Toward the end of the book, a woman who is about to give birth asks for Alyce instead of the normal midwife, Jane. Unfortunately for Alyce, the birth is a difficult one, and she is not able to do the job alone. Alyce is forced to have Jane come and help. Alyce is depressed and humiliated, and she runs away. She takes a job at an inn, and trades her labor for food and lodging. While there, Alyce learns to read and comes to the realization that she wants to return to her former village and once again be the midwife's apprentice. At first Jane turns Alyce down, but Alyce's resolve and determination eventually win out. Alyce is once again Jane's apprentice.
"Jane Sharp! It is I, Alyce, your apprentice. I have come back. And if you do not let me in, I will try again and again. I can do what you tell me and take what you give me, and I know how to try and risk and fail and try again and not give up. I will not go away."
The door opened. Alyce went in. And the cat went with her.