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Inevitably, the new horse is shown to be vicious in temper, it hurts the groom and lames its leg by wild kicking in the stable. Fredís only hope of repaying the debt on time is gone. He goes to Caleb Garthís office to confess his folly. Garth being out, he goes to his house. Here, Susan Garth, an older version of Mary is hard at work, presiding over her baking, teaching her two youngest children, and washing clothes at the same time. She has no servants and struggles to maintain her house. The other "respectable" wives in the town look down on her for this, and because she was earlier a teacher and worked for her living. She is strict and outspoken like her daughter, Mary, but there is a deep love and sympathy between Susan and Caleb.
There is an amusing scene between her children and herself with her struggling to teach a bored Ben English Grammar. Fred enters feeling uneasy. She greets him warmly but notices his pallor. Unconscious of his problem, she increases his guilt by saying she had first saved enough to apprentice her elder son Alfred for training in a profession.
When Caleb returns home, Fred blurts out the problem to him. Caleb is upset and apologetic to his wife, as if it is his fault. They immediately begin discussing how to collect the due sum amongst themselves. Fredís contribution is only fifty pounds. Mrs. Garth asks her husband to go and borrow Maryís savings of twenty pounds. Until this point, Fred has only felt self-pity and sorrow at the loss of their good opinion. Now he sees himself "as a pitiful rascal who was robbing two women of their savings." Overcome with shame, he virtually runs away from the Garth household.
The writer introduces the reader to a family, which has been held by some critics to be the "moral center" of the novel. The entire major characters, however, good and idealistic are shown to be blind to their own weaknesses and those of other people. They all have to learn through struggle and suffering. The Garth family, however, donít undergo any important change in the course of the novel as they are already well adjusted and morally good. Caleb is also on the social front, a dedicated professional, and a symbol of changing values in society. He has neither indolence nor snobbery of the gentry nor the greed and social climbing tendencies of the traders. In contrast to the Vincy family, blindly indulgent parents and showy spenders, the Garths are strict but loving parents, concerned about their children's education and values and proud of their own hard work. It is already suggested that Fredís salvation will come through his friendship with them and his love for Mary.