When Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor return from a visit to Lady Middleton, they find Willoughby already at the cottage. Marianne runs out and goes upstairs, extremely upset. When they encounter Willoughby, he explains that Mrs. Smith has decided to send him to London on business. He won’t be coming back for another year.
Mrs. Dashwood invites him to stay with them when his business concludes. He tells them it is impossible and quickly leaves.
Elinor is disturbed by this. She fears that either he quarreled with Marianne, or he was never serious in his intentions toward her. His behavior was so drastically different from the night before.
Mrs. Dashwood is convinced it is due to circumstances out of his control. She believes Mrs. Smith disapproves of his relationship with Marianne and has sent him away on purpose.
Elinor is not willing to believe this. She blames Willoughby, which earns her mother’s criticism. Elinor is suspicious of how secretive he was, particularly as he is usually so candid.
Mrs. Dashwood is confident of Willoughby’s affection for Marianne. He may have to conceal an engagement from Mrs. Smith. Elinor doesn’t know why he would conceal it from them. She is certain he loved Marianne, but she doubts he is engaged to her. If they write to each other, her fears will lessen.
Marianne comes down to dinner. She has been crying, and she bursts into tears again and leaves. She continues to get upset whenever she is reminded of Willoughby.