As Lily takes up her duties with Mrs. Hatch, a divorcee (was this fact the cause of Selden’s peculiar wrath in the last chapter?), she is once again ensconced in luxury and ease to her immediate pleasure. She has been engaged to help Mrs. Hatch rise in society, however she finds her employer somewhat odd:
Lily returns to New York only to find that her aunt Peniston has died. During the reading of the will, Lily is expected to inherit her aunt’s fortune but Mrs. Peniston has been displeased with Lily’s European travels and perhaps with her behaviour as a whole and has left the bulk of her money to Grace Stepney, giving Lily only ten thousand dollars. The shock is again born with a resignation by Lily.
Lily awakes the next morning still exhausted but with a clearer view of her circumstances. Gus Trenor would need to be repaid the nine thousand dollars he has given her and she feels a tired weariness at her predicament. “She was realizing for the first time that a woman’s dignity may cost more to keep up than her carriage; and that the maintenance of a moral attribute should be dependent on dollars and cents, made the world appear a more sordid place than she had conceived it.”
Lily is rather bored at her aunt’s place but is resisting the invitations to Bellomont because of Gus Trenor’s over-familiarity with her. In a shop, she encounters Gertie Farish, and when Miss Farish tells of the needs of a charitable organization which she supports, in a outpouring of philanthropy, Lily contributes to her cause which gives her a new sensation:
Oh goodness, sorry everyone! While I was initially ahead, now I’m running a bit behind with housing renos gone wrong, and time spent helping friends who are having some health problems. I’m planning to catch right up this weekend! Okay, here is week two:
Are you ready? Have you been reading? The House of Mirth Read-along begins!