Sissy and Rachael go for a walk out in the country, as they had agreed. It is a beautiful day, and as they sit down to picnic, Sissy has a little fun following a set of footprints in the grass. Suddenly she freaks out. At the end of the footprints… is a hat with "Stephen Blackpool" written inside.
Hidden by the tall grass, right next to the hat, is a huge and deep hole in the ground. Sissy almost falls in, and they realize that Stephen is in the hole.
Rachael and Sissy run for help. Sissy finds some workers who tell her this hole is called "Old Hell Shaft."
Rachael brings a doctor. Four hours later, the workers rig up a kind of elevator to go down into the hole.
Gradgrind, Bounderby, Louisa, and Tom come up from Coketown.
Men go down into the hole, and come back.
Stephen is still alive, but very injured. He survived by using one hand to drink some water from a puddle near him and eat some food that was in his pocket.
He had been hurrying to come back to Coketown to clear his name from bank robbery suspicions when he fell in.
Finally, the workers hoist Stephen out of the hole. The doctor can't really do anything for him.
Stephen makes a little speech to Rachael, saying that all the workers who are oppressed by their labor have fallen into a kind of metaphorical pit, just like he fell into a real one. He then says that he survived because from the hole he could see a star shining in the night sky. He prayed to the star for peace and understanding between workers and factory owners.
Stephen then asks Gradgrind to talk to Tom and get the full story of what happened when Tom and Louisa came to visit his home.