Book 4, Chapters 3-4 Summary
It had been discussed some time before that Maggie and Amerigo, along with the Ververs, might take a trip to Spain during the summer months. Maggie thinks this might play into her plan to draw her husband closer to herself and away from Charlotte. She suggests to Amerigo that, instead of all four of them going to Spain, he might take Mr. Verver without the women. She has been trying to spend less time with her father, seeing that her husband feels at loose ends when she is gone. Amerigo is unsure of this plan, and he feels that his father-in-law will not take to the suggestion. Maggie suggests that he should be the one to approach Mr. Verver with the prospect of the trip. Amerigo resists, so Maggie then proposes that they have Charlotte suggest the trip and encourage her husband to go off with his son-in-law, leaving the two women behind. Amerigo agrees that this might work better. Maggie confesses that she feels she has been a source of unhappiness in their family, but Amerigo assures her that her father is never so happy as when she is with him. It would not be wise to cut too loose from the Ververs. Amerigo agrees to go if Charlotte will be involved in convincing Mr. Verver to go on the trip with Amerigo.
Over the next several days, Maggie’s uneasiness does not subside. She realizes that it was on the way back from dinner at Eaton Square with Lady Castledean that her fears began to materialize. There has been a loss of balance between the two couples, as Maggie describes it to herself. It was Mrs. Assingham who succeeded in drawing Maggie out of herself in such a way that she noticed her husband’s straying affections. She now understands what Amerigo had meant in his allusion to using Charlotte to provide harmony and prosperity in the family. Charlotte has been everywhere Amerigo has been, whether Maggie or Mr. Verver were there or not. As Mr. Verver declines so many social occasions, Charlotte has been seen more with her step-son-in-law than with her husband.
One evening, Maggie proposes to her father that the two of them go out for a walk in nearby Regent’s Park, where Charlotte and Amerigo had taken the Principino to the zoo. Once more affectionate with her father, the two of them go to Regent’s Park.