Following Roderick's departure, Caroline takes over the business affairs of Hundreds Hall. Caroline is a good head of household, or at least she does her best considering the circumstances. Faraday visits Caroline and Mrs. Ayers regularly and even spends Christmas with them. Caroline and Mrs. Ayers put on a brave face whenever they see Faraday, but he can tell that their recent experiences have beaten them down. Still, they are doing better now that Roderick is not in the house.
As it turns out, perhaps Roderick’s presence was the problem. While he is away, things start to look up, and, for a time, it looks like the worst is behind the Ayers family. It’s notable, though, that Faraday seems to be more present at Hundreds in Roderick’s absence.
One day, Faraday converses with Caroline about how she is feeling. He recommends that she get another dog to help liven up the place. Caroline tells Faraday that she does not want to. However, Faraday insists and tells her that no one would feel she is trying to replace Gyp. Caroline says that replacing Gyp is not what she is worried about. Instead, she is concerned about whether the new dog will be safe. She has thought a lot about what Roderick said before he left, and it has left her spooked. Faraday tells Caroline that she mustn't worry about such silly matters.
Despite her relatively good fortunes, Caroline still cannot get what Roderick said out of her head. Perhaps she feels this way because she cannot bring herself to believe Roderick would set fire to the house, potentially harming or killing everyone inside. Alternatively, there is a possibility that Caroline has had supernatural experiences herself, which she has yet to share with Faraday because she worries about how he will react.
While Faraday is speaking to Caroline, Mrs. Ayers enters the room searching for her reading glasses. Apparently, Mrs. Ayers misplaced her glasses and wants Faraday and Caroline to help her find them. They tear apart the room looking for them but to no avail. Minutes later, Betty comes downstairs and hands the reading glasses to Mrs. Ayers. Mrs. Ayers apologizes for her foolishness and then reads an article about new English policies likely to hurt the Ayres family.
Yet another item goes missing in Hundreds Hall. Of course, as with all missing objects, there is always the possibility of human error. However, things tend to go missing more around Hundreds than they do other places, so it’s worth taking note. Additionally, this section references the wider political context within which the novel exists. At the time, the Labour Party ruled England and started policies that, indeed, would have extracted resources from wealthy families like the Ayerses for the sake of the lower classes.
Faraday thinks back to his first visit to Hundreds Hall. He recalls how marvelous Mrs. Ayers looked and compares her in his mind to the sad, coughing woman in front of him. While Faraday ponders this thought, Caroline looks at him knowingly. Then she invites him to go and look at the construction occurring in the park, and Faraday agrees to join her, though he feels bad about leaving Mrs. Ayers alone.
Again, Faraday internally comments on the physical appearance of a female member of the Ayers family. Here, he associates the decay of Hundreds with the decline of Mrs. Ayers’s physical appearance. In this respect, his interest in the Ayerses seems more superficial than genuine—more about Hundreds than its residents.
Faraday and Caroline make their way to the park, where work on some new houses is already well underway. Faraday and Caroline recoil at what was once the park they loved. While observing the construction site, they catch a worker's eye, who tells them all about the project. Apparently, people are scrambling to buy up the lots, and soon the Ayerses will have several new neighbors.
In part, the Ayerses manage to keep an air of mystery about what goes on at Hundreds because they do not have any close neighbors. However, soon, many people will live close to them because they had to sell their old property—another sign of how drastically things are changing for the upper class in postwar England.
Caroline and Faraday return to Hundreds. On their way back, Caroline complains to Faraday about the idea of living in a normal home. She cannot imagine living somewhere besides Hundreds. Her complaints lead Faraday to reflect on his childhood. He tells Caroline about his impoverished upbringing. Faraday feels terrible that he did not appreciate his parents more while they were alive. They did everything to help him become a doctor, yet he still feels inadequate. Caroline says that it sounds like Faraday hates himself, and Faraday does not disagree.
Again, Caroline demonstrates that although she is the most reasonable member of the Ayers family, she is still completely out of touch with how most people live their lives. When she speaks, she forgets that Faraday is one of the people she is talking about. However, Caroline’s words do not anger Faraday and he does his best to express his own contradictory feelings about his class status. As Caroline points out, Faraday has a lot of unresolved issues regarding his place on the socioeconomic ladder.
Back in the manor, Caroline says that life is challenging without Roderick. She misses her brother, and Mrs. Ayres is not the good company she used to be. With this in mind, Faraday invites Caroline to the upcoming hospital dance. He feels an evening away from Hundreds would do her good. Faraday is unsure whether Caroline will enjoy the event. However, when he calls her up to invite her, Caroline is overjoyed. Faraday wonders if Caroline will take an interest in any of the single men at the dance.
Caroline and Faraday are relatively close in age and spend a lot of time together. However, up to this point, no overt romance has developed between them. Faraday suggests that nothing will change in that regard, as he thinks about the other “single men” who will be in attendance. It’s clear, in other words, that Faraday isn’t interested in Caroline. Caroline, though, might see the invitation differently, given that Faraday does not explicitly express his expectations.
Faraday drives out to Hundreds on the night of the event to pick up Caroline. Caroline dresses down in a manner that is appropriate for the dance. Faraday worries about leaving Mrs. Ayers alone, but Caroline assures him she will be fine. After all, she does have Betty to take care of her.
At the last moment, Faraday acts as though he changed his mind about the dance, as he voices his concerns about Mrs. Ayers. It seems as though Faraday might be nervous about how the dance will go.
