Unaccountable, however, as the circumstances of his release might appear to the whole family, it was certain that Edward was free; and to what purpose that freedom would be employed was easily pre-determined by all;--for after experiencing the blessings of one imprudent engagement, contracted without his mother's consent, as he had already done for more than four years, nothing less could be expected of him in the failure of that, than the immediate contraction of another.AHAHAHA! *wipes eyes* You can just sense Jane Austen cackling to herself as she wrote that, can't you? Almost as hard as she must've been laughing when she crafted Lucy Steele's truly horrifying letter to Edward, in which she says, in effect, "Dear Edward, it's been a pleasure jerking you around, but I've bamboozled your brother, and he's rich and you're not, so hasta la vista, baby!" (Only she says it with more grammatical errors and pretense than that, of course.)
Letters finally come from town.
Mrs Jennings mourns for poor Edward, whom she believes to be crying his eyes out in Oxford rather than laughing his ass off at Barton Cottage, and cursing Lucy Steele as a selfish hussy (who swiped all of her sister's cash as a wedding gift to herself, leaving the elder and decidedly stupider Miss Steele stranded in London). Kind-hearted woman that she is, she hopes that Edward will come to Barton and console himself with Marianne, since she has long paired Elinor and Brandon in her mind - a pairing favored by a number of readers, I might add, so it's not like she's completely off her nut for thinking they'd make a good couple.
John Dashwood says that he, Fanny and Mrs Ferrars are shocked and appalled, etc, etc, and hints that Mrs Ferrars might be willing to reconcile with Edward if only he'd send her a smarmy letter.
Edward refuses to send a smarmy letter because he refuses to apologize for his brother's actions. Elinor talks him around to acknowledging that being engaged to Lucy Steele was a boneheaded mistake and he heads off to London to have a chat with his mum, but not until after spending several days in the company of Colonel Brandon, who has turned up after three weeks at his own home in Delaford in a dour mood. See, he spent three weeks pondering the fact that he is probably TOO OLD for Marianne. Picture him sitting around his house going "I'm 36, and she's only 17" for three weeks, and you can probably understand why he was in a guarded, sad sort of mood. And yet he couldn't stay away because he's in love with Marianne and wants to check up on her. So . . . here he is. Moping. Only the Dashwoods don't let him mope for long, so that's good. Because I love Colonel Brandon, even if he is 19 years older than Marianne, and I want him to be happy, dammit.
Brandon and Edward hit it off because they are both men of intelligence and integrity, so that's all good, and Colonel Brandon is extra happy that he's helping Edward now that helping Edward means helping Elinor as well (hey - even if things don't work out, he gets to keep his friend/confidante close because she'll be married to his resident vicar).
I love how very practical Elinor and Edward are - they're all "we're engaged, but can't get married until we have an actual income." See?
One question after this only remained undecided, between them, one difficulty only was to be overcome. They were brought together by mutual affection, with the warmest approbation of their real friends; their intimate knowledge of each other seemed to make their happiness certain--and they only wanted something to live upon. Edward had two thousand pounds, and Elinor one, which, with Delaford living, was all that they could call their own; for it was impossible that Mrs. Dashwood should advance anything; and they were neither of them quite enough in love to think that three hundred and fifty pounds a-year would supply them with the comforts of life. (emphasis added)There's only one chapter to go, which we'll get to tomorrow: Will true love prevail? Will Elinor and Edward come into enough money to marry? What will happen with our brooding Colonel and Marianne? Will Robert and Lucy Ferrars lead a miserable ever-after? What about Willoughby? All will be revealed in THE FINAL CHAPTER!