Dorothea asks Farebrother if it would be possible to approach Lydgate about the scandal and offer help. Farebrother tells her that Lydgate may not respond positively to questioning. Sir James says that they cannot manage another man's life for him. Dorothea decides to wait until she approaches Lydgate about taking over Bulstrode's interest in the hospital before broaching the subject of the scandal.
Lydgate deduces that Bulstrode loaned him the money to bind him through a strong obligation in the event that Raffles disclosed any damaging details about his past. The townspeople avoid him, and he begins losing clients. He resolves to stay in Middlemarch and face the worst, but the thought of Rosamond's reaction pains him deeply.
Mrs. Bulstrode suspects something terrible when Lydgate accompanies her husband home from the meeting. Neither Lydgate nor her friends will give her a straight answer, so she goes to her brother, Mr. Vincy. He sorrowfully tells her the whole sad story, but he is careful to let her know that no one blames her. He tells her that he will stand by her no matter what she chooses to do.
Bulstrode knows that his wife returned home, claiming that she wasn't well, so he perceives that she has heard everything. He prepares himself to hear her say that she is leaving him. She dresses herself in mourning clothing and goes to see him. He will not look at her. A wave of compassion hits her when she sees his shrunken frame. He bursts into tears with her sitting by his side. His confession and her resolve to stick with him are unspoken.
Happy to be free of debt, Rosamond sends out invitations to a dinner party. She is bored in Middlemarch and misses Will Ladislaw's company. She feels jealous of his admiration for Dorothea. He writes to tell her that he will visit Middlemarch soon. She still hopes to convince Lydgate to leave Middlemarch.
All the invitations to Rosamond's dinner party are declined. She visits her parents. They tell her everything and say that Lydgate will probably have to leave town. Lydgate perceives that she knows of the scandal, but to his disappointment, she does not express the belief that he is innocent.