Cynthia arrives, and she is very beautiful and graceful. She possesses a sparkling personality which charms everyone- especially men. She is also fun-loving and frivolous, taking nothing (especially her mother) very seriously. Despite the great differences in their characters, the two girls become fond of each other.
Then, about two weeks after Molly returned home, Mrs. Hamley dies. Witnessing her grief, Cynthia says that she wishes she could love people as Molly does, but that feelings don't seem to go very deeply in her. After the funeral, Roger returns to Cambridge, while Osborne is to remain at the Hall with his father- an awkward proposition, since they're barely talking. After visiting the Hall, Dr. Gibson remarks that Osborne doesn't look well, and Hyacinth begins urging her husband to invite him to dinner. He ignores her.
At Hamley Hall, Osborne is getting desperate. He has no profession, or prospects for one, and the Hall is in such financial straits that the Squire couldn't provide him with an adequate allowance even if he was disposed to do so. And Osborne has a wife to be supported, not to mention the costs associated with his frequent trips to see her. He feels he cannot tell his father about her for a couple of reasons. One is that she's French and Roman Catholic, and the Squire has often expressed his disdain for that nation and its people. Also, the Squire has for years sternly told both his sons- especially Osborne- that they must marry into a titled family, and Osborne's wife, Aimee, was formerly a nursemaid. He decides that he will attempt to sell some of the poetry he has written over the years, hoping to make enough to be independent of his father.
Soon after this, the Gibsons- and everyone else in the area- are getting ready for the annual charity ball to benefit the county hospital. Everyone from Lord Cumnor and his family to -literally- the local butcher will be in attendance (the exception being the Hamleys, who are still in mourning).
At the ball, Cynthia is a big hit, and certainly has no lack of partners. Molly, too, despite being shy and reserved, has plenty of dance partners. Mr. Preston arrives and, upset that Cynthia has not saved him a dance, stands about glaring. Lord Cumnor and his family arrives at the ball along with some of their friends. Lady Harriet makes her way over to Molly to chat, renewing their acquaintance. She also introduces Molly to her brother, Lord Hollingford, who asks her to dance. At first very shy, Molly is put at ease by Lord Hollingford's extreme clumsiness at dancing. Hollingford, who is very involved in scientific research, mentions that Roger Hamley has had a paper published which is making waves in the scientific world. Molly is very pleased to hear about this, and thanks to Roger's tutelage, can discuss the topic knowledgeably with him. Lord Hollinford later compliments Dr. Gibson on having such an intelligent daughter.
While all this has been going on, Mr, Preston manages to corner Cynthia and says something to her which causes her to, though angry and unwilling, agree to dance with him. Afterwards, she seems to lose all pleasure in the ball, and for days following it is moody and depressed. When Roger comes to call, he is alarmed by her pallor and asks Molly if Cynthia is ill. He brings flowers for her, and worries about her until Molly, who, though she loves Cynthia, is becoming a bit irritated that she is all Roger talks of to her. However, she soon becomes more indignant over Roger's treatment by Hyacinth. Osborne, whom her step-mother still hopes will marry Cynthia, is away again, and Hyacinth doesn't want Roger hanging about because she's afraid that Cynthia will fall for the wrong brother. To guard against this, she starts discouraging Roger from visiting as often. However, even though Cynthia obviously likes Roger, she shows no more preference for him than she does for Osborne or any other man who admires her. Speaking of Osborne, he and Molly have become quite good friends now, as, knowing of his brother's infatuation, when calling on the Gibsons he spends most of his time with Molly so that Roger can have Cynthia to himself.
Soon after this, Roger returns home, and to everyone's surprise, Hyacinth has suddenly warmed to Roger, and apologizes for her previous rudeness, encouraging him to visit more often, and not minding if he spends most of these visits with Cynthia. Roger's love for Cynthia is now obvious to all, and though she is incapable of returning those feelings, she does appreciate the depth of his.