Elinor had seen enough of Mrs. Ferrars to get a sense of her character and was almost happy that she wasn’t engaged to Edward, because it meant she wouldn’t have to worry about his mother. The next time Lucy saw Elinor at Mrs. Jennings’ apartment, she gushed about how happy she was that Mrs. Ferrars was so fond of her. Lucy said she enjoyed meeting both Mrs. Ferrars and Fanny.
Elinor has now formed a good enough judgment of Mrs. Ferrars' character to dislike her thoroughly. Lucy enjoys meeting the Ferrars because they seem to like her, and because this bodes well for her hopes of marrying into their wealthy family.
Lucy thanked Elinor for her friendship. Elinor didn’t say much in response. Now that Lucy had a reason to go visit Fanny, she was sure she could spend time there with Edward. She continued to talk about how much Mrs. Ferrars appeared to like her, and was interrupted only by the chance arrival of none other than Edward.
All seems to be going well for Lucy’s schemes to marry into the Ferrars family. She keeps talking excitedly until someone arrives to interrupt her, to the relief of Elinor—at least, until she sees who it is.
It was extremely awkward for the three of them to be alone together. Lucy said practically nothing, and Elinor was forced to try to make polite conversation. After talking for a bit, she left to go get Marianne. Marianne was overjoyed to see Edward, unaware of the tension between him, Lucy, and Elinor.
It takes all of Elinor’s social savvy to retain her composure and make conversation in this intensely awkward situation.
Marianne suggested that Edward take her and Elinor back to Barton in a couple weeks. Edward mumbled something that no one could here, but Marianne continued in her enthusiasm, asking why Edward had not been at the recent dinner and complimenting his character, saying that he was “the most fearful of giving pain, of wounding expectation, and the most incapable of being selfish.”
Marianne, who is unaware of Lucy and Edward’s engagement, navigates this social situation entirely wrong, hinting at Edward’s relationship with Elinor and complimenting his character in front of the person he has recently hurt.
Edward left, and Lucy shortly after him. Marianne said to Elinor that it was odd Lucy stayed when it was clear she wasn’t wanted around. But Elinor said that it made sense for Lucy to stay, since she and Edward were friends. Elinor was distressed by having to keep Edward and Lucy’s engagement a secret from Marianne.
Elinor is troubled by having to keep a secret from her sister, with whom she is so close, and behave in other people’s company as if Edward is not already engaged to Lucy.