A few days later, Mrs Jennings and Elinor were walking together in a London park when they saw a young woman walking towards them.
‘Look, there is Miss Steele,’ Mrs Jennings said to Elinor. ‘Go and talk to her. She is sure to tell you everything about Edward and Lucy.’
Mrs Jennings walked away to speak to a friend and Miss Steele walked up to Elinor.
‘I am so pleased to see you, Miss Dashwood!’ Anne Steele cried. ‘You have heard the news, of course. I am afraid that Lucy was angry with me because I told Mrs John Dashwood about the engagement! People have been saying such bad things about Lucy and Edward. I am sure that you have heard the gossip.’
‘I have heard nothing,’ Elinor replied.
‘Well, I can tell you the truth,’ Anne said. ‘We are now staying in Bartlett’s Buildings. My uncle, Mr Pratt, has an apartment there. We did not hear from Edward for three days and Lucy wept all that time. Then Edward came back to London today and we are all happy!
‘After leaving his mother’s house in Park Street, Edward went into the country,’ Anne Steele said. ‘He stayed there all of Thursday and Friday. Then he decided to come back to us. Dear Edward! I heard every word that he said to Lucy.
‘At first, Edward said that he was too poor to marry. Then Lucy said that she did not mind being poor, as long as she had love. Are those not beautiful words, Miss Dashwood? Then they moved away from the door and I could not hear any more.’
‘What do you mean, Miss Steele?’ Elinor said. ‘Are you saying that you listened to their private conversation?’
‘Well, they would not be talking about love if I was in the room!’ Miss Steele said with a laugh. ‘Lucy would listen at a door if I was talking about love with a young man, I am sure!’
‘I am sure that she would,’ Elinor said quietly, but Miss Steele did not hear this.
‘Edward has decided to become a clergyman,’ Anne Steele continued. ‘He is going to be ordained as soon as possible. Then he will look for a church where he can live and work.
‘I know that Edward and Lucy will be happy!’
Elinor could not agree with this, but she said nothing.
‘Well, I must go,’ Miss Steele said. ‘Please give my best wishes to Mrs Jennings and Miss Marianne. Perhaps we shall all meet when Lucy and Edward are married!’ And, with another foolish laugh, Miss Anne Steele walked away.
The next morning, Elinor had a letter from Lucy herself.
My Dear Miss Dashwood,
I am writing to you as a friend. I want to tell you about my dear Edward and myself. We have both been very unhappy, but now all is well.
I spent two hours with Edward yesterday afternoon. He is not afraid of his mother’s anger, because he has my love. We will have love, but no money! Before we can marry, Edward must be ordained and find a church to work in.
My dear friend — can you, Mrs Jennings, your brother John, or Mr Palmer, help Edward? If you know a suitable church where he can be a clergyman, we could live happily for ever.
I must end this letter now. Please give my best wishes to dear Mrs Jennings. I hope that she will come and see me soon. I also send my best wishes to Miss Marianne, Sir John and Lady Middle ton and their dear, dear children.
I am your very dear and true friend,
Elinor showed the letter to Mrs Jennings, because that was what Lucy wished.
‘Poor Lucy,’ the kind old lady said. ‘She has written a very good letter and I shall go and visit her. I hope that someone will be able to help Lucy and Edward soon. I feel sorry for them both.’