The next few days are uneventful; Willoughby continues to be a no-show. One day, Elinor and the lackluster Marianne accompany Lady Middleton to a party. Lady Middleton sits down to play cards, while the Dashwoods keep to themselves.
Moments later, Elinor notices a familiar figure – it's Willoughby! He's in mid-conversation with a very stylish young lady, and refuses to come over to talk to the sisters.
Marianne notices Willoughby with delight, but then is puzzled by his actions – why won't he come over to talk to her? Elinor tries to calm her sister down.
Finally, Willoughby turns to speak to them. Elinor greets him warmly, yet he treats them like casual acquaintances. What the…?
Elinor controls her confusion, but Marianne simply can't. She explodes with emotion, asking Willoughby what his deal is. Can't he even shake hands with her?
He does, but drops her hand like a hot coal. He's clearly disturbed by something…but what?
Willoughby continues the conversation as best he can, calmly saying that he was sad to miss them at Mrs. Jennings's house the day he visited. Marianne wildly asks if he's received her letters, and demands that he tell her what's going on.
Willoughby quickly makes an excuse and flees the conversation.
Marianne freaks out and practically faints. Elinor keeps the situation under control by trying her best to soothe Marianne; in the meanwhile, Willoughby leaves the party.
Lady Middleton, hearing that Marianne is ill (or something) immediately takes the girls home. Marianne is in a state of agony the whole time.
When they arrive at home, Elinor puts Marianne to bed, then goes off to wait for Mrs. Jennings to get home. In the meanwhile, she ponders the events of the evening.
It's apparent that whatever engagement Marianne and Willoughby agreed on is over – but how could he have changed his mind so completely? What's going on with him? Elinor is furious on her sister's behalf.
Elinor reflects that this whole situation makes her own problems with Edward look better; after all, she can still be friends with Edward, while Marianne's relationship with Willoughby has to be broken off forever.