Chapters 60-61 Summary
Charles goes to the address that has been sent to his solicitor—the address where Sarah is now living. He is taken to a room filled with sketches and paintings; Sarah is meeting with two gentlemen. When she sees Charles, she is stunned. She takes him to another room so they can be alone.
Sarah tells Charles that she left Exeter without knowing that he was planning to break off his engagement to Ernestina. Because Sam did not deliver Charles’s letter, she thought she would never see Charles again, so she moved to London. Without knowing it, she was being observed by a famous artist who lived in the neighborhood where she found a place to stay. The man was a widower and grew curious about her and took her in. She worked as his assistant and sometimes as his model.
Charles listens to this story and is amazed at how much Sarah has changed. Her style of dress is more like the women he saw in the United States—rebellious of the London style. Sarah’s whole manner is the epitome of freedom. Yet she is standoffish, as if she does not want Charles to reenter her life. Charles assumes that she has become the painter’s mistress.
Sarah informs him that this is far from the truth. The man still suffers from the loss of his beloved wife. But Sarah has found the man to be a source of intellectual and artistic stimulation. He is teaching her so much about herself and her art. It is through him that she has evolved into a more confident woman. She does not want to change her life. She wants to remain free of a husband; she does not want to take on any roles. She just wants the freedom to be herself, to follow that path wherever it takes her without any hindrances for any man.
Charles feels the tables have turned. Whereas Sarah once came to him for his affection, he is now begging for her to return his love. No matter how much he pleads and argues with her, Sarah acts determined to be rid of him. When he is about to leave, he tells her angrily that she is guilty of manipulating him these past two years by opening his heart to her and then deserting him. Sarah asks him to stay for just a few minutes more. She says she cannot allow him to leave with those negative impressions of her. There is someone in the house who can explain her better...
(The entire section is 639 words.)