Maggie reaches Dr. Kenn's and tells him everything. Dr. Kenn is receptive—he has read Stephen's letter and believes Maggie. He congratulates her on the "true prompting" of her instinct to return to her past and her friends. Dr. Kenn urges Maggie to find work in another town and offers to help. But Maggie explains that she has already written to excuse herself from her summer work, as she desires to stay in St. Ogg's. Dr. Kenn agrees to try to help her find work in St. Ogg's.
Mrs. Tulliver reports to Maggie the unexpected news that Mrs. Glegg is standing by Maggie. Mrs. Glegg apparently had gone to Tom to reprove him for rejecting his sister before knowing the whole truth: "If you were not to stand by your 'kin' as long as there was a shred of honour attributable to them, pray what were you to stand by?" Mrs. Glegg has been standing strong on Maggie's behalf against many others. Tom, at least, however, remains unmoved in his refusal of Maggie. Mrs. Glegg has offered to take in Maggie and not reproach her.
Mrs. Tulliver reports that Lucy has begun to sit up in bed and take notice of people, though there is still no word for Maggie of Philip. Mrs. Tulliver laments, for the first time, the turn of family luck for the worse, and Maggie sadly repents.
Maggie finally asks Dr. Kenn about Philip, but no one has any word of him, since Wakem refuses to answer questions about his son. Finally, though, Maggie receives a letter from Philip expressing his forgiveness and understanding and a promise to wait for her and not press his continuing love for her. He credits Maggie's conduct in leaving Stephen and his love for her with having brought him out of egoistic jealousy to a state of "caring for [her] joy and sorros more than for what is directly [his] own." Maggie collapses in tears upon reading the letter at the thought of Philip and Lucy's pain.
The first trial that Maggie must face upon returning to St. Ogg's is a meeting with Tom. We have seen Maggie be hard on herself for virtually the entire novel, but Tom here is harder on her. His method of argument is reminiscent of Stephen's. There is a proliferation of accusatory first-person and the effect is to sound egoistic: "I have had feelings to struggle with; but I conquered them. I have had a harder life than you have had: but I have found my comfort in doing my duty. But I will sanction no such character as yours: the world shall know that I feel the difference between right and wrong." (The emphasis here is Eliot's). Tom's strict adherence to justice and fairness is revealed in the end to include an underlying vein of self-righteousness. Even Mrs. Tulliver, who has always privileged Tom over Maggie, now feels his lack of compassion and makes up for it herself.
The inclusion of the final scene in Chapter I between Bob and Maggie also serves to underline Tom's cruelty. Far from pre-judging Maggie, Bob's only thought is that Maggie may have been somehow wronged. Tom's formal ejection of Maggie from the Tulliver household and family is mirrored in reverse by Bob's taking Maggie into his house and choosing to name his daughter after Maggie.