Unable to doubt the truth of Lucy’s story, Elinor wondered whether Edward had been intentionally leading her on and deceiving her. She thought perhaps he had become engaged to Lucy rashly and didn’t really love her as he loved Elinor.
Thinking of Edward’s difficult position with his mother, Elinor wept “for him, more than for herself.” She kept the news secret from her sisters and mother and behaved so that none of them would have guessed that she had just “suffered the extinction of all her dearest hopes.”
Elinor is so compassionate that she is sad for Edward more than for herself. Unlike Marianne or her mother, she is able to keep her pain inside and not display her emotions in an obvious manner.
Elinor wanted to speak to Lucy again soon, to determine if she really loved Edward. But the next few times she saw Lucy at various social engagements, she didn’t have a chance to speak with her in private. One night, though, Elinor was invited to dinner at Barton Park with just Lady Middleton, Mrs. Jennings, and the Steeles.
Elinor wants to see if Lucy and Edward’s engagement is borne out of actual love, and strategizes to find a time and place to talk to her in private. The dinner at Barton Park offers just such an opportunity.
Elinor and her sisters went to Barton Park, and after dinner Elinor offered to help Lucy with weaving something for one of Lady Middleton’s children. Meanwhile, Marianne played piano, and this music offered enough cover for Elinor to talk quietly with Lucy about Edward.
Elinor cleverly offers to help Lucy with her weaving so that she will have a chance to discuss her secret engagement privately.