This chapter describes the growing intimacy between Paul and Miriam. It begins from Miriam’s perspective and describes the way that she aspires to learning, since she cannot have pride in her social status. She is interested in Paul, but scorns him because he only sees the swine-girl side of her and not the princess she believes she is inside. When he falls ill, she feels like he would be weaker than she and that is she could take care of him, she would love him deeply.
Paul enjoys visiting the Leivers’ farm because it is so different from his own home. Miriam and her mother both have very strong religious and spiritual convictions, and this strikes Paul as enormously different from his own mother’s logical manner.
One evening when he is there for dinner, the boys all become very upset with Miriam because the potatoes are burned. Her mother reprimands her for answering them instead of turning the other cheek, and Paul is puzzled why an insignificant matter like potatoes would cause such conflict.
Miriam and Paul make their connection through nature, as they share the experience of looking at a birds’ nest. The narrator tells us, though, that it is a long time before Paul really notices Miriam. He first becomes friends with the boys, most of all Edgar. Then one day Miriam shows him the swing they have in the cowshed, and they slowly grow closer. Paul is troubled by her “intensity, which would leave no emotion on a normal plane” (153). She tells him of her desire to learn, and he agrees to teach her algebra. They are both frustrated by the effort, and Paul finds her simultaneously infuriating and attractive.
One evening when Paul and Miriam are walking home, she brings him into the woods to see a particular bush because she wants to share it with him. This excursion causes him to be late coming home, and his mother is unhappy with him, partly because she is not fond of Miriam. They argue about his relationship with the girl and he insists that they are not courting.
Paul organizes a walk to the Hemlock Stone on Good Friday. During this walk, Miriam notices that Paul is different when she is alone with him. On the way back, she comes upon him alone in the road, trying to fix his umbrella so his mother will not be upset, and she realizes that she loves him.