Fred walks to Lowick to find Mary. He finds her in the company of Farebrother's mother, aunt, and sister. Farebrother returns home and contrives to allow Fred and Mary some time alone together. When they are alone, Fred declares that he has no chance, because she will probably marry Farebrother after all. He tells her that her father has agreed to hire him, but the knowledge that he has a superior rival will prevent him from working as hard as he can. Mary assures Fred that Farebrother has not tried to win her away from him and admonishes him for his unfair distrust of Farebrother. Fred is relieved, but he stills feels an intense jealousy.

Commentary

Casaubon's unwarranted suspicion and his contemptible codicil compromise Dorothea's reputation. There are few secrets in Middlemarch. Gossip spreads through the community like wildfire. Dorothea's Puritan attitude and behavior does not coincide with an extramarital affair. Brooke, Sir James, and Mrs. Cadwallader well know the damage that malicious gossip can cause. They also know that the suspicion and accusations that arise from the speculations of gossip can never really be disproved. Mrs. Cadwallader's machinations to marry Dorothea to a proper aristocrat are very much motivated by a desire to protect Dorothea from suspicion.

Again, standards for men and women are different. Featherstone can bring his illegitimate son out of the woodworks and make him into a landed, wealthy gentleman by tacking on his last name to Rigg and signing a piece of paper. His extramarital sexual activities aren't necessarily damaging. He belongs to the landed gentry, so his "sins" do not necessarily have to remain in darkness forever. However, the standard of behavior is a much different matter where a woman is concerned. If Dorothea were suspected of an extramarital affair, even one that had not been consummated, it would destroy her reputation.

Caleb Garth represents the Victorian ideal of the virtue of work. He sees work as a redeeming activity. His primary joy is not the money he receives in payment. He often says he would be glad to do his job for free if it were not for the fact that he has a family to support. Work is an end in itself for Caleb Garth. His basic philosophy of work mirrors the idealized Victorian conception. His work represents a way to eliminate waste by running things efficiently. It also represents a way to eliminate immoral conditions of impoverished squalor by building better housing for the laborers on large estates and offering better compensation for the work they do.

His salary is an incidental detail, but is it not a motive for work. In a sense, the character of Caleb Garth reflects the Victorian obsession with the stigma of earned money. His approach removes the stigma attached to earned money by making money peripheral to work.

Garth's faith in the redemptive power of work extends to Fred Vincy. He offers Fred a job in order to reform the boy into a man. Unfortunately, he takes on a task that entails more effort and patience than he thought. Fred's education prepared him for a lifestyle of relative leisure. A clergyman need only exercise his duties for a few hours a week. The rest of his time is his own. Fred's expensive education has prepared him for a gentleman's existence. Therefore, Garth must undertake the long process of educating Fred in practical matters of business. His undertaking serves the benevolent purpose of helping another person in need of a favor. It also serves the purpose of saving Fred from the corrupting influence of idleness. Garth's project is not to offer Fred an opportunity to earn a salary. His project is Fred's salvation. Garth is a perfect example of the idealized Victorian concepts of work.