Elinor broached the subject of Edward with Lucy, who worried she had offended Elinor. Elinor said she hadn’t, even though Lucy said that Elinor had seemed upset when she heard about the engagement. Lucy said that she and Edward had to wait to marry, because Edward had little money and depended on inheriting money from his mother.
Elinor keeps her real thoughts and emotions to herself, wanting to appear sympathetic and not offended to Lucy. Lucy’s marriage to Edward relies not only upon their love for each other but upon Edward’s attaining a fortune through inheritance.
Elinor said that Lucy was fortunate that Edward still loved her after four years, since the “reciprocal attachment” would fail for many people in a similar situation. Lucy said that Edward’s love for her had been constant. She said that she worried Mrs. Ferrars would disinherit Edward if she married him, so they had to wait until Mrs. Ferrars died.
Elinor’s compliment is actually a disguised attempt to test whether Lucy and Edward really do still love each other. Lucy says that she and Edward love each other, but their marriage is delayed because of Mrs. Ferrars’ desire for a wealthy daughter-in-law.
Lucy told Elinor that Edward desired to become a priest and she asked Elinor to ask if John Dashwood would allow Edward to live at Norland. Then, he would have enough of a living to marry Lucy. Elinor said she wasn’t sure that she would have much influence over John.
Lucy attempts to use her new acquaintance to her benefit, asking if Elinor might help her appeal to John. Elinor is being truthful when she says she wouldn’t have much influence over John, but declining also serves her own interest in keeping Edward unmarried.
Lucy asked Elinor for advice, but Elinor declined, saying that Lucy had to make her own decisions. She asked if Elinor would be in London over the winter, and Elinor said she would not. Their conversation concluded, and Elinor was sure that Edward was stuck in a loveless engagement and that Lucy was merely self-interested, not really in love with Edward.
Lucy puts Elinor in a very awkward position, and Elinor must find a polite reason to decline to give advice to her romantic rival. Elinor concludes from her conversation that Lucy is only interested in Edward in order to advance her own fortune.
From that time on, Elinor never spoke about Edward again with Lucy, although Lucy took every opportunity to tell Elinor happily whenever she got a letter from Edward. Though originally planning only a short stay at Barton Park, the Steele sisters ended up staying there for almost two months.
Having gotten the information she desired, Elinor no longer has a need to speak with Lucy more. Lucy’s letting Elinor know of every letter she receives from Edward is perhaps a deliberate attempt to remind Elinor that Edward is hers.