Chapter I

From a window, Maggie sees Mr. Wakem approach and notices that Philip is with him. Philip tips his cap to her, and Maggie runs upstairs, unwilling to spoil a reunion with Philip by the presence of their fathers.

Several days later, Maggie goes out for her usual walk in the rocky area near her house, called the Red Deeps. Maggie's chosen life of deprivation has suited her—she looks stately and older now, though there still remains "a sense of opposing elements, of which a fierce collision is imminent." Philip Wakem emerges from the woods and admits to Maggie that he has followed her there, wanting to see her again. Maggie is frank—she is happy to see him and thanks him for the kindness shown to her and her brother in their youth and explains how she is sad that they cannot restart their friendship. Philip protests, asking Maggie to meet him in the woods now and then. He first suggests that it is their duty to repair the enmity between their families, that their meeting would affect no one, and finally that meetings with her would provide the only happiness of his days. Maggie cannot agree to meet him as it would thwart her purpose of putting other people's happiness in front of her own and her desire to give up her discontent with her narrow life. Philip rejects this as damaging asceticism and speaks of the need to hunger after "certain things we feel to be beautiful and good," like qrt. Maggie finally agrees not to make her decision today but to come again to the Red Deeps and tell him her decision then. Philip is happy but still slightly sad at his perception that she has never considered the possibility that they will become lovers.

Maggie returns home with a conflict within her. Philip returns home feeling that Maggie is the only woman in the world with enough love to love him in his deformity. He vows to be Maggie's "guardian angel," and to "do anything, bear anything for her sake."

Chapter II

Tom has been getting on in the world slowly but has become a credit to his uncles, especially his uncle Deane who acquired the warehouse position for him. Tom is frustrated by the slow accumulation of money and, about a year ago, took an opportunity to venture some capital with Bob Jakin. First, Tom needed capital to venture, and Mr. Tulliver proved too uneasy about losing money. Instead, Tom decided to visit his uncle Glegg with Bob to ask for Glegg to advance him some money to venture.

Bob and Tom meet Mr. Glegg in his garden. Glegg is wary of Bob, dressed in his packman gear, at first, but is won over by Bob's innocent talkativeness. Bob explains the plan to buy goods cheaply at Laceham and sell them for a profit. Mrs. Glegg calls the men in from the garden but is dismissive of Bob the packman. Bob senses that Mrs. Glegg would be a good target to whom he can sell his goods and begins buttering her up, speaking of her high-class status and of his knowledge of the Dodsons. Bob plays coy with the contents of his pack, insisting that they're beneath her tastes and prices.

The men explain the moneymaking scheme to Mrs. Glegg, who is first skeptical, then hurt—feeling as if she's been left out of a profitable plan. Bob returns to the subject of his goods and, after much more coyness, shows Mrs. Glegg his goods. Mrs. Glegg, entranced with stories of lesser women getting good deals, buys some muslin and net. Bob also gets Mrs. Glegg to lend twenty pounds of her own money toward the venture.