Chapters 27-30 Summary
Helen and Leonard are still at a hotel in Oniton, with Jacky asleep in the bedroom. Helen begins a discussion of the two different classes of people as she sees it. One group, of which she assumes Henry Wilcox is a member, has no consciousness of “I.” By this, she is not referring to individuals who are selfless but rather to those who have no sense of personal responsibility in anything they do or in anything that is happening in the world around them. In contrast, she and Leonard, Helen says, are well aware of the “I” that makes up the central part of their thoughts. They belong to other group.
Leonard is somewhat confused in this discussion. He is also distracted by more mundane thoughts, such as whether Mr. Wilcox will offer him a job. This does not deter Helen from continuing with her conversation. She talks about death and how one can use the idea of death to make life better. One should not worry about death or be afraid of it. Rather, one should use death to better inform life or make one aware of how precious every moment is. This conversation continues until there is a knock on the door, and a messenger delivers two letters: one for Helen and one for Leonard.
Attention is now returned to Margaret as she is writing the notes that will be sent to Helen and Leonard, but she writes another note first. This one is addressed to Henry. Margaret is offended by Henry’s having had a mistress even though this occurred well before he knew her. It is the idea of a man needing a mistress that bothers her. Henry’s having misled Mrs. Wilcox in the past is painful for Margaret to think about. She wonders why men have affairs outside their marriage and why women must tolerate this transgression. Margaret tears up the letter to Henry.
She writes next to Helen, telling her that neither Leonard nor Jacky are worth her time or energy. She tells Helen that Jacky was found drunk, lying on the lawn. She tells Helen to leave the Basts’ presence and come spend the night at Mr. Wilcoxes’ house. The note to Leonard is very short. Margaret tells him that Mr. Wilcox has no position for him at this time.
No servant responds to Margaret’s call, so she walks to the hotel and delivers the letters herself. When she comes back, Henry is there to greet her because he was curious about who was coming into the house. Margaret is courteous with Henry but not very warm. She excuses herself and goes to bed. Before falling asleep, she tries to convince herself that she must be patient with Henry. She believes she truly loves him, and in time, she hopes, her love will make him a better man.
In the morning, Margaret finds that Helen has not come to the Wilcox home. When she goes to the hotel, she is told that Helen and the Basts have returned to London. Margaret does not know what this means. She wonders why Helen left without telling her and why Leonard left without responding to her note.
(The entire section is 810 words.)