Summary, Chapter VI, pages 43-53
Anne and Mary are joined by Charles’ sisters, Louisa and Henrietta, on a walk. Anne, whose heart is full of missing Kellynch, finds that Mary and the Musgroves are only interested in the fact that the Elliots are residing in Bath, which they find quite glamorous. They speak of going there themselves. Anne, who has no one to talk of her sadness with, is struck with “the art of knowing our own nothingness beyond our own circle.” She realizes she will have to mourn Kellynch alone.
Anne settles into Uppercross and finds herself the unwilling confidante of everyone in the place. Charles complains to her of Mary’s lowness and her indulgence with their unruly children. Mary complains that Charles does not take her health seriously and that he spoils the children. She complains about that Mrs. Musgrove tries to take precedence over her titled daughter-in-law, while the Miss Musgroves complain to Anne that Mary gives herself airs and is being rude to her mother-in-law. Anne simply listens patiently.
Anne finds her spirits improved by being among such a lively family as the Musgroves. She enjoys their entertainments and listens politely as the Musgrove girls play the pianoforte, which she can play far better than either of them. However, her talent is barely noticed by anyone; Anne does not take offence because “she had never, since the age of fourteen, never since the loss of her dear mother, known the happiness of being listened to, or encouraged by any just appreciation or real taste. In music she had been always used to feel alone in the world. . . .” Anne plays country dances while the others dance with some cousins who visit from nearby.
After three weeks, Anne knows that the Crofts have moved into Kellynch-hall. When the Crofts come to pay their respects to the Musgroves, Anne gets to know Mrs. Croft, who happens to mention that she believes Anne once knew her brother. Anne tries not to blush to hear Mrs. Croft speak of Captain Wentworth. However, she soon discovers that Mrs. Croft means the clergyman, Mr. Edward Wentworth, the Elliot’s former neighbor. As the Crofts prepare to end their visit, Anne hears Admiral Croft say that Mrs. Croft’s brother is soon to visit them at Kellynch-hall. Anne wonders which brother he means and tries to persuade herself that he means Edward, not Frederick.
That evening, Henrietta comes to Uppercross before the other Musgroves, who are to follow in a carriage, to say that Mrs. Musgrove has been low since the Crofts’ visit that morning. Seeing Admiral Croft and hearing of the return of Frederick Wentworth from the war has reminded her of her own son, Richard, whose captain, she recalls, was named Wentworth. Richard, however, died two years before and will not be returning from the war.
Although Mrs. Musgrove and the rest of the family remember Richard fondly, he was in fact “thick-headed, unfeeling, unprofitable Dick Musgrove, who had never done any thing[sic] to entitle himself to more than the abbreviation of his name, living or dead.” Only under Captain Wentworth’s influence did he write his family two actual letters; otherwise, he merely wrote to ask for money.
When Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove arrive at Uppercross for the evening, they talk of having met Captain Wentworth once or twice. Anne realizes that she must steel herself to hear him discussed—and to probably see him in company—during her stay at Uppercross.
Summary, Chapter VII, pages 54-62
Upon hearing that Captain Wentworth has come to Kellynch, Mr. Musgrove visits him and the Crofts. Captain Wentworth returns the visit, and Anne barely escapes seeing him. Just as she and Mary were walking to the main house, Mary’s eldest son is brought to her, his collar bone injured in a fall. Mary falls to pieces, and it is up to Anne to arrange for a doctor, manage the servants, calm Mary, control the younger children, and send for Charles. Anne and Mary therefore miss Wentworth’s visit, but soon Henrietta and Louisa come to report about it, glowing about Wentworth’s looks and manners.
Anne is further relieved when she thinks that she, Charles, and Mary will be excused from the dinner for Wentworth and the Crofts the next evening. Charles, however, declares that because his son is mending nicely, he will attend the dinner. Mary immediately complains that she is always left behind and that being a mother should not keep her from enjoying the dinner, too. Anne convinces both of them to leave the child in her care while they both go to dine. They return after the dinner, raving about Captain Wentworth. Anne discovers that he is to meet Charles at the main house the next morning to go hunting; he was invited to meet Charles at Uppercross Cottage, but he declined, saying he did not wish to get in the way when a sick child was there. Anne suspects that he made up that excuse so he need not see her.
However, the next morning brings Henrietta and Louisa, with Wentworth in tow, to the cottage. Before Anne can compose herself, he is there. “Her eye half met Captain Wentworth’s; a bow, a curtsey passed; she heard his voice—he talked to Mary, said all that was right; said something to the Miss Musgroves, enough to mark an easy footing: the room seemed full—full of persons and voices—but a few minutes ended it. Charles shewed himself at the window, all was ready, their visitor bowed and was gone.”
Anne is flustered by the visit and wonders anxiously if Wentworth felt anything upon seeing her again. Mary later informs her that Wentworth remarked to Henrietta that Anne was “‘so altered he should not have known [her] again.’” Anne is mortified because in her eyes Wentworth had not changed, but apparently her eight years of worry and sadness have changed her for the worse in his eyes. Anne realizes that he has not forgiven her for breaking his heart, for her “weakness and timidity” in not standing up to her family.
Captain Wentworth, now wealthy and successful in his career, is clearly looking for a wife. He tells Mrs. Croft that he wants a woman with “‘A strong mind, with sweetness of manner,’” thinking of Anne—and her weakness of mind—as he declares this.
Wentworth makes clear that Anne’s value with him is gone. His remark about her lost looks reveals that he considers Anne to be an old maid, a woman unmarried and past her “bloom.” Such a woman has little social value. Conveniently, he will not have to notice her because she is an old maid. But he still chafes over their broken engagement. As a navy man, he values courage and commitment and strength, qualities which he believes Anne does not have. He deliberately seeks a woman confident in her own mind, not easily persuaded by others. He does not see that Anne has suffered and lost her bloom because she regrets her decision to break their engagement.