Book 2, Chapter 6 Summary

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Last Updated January 12, 2023.

As Stephen leaves Mr. Bounderby’s house, he meets Rachael and the mysterious old woman he had previously encountered. This time, the woman says, she has come down over two days. She is very interested in Mrs. Bounderby, and Stephen describes Louisa to her. Stephen also reveals to Rachael that Mr. Bounderby has fired him and that he has decided to leave Coketown. His perspective is unselfish, for he realizes that if he goes, he will save many people much trouble.

Stephen invites Rachael and the woman to his room for tea. The lady tells him that her name is Mrs. Pegler. She is a widow and has, she nervously explains, lost her son. When the landlady announces that Bounderby has arrived, Mrs. Pegler begs Stephen and Rachael to hide her, but she merely retreats into a corner when she realizes the visitor is Louisa.

Louisa has come out of compassion for Stephen’s plight. Tom is with her. Louisa asks a few questions to better understand the situation, and Rachael reveals that she is the one who asked Stephen to promise that he would avoid trouble. He is determined to keep his word by not uniting with the workers. Louisa asks Stephen what he will do, and then she tries to give him money. At first, he refuses, but he finally accepts two pounds as a loan.

Tom then asks Stephen to step out for a moment and says that there might be an opportunity for him. All Stephen has to do is stand in the street outside the bank for an hour each evening until he leaves town. Tom says that he does not know if the opportunity will come through or not, but it might.

After Tom and Louisa leave, Stephen and Rachael walk Mrs. Pegler to the inn. Then Stephen walks Rachael home, and they say their goodbyes, not knowing if they will ever see each other again. Stephen promises to write.

The next day, Stephen works. Then he does as he has promised Tom. He loiters outside the bank for his allotted time. He does this for two more nights, and on the last, he actually waits for two hours. But nothing happens. The next day, Stephen leaves Coketown, turning his face to the road and leaving “a true and loving heart behind.”

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