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Charles and Mary return to Uppercross as Christmas approaches, leaving Louisa improved in health but still not completely recovered.
In Lyme, the elder Musgroves and the Harvilles have been holding an informal competition as to who can be kinder and more generous, and even Mary has been enjoying herself.
Anne asks Charles how her old partner-in-poetry Captain Benwick has been doing, and Charles says that he had accepted an invitation to Uppercross, but then for some reason changed his mind (Charles thinks it’s because he found out Anne was no longer staying with the Musgroves).
Charles and Mary argue as to whether Benwick is particularly interested in Anne, or just likes her taste in books (Charles says yea, Mary says nay).
Lady Russell reserves judgment in the Benwick matter until actually meeting the man.
Mary brings up running into Mr. William Elliot, but Lady Russell, still hung up on the old drama of his rejection of the current Sir, shuts her down.
Anne learns that Captain Wentworth has been steering clear of Louisa, afraid that the excitement of seeing him would further damage her bruised brain.
Anne and Lady Russell expect Captain Benwick to turn up any day now, but he never does.
Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove return to Uppercross, bringing the Harville kids back with them; their own younger children also come home from school for the holidays, so there’s a full house at Uppercross.
Lady Russell isn’t too fond of the current kindergarten atmosphere of Uppercross, but the more motherly Mrs. Musgrove thinks of it as "quiet cheerfulness" (14.28).
Lady Russell’s own idea of quiet cheerfulness, the narrator notes, is the hustle and bustle of the Bath streets: to each her own.
Anne, however, is not eager to leave the countryside for a city life in Bath, even though her sister’s last letter reported that the interesting Mr. Elliot has been mending bridges with her and Sir Walter.
The possibility of meeting up with Mr. Elliot is still the one not-completely-dark spot for her, however, as Anne finally arrives at her family’s lodgings in Camden Place.