Dowell then tells the story of Mrs. Maidan's death. On the day that the two couples traveled to M—, Leonora returned to Nauheim to find a letter from Mrs. Maidan. Mrs. Maidan had overheard a conversation between Florence and Edward and surmised that Leonora had brought her to Nauheim intending her to be Edward's mistress. Mrs. Maidan was horrified at the thought of this and intended to leave at once, but while packing her large trunk, she suffered from a heart attack and fell into it. When Leonora returned from their excursion, she found Maisie's letter and her poor dead body enveloped by the huge trunk. Although Edward feels little remorse, Leonora feels intensely guilty over Maisie's death.


Maisie Maidan is a comically tragic figure. She is young and naive, and completely blind to the possibility that Leonora might use her. Maisie worships Edward's heroism, bravery, and gallantry. But she does not consider a romantic relationship with him; she is dedicated to her young husband abroad. Dowell describes Maisie as utterly and completely submissive. Such a description heightens the tragedy of her death. Of all the characters, she is the only one with a real heart condition. When she is forced to confront the reality that Leonora means to make her an adulteress, her ideals are crushed. The shock kills her. But she is found in a strangely comic position; her small feet are sticking out of the large trunk. Her death is not romantic, and it de-romanticizes the entire novel. This is not a "tale of passion," as the subtitle suggests, but of strangely twisted circumstances.

In this chapter, Ford also brings up the idea of female power. Leonora and Florence control the dynamics of almost all the occurrences in the story. They both seek to control Edward's romantic life and to protect Dowell's emotional life. Yet they do so in strikingly different ways. Leonora seeks power through money and financial control, whereas Florence seeks to manipulate men through sex and deception. Dowell condemns both methods; he sympathizes not with the practical or the powerful, but the "passionate."