It is the day of the St. Ogg's bazaar, and many men visit Maggie's stall to ask about her goods, a detail which will be remembered by the women of St. Ogg's unfavorably in the future. Stephen is paying much attention to Lucy in this public setting. Mr. Wakem visits Maggie's booth and pleasantly buys goods from her, speaking generally, but significantly, about Philip. Stephen comes to Maggie's booth late in the day, and Maggie appears agitated, looking up at Philip, who is sitting in the corner observing them. Stephen follows her look, seeing Philip, and realizes the attachment between Philip and Maggie.
Stephen approaches Philip and makes nervous talk about his own antipathy to Maggie, and Philip calls him a "hypocrite." The two part. Meanwhile, Maggie sits at her stall in despair at the thought that life was always "bringing some new source of inward strife." Dr. Kenn, seeing the pain on Maggie's face, visits her stall. Dr. Kenn's presence is soothing to Maggie, and she explains to him that she must soon leave St. Ogg's again. Dr. Kenn senses the urgency behind this need.
We learn that Lucy has reported to Maggie that the mill can be reclaimed by Tom, thanks to Philip. Maggie has not spent time with Philip lately, leaving her alone to struggle internally with her feelings for him. After the bazaar, Maggie tells Lucy that she is leaving in two days to see her aunt Moss and then is taking up a governess position at the end of the month. Lucy is hurt and confused about why Maggie would leave now that there are no obstacles between Maggie and Philip. Maggie explains that Tom still objects. Lucy offers to speak with Tom, but Maggie insists she must leave St. Ogg's and "leave some time to pass." Lucy asks Maggie if she does not love Philip enough to marry him, but Maggie responds that she would choose to marry Philip because it would be "the best and highest lot" for her.
The night before she leaves for Mrs. Moss's, Maggie attends a dance at Stephen's house. Stephen does not ask Maggie to dance as he cannot think of her without thinking of Philip, too, now that he senses the attachment between them. But as Maggie begins to dance a country-dance, Stephen begins to hunger for her closeness. After the dance, he approaches her and suggests they go for a walk. In the conservatory, looks and silences make up a "moment of mute confession" between them, and there is a sad resignation that they will soon part for good. Maggie reaches to pick a rose, and Stephen impulsively kisses her arm. Maggie is instantly hurt and angry that he would think so lightly of her. Yet Maggie is also relieved that her prideful reaction to Stephen's insulting gesture will make it easier for her to renounce him and face her duty.
The next morning Philip visits Maggie before she leaves for the Mosses'. Maggie is affectionate to Philip like they had used to be, but she tells him that she must go away again. She explains that she cannot do anything against Tom's will. Philip, suspicious, asks her if this is the only reason they cannot be together, and Maggie answers affirmatively and believes it.
Maggie has been at her aunt Moss's for four days, when Stephen rides up to the house. Stephen claims to have a message for Maggie, and they walk out of the Mosses' yard together. Maggie angrily berates Stephen for pressing himself upon her. Philip, in turn, berates Maggie for her lack of feeling for the suffering he feels, "mad with love" for her and trying to resist, while she treats him as though he were a "coarse brute." He explains that he would give her his hand in marriage if he could and that he has repented his rash action in the conservatory, but it was committed because he "loves [her] with his whole soul." Maggie forgives him immediately but is reluctant to indulge him affection. They walk further, and Maggie urges him to think of Lucy and explains her own attachment to Philip. Stephen argues that if she loves him as much as he loves her, then it wouldn't be wrong for them to marry. He argues that they are neither formally bound to Lucy or Philip. Maggie agrees that their feelings for each other are strong but explains that when "such feelings continually come across the ties that all our former life has made for us" then they should be renounced. Maggie agrees to give him one kiss before they part, and then she hurries back to the Mosses' where she cries in her aunt's arms.