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Summary Chapter 26

Elinor feels despair in her situation with Edward when she compares it to the enthusiastic hope Marianne has for her own relationship with Willoughby. Despite the apparent obstacles, Marianne feels optimistic. Elinor is determined to watch her closely. She hopes that Willoughby’s intentions will be made clear. If they are not likely to be favorable, she hopes to convince Marianne on the futility of it. She decides she needs to banish her own problems and focus on Marianne.

Marianne ignores Mrs. Jennings on the trip, forcing Elinor to entertain their hostess. Three days later, they reach town. Marianne immediately writes a short note to Willoughby. She becomes agitated as the evening progresses with no return reply. Mrs. Jennings doesn’t notice.

Marianne gets excited when they finally hear a knock at the door, but it turns out to be Colonel Brandon. She is so disappointed that she abruptly leaves the room, hurting his feelings by her obvious lack of pleasure in seeing him. Elinor tells him that Marianne is ill. They have a polite conversation that neither are interested in. He says he was not able to return to Barton because business keeps him in town.

Mrs. Palmer visits the next day. Marianne has recovered her spirits. They go shopping, and Marianne seems to be looking for someone. She is impatient and disinterested in everything else. She is disappointed when they return home to have no letter or news of Willoughby’s visit.

Elinor is having misgivings. She can’t understand why he doesn’t at least write. Marianne is miserable company.

Jane Austen