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Jim completes his academic program at Harvard in two years and returns to Black Hawk for summer vacation before entering law school. On the evening of his arrival, he is greeted at home by the Harlings. After Jim catches up with his family and friends, Frances brings up the subject of Ántonia. He knows that Larry Donovan never married Ántonia and that he left her with a child. Jim thinks bitterly of Ántonia’s lot, lamenting her misfortunes.
On a trip to the town photographer to arrange a portrait of his grandparents, Jim notices a prominently placed picture of a baby on the wall. The photographer informs Jim that it is a likeness of Ántonia’s baby, and that Ambrosch will be coming in to the studio to collect it over the weekend. On his way home from the photographer’s, Jim stops at Mrs. Harling’s and mentions to her his wish to learn more about Ántonia’s plight. She suggests that he go to visit Widow Steavens, the tenant on the Burdens’ old farmland.
At the beginning of August, Jim takes a horse and cart out to the countryside to visit Widow Steavens. She welcomes him warmly and invites him to stay the night, promising to speak to him of Ántonia after supper. That evening, Jim and the widow repair to the old sitting room upstairs, and she begins her story.
In the weeks leading up to her wedding, Ántonia had been hard at work, sewing various things for her new household and -anxiously awaiting the approaching date. When Donovan had -written to her soon after to inform her that his route as a train conductor had changed and that they would have to live in Denver, Ántonia was initially discouraged, but she quickly placed her doubts behind her. When the time to depart came, Ambrosch helped Ántonia pack up and drove her into Black Hawk to board the night train for Denver.
After receiving a couple of initial communications from Denver confirming Ántonia’s safe arrival, the Shimerdas heard nothing from her for several weeks. Then, suddenly, she reappeared at home one day, unmarried and devastated by Donovan’s desertion of her and subsequent running off to Mexico. Throughout the spring and summer, Ántonia worked in the fields, shutting herself in among her family. In the winter, she bore a child, to the surprise of her family, who had not observed her pregnancy because of the loose and bulky clothing that she had taken to wearing.
Widow Steavens concludes her story by telling Jim that Ántonia’s baby is nearly two years old now, healthy and strong. Jim retires for the evening into the room he slept in as a boy, and he lays awake watching the moonlight and the windmill.
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