Back at Warings, Edmund claims that Charles punched him and pushed him into the water. Helena Kingshaw believes Edmund and becomes very angry with Charles. Charles denies the story, but Helena says that Edmund would have no reason to lie. Charlie thinks to himself that he hates his mother and Edmund equally.
What’s even more shocking than the speed with which Edmund lies about Charles’s behavior is the speed with which Helena believes Edmund. As the novel goes on to show, Helena immediately takes Edmund’s side in part because she’s loyal to Joseph and doesn’t want to antagonize him in any way.
Helena sends Charles to his room as punishment, even as Charles continues to insist that he didn’t hurt Edmund. Joseph, who’s been sitting quietly in the room, suggests that Charles and Edmund play draughts, but Charles cries, “Oh, rot!” Helena, appalled, orders to Charles to apologize to Edmund, his “special friend,” and demands that Charles go to his room. Privately, Helena thinks, “I shall not make a favorite of my own child … especially when all the blame for this lies with him.”
Charles is understandably furious that he’s being blamed for hurting Edmund when, in reality, he saved Edmund’s life. What’s mysterious, however, is why he doesn’t try to tell Helena the truth. Helena tells herself that she’s not going to “play favorites,” but it’s also clear that she has believed Edmund’s story from the beginning, suggesting that she is actually playing favorites with Edmund.
As Charles leaves to go upstairs, Edmund makes a “babyish face” and accuses Charles of being a bully. Charles realizes that there won’t be “any kind of truce between them.” He shouts that Edmund was a baby in the forest, and couldn’t control himself during the storm. When nobody is looking, Edmund kicks Charles, hard, but Charles doesn’t flinch—he just walks upstairs. As he shuts his door, he can hear his mother’s voice, apologizing to Joseph and Edmund.
Regrettably, a furious Charles calls Edmund a baby at exactly the wrong time: when he’s in front of Joseph and Helena. This behavior seems to confirm Edmund’s accusations, making Charles look culpable.
Alone in his room, Charles realizes how exhausted he is. He thinks about his mother and realizes that she and Joseph Hooper now have the same “expression in their eyes.” A short while later, Helena comes into the room to “have a little talk” with Charles. She tells Charles that he should be sorry for hurting Edmund, especially since Joseph is “quite fond of you.”
Charles begins to sense that Joseph and Helena are growing closer to one another: evidently, he remembers what Edmund told him in the forest about their parents getting married.
Helena asks Charles why he ran off into the woods. He shrugs and wishes that she would just go. Helena asks Charles to tell her whatever is on his mind, but Charles replies, “I’m all right.” He stresses that he hates Edmund. Helena seems confused, asking “Whatever can poor Edmund have done to you?” Charles thinks, ‘He could never begin to tell her. Did not want to.” He wishes she would go away.
Charles’s only chance of getting the truth out is to be honest with his mother. But he’s already so upset with his mother for taking Edmund’s side that he refuses to open up to her, meaning that he sabotages himself once more.
Helena begins to say that she has something important to tell Charles. But then she thinks better of it, and falls silent. She only says, “I have made up my mind.” She kisses Charles good night, and her necklace touches “coldly against his face.” Alone in his room, Charles thinks, “They will be getting married.” This means that he and Edmund will be brothers.
The “important” thing Helena is going to tell Charles is presumably something about her relationship with Joseph—a relationship which is alienating her from her son. Hill symbolizes the widening emotional distance between Helena and Charles with the image of her cold, hard necklace touching his skin.