That night, Maggie struggles to fall asleep. She finds her mind very stimulated, not necessarily by Stephen, but by “a world of love and beauty and delight” that had previously been closed to her. Lucy comes into the room and laughs at Maggie for not having changed into her nightdress yet. She tells Maggie that she has invited Philip to come and stay. Maggie explains that she can’t see Philip because she swore to Tom that she wouldn’t meet him again without his permission.
The narrator’s description suggests that it is not necessarily Stephen himself who delights Maggie and attracts her romantic interest. Rather, his and Lucy’s leisured and privileged world— “a world of love and beauty and delight”— appeals to Maggie because it stimulates her appetite for knowledge and growth, after years of repression and hard work.
Lucy confesses that she loves Stephen, and prompts Maggie to reveal her secrets as well. Maggie tells Lucy the story of her romance with Philip and the obstacles facing them. Lucy thinks this is “very beautiful” and promises to help work a reconciliation between the Wakems and the Tullivers.
By trying to help Maggie and Philip, Lucy demonstrates that she is more tolerant than others—like Mr. Wakem or Tom, who have held on to their ancient grudge towards one another. Unlike them, Lucy sees no reason why Philip and Maggie should be kept apart.