Mr. Deane calls Tom into his office and applauds him for doing so well at Guest & Co for the past seven years. In recognition of his hard work, Mr. Deane informs Tom that the partners plan to give him a share in the business. Tom thanks him but asks instead that Guest & Co might buy back Dorlcote Mill for him. He explains that Wakem might be willing to part with it, since the current overseer is a drunk and has been running the business into the ground.
After years of hard work, Tom is finally offered a concrete financial reward: a share in the Guest & Co business. However, all he seems to care about is getting back Dorlcote Mill. His decision to reject Mr. Deane’s offer and ask instead for the return of the mill suggests the powerful appeal of Tom’s childhood memories and desire to honor his father’s last wishes.
Mr. Deane promises to consider Tom’s suggestion and to explore the possibility of buying Dorlcote Mill. However, he expresses some skepticism, asking whether Tom might like to do something else instead. However, Tom says that “there’s nothing else I care about much,” which strikes Mr. Deane as rather sad in a young man of twenty-three.
Mr. Deane recognizes that Tom’s obsession with getting back the Tulliver family property is rather sad. Instead of looking to his own life and future, Tom is trapped in the past and in his own memories, unable to accept a new opportunity when it comes his way.