Sir Walter and Elizabeth have found Bath much to their satisfaction. They greet her with unexpected warmth, though they display little interest in the affairs of Uppercross or Kellynch. Anne wonders that their vanities are so satisfied by the cheap thrills of a small town, after leaving Kellynch Hall.
Sir Walter and Elizabeth are delighted with Mr. Elliot. Mr. Elliot has explained away all his prior behavior as misunderstanding, and taken considerable pains to renew relations and display his respect for aristocratic lineage; they find him flawless. His prior marriage is excused because his wife was exceedingly good-looking and in love with him.
Mr. Elliot receives a universally charming welcome from the Elliots, much as Captain Wentworth among the Musgroves. However, the former’s charm is not in warmth or openness but in sensibility, refinement, and his ability to please.
Anne wonders at his efforts for reconciliation, guessing it may be for Elizabeth’s sake. Mrs. Clay and Elizabeth believe him to be interested, and Anne reflects that Mr. Elliot may not have been aware of her character flaws; he seemed a sensible man at their last encounter. Sir Walter complains about how plain looking the women at Bath are.
Anne is more perceptive and suspicious than her father and sister, sensing a dissonance between Mr. Elliot’s past and present behavior. However, she believes him a wonderful and sensible gentleman, worthier than her own sister Elizabeth.
Just then, Mr. Elliot visits. Anne is shyly amused and pleased to find him as admiring of her as ever; he is surprised and delighted to discover that the lovely stranger he encountered at Lyme is his cousin. Anne finds his manners very good, polished, and sensible. He demonstrates an earnest solicitude and engagement with Anne’s suffering at Lyme. After he leaves, Anne reflects that her first evening at Bath has been far more pleasant than anticipated.
Anne is pleased with Mr. Elliot, and she perceives and prioritizes the attributes of sensibility, manners, and sincere solicitude that Sir Walter and Elizabeth—for all their admiration for Mr. Elliot—remain insensible of. Anne has found appreciation from Mr. Elliot in Bath, where she expected only her indifferent family.