The Maclise household changes so drastically in a very short time. Arthur asks Joshua for Marianne’s hand, and they get married shortly afterwards. After the wedding the couple move to London where Arthur has his shipping company.
Marianne is not the only daughter to flee the nest. Great-Aunt Hannah notices how unhappy Eva is, so she persuades her nephew, Joshua, to let Eva go to London to study art. She would stay with a friend of Hannah’s who would keep an eye on the girl. Joshua is reluctant to cave in, but Hannah has good arguments and tells him that he would destroy his daughter if he forces her to do something she doesn’t want. So in the end Eva succeeds in doing what she most wish in life.
Iris also goes. After Marianne announces that she is getting married, Iris feels that she is being left behind. It has been four years she has been out, and she hasn’t found the right man for her. Then that evening Ash turns up because he is leaving, and Iris, who is confident in her assets, hints that she might say yes if he proposed. Yet, Ash tells him that he likes her but he has never thought of her as a prospective wife because they are too different. Iris feels humiliated and hurt, but when he leaves, he tells herself that she won’t be the spinster sister to look after their sick mother. So remembering her friend Charlotte and her plans to become a nurse, she decides that is what she will do as well. So she is the third girl to leave the family home.
That means that only Clemency is left at home, and her mother talks to her and tells her that she wants her to look after her, which means that she will have to leave school. Clemency, who loves school, is taken aback and hesitates, but somehow her mother manages to make her see that this is what she should do. I think Lillian is too selfish with her youngest daughter. As far as we have seen, the woman is not at death’s door, and she is kind of pathetic, wanting to have someone at her beck and call. I am sorry for Clemency. She is too young, and she deserves happiness and be as free to choose as her other sisters. The poor young woman might become bitter when she realises what her life will be like from now on.
Apart from this, we get to see how Joshua Maclise got entangled with Mrs Katharine Carver. She was married to one of his employees, and when the man died of a heart attack, Joshua felt responsible and helped his widow. He started visiting her and became friends. Yet, three months ago there was an incident in the kitchen with a pipe which burst open, and then somehow he found himself kissing her and her responding to her kisses. From that moment, they became lovers, and even though Joshua knows it is wrong and has tried to stop the liaison many times, he feels he can’t. He admits to still loving his wife, but it has been eleven years since they last shared their bed, and Joshua feels he is still a young man and can’t imagine living the rest of his life without touching another woman. I can’t say I approve of his attitude, but I can understand why he feels the way he does.