With everyone still in mourning over Francis’s sudden death, more bad news is headed the way of the Poldarks. It turns out the samples Francis collected were of quartz, also known as “fool’s copper”, and is worthless. While Ross keeps Elizabeth updated on all the news of the mine – after all, as Francis’s heir, she now has a half share in the mine, Demelza is preparing for the worst if Ross is sent to debtors’ prison. The Warleggans want their loan fully repaid the day after Christmas, so at least Ross can have one last supper with his family.
It has now been seven months since Caroline left Cornwall but she is back, and just as enamoured with our good doctor as ever. She tries to convince Dwight to move to London, or to Bath, to earn more money, even though she knows he is a doctor for the love of helping people and not for money.
Ray Penvenen is not completely ignorant of his niece’s interest in Dwight. Keen to discourage their relationship from developing any further, he asks Dwight to come by the house at a time when he knows Caroline will not be home. He reminds Dwight of his lowly station and that Caroline cannot marry without his consent. The more insults he threw at Dwight, the more determined Dwight became that he just might have a real shot with Caroline. Meanwhile, George continues to woo the merry widow, Elizabeth. He brings fancy candy to Trenwith for Geoffrey Charles, offers to help pay Francis’s debt and tells her that as Geoffrey Charles’s godfather, it will be his duty to pay for his education. “The only decision you have to make is Oxford or Cambridge.”
While Elizabeth may be uncomfortable with George’s advances, she is not exactly beating him away. Her revolving door of men sees Ross paying such regular visits that they do not go unnoticed. For his part, Ross asks Pascoe to sell his remaining shares in Wheal Leisure and use it to buy out Francis’s share in Wheal Grace without letting anyone know. This way, Elizabeth will be free of a worthless mine and be able to pay off some of their debts.
Despite not finding copper in Grace, Ross hasn’t given up entirely. He wants to find Mark Daniel so that they could ask him where he saw the copper. He knows Trencrom can help get him to Mark and makes a deal with him to store smuggled goods at Nampara in exchange for finding Mark. Demelza does not like this idea at all but knows her husband will do whatever he likes.
Christmas arrives and Verity returns to her husband. But before she leaves, she advises Elizabeth to decline Ross’s offer of Christmas supper at Nampara, so as to let him celebrate with Demelza and their son. Even so, Ross is no more attentive to Demelza, with his head stuck in the newspaper reading about the war in France instead.
When the time comes for Ross to repay his loan, he and Demelza go to see Pascoe. Much to their surprise, Pascoe has good news! A “mystery benefactor” (Caroline) has offered him a new loan at a much reduced interest rate, on the condition that the benefactor’s identity remain a secret. Demelza smartly asks Pascoe if he would advise them to accept this offer, knowing who this person is, to which his reply is a resounding yes.
I wish we could have seen Ross and Demelza skipping all the way to George’s house with money in hand. George and Cary are sipping their sherry, gleefully picturing Ross in debtors’ prison when Ross and Demelza appear. Ross apologises for not being able to give them the satisfaction of seeing him in jail and just as gleefully skips out of the house (not really, but I would have been skipping out if that was me). Cary cannot believe how his plan could have failed.
Back at Nampara, Ross discovers that his wife had been stashing away food to keep the household fed. Prudie reminds him that he doesn’t know half of what she does to keep them afloat. But just as we would like to smack Ross again for being so neglectful of his adoring wife and chasing after Elizabeth, he comes good again with a gift of a beautiful pair of silk stockings for her. She thinks he no longer loves her, and he proves just how wrong she is.