Gilbert and Helen are by this time firm friends. Gilbert wishes they could be more, but takes care not to upset Helen by acting as a lover toward her. He is just about to set off for Wildfell Hall one day when Rose stops him and begs him to remain home. Gilbert is surprised that Rose would allow herself to think the worst of Helen, but Rose defends her position. She reminds him of their visit to Helen’s studio, when Helen admitted that she signs her paintings with false initials and gives them misleading names so that former acquaintances will not be able to trace her. Gilbert dismisses Rose’s concerns, but decides to skip the visit because it is getting late.
Like Mrs. Markham, Rose believes the slander against Helen, at least in part. As a young woman with a very traditional upbringing, she finds Helen’s oddities troubling and worries about her brother’s growing fondness for her. Again, Helen’s mysterious background serves as fuel for suspicion, and Rose’s concerns are enough to keep Gilbert from seeing Helen, at least for the day.
The Reverend Millward drops by then, having just paid a call on Helen Graham. His purpose in visiting Wildfell Hall was to give the young woman some much-needed (in his opinion) pastoral advice, but Helen did not receive his counsel kindly. In fact, she grew angry. The reverend then turns his judgmental glance on Gilbert, who also becomes furious, and storms out of the house, aiming for Wildfell Hall.
In the previous chapter, the reverend declared Helen unworthy of coming between Gilbert and Frederick Lawrence. Now he is attempting to give her advice. What she needs instead is acceptance, but he is incapable of accepting her on her own terms.