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Summary Chapter 20

Mrs. Palmer greets the Dashwood sisters warmly. She is glad to see them, for she and her husband leave tomorrow. She invites them to visit her in town, promising to get a nice house and act as chaperon to them. They decline the offer.

Mr. Palmer is in a foul mood. The weather is poor, and Sir John does not have a billiard room.

Sir John brings up Mr. Willoughby’s house in Allenham. Marianne becomes quiet. Mrs. Palmer thinks the house is pretty. Mr. Palmer disagrees.

Sir John is disappointed that their party is so small. Lady Middleton didn’t invite another pair of guests because decorum held that it wasn’t proper to invite them so soon after they have just dined with them. Mrs. Jennings and Sir John think that is ridiculous. Mr. Palmer agrees with Lady Middleton and tells Mrs. Jennings she is ill-bred to think otherwise. Mrs. Jennings is amused and tells him that he has married her daughter, which she is grateful, and he can’t give her back. This strikes Mrs. Palmer as funny.

Elinor thinks Mr. Palmer’s sour disposition is partly due to the fact that he had made the common mistake of most men in being infatuated by beauty. Once he was married, he discovered that his wife was a silly woman. He therefore distinguished himself by acting superior to everyone else.

Mrs. Palmer invites the Dashwoods for a visit at Christmas. They again decline. Mrs. Palmer states that her husband will be disappointed, for he thinks highly of them.

Elinor inquires if the Palmers know Willoughby well. Though Willoughby is a distant neighbor, they only occasionally see him in town. They have never spoken to him. They never seem to be at the same places he is at the same time. Mr. Palmer despises Willoughby because he belongs to the opposing political party.

Mrs. Palmer is glad to know he is engaged to Marianne. Elinor is surprised to hear that Mrs. Palmer has heard this, and is even more surprised when she claims it was Colonel Brandon that told her. However, it turns out that it was her mother that made the actual claim—and Mrs. Palmer thought Colonel Brandon confirmed it by his reaction.

Mrs. Palmer praises Willoughby as a very popular young man who is agreeable to everyone. She claims that Colonel Brandon wanted her as a wife, but Mrs. Jennings did not approve of the match.

Jane Austen