Pages read: 239 - 319 (end)
So it turns out that the reason Helen disappeared to Europe is that she was pregnant! And it was Mr. Bast's! Apparently, the night of the disastrous wedding, Helen allowed Mr. Bast to take comfort in her arms, and has been hiding on the Continent ever since. Margaret finds out when she finally ambushes Helen at Howards End, having convinced her she needed to come and get the old books that the sisters had stored there. Henry is with Margaret, and duly scandalized, but Margaret reconciles with Helen. The two plan to spend one last night together at Howards End before Helen goes back to Italy and disappears from English society forever. Henry, like an idiot, refuses to let Helen stay at Howards End, and, in an impassioned speech, Margaret defies him and all mankind! It's totally awesome!
"You shall see the connection if it kills you, Henry! You have had a mistress - I forgave you. My sister has a lover - you drive her from the house. Do you see the connection? Stupid, hypocritical, cruel - oh, contemptible! - a man who insults his wife when she's alive and cants with her memory when she's dead. A man who ruins a woman for his pleasure, and casts her off to ruin other men. And gives bad financial advice, and then says he is not responsible. These, man, are you. You can't recognize them, because you cannot connect. I've had enough of your unweeded kindness. I've spoilt you long enough...You have betrayed Mrs. Wilcox, Helen only herself. You remain in society, Helen can't. You have had only pleasure, she may die." (286-287)See how awesome?
Anyway, so she and Helen spend the night at Howards End, and in the morning, Charlie, the complete idiot, comes to demand their exit. Meanwhile, though, Mr. Bast has been making his way to the house to apologize to Helen, and, of course, he and Charlie meet. Charlie has been informed that the situation is Mr. Bast's responsibility, and he overreacts and smacks Mr. Bast on the shoulder with the flat of an antique sword that's kept at the house. (Like you do.) Mr. Bast, victim of congenital heart disease, drops dead. (Man, it's like I'm making this stuff up, it's so great. I'm not, though. You can look it up.) Charlie ends up getting brought before the magistrate for manslaughter, and, as a result, Henry has an emotional collapse. He apologizes to Margaret, who tells him she intends to go live with Helen in Europe, but he begs her to stay. She takes pity on him, and ever after rules the marriage. She and Helen and Henry live at Howards End with Helen's son, and Henry wills the house to her. Charlie gets let off, though his reputation is ruined. The end!
Man, I really liked it, actually. I'm impressed with Forster for doing the completely unexpected with Margaret's character, even though there were ridiculous plot twists all around. It was an excellent examination of the pressures of class and what happens when those on their margins try to break free from their strictures. And yay for Margaret!
Worthy of the list.