Faraday thinks back on all the terrible conditions he has had to treat in his medical career. As he listens to Roderick speak, he realizes that Roderick is one of the worst cases he has ever dealt with. When Roderick stops talking, Faraday thanks him for sharing his troubles. Then, Faraday performs a quick examination of Roderick. He tells Roderick that he thinks his problems result from his mind playing tricks on him because he is exhausted. He believes that Roderick is especially prone to such experiences because of his wartime experience.
As expected, Faraday does not believe a word of what Roderick has said. He knows that the experience felt real to Roderick, but he cannot bring himself to take it seriously. Instead, he responds as his medical training would instruct him to; he tries to diagnose Roderick and make him better.
Faraday’s attempt at an explanation enrages Roderick, who believes something is haunting his home. Immediately, Roderick regrets sharing his experience with Faraday and gets ready to leave. Faraday tries to give Roderick medication on his way out, but Roderick refuses. He also recommends a psychiatrist, but again Roderick is not receptive. Roderick tells Faraday he needs a vicar rather than a doctor. Before he departs, Roderick angrily reminds Faraday that he is not to mention anything to Caroline or Mrs. Ayers.
Faraday finds himself in a tricky situation; he has a patient who will not except what Faraday confidently believes is the reality of the situation. Additionally, he’s promised not to tell the Ayers family about what Roderick told him, which leaves him with few options. Of course, he could break Roderick’s trust, but that would sever whatever bond is left between them.
Faraday doesn’t know what to do. He is confident that Roderick has been hallucinating, but he does not want to break his word. Additionally, Faraday worries that he is too close to the case to judge it properly. Nonetheless, he continues to contemplate the case. Although Faraday does not think Roderick is a danger to others, he worries that his delusions will eventually lead to a mental breakdown.
Faraday’s feeling that he is too close to Roderick’s case is something to keep in mind throughout the rest of the novel. One of the central issues with Faraday is that he strives to be a rational man of science, even though he has all sorts of emotions wrapped up in the Ayers family and Hundreds Hall.
Wanting a second opinion, Faraday decides to speak with Graham. Unfortunately, Graham is not much help. His hypotheses are the same as Faraday’s, and they settle on what Faraday assumed in the first place; that is, they think Roderick suffers from a nervous disorder. After speaking with Graham, Faraday decides he must tell Caroline about what has been going on with her brother. He heads out to Hundreds, hoping to avoid Roderick.
Faraday speaks to Graham in an attempt to curb his bias. Graham is a fresh set of eyes, as well as someone who can bring some objectivity to the situation. Graham’s confirmation of Faraday’s fears leaves Faraday with no choice; he must break Roderick’s confidence—a move that will surely have lasting consequences.
When Faraday arrives at Hundreds, he goes to the parlour where he finds Caroline and Mrs. Ayers. Luckily, Roderick is nowhere in sight. Mrs. Ayers and Caroline are discussing some old, ruined photographs that they failed to carefully preserve. Mrs. Ayers is upset, but Caroline reminds her that there is nowhere in the house where the pictures would not be prone to some kind of damage. Mrs. Ayers acknowledges her daughter’s point but continues fretting, nonetheless.
As Hundreds decays, its history dissolves with it, as even photographs are not safe. Mrs. Ayers is probably upset because the photographs are the only way she can still see Colonel Ayers’s and Susan’s faces and hold onto the memories of Hundreds as it used to be.
Because Mrs. Ayers is upset, Faraday decides it is better not to tell her about Roderick, who is hiding in his room. Instead, he makes an excuse to speak to Caroline in private. Caroline and Faraday move into the library, where no one will hear them. Once they are alone, Caroline asks if Faraday has come to speak about Roderick. Faraday confirms her fear and repeats everything Roderick told him about the night of the party. Much to Faraday’s dismay, Caroline seems to think that everything Roderick says is true. However, Faraday quickly explains that Roderick’s experiences are the result of delusions and not a supernatural entity.
Up until now, Caroline and Faraday mostly saw eye-to-eye. However, Caroline’s belief that Roderick could be telling the truth shows the gulf between the two characters. Faraday does not entertain the notion that Roderick could be telling the truth for a moment. Yet, it is Caroline’s first instinct. Caroline’s reaction could suggest two things. First, it is likely that Caroline trusts Roderick because he is her older brother and she has not considered the idea of a nervous breakdown. Second, it is possible that Caroline has had similar inexplicable experiences around Hundreds herself.
