Elinor and Marianne had now been in London for over two months, and Marianne was impatient to get back home. At the end of March, the Palmers were returning to their home at Cleveland, and they invited the Dashwood sisters. Marianne didn’t want to go, because Cleveland was near Willoughby’s home, but Elinor persuaded her to, by telling her that this would fix an end-date to their stay in London, and they could return home after the visit to Cleveland.
Elinor and Marianne miss their mother. Their close-knit family unit provides a loving support system that the sisters can rely on even when their prospective husbands disappoint them.
After Elinor and Marianne made their plans, Colonel Brandon visited, and Mrs. Jennings told him about their imminent departure, hoping to spur him to propose to Elinor. She thought she had been successful, because Elinor and Brandon then conversed privately by a window.
Mrs. Jennings tries to scheme to get Brandon to propose to Elinor. Little does she know, though, that he is interested in Marianne.
Mrs. Jennings overheard parts of their conversation, with Brandon apologizing “for the badness of his house,” and she heard him say, “I am afraid it cannot take place very soon.” She assumed that Brandon was talking about their engagement and marriage.
In her attempt to be up to date with marriage gossip, Mrs. Jennings misinterprets Brandon’s intentions.
However, what Elinor and Brandon were actually talking about was Edward. Having learned that Edward had been disinherited by his mother, Brandon decided to give him a living on his estate in Delaford. Elinor was astonished, as this meant that Edward and Lucy would finally be able to marry.
Brandon puts aside his own interests and extends a generous gift to Edward. Unfortunately for Elinor, this will have the consequence of allowing Edward and Lucy to marry. Brandon, of course, does not know of Elinor's feelings for Edward.
Brandon did not think that the living at Delaford would be sufficient for both Edward and a wife, though, and said that it could only “make Mr. Ferrars comfortable as a bachelor.” So, he said that he was afraid the marriage could not take place very soon, and this was the sentence that Mrs. Jennings heard and misunderstood.
Brandon does not think that the living he is offering is up to the standards of a wealthy married couple. Mrs. Jennings tries to figure out what is going on, but misinterprets Brandon and Elinor’s conversation.