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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
It is Autumn and time is passing slowly. Lily has received notes from Judy Trenor asking her to come to stay but she has avoided going. She is getting tired of living alone with Mrs. Peniston. The only highlight of her existence is spending the money she has made on the stock market. She has always spent money as fast as she got it and has never thought much about saving. One day while she is shopping, she runs into Miss Farish, who is downcast over the low funds of a charity she volunteers for. It is for the young women who work in the offices down town, for when they are out of work. Lily feels so charitable in light of her unfamiliar surplus of money that she makes a contribution and then feels quite justified in all her recent purchases.
Lily gets an invitation to attend a camp hosted by a woman "of obscure origin" who has been helped into the New York social circle by Carry Fisher. In times past, Lily had avoided her, but now she is delighted to go and be admired for her poise and grace. When she returns to town, she feels especially healthy and pretty. She is upset by a visit one evening by Mr. Rosedale who invites her to attend the opera on the opening night. when she hesitates, he tells her Gus Trenor will be there and has asked especially about her. When she hesitates again, he brings up her stock market speculation. She tries to downplay it but feels irritated that Gus would tell Rosedale about this. She recovers and charms her way out of the uncomfortable moment.
For the days after the visit, she is hounded by the thoughts of Gus Trenorís importunate claims on her time and attention. When she goes to the opera, she finds Gus Trenor there. He leans too close to her and complains about not getting to be alone with her as he was on the day she came to pick him up from the station. She agrees to meet him the next day at a park. George Dorset comes into the opera box and he is happy to see Lily because she had been so nice to him at the Bellomont party that week. He complains about the new social season starting and about his wifeís new interest in cultivating friendships with intellectuals who spend too long over dinner and give him indigestion. He invites her to come to a dinner his wife is giving. Lily happily agrees. Since she has the letters of Mrs. Dorset, she doesnít feel so angry at her.
If Gus Trenor and George Dorset are representative, it seems, of most of the married men of Lily Bartís social circle boorish husbands looking for someone to talk to. These two men seem to be pushy, but not enormously dangerous to Lily. She thinks at least that she can manage them while getting what she wants out of them. Gusís pushiness seems to be nothing more than petulance. He would probably embarrass Lily, but not ruin her. Simon Rosedale, on the other hand, seems more dangerous. While Lily recognizes that being an outsider, he doesnít play by the same rules, she thinks she can use the same stratagems to keep in line that she does with other men. The narrator indicates otherwise, setting up an ominous sense of doom for Lilyís future.
Lilyís getting pulled into a game of revenge against Mrs. Dorset seems as dangerous as her foolish speculations with money and her equally foolish spending of all the money she wins. While Mrs. Dorset can play these mean-spirited games without much damage to herself, it is unlikely that Lily will be able to.
Mrs. Peniston always watches the social season from the sidelines and pays attention to every detail. She always watches especially for the newcomers and predicts their downfall. This season the economy has hit the old families very hard and everyone has retreated to their country houses. Only Mr. Simon Rosedale and the Brys seem to have profited from the stock market this season. Rosedale is reputed to have doubled his fortune. He is moving very slowly and carefully to gain a footing in the social circle of the old New York families. He thinks of Carry Fisher as having helped him a great deal in that effort, but his knows that he would be in much better shape if he could get Lily Bart beside him.
Mrs. Peniston always notices what is going outside her home, but doesnít notice much of anything that goes on with Lily. Grace Stepney, who has cultivated a strong dislike for Lily because of Lilyís indifference to her and because Lily kept her from one of Mrs. Penistonís rare dinners, comes to Mrs. Peniston one evening with news about Lily. She tells Mrs. Peniston that people are talking about Lily spending so much time with Gus Trenor, that they were seen at a park one evening after the lights were lit, and that it is likely that Gus Trenor is paying Lilyís gambling debts. She also intimates that Lily is making herself familiar with George Dorset. She says the gambling debts are the reason Percy Gryce ran from Lily. Mrs. Peniston is horribly shocked. She has never imagined that any young woman would actually engage in immoral acts. She feels like someone in her house has a contagious illness and she will soon catch it.
This chapter shifts the focus from Lily to her aunt and Miss Grace Stepney as they discuss Lilyís increasingly poor reputation. Unwittingly, Lily has made an enemy out of Grace and she is being ruined for it. In Graceís telling, the reader gets the results of Lilyís latest maneuverings with Gus Trenor and George Dorset. It is unclear what the reality of those relationships are, but the gossip about them provides enough reality to rock Lilyís already unstable world. The only place of security she has been able to rely on has been her auntís home. Now that has been threatened.