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Carol is unable to meet Erik and feels depressed about Fern. She suddenly feels convinced that she loves Erik. She tries to remember his looks and the things he used to say. Once, when Kennicott is away in the country, Erik comes to Carol's house and asks her to go for a walk. She dresses up in her tweed coat and rubber shoes and goes to the grain elevator where he waits for her. They go for a long walk. Erik tells her about the tailor's shop at Minneapolis where he had worked. He tells her about how they made fun of him and of how he would dream of being a marquis in Italy. He shows her the poem he had written for her. It is a badly written verse yet she feels greatful. She insists that they should go home but he wants to stay for some time. He wants to build a fire and makes her sit near it. As they stand talking a car comes towards them. Kennicott calls out to them from the car. He tells Erik to sit in front and Carol is left to sit by herself at the back. Kennicott talks to Erik about hunting. He stops the car when they reach the main street. Erik shakes hands with Carol and leaves. Once they reach home Carol wants to tell Kennicott everything. But he busies himself with his usual chores in the house. Then he settles down and tells Carol that he would not act the part of the outraged husband. He likes her and he respects her. He adds that he cannot be dramatic. He tells her that she should stop going around with Erik before she gets into trouble like Fern Mullins did. Carol is shocked that he knew about Carol's interest in Erik all along. Kennicott tells her gently that Gopher Prairie was not a place where anyone could do anything without everyone finding it out. He is sure that Carol is so colds that she would not bear to let him even touch her.
She tells Kennicott that she admires Erik because he is an artist. Kennicott talks about his work as a doctor and how he has to attend to the patients day and night-hot or cold weather or even through blizzards. He tells her how much he loves her and how the thought of her waiting for him makes him forget all his discomfort.
Kennicott asks her if he himself is so bad that she cannot love him anymore. Carol admits that she never thought of leaving. She asserts that marriage weaves people together and that it cannot be broken even when it has to be. He carries her upstairs and puts her on her bed and leaves her alone.
The next evening he gives Carol a letter from Erik, which informs her briefly that he is going away to Minneapolis. She rushes into Kennicott's arms and once again they become lovers. A week after Erik's departure his father comes to Kennicott's house and blames Carol for his son's disappearance. He abuses her. Carol accuses him of exploiting Erik and threatens to call the police. He calls her names before leaving. When Kennicott returns she tells him that she wants to go away to California. He promises to take her and tells her that running away would give people chance to talk. She should face them to silence them. He would take her out after three weeks.
When Aunt Beside tries to needle her, Kennicott tells her that Carol and himself had taken Erik out for a walk and that Erik had got a good job offer in Minneapolis and he himself had advised Erik to take it. Guy Pollock talks to her about books when he meets her on the crowded street. Vida takes her to Jolly Seventeen. Carol disappoints the matrons of the club by talking about their plans to go to California and asking for their suggestions.
The Smails are requested to stay in Kennicott's house and take care of Hugh. Kennicott wants to know if Carol wanted to buy clothes at Minneapolis. She has no wish to stop but wants to get as far away as possible. They take a train. Carol feels as if the gray fields were closing in on her.