This episode begins at Wheal Leisure, the tin mine that Ross Poldark inherited. Ross is there and he’s ringing a bell. The bell summons men, women and some children. We should be horrified at this, but as presented here, the commoners would starve otherwise and Ross is portrayed as a better and kinder manager.
Ross opens the mine by calling the people gathered his friends. In the crowd is Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson), but not Elizabeth (Heida Reed). Demelza has her hair up and she’s in a dress. She serves beverages to the investors.
“T’is a grand thing you’ve done, Ross,” says one of the miners.
“Are the rumors true, do you think?” one gentleman asks another as he looks at Demelza smiling at Ross.
“Well he’s a damn fool if they are not?” replies the other.
Looking down upon the scenes are other mine owners. Ross’ uncle Charles (Warren Clarke) and Francis (Kyle Soller) are seated on their horses looking down on the assembly from a distance and Francis asks, “I’ve taken that you’ve forgiven him.” Ross allowed Verity to meet with Captain Blamey at his home although he knew Charles disapproved.
“He saved your life,” Charles replies. Yet Charles, disappointed that Francis did not join forces with Ross, reminds Francis that he has a mine to keep running, but some of the miners are leaving to work at Ross’ mines. Francis was in a duel at the end of Episode 3 with Verity’s beloved, Captain Blamey. Ross saved him from bleeding to death and that makes twice that Ross has saved Francis.
Something in Demelza has changed. She seems glad to be clean. Was it the cloak that Ross bought her? In any case, she finds herself refereeing a fight between Prudie (Beatie Edney) and Jud (Philip Davis). Prudie claims Jud broke her arm, but Demelza finds it has only been sprained. But Prudie declares she can’t cook any more.
Jim Carter (Alexander Arnold), the young man Ross took in to be his farm hand, is poaching which is a capital offense since stealing sport from the upper classes is a serious crime for the starving working classes. Ross attempts to help him by providing him and his pregnant girlfriend with a modest cottage. Jim and Jinny (Gracee O’Brien) marry soon enough, but that isn’t the end of their troubles. Jim continues to poach and we can’t have peasants eating pheasant, not can we? Ross warns him to stop poaching in any case.
While her father Charles and her brother Francis seems to assume that Verity will be there to wait on them, not all see it that way. Yet after the duel between Francis and the Captain, and the opposition to the match by Francis and Charles, Verity has resigned herself to spinsterhood.
Back at Trenweth, things are a bit somber. Verity and Elizabeth busy themselves with embroidery or some other such needlework.
“I wish you could forget him, my dear,” Elizabeth says.
“He’s not so easy to forget,” Verity replies (Ruby Bentall)
If you recall, Ross thought Elizabeth meant to leave Francis for him, but what she really wanted was for Ross to prevent Verity from embarrassing the family. Verity mustn’t involve herself with the Captain. Francis might have to defend the family’s honor. Elizabeth felt she needed Francis because, she revealed to Ross after the duel, she was pregnant. She will soon learn that no one really needs Francis.
Elizabeth feels a contraction and Verity rings a bell to get a servant to fetch the doctor. The birth of a son, Geoffrey Charles, certainly closes off any possibility of Ross and Elizabeth.
In the village, Jim and Jinny get married. Ross attends looking as dashing as ever. The minister asks Ross if he will not marry soon because it’s main purpose is “as a remedy against sin, to avoid fornication.” We know that Ross does have needs and sometimes he’s willing to share the receptacle of his seed with the oily George Warleggan as there only seems to be one fetching bar wench/whore in town, Margaret (Crystal Lealty). Yet the rumor is that Ross and Demelza are lovers.
During the celebration, Ross watches Demelza and joins in the dancing, but they aren’t dancing with each other, but with everyone. Ross smiles, but it isn’t the kind of uninhibited joy we saw between Ross and Elizabeth at that other assembly. When Ross and Demelza return home, Jud and Prudie are drunk, but Prudie remembers to give Ross a message, announcing the arrival of Elizabeth and Francis’ baby boy. That wipes the smile off of Ross’ face and he goes upstairs to bed.
At Trenwith, the local gentry are gathering. Ross joins them to celebrate the birth of a nephew. The Warleggans are there of course, and George ventures an opinion that Ross is either “exceptionally brave or extremely foolish” to begin mining again.
