BOOK THE THIRD
Bounderby buries his unhappiness in his work. The robbery is his chief source of concern, and he offers a reward for Stephen's arrest.
The workers are abuzz when the reward notice is posted all over town. Slackbridge, the union organizer, uses the poster at a meeting to show what happens to a man who betrays the union.
The same evening, Bounderby, Tom, and Rachael come to visit Louisa. Cold and distant, Bounderby faces Louisa for the first time since they separated. Rachael has been claiming certain things that Tom refuses to comment on.
Rachael reminds Louisa of the evening that she and her brother visited Stephen's room. As Rachael speaks, Tom stays quietly in the background, occasionally coughing to signal Louisa not to say anything that might incriminate him.
Louisa confirms Rachael's words. Tom insists that he could not say anything to Bounderby because he had promised Louisa not to- which is true. Besides, he adds, Louisa can tell the story so much better.
When Rachael read the reward poster, she wrote to Stephen to urge him to come home within two days to clear his name. Bounderby won't believe her; the mails have been watched, and no letters have left Coketown addressed to Stephen Blackpool. Rachael explains that Stephen is living under an assumed name- the only way he can get work. For Bounderby, this only proves the man's guilt.
Rachael refuses to reveal where Stephen is, certain that he will come back on his own. She leaves with Sissy's promise to visit her the next night. Gradgrind, who has remained silent the entire time, wonders who is guilty if Stephen is not. And where is the criminal?
Two days go by with no word from Stephen. More time passes, and Rachael finally goes to the bank to give Bounderby Stephen's last address. Messengers are sent to the place, but Stephen has already left.
Tom becomes increasingly nervous and upset. As another week passes, the town begins to wonder if Rachael's letter to Stephen was sent as a warning to escape.
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