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The Mill on the Floss

George Eliot

Book Seventh, Chapters IV, V, and VI

Book Seventh, Chapters I, II, and III

Book Seventh, Chapters IV, V, and VI, page 2

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Summary

Chapter IV

Dr. Kenn becomes more and more frustrated at the unwillingness of the women of St. Ogg's to employ Maggie. He decides to offer her a job as governess for his children. The town soon begins to talk of Maggie's power over Dr. Kenn and the horrid possibility of their marrying. The Miss Guests report the connection between Maggie and Dr. Kenn in a letter to Stephen. They also ask Stephen to join them on the coast, where they will be taking Lucy to rest.

Lucy has been gradually recovering. Maggie longs to see her but knows it would cause Lucy too much agitation, even if she were allowed. Maggie despairs upon hearing that Lucy will soon leave for the coast.

One evening, Maggie hears someone come in the house. She feels a hand on her shoulder and hears Lucy's voice call her name. Lucy has snuck away from her home to see Maggie and forgive her. Maggie repents and explains that she never meant to deceive Lucy. Lucy comforts Maggie, acknowledging that they have all suffered. Maggie asks Lucy to forgive Stephen as well, but Lucy trembles and is silent. Lucy's maid, Alice, interrupts, to urge Lucy to hurry. Lucy hugs Maggie and tells Maggie, "you are better than I am," before leaving.

Chapter V

The day after Lucy's visit the weather changed in St. Ogg's and rain has fallen continuously, making the Floss dangerous, especially for nearby houses such as the Jakins'.

It is September, and Maggie sits, the last one still awake in the house, with a letter from Stephen in front of her. Two days prior, Dr. Kenn, finally overcome by the slanderous gossip about him and Maggie, asked Maggie to leave St. Ogg's for a while. Maggie trembles at the thought of the loneliness she will face, having left St. Ogg's.

Stephen's letter reports that he is back from Holland and is in Mudport, unbeknownst to anyone else. He reproaches her for her cruelty to him. He stresses the severity of his suffering since their parting and begs her to ask him to come to her. Maggie is tempted to accept this escape from her loneliness and exile. But soon she remembers her feelings upon having read Philip's letter and upon having met with Lucy and begins to pray. She cries out for Stephen to forgive her, saying of his suffering, "It will pass away. You will come back to her." She then burns the letter and resolves to write him a letter of final parting tomorrow.

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