His uncle Cary Warleggan (Pip Torrens) comments to Ross, “Perhaps if you fraternize less with the lower orders you’d feel their woes less keenly.”
Elizabeth’s mother adds that “one does feel that the gentry and the vulgar should keep to themselves. Otherwise it gets so confusing.”
The opinion of the good people is that Verity is well rid of the captain or so her father says and that Francis’ son, Geoffrey Charles Poldark, is a “fine looking boy, like his father.” Looks aren’t everything, of course.
Francis allows Ross to sit next to Elizabeth. She confesses that she hoped he would be the godfather, but because Francis and George are inseparable these days, George is the godfather. That will lead to complications much later. Even when both Ross and Elizabeth are well-behaved Francis is troubled. Just watching them, when there is no hint of anything untoward, he becomes jealous and calls Elizabeth away from Ross.
Charles gives a toast to his grandson. Behold the future of the Poldark and Trenweth and yet there a bad omen. Charles has a heart attack and now Verity becomes his nursemaid. Ross pays his respects to his uncle before leaving, but in doing so overhears Elizabeth’s mother and the Teague ladies suggesting that he and Demelza are an item.
Francis, feeling insecure, goes in to see Elizabeth and wants sex. She asks that he wait until she’s feeling better. Francis suggests that she was feeling well enough when she sat next to Ross that afternoon. He then asks if she doesn’t wish the baby’s father was Ross? If that wasn’t bad enough, as he’s about to leave, he runs into Verity and accuses her of spying.
From his point of view, Verity is ungrateful. He saved her from that evil man and if Ross had his way, she might be married and miserable. Verity replies that she doesn’t equate marriage with misery and Francis replies that’s only because she hasn’t been married yet. That’s a way to slap both wife and sister at the same time. Verity still has a locket with the Captain’s photo inside.
Back at Nampara, Jim’s wife, Jinny, comes to speak with Demelza. Jim is still poaching. She knows it can lead to trouble. Ross decides to make Jim assistant purser at the mine. But that won’t help.
While Ross is gone, Demelza finds a green dress. From the rustling sounds is must be silk. Demelza holds it up to herself. The green against her red hair is striking. Whose dress was that? When Ross returns home, she hastily puts the dress back in the trunk.
With Charles feeling his mortality, he feels the needs to advise his son Francis, “Step up to the mark…you do recall we have a mine. It requires presence, direction, leadership. Learn fast…if your cousin continues to pay decent wages, we’ll soon have no one left at Grambler.”
Worse yet, Charles tells Francis, “Take a leaf out of your cousin’s book. Does he keep his distance? Does he watch from afar or does he toil with his men? Which do you think will yield the better result?” What do you think Francis will do. Francis does try, but he can only give his head a slight nod, not too much because his top hat would fall. He doesn’t get his hands dirty and the result is awkward.
We’re not just going to compare Ross and Francis, but also Demelza and Elizabeth. Ross tells Demelza, “You get through more in a day than Prudie in a month.” She serves him dinner. Ross becomes more friendly and Ross has Demelza sit down and eat with him.
Demelza has his habits down and he asks her, “If you could avoid the inference that I’m utterly predictable.”
She replies, “Yes, sir. I’ll try sir.” Demelza tells Ross about Jinny’s visit.
What finally changes their habits is other people. Jim can’t change his habit of poaching and justice is swift…almost too swift. Jinny comes to Nampara, crying and Ross sets out on horse to intervene by speaking with the judge. The judge is in a hurry for his 9 a.m. hunting appointment and so has Jim jailed at 8 a.m. Ross is too late.
That night, he tells Demelza that he doesn’t agree with most people of his class. She tells him she knows he’s not like them at all because he understand that the peasants have lives and families. When Ross rides out to Truro the next day, he stops for Jinn, by she’s in labor. He then goes alone. For some, the starving Jim is a villain and hanging’s barely good enough for the villain. The usual punishment for poaching is transportation. You know how we pick up bears and take them away from the general population and transport them to other places? That’s what they did with people. Ross arrives in time to hear that a poacher has been sentences to seven years transport.
Doctor Choake tells him, “No good would come of being sentimental about such folk, they are a different breed.” The doctor has told Ross, “I doubt his lungs would survive a stint in jail.”