Caroline asks Faraday what they should do. Faraday says that, for now, she must keep an eye on Roderick. He worries that Roderick is hurting himself and does not want that to continue. Additionally, he admits to Caroline that if the Ayers were any other family, he would have already sent Roderick to a mental institution. This thought horrifies Caroline, but she respects Faraday and sees his point.
Here, Faraday admits that he is treating the Ayerses differently than his normal patients. In other words, he is ignoring the medical part of his mind in favor of the emotional—further proof of his deep entanglement with the family.
As Faraday and Caroline talk, they hear a noise behind them. Moments later, Roderick steps into the room and looks at them suspiciously. He asks Caroline what Faraday has said to her. Before she can answer, Faraday responds honestly, which angers Roderick. Roderick is furious that Faraday broke his promise, and he worries about what could happen to Caroline. Caroline questions Roderick about whether Faraday’s account is true. In response, Roderick asks her what she thinks, and a strange look passes between them. Shortly after, Roderick leaves, upset and worried.
As was expected, Faraday quickly loses any good faith he had left with Roderick. What is less expected is the look that passes between Roderick and Caroline. Although Faraday thought he had talked Caroline out of any sort of supernatural explanation, the look she gives to Roderick suggests he was not fully successful. Even if she does not admit it out loud, Caroline appears to believe there is a possibility that something supernatural is going on in Hundreds.
After Roderick departs, Caroline asks Faraday if it is possible that Roderick's account is the truth. Faraday is shocked that Caroline is even considering such a thing. He gently tells her that Roderick is ill and apologizes for the difficult situation. At this point, their discussion comes to an end, and they return to Mrs. Ayers in the parlour.
Again, as someone who views the world through a scientific lens, Faraday cannot believe Caroline is even considering the idea that Roderick is telling the truth.
Caroline sends Betty away to clean, and Faraday follows her. Faraday has just remembered what Betty told him about an evil presence in the house, and he wonders if she shared her idea with Roderick. Betty swears that she did not say anything. Faraday wants to believe her, but he cannot trust her fully.
Again, Faraday searches for a rational explanation, which leads him back to Betty. Unfortunately, because their relationship started off on the wrong foot, Faraday doesn’t know whether to believe her.
Over the next few weeks, Faraday contacts Caroline to ensure that Roderick is alright. Caroline tells him that Roderick is still exhausted but fine otherwise. Because Faraday no longer has an excuse to go to Hundreds, he does not see the Ayers family for quite some time. Instead, he spends his time working on his electric therapy paper and tending to his regular patients.
There are a few stretches of time in the novel where Faraday does not see the Ayerses. Instead, he spends his time with his regular patients, whom one might wonder if he has been neglecting in the meantime. After all, he spends a significant amount of time at Hundreds.
Faraday does not see the Ayers family again until winter arrives. One day, he calls up Mrs. Ayers to check on Roderick, and she invites him over for dinner a few days later. When the time comes, Faraday makes his way to Hundreds in the snowy weather and notices how dreary Hundreds looks in the winter.
Similar to the night Gyp bit Gillian, the weather at Hundreds creates a sinister atmosphere, which does not bode well for Faraday’s dinner with the Ayerses.
Faraday lets himself in and goes to the little parlour where he finds the entire Ayers family, all dressed up for the occasion. Mrs. Ayers and Caroline seem to be alright, but Roderick is largely despondent. He does not say anything to Faraday. Instead, he sits alone and drinks his wine, which Faraday can tell he has been doing for some time.
Previously, it was mentioned that Roderick usually did not drink—at least to excess. However, here, he is doing exactly that, which suggests he is in a dangerous downward spiral.
At dinner, Roderick refuses to eat. Instead, he asks Betty to refill his wine glass. Caroline tries to convince Roderick to eat, but he does not give. Mrs. Ayres explains that it has been a difficult day because they have had to sell more of their land. The whole process was upsetting, particularly to Roderick. Apparently, some of the land they sold is part of their beloved park. This news shocks Faraday, who is also upset that the park will be torn apart. He asks if they can do anything to keep the park intact, and Mrs. Ayers responds that they cannot.
