The novel flashes back to the days leading up to Robert’s departure. Rowena’s fall happens during her beloved pastime of holding the rabbits that the family keep in their stable, while Stuart is in the yard playing with Meg, the family’s pony, instead of supervising his sister. Rowena fails to regain consciousness and dies on Monday, the day after the fall. Though they loved Rowena, Mr. Ross and Mrs. Ross are emotionally prepared for her death since, at twenty-five, their daughter had already outlived her hydrocephalus prognosis by ten years.
The fact that Rowena was playing with her pet rabbits when she died makes her death all the more tragic—she was clearly a gentle, sweet young woman who was adored by her parents and siblings. Though they were mentally prepared to lose Rowena at a young age, the shock of her death still has a significant impact on the Rosses, demonstrating the ability of tragedy to fragment both individuals and families.