Sundays are days of rest in the Blithedale community. While some spend the day in traditional worship at one of the local churches, some spend it communing with nature. Such are Coverdale, Hollingsworth, Zenobia, and Priscilla. They go to a pile of boulder’s called Eliot’s Pulpit, after the story that John Eliot, apostle to the Indians, preached from there.
The talk turns to the rights of women. Zenobia decries how the liberty of her sex has been constantly curtailed. She speculates on what would happen if women were to be given the full range of their liberty, what good they would do, and how humankind would be better. Thinking that Coverdale is laughing at her, she confronts him. Coverdale, however, declares that he agrees with her, that women would be excellent in so many positions where men then held sway.
Hollingsworth, however, states that a woman’s place is by the side of man. He influences Priscilla, who agrees with him, clearly hoping to be the woman at his side. Coverdale despairs that he can attract either one of the women, both being besotted by Hollingsworth, who clearly doesn’t deserve their attentions, in Coverdale’s opinion.
Coverdale notices that Zenobia and Hollingsworth are becoming more and more intimate. He tries to prepare Priscilla. He assures her that Zenobia is still her friend. Priscilla declares Zenobia devoted to her and admits that it is little wonder that Hollingsworth has laid his heart at her feet, seemingly.