Miles Coverdale, a young man, is returning home from an exhibition by the Veiled Lady, a well-known mesmerist of the day, where he had been inquiring of her concerning the success of the Blithedale experiment. Coverdale is approached by an elderly acquaintance, Mr. Moodie. The latter asks Coverdale if he is going to Blithedale the next day. When Coverdale answers in the affirmative, that he is indeed going in the morning, Moodie asks if he would do a favor for him. Coverdale hesitates, uncertain whether he can or should commit much time to such an individual. Moodie himself then hesitates and decides that perhaps it would be best to ask an older man or even a lady who is going to Blithedale. Coverdale suggests a man named Hollingsworth, who is a few years older than himself.
Moodie then asks if Coverdale happens to know a woman named Zenobia. Coverdale states that he does, that she is a resident of Blithedale and that Zenobia is not her real name, but only a cover.
When Coverdale is unable to convince Mr. Moodie to trust him with his confidence, the two make a tentative arrangement to meet in the morning, before Coverdale departs for Blithedale. Yet Mr. Moodie does not appear.
On returning to his apartments, Coverdale settles down and ponders about his decision to join the Blithedale experiment, whether it is the wisest course he could take.
Finally, Coverdale heads for bed, in preparation for his trip the next morning to the Blithedale community.