Edward stays with the Dashwoods for a week, then leaves, despite the fact that he's obviously having a great time. Mrs. Dashwood asks him to stay longer, but he resists, against his own wishes.
Elinor is surprised by Edward's rather odd actions, but assumes that he has to leave because his mother needs him – and, after all, he's financially dependent upon his family. She's still really disappointed by his departure, but cheers herself up with what she sees as sure proofs of his affection (such as the ring that she and Marianne assume has Elinor's own hair in it).
On the last morning of Edward's stay, Mrs. Dashwood gently advises Edward to find some kind of career, so that he might have something to occupy his time.
Edward himself says that he's often thought about this novel idea, but that he and his mother can never agree on a suitable career for him. He wants to settle down and be a clergyman, but she only wants him to be important, and doesn't think the church is impressive enough. His family has suggested that he look into the army, navy, or the law, but he's not into any of these options.
Since Edward didn't want to go into any of the career paths chosen by his domineering mother, she decided that he would become an educated, idle gentleman (actually, that sounds pretty good to us). Edward's so not down with this plan – and he says that his own kids will be raised to be totally different from him. Aww, poor guy.
Mrs. Dashwood tries to cheer him up, to no avail.
Edward leaves Barton Cottage, much to everyone's dismay. Elinor is particularly sad, but unlike Marianne, she doesn't make a big show of her feelings. Instead, she keeps herself busy with her artwork.
Marianne can't see that this is simply a coping mechanism. She just doesn't get Elinor, but she loves her seemingly unemotional sister all the same.
Though Elinor is busy, she still can't help but think about Edward.
One day, as she sits alone, drawing, Elinor receives a visit from Sir John, Lady Middleton, and Mrs. Jennings.
Sir John announces that they've brought some visitors to meet the Dashwoods.
Mrs. Jennings comes up, and explains that her other daughter, Charlotte Palmer, is there with her husband on a surprise visit.
Next, the rest of the party shows up. Lady Middleton introduces her sister and brother-in-law, and Mrs. Dashwood and Margaret come downstairs to meet everyone.
Mrs. Palmer is nothing like her older sister – she's good-natured, unfashionably friendly, beautiful, and bubbly. Her husband, on the other hand, is sensible, serious, and reserved (to put it nicely). He submits to introductions, but goes off to read the newspaper instead of socializing.
Mrs. Palmer, on the other hand, talks her hosts' ears off. She's full of praise for the cottage; her husband, obviously used to her gushing, ignores her. Their relationship is clearly rather odd.
Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Palmer relate the circumstances of the visit again… and again… and again.
It turns out that Mrs. Palmer is pregnant, but despite the fact that her mother thought she needed rest after her voyage, she wanted desperately to meet the new neighbors. Like mother, like daughter.
Lady Middleton obviously is not like her mother or sister. Bored, she asks Mr. Palmer if the newspaper has any news – to which he dryly replies that it doesn't.
Marianne finally shows up, and is subjected to a round of questioning by the guests. It becomes clear that Mrs. Jennings has told her daughter all about Marianne and Willoughby.
Mrs. Palmer is fortunately distracted by Elinor's drawings, which are displayed around the room.
Finally, Lady Middleton prepares to leave, and Mr. Palmer, after observing sourly that the room's flaws (including a crooked ceiling), also departs, followed by everyone else.
Sir John insists that his tenants join the family for dinner then next day. Though all of the Dashwoods desperately try to turn him down, he and Lady Middleton pressure the girls into saying yes (lucky Mrs. Dashwood is let off the hook).
After the guests leave, Marianne moans and groans about their dinner date the next evening, saying that the cottage's low rent is more than made up for by the burden of hanging out with their talkative landlords.
Elinor chastises her sister for the uncharitable comment, saying that it's not the Middletons who have grown more boring or unpleasant – rather, something else must have changed (in Marianne herself, that is).