Jane stays at Gateshead for several weeks after Mrs. Reed dies, first to keep Georgiana company until she goes back to London, then to take care of the house while Eliza gets ready to move to a nunnery in France. (There are no nunneries in England at this point because it’s not a Catholic country – read more on this in our Shmoop module "The Protestant Reformation," coming soon.)
While traveling back to Thornfield, Jane realizes that she’s never felt happy to go back to a place that has been her home – returning to Lowood or to Gateshead wasn’t much fun.
She wonders if returning to Thornfield might be nicer, but she’s not sure how long she’ll live there if Mr. Rochester is marrying Blanche Ingram. Still, at least she’ll get to see the man she loves for a few weeks. She knows he won’t be there when she arrives; Mrs. Fairfax told her in a letter that he had gone to London to get things for his wedding.
Jane walks the last few miles to Thornfield, and, coming around a corner, sees Mr. Rochester sitting on a stile (a set of steps you use to climb over a fence) writing in a book. She freezes and trembles, and then he sees her and calls her over to him.
Rochester scolds Jane for staying away from him for so long and accuses her of forgetting him. Then he tells her about the carriage he bought for the soon-to-be Mrs. Rochester, and asks if she can’t use her fairy magic to make him handsome. Jane insists that his ugliness is impossible to cure, but the way she’s looking at him suggests otherwise.
Rochester moves a little and lets her cross over the stile, and before she keeps going she thanks him for his kindness and tells him that wherever he is, that’s her true home. Then she walks away really fast before he can answer her.
When Jane arrives at Thornfield, everyone is glad to see her. After dinner, Mr. Rochester, Jane, Mrs. Fairfax, and Adèle almost seem like a family.
Interestingly, Blanche Ingram isn’t around anymore; Rochester doesn’t visit her, she doesn’t visit him, and nobody’s talking about marriage. Jane secretly hopes that the engagement is off.