Chapter 3 engages the question of abstraction, repeatedly associated with contract in histories. Reading two mid-century novels, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Ruth and Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, I argue that both exhibited a dramatic recoil from abstraction, elaborated through their representations of promissory agency. The alternative to abstraction was a relational liberalism. Representations of a relational economy, as both Gaskell and Dickens developed, were not resistances to the capitalist order but rather forms of its implementation.