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Remember that other storyline, the one with the Musgroves? Anne does too, and wonders what’s going on with that.
Fortunately she gets a thick letter from Mary, and, even better, the letter was brought to Bath by the Crofts, whom Anne looks forward to seeing again.
Sir Walter makes inane background noise making sure that no one forgets that Admiral Croft is his tenant and that therefore he is, like, totally better than the Admiral, and prettier too, while Anne reads her letter.
Mary is cranky about many things: everything is boring, the Musgroves aren’t having any parties, the Harville children are still at Uppercross, the weather sucks, all the fun stuff happens when she’s not around, when will Mrs. Clay get out of the Elliots’ guest bedroom, not that they would ask her to stay with them anyway, why does everyone else get to go to Bath while she has to stay in boring old Uppercross?, there’s a sore throat going around which she’ll probably get, etc.
And that was just the first half of the letter. The second half, however, has the juicy gossip. Louisa has returned to Uppercross, but not alone: Captain Benwick is with her, to ask her father for permission for the couple to get married.
Anne is astonished at the news. Her family asks about the letter without really waiting for her answers, and then turn to the matter of more concern to them, whether they should introduce the Crofts to Lady Dalrymple. (They decide not.)
Anne finally gets away to her own room to think over the letter. She wonders what Captain Wentworth thinks of the situation, and hopes that Louisa’s change of heart hasn’t destroyed the friendship between him and Benwick.
Anne is also curious how lively Louisa and mopey Benwick got involved with each other in the first place, and concludes that the head injury must have awakened Louisa’s inner emotional side and a taste for poetry.
What really gets Anne’s heart rattling, though, is the thought of Captain Wentworth’s being available again.
Anne meets up with the Crofts, but they seem out of the loop on the latest Louisa/Benwick gossip.
The Crofts are in town for the Admiral’s health, and are always out walking. For Anne, who often sees them when she is out riding with Lady Russell, they appear as exhibit A of what a happy couple looks like.
Once when Anne is walking home she runs into Admiral Croft, who’s looking at a picture of a boat in the shop window and criticizing the fact that it resembles a real boat as much as a Photoshopped cover model resembles the real person.
The Admiral, unaware that he’s been scooped, tells Anne that Louisa and Captain Benwick are engaged.
Of more interest to Anne is his information on Captain Wentworth’s response to the situation; according to the Admiral, Wentworth is far from heartbroken at the way things played out, and in fact seems like he couldn’t care less.
The Admiral says that he must get Captain Wentworth to come to Bath and check out the pretty girls there to see if any of them would do as a wife.