What is the summary for Chapter 12 of The Blithedale Romance?

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Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Coverdale has provided for himself a retreat, not belonging to the community as a whole, one where he can go to escape the crowd (despite the intention of the Blithedale philosophy). On one of his rambles, he discovered a bower up in a tree. With a little modification, he arranged a perch of solitude, perfect for contemplation or the writing that he is currently doing.

From his hermitage he spies Hollingsworth, plowing the fields and looking the very picture of a farmer. Coverdale muses that, to Hollingsworth, all people are cattle, to be driven and goaded into the direction in which he desires them to go.

He also sees Priscilla, and once again thinks about warning her about trusting too much to the friendships she has made at Blithedale, especially with Zenobia and Hollingsworth. He fears her heart will inevitably be broken.

One day he overhears the approach of Zenobia and Westervelt in deep conversation. Coverdale speculates that they at one time had an intimate relationship, which has now, on Zenobia’s part, turned to intense dislike. Zenobia is visibly irate, yet Westervelt is calmness itself.

In listening more closely, Coverdale discovers they are discussing Priscilla. Zenobia is feeling stifled by the girl’s admiration. Westervelt counsels her to fling Priscilla go. Zenobia, however, cannot bring herself to do this. But she strenuously wishes to be rid of Westervelt.

Coverdale is perplexed by this conversation, as well as the past relationship between the two.