Admiral and Mrs. Croft visit Kellynch to the great satisfaction of all parties. Sir Walter approves of the Admiral’s good humor and manners, and declares him to be handsomest sailor he has met. The deal is settled.
Sir Walter displays a rather amusing regard for good looks, which are not particularly related to, or even consistent with, his values of aristocracy.
Mary complains that she is feeling unwell and Anne must stay with her at Uppercross Cottage, instead of heading straight to Bath with Sir Walter and Elizabeth. Anne is pleased with the opportunity to be useful and stay in the country.
As we learn more about Anne’s flawed family, her virtues become increasingly remarkable; they also explain the great value of Lady Russell in her life as a better friend and advisor than either her sisters or father.
Lady Russell is displeased that Mrs. Clay plans to travel to Bath with Sir Walter and Elizabeth; Anne also worries that Mrs. Clay’s persistent flattery may induce Sir Walter to take her as his wife. She warns Elizabeth of the danger, but Elizabeth rejects the notion as ridiculous and offensive. She believes her friend would not presume to make such an unequal match, and that she is not attractive enough to interest their father.
Anne and Lady Russell are more astute than Sir Walter and Elizabeth, whose self-importance and self-assurance allow them only to understand what they want to see. Despite the fact that Mrs. Clay is Elizabeth’s close friend, Elizabeth is less observant than Anne about the true nature of Mrs. Clay’s flattery.
When Anne visits Mary, she finds her in a sour mood. Mary is prone to self-pity, complaining that she is neglected and ill-used by her two unruly sons and husband who is out shooting. Anne patiently perseveres in cheering her sister, and the two take a walk to the Great House, where the Musgroves (Charles’s parents and sisters) live.
Although Mary is less vain and silly than Sir Walter and Elizabeth, she is still a far cry from Anne’s sensibility. Anne’s patience, gentleness, and sensitivity are particularly evident in her interactions with her family, which almost serve as a foil to her virtues.
The Musgroves are a pleasant family; Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove are friendly and hospitable, neither educated nor elegant. Their children are more modern: Henrietta and Louisa are nineteen and twenty, newly returned from school at Exeter, and several young children. Anne regards their family as some of the happiest people she knows for their good-humored mutual affection.
The Musgroves present a vision of family life and hospitality very different from the silly and vain Elliots. They are cheerful, carefree, and warm; they have a happy and loving family life, although they lack the cultural refinements and education that Anne herself values.