Mr. Bell has a nostalgic dream about the joys of visiting newlywed Mr. Hale and Mrs. Hale in Helstone. He joins Henry Lennox and Margaret to go over the details of Frederick’s case, which is not strong enough to pursue further, especially now that Frederick is happily settled in Spain. Margaret sadly remarks that her brother “is lost to me, and I am so lonely.” Later, Mr. Bell invites Margaret to join him for a trip to Helstone the next day, which she gratefully accepts.
Margaret’s family circle is conclusively broken now; Frederick has started his own family, loyal to a different country and a different faith, and it doesn’t contain a clear place for Margaret. Before Margaret can make decisions about pursuing her own way, Gaskell inserts a Helstone interlude that draws together Margaret’s past with her present and future.