An early morning rain prevents Catherine's scheduled walk with Eleanor and Henry Tilney. Around noon, John Thorpe, Isabella, and James show up at her door again, with a plan to visit Bristol. Catherine refuses at first, thinking that Eleanor and Henry may still show up, but John entices her by telling her they will visit a castle and in any case, he saw Henry Tilney driving away in a carriage earlier that morning. Catherine joins them, somewhat reluctantly.
As they leave Bath, John points out a girl staring at Catherine, and Catherine is startled to see Henry and Eleanor walking toward her house. She begs John to turn the cart around, but he refuses. She becomes passive and indifferent to him for the rest of the ride. Eventually, Isabella wants to return to Bath without seeing the castle, and John angrily turns his carriage back.
The night is spent at the Thorpes, where Isabella and James continue to fawn over each other, and Catherine sulks. Isabella talks endlessly about how happy she is not to be at that night's ball, in a way that suggests she wishes she were there. Isabella offers Catherine little consolation for the Tilney incident, and the chapter ends with the narrator comparing Catherine's loss to the plight of a great heroine, consigning her to "a sleepless couch, which is the true heroine's portion.
The next morning, Catherine goes to the place where the Tilneys are staying, planning to explain everything. The servant tells her that Eleanor is not at home, but as Catherine walks away she sees Eleanor exit with her father. Mortified, Catherine fears she has greatly offended the Tilneys.
At the theater that night, Catherine spots Henry. Catherine thinks Henry looks at her angrily. After the play he makes his way to Catherine. Henry was somewhat offended by the incident, but when Catherine tells him that she begged John Thorpe to stop the carriage, and would have joined Henry and Eleanor immediately if he had, Henry's coolness melts. Henry seems most relieved when he discovers how little attachment Catherine feels to John Thorpe. Catherine and Henry talk about the play, and while they speak, Catherine sees John Thorpe talking to General Tilney, Henry's father. After Henry leaves and John returns to help Catherine out of her seat, John tells her that the General said she was the "finest girl in Bath." Heartened by this news—she had feared that the General would not like her—Catherine quickly slips away from John with the Allens.
In these chapters, Catherine's two social spheres begin to conflict with each other. Isabella, John Thorpe, and James become unfriendly, for James and Isabella spend all their time together, and John is unpleasant. Still, they demand Catherine's constant company. Catherine is enticed by the idea of a new set of friends, the Tilneys, but first she must free herself of the old set.
When Catherine accidentally offends Henry and then apologizes, the incident brings the two closer together. Catherine's fear of having offended Henry leads her to gush at him when he arrives, and Henry's interest in Catherine is likely piqued by seeing her in the carriage with John. Both are relieved when the situation is cleared up. While Henry appears to be thinking more actively about the possibility of a match between the two of them, Catherine is quite pleased when she hears the General's praises. Also in these chapters, Catherine gradually becomes confident enough to argue with John Thorpe, and then to be angry at him.