Dr. Kenn works hard on Maggie’s behalf to try to find her some employment, but finds that no respectable woman in St. Ogg’s is willing to employ Maggie. Meanwhile, rumors begin to spread that Dr. Kenn himself wishes to marry Maggie, which embarrasses Dr. Kenn and forces him to release Maggie from employment in his household.
Although Dr. Kenn is a compassionate and forgiving man, he is still sensitive to public opinion. The rumor that he means to marry Maggie demonstrates Maggie’s status as a “fallen” and thus sexually available woman.
Maggie learns that Lucy is going to the seaside with Stephen’s sisters. However, before Lucy leaves, she makes a secret visit under cover of darkness to Maggie’s lodgings. Lucy tells Maggie that she forgives her and understands that Maggie never meant to hurt her. She even says that she admires Maggie for her bravery and strength in giving Stephen up, when few people would have done so.
Even though Maggie has suffered from social rejection and isolation, she is greatly comforted by Lucy’s forgiveness. Lucy also seems to understand the difficulty, as a woman, of making the choice that Maggie made. Lucy tells Maggie she is “brave” because she understands the social censure to which Maggie has been subject as a result.