Caroline and Faraday drive to the dance, where a band is playing, and several couples are dancing. Faraday's colleagues happily greet him, and Faraday introduces them to Caroline. They also drink some punch that is rather heavy on brandy. As more people come up and say hello to Faraday, Caroline grows increasingly impressed. She gets the idea that he is quite important in the medical community. However, Faraday assures her that is not the case.
Although Faraday is not satisfied with his position, he does appear to be rather respected. Graham told him as much earlier in the novel, and Caroline says the same now. These moments imply that, much like the Ayers family, Faraday does not appreciate his social position or consider how fortunate he is compared to other people.
Faraday asks Caroline if she would like him to find her someone to dance with. Caroline says she does not want to meet more people at the moment, and wonders whether he will dance with her instead. Faraday agrees, and they make their way to the dance floor. While they dance, Caroline reminisces about all the dancing she did in her childhood. Faraday is glad to see Caroline so happy and decides he made a good decision in inviting her out. As they move, Faraday notices Caroline is drunk and shortly after realizes that he's tipsy as well.
Caroline’s desire to dance with Faraday implies that she is romantically interested in Faraday, even though Faraday does not realize it. Faraday’s obliviousness about Caroline’s possible feelings is striking; he initiated this night out with her, yet it never seems to cross his mind that his doing so might be interpreted as taking Caroline on a date. It should prompt the reader to wonder what Faraday’s motives actually are.
David Graham and Anne show up along with some friends. Coincidentally, Caroline happens to know one of their friends, and the two of them run off together. When Caroline is gone, Graham questions Faraday about her and Roderick. Faraday tells him that Roderick has yet to show progress. While speaking to Graham, Faraday glances around to ensure Caroline is alright. Every time he does so, he sees that Caroline is just fine and having fun.
Even for doctors, the Ayers family are the subject of gossip. There is nothing malicious in what Faraday and Graham say, but still, it is telling that they cannot help talking about the Ayerses. According to Faraday, he sees many other patients as well, yet none of them ever come up in his conversation with Graham to the degree that the Ayerses do.
Later in the evening, Faraday finds himself standing near the bar talking to Seeley, a rival doctor. Playfully, Seeley implies that Faraday is romantically interested in Caroline. Faraday is taken aback by the comment, which makes Seeley laugh. Seeley tells him that the whole town is talking about all the time he spends at Hundreds. Faraday wants to fight Seeley but can only stand still with a confused look on his face. Before he leaves, Seeley tells Faraday that he should make a move later in the night. Internally, Faraday curses himself for not realizing how the town has perceived his behavior. In part, he is embarrassed that everyone associates him with a "plain" girl like Caroline.
Here, Faraday realizes how oblivious he has been. As Seeley suggests, Faraday’s invitation reads as a romantic gesture, as do his many free visits out to Hundreds Hall. In this moment, Faraday slowly comes to understand that he is not always aware of his desires, some of which are contradictory. A nasty side of Faraday, which was mostly hidden previously, also comes out in this scene, as he expresses a decidedly juvenile disgust at the thought of being associated with a “plain” girl.
When the dance ends, Caroline returns to Faraday, who treats her coldly. They say their goodbyes to the other attendees and get in Faraday's car. Faraday is self-conscious about how everyone looks at him the whole time. Caroline does not want to leave, but Faraday is eager to get her back to Hundreds Hall as soon as possible. Faraday's sudden irritation confuses Caroline, though she doesn't say anything.
Caroline was not present for Faraday’s conversation with Seeley and therefore does not know his mood has shifted. Furthermore, Caroline has never seen Faraday cross and his sudden shift in mood is confusing and frightening.
On the way back to Hundreds, Caroline asks Faraday if he can take her somewhere other than her home. Faraday says they should head back to Hundreds for Mrs. Ayers's sake. Caroline assures him that her mother will be fine without her. Faraday also tries to make other excuses, but Caroline won't hear them. Eventually, Faraday decides to take Caroline to a nearby pond.
Caroline’s suggestion carries with it a hint of sexual innuendo. However, Faraday does not know what he wants, nor does he know for sure what Caroline wants, which is why he tries to go straight home to Hundreds.
Faraday parks the car and looks at Caroline. He thinks about Seeley's words from earlier in the night. He cannot decide whether he desires Caroline and curses Seeley for putting the thought in his mind. Caroline rests her legs on Faraday’s lap. In response, Faraday places his hand on Caroline's foot and inches it up her leg. Caroline reciprocates Faraday's advances at first but pulls away when Faraday tries to kiss her. Angry, Faraday throws Caroline's legs off of him. After a moment of quiet, Faraday tells Caroline that he thought she wanted him. Caroline says that she thought so too.
Indeed, Caroline’s actions suggest she is interested in sex, but, as it turns out, she is just as confused as Faraday. Caroline’s sudden rejection of Faraday brings out more of his ugly side, as he does not take it well. The end of this chapter represents a major shift in Faraday’s character. Before, even if he was not perfect, Faraday was a likeable man, who seemed in control of his emotions. Here, however, it looks like something more ominous lies underneath the surface—something Faraday himself may not entirely comprehend.
A few minutes later, Faraday starts the car and drives back to Hundreds Hall. Faraday escorts Caroline around the side of the house to some stairs that lead inside. Caroline apologizes for her behavior earlier in the night and gives Faraday a kiss. Then, she goes inside, leaving Faraday outside in the cold. As she walks away, Faraday finds himself wanting her more than ever.
Faraday ends the chapter with a new goal in mind: romantically pursuing Caroline Ayers. However, whether she will accept his advances remains to be seen. His behavior after the dance may have Caroline second-guessing her feelings about Faraday.