Back at Rossillion, the countess finds a letter that Helen has left for her. In the letter, Helen tells the countess that she has left to become a pilgrim to the shrine of St. Jaques. She says that this will allow Bertram to return home, and calls Bertram “too good and fair” for her. The countess laments that she did not get a chance to dissuade Helen from leaving.
Helen’s letter stresses Bertram’s high social class, which still seems to make their relationship an impossibility. Helen claims that she is going on a pilgrimage, but she will actually go to Italy to find Bertram—is this lie to her mother-in-law justified?
The countess is sad at Helen’s departure and furious with her son, who she calls an “unworthy husband.” She orders for a letter to be sent to him stressing Helen’s virtue and his failings. The countess hopes that when Bertram learns of Helen’s departure, he will come back to Rossillion, and then Helen will return, as well, out of “pure love.”
The countess does not seem to care about whether she and Bertram are “too good and fair” for Helen’s social class. Rather, she sympathizes with Helen and continues to revise her judgment of her own son’s character.