Chapters 17-19 Summary
Margaret is frustrated because she cannot find a new house for herself and her siblings. She also finds all their possessions a heavy load when she contemplates moving. They have lived in the same house all their lives and have many pieces of furniture that are more sentimental than practical. Some pieces belonged to their father, others to their mother; therefore, they cannot get rid of them even if the items are no longer needed or wanted. The sisters’ annual visit to their Aunt Juley’s home at Swanage is fast approaching, and Margaret had hoped to have a home established before they left.
To take a break from her worries, Margaret accepts a lunch invitation from Evie Wilcox, who has recently become engaged. Upon arriving at the posh restaurant Evie has chosen, Margaret regrets having agreed to come. She is not particularly fond of Evie, nor do they have much in common. But as they enter the restaurant, Margaret is pleased to see that Mr. Wilcox is joining them. Mr. Wilcox arranges for Margaret to sit next to him and then attends to her by ordering what he thinks she should eat and drink.
During the meal, the conversation between Margaret and Mr. Wilcox highlights how differently they look at life. They agree on very little, but they disagree in a very friendly fashion. Margaret mentions that she is having trouble finding a place to live. She even asks Wilcox if he will rent Howards End to her. Wilcox acts as if he does not hear her and has no other leads for her to look into. The only thing he tells her is to be firm in what she wants and not to alter her course. That is what he has done with everything he has ever wanted. Later, when Margaret reflects on the time she has spent with Mr. Wilcox since Mrs. Wilcox’s death, she realizes they are growing closer.
Margaret invites Wilcox to have lunch with her and Tibby at a restaurant of her choice. She had previously teased Wilcox about this restaurant, whose patrons tend to be into the occult and who talk about auras and astral planes. Wilcox takes all these strange ideas in stride and with good humor.
The Schlegels leave London for their Aunt Juley’s place in the country. They are not there long when a telegram arrives for Margaret from Mr. Wilcox. He has decided not to live in the house he has obtained in London and would be willing to lease it to them if she so desires—but he must have an answer immediately. If she is interested, Margaret should travel to London to see the home. If she does not want to consider it, all she needs to do is send him a return telegram.
Margaret is curious enough to go see the home. She is suspicious about Wilcox’s terms—of having...
(The entire section is 733 words.)