It is still late winter, 1896, and the Bramwells have gone to Eastbourne for a short break. Robert returns to London, but Eleanor stays on for a few days on her own. Or so she claims. In fact, she has (to every viewer's astonishment!) arranged to meet Finn O'Neill there, without telling her father. When others see them together, she introduces him as her cousin. Unfortunately, a Mr. Smythe is a patient of her father, and upon returning to London tells Robert about meeting Eleanor's "charming Irish cousin". Robert is not amused at his daughter's deception. Back at the Thrift, Robert has discovered the gas plumbing needs repair. Work is well underway when Eleanor returns, but the subsequent rift with her father requires that work be stopped, since Robert is suddenly unwilling to pay for it. Sidney is in a foul mood, and Nurse Carr wonders why, but Sidney won't talk to her about it. Eventually, it turns out that his mother wants him to leave home now he's 16. Nurse Carr reluctantly agrees to take him in as a lodger. Eleanor leaves the family home after a confrontation with her father, but neither she nor Finn can afford to keep her at an hotel. Finn tries the meek approach with Robert, asking for permission to marry Eleanor, but Robert will have none of it. Finn tells Eleanor that he is being named as a co-respondent in a divorce lawsuit from a couple called Walters. He claims not to have actually been involved with the married woman, but he wants her to know in advance of any adverse publicity. Then he proposes marriage and, evidently out of her normally rational mind, she accepts. In the meantime, Robert has calmed down a bit and is now resigned to the marriage, and allows Eleanor to move back home until the event, now set to take place at Marlybone Church on the 14th of next month. ("That's four weeks", says Robert, though a calendar in the Thrift says it is the 4th of an unspecified month.) When the Walters' divorce blows up into a major scandal, O'Neill is put on indefinite leave at St. Judes, without pay. He has decided in desperation to accept a previous offer of a research fellowhip in epidemiology in Chicago, and wants Eleanor to come with him after they are married. But when Finn returns from meeting the Americans at Cambridge, he has found the pay is quite low and they cannot offer married accommodation, so the wedding must be postponed until his return from America. "An engagement of two years is not uncommon", says Finn, which suggests he expects to be gone for that long. But now Eleanor thinks she may be pregnant, which of course means the marriage must go ahead, even if she must remain behind in England. Robert is surprisingly calm about this, despite the prospect of having Finn as an absentee son-in-law. The pregnancy proves to be a false alarm, and Eleanor releases Finn from his promise, pending his return, supposing they are both still agreeable. "Still, two years is a long time. Cross that bridge when we come to it, eh?" says Robert.moreless
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