The next day, Mrs. Palmer was happy to see the Dashwood sisters at Barton Park and invited Elinor and Marianne to come stay with her and her husband in London. They declined the invitation. Sir John joked with Marianne about Willoughby and complimented her on her taste in men.
As everyone talked, Mr. Palmer was rude and aloof. Mrs. Palmer was very pleasant, though, and invited Elinor and Marianne to visit them over Christmas. The two sisters again politely declined. Elinor asked if Mrs. Palmer knew Willoughby. She said she knew of him, and said she was glad that Willoughby was going to marry Marianne.
Elinor and Marianne continue to politely decline invitations to participate more in wealthy society, content to remain at home with their family. As Mrs. Palmer’s assumption of Marianne and Willoughby’s engagement shows, news of their relationship seems to have spread.
Elinor said that she did not know for certain that they were engaged, but Mrs. Palmer said she was sure of it and that everyone in town was talking about the engagement. She said that she had heard of it from Colonel Brandon. She described Colonel Brandon as charming, but “so grave and so dull.”
Once again, Elinor tries to exercise good sense and doesn’t want to assume anything about Willoughby’s actual intentions. Colonel Brandon’s character, rather admirable to Elinor, is boring to Mrs. Palmer.
Elinor asked what Mrs. Palmer knew about Willoughby, and she said that he was generally well thought of. She then told Elinor more about Colonel Brandon, whom she had known for a long time. She told Elinor that she thought Colonel Brandon had desired to marry her. She said she was happier with Mr. Palmer.
Elinor is eager to learn more about Willoughby’s character. Whether Mrs. Palmer’s gossip about Brandon is true or not, it is clear that he has been unsuccessful in finding a happy marriage.