Despite Captain McNeil and Harbour-master Vercoe failing to locate Ross following the ambush at Nampara Cove, Ross is nevertheless sent to face court once again for associating with the smugglers. Reverend Halse, like the rest of us, wonder when he will learn from his mistakes but Ross swears he was not home the night of the ambush. He then presents his own witnesses who all say they saw him in St Ives on the night in question. So, with only Vercoe’s testimony that he saw Ross on the beach that night, Halse has no choice but to dismiss the case again him.
Dwight does not get off quite as easily. When asked what he was doing on the beach and why he started the fire which signalled to Ross and Trencrom’s crew of danger, he simply explains that he was cold. With no other evidence, Halse fines him £50, which is no small sum for a doctor who only gets paid £40 a year in salary! Outside the courthouse, Jud passes on a message from Trencrom offering to pay his fine for saving the day but he refuses.
With all the ugly business of smuggling and the arrests behind them, Demelza asks Dwight when he would be leaving for Bath to meet Caroline, not knowing that the elopement has now been called off. Dwight simply explains that they are not suited and resumes his duties tending to his patients. In truth, Dwight has been writing to Caroline, begging her understanding and forgiveness, but his letters are all returned. She tells him that she is more convinced than ever that she made the right decision and asks him to never write her again. Oh, no! In town, Demelza sees Elizabeth, accompanied by her mother and Geoffrey Charles, in a carriage with George. When Ross confesses to Demelza that he bought Francis’s share in Wheal Grace in secret so as to give the money to Elizabeth, she tells him that Elizabeth looks like she is getting plenty of help from George.
Of course, Ross does not believe Elizabeth could ever accept help from her sworn enemy and the man who ruined her husband’s life. Little does he know that when Elizabeth’s mother suddenly succumbs to a stroke and now requires constant care, it is George who steps up and pays for everything and proposes to her.
Just as Ross is about to give up hope on Wheal Grace, Henshawe tells him they have found tin, enough to make it worth continuing to dig deeper for another month. There is more happy news as Verity pays a visit to Nampara with her step-son, James, who is now a midshipman about to head off to France to join the war. He is getting along splendidly with everyone at Trenwith and Nampara. When Dwight joins the family for a visit, James tells him the Navy is in need of good surgeons if he ever decides to leave Cornwall behind. Oh, and best news yet? Verity is pregnant! Yay! Just proves that good things come to those who wait!
But alas, the gossip doesn’t just stop there. Captain McNeil, still infatuated with Demelza, drops by while Ross is out, and laments that Demelza has not visited him during his convalescence (he was injured during the ambush at the Cove). He has been keeping himself busy with town gossip through Sir Hugh, who apparently shares a tailor with George Warleggan. And guess who has been shopping for his wedding clothes?
Ever eager to be the bearer of bad news when it comes to Ross, George rushes over to Trenwith when Wheal Grace collapses, killing two of the miners. He blames Ross for cutting corners on safety and Ross declares the mine closed after admitting defeat that it has cost three lives (including Francis’s).
To make his day even worse, Ross receives a letter from Elizabeth announcing her engagement to George. When Demelza admits she had heard rumours of this, he feels betrayed. In his anger, he starts to leave for Trenwith, even as Demelza pleads with him to wait till the next morning, when he is not as emotional following the day’s events. And as always, Ross ignores his wife’s advice and storms off.
Arriving at Trenwith in the middle of the night, Ross finds the household either asleep or heading for bed, as Elizabeth is. Not to be deterred, he forces his way into her bedroom, demands an explanation and accuses her of marrying for money.
Elizabeth, for her part, defends her decision and believes her marriage could mend the relationship between him and George. When he refuses to accept her excuses, he kisses her forcibly, pushes her onto the bed and, well, essentially rapes her. (At this point, if you find yourself yelling at your TV and screaming “NOOOOOOOOOO!”, then you’re in good company.)
The next morning, Ross slinks away from Trenwith, telling Elizabeth that he needs time to think. She is obviously stupidly thinking that he will finally leave Demelza and marry her. When Ross arrives home, Demelza is already up. As he tries to explain himself with the sorriest excuse “I had no choice”, she decks him so hard he falls to the ground. And yes, I applauded long after the credits finished rolling.