Chapter Fifty Two focuses on Aunt Tranter, who is ‘the sad figure in all this’. She has been told by Grogan that Charles has broken off his engagement to Ernestina and he forbids her from visiting him. He says he will go instead and ‘have his hide’ for this. The doctor has sedated Ernestina and Aunt Tranter turns her attentions to Mary. She consoles her maid, as Mary reveals that Sam has resigned, and says she will help to find him a post.
In Chapter Fifty Three, Grogan reprimands Charles and sidesteps moral questions (and his own private thoughts of Ernestina) and says all suffering is evil. He accuses Charles of having committed the crime of breach of trust.
Chapter Fifty Four explains how Charles sent to find Sam before he left the White Lion for good. He guessed he was at Aunt Tranter’s, but would not send for him there and so left Lyme Regis without seeing him again. As he leaves the town, Charles feels a burden lift from him and his guilt is beneficial as it gives his life a purpose. On the way, to Exeter he makes plans for his life with Sarah; however, when he arrives at her hotel he is told she has left for London that morning. He gives the owner his card so news can be forwarded to him, and asks if a manservant came with a letter and packet for Miss Woodruff at 8 am that day. The owner looks blank at this question. That night, Charles kneels by his bed and prays to find Sarah and decides to search for her for the rest of his life.
Analysis – Chapters Fifty Two, Fifty Three and Fifty Four
As the plot thickens, or perhaps unravels, it is revealed that Sam has disobeyed Charles and did not give Sarah his letter and packet. Sarah has left Exeter without knowing Charles’s firm intention to break off his engagement with Ernestina and is also ignorant of his final honorable intention to marry her.