Again, Roderick’s mental and physical decline are closely linked to the deterioration of Hundreds. Like before, Faraday appears legitimately upset that the Ayerses are dismantling Hundreds—too upset, in fact, for someone who does not live there and hasn’t been around for months. Just like before, Faraday’s reaction suggests an irrational attachment to Hundreds that he does not fully understand himself.
Roderick begins ranting about how everyone around the Ayerses wants to persecute them. Mrs. Ayers and Caroline try to calm him down but fail. After dinner, Roderick retreats to his room, claiming that he has papers that need his attention. Faraday lets him go and returns to the parlour with Caroline and Mrs. Ayers. Mrs. Ayers apologizes for Roderick’s behavior and expresses her fear that her son’s drinking will worsen his condition.
Here, Roderick’s paranoia gets the best of him. No one in the novel has persecuted the Ayerses up to this point except the Baker-Hydes, who dropped their case after Faraday put down Gyp. To everyone involved, Roderick looks like a madman, and Faraday knows that Mrs. Ayers is right to worry.
After some small talk with Caroline and Mrs. Ayers, Faraday goes upstairs to check on Roderick. He finds Roderick sitting and drinking next to a dying fire. Faraday warns Roderick that he needs to stop drinking. Unsurprisingly, Roderick does not take the advice well and instead mocks Faraday. It quickly becomes obvious that Roderick no longer trusts Faraday because of what he told Caroline.
Roderick’s room is an appropriately Gothic atmosphere. The dying fire symbolizes both Roderick’s and Hundreds’ decline. Because Faraday previously betrayed Roderick’s trust, he has no way of getting through to him now, especially since Roderick thinks everyone is out to get him.
Roderick begins another rant about how Mrs. Ayres is disappointed in him. He tells Faraday a story about how he ran away from school as a child because another kid bullied him. When Roderick's parents located him, Mrs. Ayers called him a disappointment, and Colonel Ayers brutally beat him. Roderick wonders aloud why he spends so much time trying to protect the image of a family that has treated him so horribly.
Here, there are several new revelations about Roderick’s character. Roderick believes that Mrs. Ayers’s motherly concerns are a thin veil beyond which lies disappointment and regret. Up to this point, Caroline, Roderick, and Mrs. Ayers have seemed like they genuinely care about each other and have had each other’s best interests at heart. While all this could still be true, cracks are starting to appear in their familial dynamics that had not been obvious before.
Roderick once again starts talking about how Hundreds is sucking the life out of him. When Faraday looks at Roderick, he sees a sick man who has not improved. He worries that his delusions will continue to grow worse. While contemplating this matter, Faraday looks up and sees the strange mark on Roderick’s ceiling. Then, he lets his gaze drift around the room, where he sees more marks that were not there before.
The addition of more marks around Roderick’s room suggest that Roderick is responsible for making them. After all, who else could be responsible? At least, it's easy to see how Roderick’s current state could prompt Faraday to that conclusion.
Roderick notices that Faraday is suddenly afraid and thinks he finally believes him. However, Faraday claims that his fear is because he thinks Roderick is a danger to himself. His response sends Roderick into another tirade. Roderick orders Betty up to the room and then asks her to escort Faraday away. Faraday goes downstairs and speaks to Caroline and Mrs. Ayers in the parlour. Faraday does his best not to scare Mrs. Ayers. However, he asks Caroline in a serious tone to make sure she checks on Roderick before she goes to bed. Caroline promises Faraday that she will.
Throughout the novel, Faraday tends to be too forthright with his patients, which only makes matters worse. Despite the fact that he is working with people he presumes are mentally ill, Faraday is open and honest with them about what he thinks of their supposed condition. Roderick’s reaction to such treatment suggests that this policy is not always the best move.
Faraday drives home, still upset by his interactions with Roderick. When he gets home, he looks at the picture Mrs. Ayers gave him, as well as his medal from Empire Day. After some time, he gets in bed, still thinking about the Ayers family. He lies awake, thinking about what could be happening at Hundreds Hall. Eventually, Faraday falls asleep. However, he was right to worry, because something terrible happens at Hundreds as he sleeps.
Whenever Faraday thinks about Hundreds alone at night, his mind always goes back to Empire Day, suggesting that his youthful experience at Hundreds had a profound impact on him which never fully left his mind. Additionally, this is the first of a few times in the novel where Faraday falls asleep thinking something bad will happen at Hundreds, only for him to be woken up and proven right.