Chapter 27 Summary
Selden is surprised to see Lily at his door, but he hides his feelings and invites her in. Lily looks around and finds the place just as she last saw it. The two of them stand in silence for some time. Eventually she finds her voice and apologizes for being rude to him when he tried to make her leave her employment with Mrs. Hatch. Lily explains that she eventually took his advice.
After accepting Lily’s apology, Selden invites her to sit by his fire and warm up. She refuses to sit, and she refuses tea. As she tries to explain herself to him, she starts to cry. Dimly, she sees that she is making him uncomfortable, and this makes her feel more lost and lonely than ever. Once he loved her; now he has mastered his feelings and cut himself off from her.
Lily tells Selden that she needs to leave, but before departing she says that her memories of her few tender moments with him have often helped her make the right decisions in her life. Often she has been on the point of doing the wrong thing, but she stopped herself because of him. She apologizes for failing to act on his love, saying that she was afraid: "Once—twice—you offered me the chance to escape from my life, and I refused it because I was a coward."
Lily begs Selden to let her leave a part of herself with him while she goes on to do what must be done. He begs her to explain, but she refuses. She hints cryptically that she is facing a major decision, and she says that she may not see him for a long time. Her vague statements seem to suggest an end to her life, or at least to her friendship with Selden.
As he listens to Lily, Selden grows very alarmed. When she falls silent, he begs her to let him help her. Lily explains that he did help her by loving her but that she knows she has already killed that love by failing to act on it in time. As she speaks, Lily admits to herself that she loves Selden and there is nothing she can do about it anymore. She asks permission to warm herself at his fire and kneels before it. He watches wonderingly as she drops something into the flames. Afterward, she stands up, kisses him on the forehead, and leaves.