The Mill on the Floss Book 6, Chapter 10 Summary

George Eliot

Book 6, Chapter 10 Summary

The night before she is to leave St. Ogg’s, Maggie attends a dance with Lucy. She mostly stands on the sidelines because she is not in a mood to dance. When men pursue her, she tells them she cannot dance. The only dance in which she is willing to participate is a lively country dance, which is finally played. She enjoys the vigorous steps although she is not very attracted to her partner, a young, insignificant male named Torry.

Stephan has not paid much attention to Maggie all night. Instead, he has put all his energies into Lucy. Eventually, he finds he is bored with Lucy and cannot wait until the dance he is sharing with her is over. He has noticed that some other young man has finally succeeded in getting Maggie to dance, and he finds he is jealously watching them and thinking about going over and intruding.

Maggie has also been ignoring Stephan; she believes she is free of him at last. She will be leaving the next day, and that will be the end of her tortured feelings. However, when she sees him walking toward her, she feels a significant excitement come over her. Rather than asking her to dance, Stephan suggests that they walk to a cooler, quieter room. He offers his arm, and again the emotional tension between them rises as they enter the conservatory. Stephan is all but overcome with his desire for Maggie. When they reach a point where they must stop walking and turn around, Stephan takes hold of Maggie’s hand and plants several kisses on her bare arm. Maggie is infuriated. She accuses Stephan of insulting her by his actions. She tells him she did not encourage this type of attention and wants him to leave her alone. When she returns to the dance room, she also feels angry with herself for having fallen prey to her hidden emotions. She is a traitor to Lucy, which shames her.

The next morning, Maggie has packed all her bags and is waiting for her mother. When Maggie hears a knock on the door, she fears it is Stephan. It is not. In front of her stands Philip. Maggie is happy to see Philip, and he is glad to see such a pleasant reaction to his presence. This motivates him to be frank. He asks her if she still has the same feelings for him that she once had. Maggie answers in the affirmative. She says her feelings for Philip will never cease, but she cannot marry him because in doing so she would lose her brother. Philip questions Maggie further, asking if that is the only thing that impedes their marriage. Maggie tells him it is. The narrator suggests that at the moment, Maggie thinks this is the truth. Philip believes Maggie’s declaration should make him happy, but it does not.