderick notes, it is as though Hundreds itself is attacking him. Several times thus far in the novel, the Ayerses have referenced the toll Hundreds takes on him. In this case, that toll is literalized, as Roderick’s possessions start attacking him.
Roderick moves back from the stand as it progresses toward him. However, the stand continues moving until the shaving glass suddenly launches itself at Roderick. Roderick barely avoids it and runs out of the room. Moments later, Betty returns to check on Roderick. Roderick cannot remember what he said to Betty, but apparently, he frightened her. Betty finds Mrs. Ayers, who follows her upstairs to check on Roderick. Not wanting to scare his mother, Roderick makes up a story about working himself too hard at the farm. Roderick doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t want to be left alone, nor can he tell anyone the truth.
Here is the scene that Betty and Mrs. Ayers described from their perspective. As it turns out, everyone was correct in assuming Roderick was hiding something. However, the nature of his revelation is even more startling than any of them could have imagined. Now, only Faraday knows his secret and must decide what to do with it.
For the next half hour, Roderick looks around his room, keeping an eye on all of his possessions. He knows that whatever presence is in the room will try to hurt him if he is not vigilant. Then, suddenly, the feeling of menace lifts from the room, and Roderick can tell that whatever was trying to hurt him is no longer there. Once the presence is gone, Roderick falls asleep until Caroline wakes him a few hours later to tell him about Gyp and Gillian.
Roderick never sees his attacker and can only describe it as a feeling, rather than as a physical manifestation of some kind. Evidently, the presence creates a paranoia in Roderick, as he knows it could attack him with any object in the house at any time.
Roderick listens to Caroline and is horrified. He thinks that Gyp bit Gillian at the exact time he asked the evil presence to leave him alone. Roderick tells Faraday that he blames himself for the incident between Gyp and Gillian. From now on, he promises to put up with the abuse, so the presence does not bother other people in the house. Additionally, Roderick claims the presence leaves traps for him and blames it for his other injuries. However, he says he does not mind as long as it doesn’t try to hurt Caroline or Mrs. Ayers.
Here, Roderick reveals his theory, which explains why he was so despondent following the Baker-Hyde incident. This scene is a major revelation for Roderick’s character because it paints him in a better light than anything else thus far in the novel. Before he seemed reserved and rude, but his struggle against this mysterious force—whether it is real or imagined—shows courage and nobility.