Edward’s purpose in coming to Barton Cottage was to propose to Elinor. About three hours after his arrival, the engagement was already arranged. He had long been miserable with Lucy, and now was happy to be with Elinor.
After all their difficulties, Edward and Elinor have finally entered into a loving engagement. It is noteworthy that Elinor wants to marry Edward despite his having been disinherited. This is a marriage for love.
Edward explained to Elinor that he had foolishly fallen in love with Lucy when he was very young, and that the attachment was the result of his idleness and boredom. He said that their engagement was foolish. The Dashwoods were overjoyed at this change of their fortunes, and Marianne “could speak her happiness only by tears.”
Edward’s marriage with Lucy was the result of idleness and ignorance, not love. Marianne is overcome by her happiness at this fortuitous turn of events.
Elinor, meanwhile, “was every thing by turns but tranquil.” Edward stayed at the cottage for a week, enjoying spending time with Elinor. Elinor was puzzled by the marriage between Lucy and Robert, and Edward guessed that they had been drawn together by their vanity and mutual flattery.
Usually reserved, Elinor finally allows herself to express her emotion and indulge in some of her sister’s sensibility.
Edward showed Elinor a letter he had received from Lucy while he was in Oxford. In the letter, Lucy said she was sure she had “long lost” Edward’s love, and that she had fallen in love with Robert. Elinor wondered how Mrs. Ferrars would take this news, but Edward said that Robert was her favorite, so he would probably not suffer.
It is unclear to what degree Lucy truly loved Edward or to what degree she was self-interestedly seeking a wealthy husband, which she finds in Robert.
Elinor now realized that Lucy had meant to deceive her when she spoke to the servant who gave her the impression that Edward and Lucy had married. Edward said that he had given Lucy the option of breaking off their engagement after he had been disinherited, and didn’t know why she had stayed with him when she didn’t love him and he didn’t have any wealth.
Elinor scolded Edward a bit for leading her on at Norland, when he was engaged to another, and Edward apologized, pleading “an ignorance of his own heart.” Edward was glad to hear that Colonel Brandon was coming to the cottage soon, and looked forward to the opportunity to thank him again for giving him the living at Delaford.
Edward apologizes for having hurt Elinor, and Elinor does not see Edward’s mistakes as signifying any significant faults in his gentlemanly character.
Now that Edward and Elinor were “brought together by mutual affection,” the only remaining question for them was one of finances, as neither had a great fortune. Edward hoped that his mother would perhaps forgive him, though Elinor worried that she wouldn’t, as Edward still hadn’t married a wealthy woman like Miss Morton.
Four days after Edward’s arrival, Colonel Brandon came to Barton Cottage. He enjoyed the company of the Dashwoods, and especially Marianne. He heard and wondered at the news of Lucy and Robert, and Edward and Elinor. Edward and Brandon “advanced in the good opinion of each other,” as they both stayed with the Dashwoods.
As Edward and Brandon get to know each other’s particular character better, they grow fond of each other and become friends.
Elinor received a letter from Mrs. Jennings about Lucy, which communicated “her honest indignation against the jilting girl,” and her pity for Edward. John also wrote Elinor a letter, saying how unfortunate Mrs. Ferrars was, as neither of her children married wealthy women. John hinted to Elinor that he thought Mrs. Ferrars might be receptive to an apology from Edward, after these new developments.
Lucy’s recent behavior changes even Mrs. Jennings’ opinion of her character. John pities Mrs. Ferrars because both her sons have failed to marry wealthy women. He hints that Edward might be able to regain his mother’s favor, along with some of his former wealth.
Seeing John’s letter, Edward now determined to “attempt a reconciliation” with his mother, though he did not want to write “a letter of proper submission,” as John had urged. Brandon and Edward finally left Barton Cottage together, to examine the property at Delaford and then go to London.
Proud and stubborn, Edward does not want to submit to his mother’s authority, but needs to attempt some kind of reconciliation so that he and Elinor have a fortune to live off of comfortably.