Jane soon runs out of money. The carriage drops her off at a crossroads, and she realizes moments later that she left her belongings in the departed coach. With nowhere to turn, she spends the night outdoors contemplating the stars and God.
Stripped of everything and at a crossroads in her life, Jane begins a spiritual trial. She finds comfort in nature, which represents God's presence.
Jane walks into a nearby village to ask for work, which is scarce. She tries to exchange her gloves and handkerchief for food, but she is refused. Burning with shame but desperately hungry, Jane begs at a farm for some leftover porridge fed to the hogs.
Jane's quest for independence reaches a low point. Though on her own, she is dependent on strangers for charity. Her plight reflects the hardships of England's poor.
Weak from hunger and despair, Jane wanders into the wilderness expecting to die. She follows the light of a distant candle and finds a country house (Moor House) with two young women—the sisters Mary and Diana Rivers—inside studying German. Jane knocks, but the servant, Hannah, turns her away as a suspicious beggar.
Like the crossroads, the wilderness represents Jane's lack of direction in her time of trial. The candlelight is a beacon of hope that brings her to Moor House and to God.
Jane collapses outside, believing death is imminent and vowing to wait for God's will. Just then, the women's brother, St. John (pronounced "Sinjin") arrives home. He brings Jane into the house, where the River sisters give Jane food and a dry bed. Jane does not want to be discovered, so she identifies herself by a the false name of "Jane Elliott."