Ross tries his best, saying, “May I ask the indulgence of this court…I wish to give evidence to his good character. He is my servant.” Ross reminds the court that “hunger, poverty and sickness prevail against the poor” and Jim has a wife, a child, mother and four sisters to support.”
Yet the judge feels if Jim is “well enough to go poaching, he is well enough to take the consequences.” Instead of seven years and transport, Jim is sentenced to two years in prison.
Elsewhere, George is leading Francis into bad ways, but Francis makes the decision to follow him. George invites him into the Red Lion, “Will you join me?”
Francis bravely comments, “I have an estate to run.”
“One game won’t hurt…” George replies, oozing with bad intentions. Francis decides he’d rather play than work. Alas, Elizabeth you’ve chosen wrong. Francis would rather run with George than run the estate.
A disappointed and angry Ross goes to the Red Lion where Margaret the bar wench/prostitute offers to comfort him. He’s not interested, but she leaves him to head into the adjoining room where she finds a more willing Francis.The man who has stolen his beloved is wasting time with Margaret, the one woman who links Francis, George and Ross.
Back at Nampara, Demelza’s father comes and he is reformed. He has married and doesn’t wish Demelza to be exposed to all temptations of the flesh and the devil. He tells her she must come home, but she’s not willing. Demelza bursts into tears.
Alone in the house, Demelza puts on the green dress, again, not expecting Ross to return home at all. Yet Ross does return and calls her. He broods, looking into the fire. She doesn’t have time to get out of the dress.
Demelza tells him, “Jud and Prudie in bed. Long since.”
Without looking up, Ross replies, “Fetch me the rum.” He tells her, “Jim Carter got two years.”
“I feared it might be worse,” Demelza replies.
“I was too concerned with my own dignity…Jim paid dearly for it,” Ross angrily comments and then he looks up at Demelza and sees her in the dress. “You dared to go riffling through those things, dressing up in fine clothes. Take it off. Take it off now. You can pack your things and go back to your father…”
Demelza is shattered of course but Ross then apologizes, “I shouldn’t have spoken to harshly…It’s been a hellish day and I’m not myself.” But she’s also not just a servant girl any more and they kiss.
“Go to bed. Go to bed now,” Ross says, attempting to be honorable. He leaves and goes to bed.
Demelza makes a decision. She follows him to his room. She tells him she needs help getting out of the dress and asks him to unlace her in the back. He does, but beneath is bare skin and Ross is getting bedroom eyes.
“You know what people say about us,” she ventures.
“If we behave like this, it will be true,” Ross replies.
“Then let it be true,” Demelza says. They kiss passionately.
Dawn finds Demelza in bed,with Ross. She takes the green dress and slips out of the room. She gets dressed in her own clothes and goes into the field with her dog…you remember her dog, Garrick. She smiles and is happy. For her is is love, for Ross? Not so sure.
At Trenwith Charles asks, “Where’s Francis?” He did not come home last night. That doesn’t sound like he’s running the estate.
“He’d have stayed in town with George,” Verity says.
“Has he been going to the mine?” Charles asks.
“I’m sure he has,” Verity replies.
Back at Nampara, Ross bids Prudie tell Demelza she just work in the field while he orders Jud to follow him out to harvest the barley. Ross works up a sweat, taking his shirt off. He stops when he sees Elizabeth heading toward them.
After freshening up and with a shirt on, he meets with Elizabeth who expresses polite disappointment about Jim’s sentence and suggests Ross cozy up more with the gentry to get better results. He asks about the baby; she asks about the mine. Demelza comes in with a bouquet of bachelor buttons. Although Elizabeth compliments them, when Demelza offers them to her, Elizabeth points out that the flowers don’t last long. “They are fading already; cornflowers are like that.”
After Elizabeth has left, Ross sharpens his scythe and calls for Demelza. When she doesn’t come, he goes into the kitchen and asks Jud and Prudie where she is. They tell him she’s left with her dog, heading home. Quickly saddling up his horse, Ross overtakes her and exclaims, “I engaged you for two years? what do you mean by running away? Haven’t you been well treated?…Aren’t you grown used to the house and your tasks and my moods?” Yet after what happened, she can’t be his servant now can she…at least not in that way.
Ross and Demelza are off to the church where he marries her with Prudie and Jud as witnesses.