Chapters 38-40 Summary
Margaret asks Henry that Helen be allowed to spend one night at Howards End. Henry turns down the request, believing firmly that he is in the right, as usual. Instead he focuses on the question of who has seduced Helen. He also informs Margaret that he has told Charles what is going on and has told Charles to notify Tibby. Margaret becomes angry at this news. There is no need for Charles to become involved and even less for Tibby, she tells her husband. Henry claims he has told Charles because one day Charles will inherit Howards End. The house where Helen wants to spend the night belongs to Charles. Henry also tells Margaret that she does not know the ways of the world. If they allow Helen to stay for one night, she will probably want to stay for two or more. They may never be rid of her.
Although Margaret tells Henry that she will be driving Helen to London the next day and that Helen will then be returning to Germany, Henry does not give in. He is disgusted that Helen has allowed herself to get in this predicament. Alter listening to her husband’s inability to offer kindness to her sister, Margaret loses all patience with Henry. She reminds him that she has forgiven him for his sexual transgressions and asks why he cannot forgive someone else’s. Henry does not understand the connection between what he has done with Mrs. Bast and the situation that now faces Helen. He remains committed to his decision that Helen must be out of Howards End immediately. He turns his back on Margaret and walks away.
In London, Charles has sought out Tibby. Charles is determined to find out who has left Helen in the condition she is in. This is not much for Helen’s sake, for Charles has the lowest possible opinion of Helen. He continues to believe that Helen wants Howards End for her own. He believes that she had tried to seduce his younger brother, Paul, and then Margaret had tried to win his mother’s friendship and that was why his mother left Howards End to Margaret. Now Helen is pregnant to bring dishonor to the family. Charles believes the Schlegels are out to bring down the Wilcoxes.
When Charles asks what Tibby thinks about all that has happened, Tibby has no ideas to offer. Charles reminds Tibby that he must protect his sister’s honor by forcing whoever seduced her to marry her. When pressed, the only man Tibby can associate with Helen is Leonard Bast. When Charles hears this, he is determined to find the man.
Meanwhile, Margaret has defied her husband. She is at Howards End, spending the night with her sister.