After a few days, Marianne was a little calmer, but she was still very unhappy. No letters came from Willoughby.
‘Mama, please ask Marianne about her engagement,’ Elinor said to her mother.
‘No, no, I cannot,’ Mrs Dashwood said. ‘Marianne will tell us all about it when she is ready. She is too unhappy to talk about it at the moment.’
About a week after Willoughby had left Devon, Marianne agreed to go for a walk with her sisters. When they stepped onto the road outside the cottage, they stopped for a moment. A gentleman was riding his horse towards them.
‘It is him!’ Marianne cried, it is Willoughby!’
‘No, this gentleman is not tall enough,’ Elinor said, it cannot be Willoughby.’
‘It is Willoughby, it is. I knew that he would come,’ Marianne said and she began to run towards the visitor.
But Marianne was disappointed. The visitor was not Willoughby — it was Edward Ferrars.
‘He is here, at last!’ Elinor thought.
Edward got off his horse and walked with the girls into Barton Cottage. He was very quiet and he looked unhappy. He did not look at Elinor.
‘Have you come from London, Edward?’ Marianne asked the young man.
‘No, I have not come from London,’ Edward replied. ‘I have been in Devon for two weeks.’
Two weeks!’ Marianne repeated in surprise. ‘Why have you not come to see us before today?’
Edward looked very embarrassed. ‘I have been staying with friends near Plymouth,’ he said quietly.
‘Have you been in Sussex recently?’ Elinor asked the young man.
‘I was at Norland about a month ago,’ Edward replied.
‘Dear, dear Norland!’ Marianne cried. ‘I miss our beautiful home in Sussex. But Barton is beautiful, too, is it not? Look at those hills! And over there is Barton Park, surrounded by all its lovely trees!’
‘Barton is certainly in a beautiful part of Devon,’ Edward replied. ‘But in winter, these roads must be very wet and muddy.’
Marianne felt sorry for a man who thought about mud rather than beautiful trees.
Elinor was pleased to see Edward, but she could not understand why he had come. He did not look happy to see her at all.
Mrs Dashwood gave Edward a warm welcome to Barton Cottage and invited him to stay for several days. Edward accepted her invitation and he began to be more cheerful.
‘What are your plans, Edward?’ Mrs Dashwood asked him at dinner. ‘Have you decided on a profession? Will you join the army or the navy? Or will you study law? Will you become a famous soldier, sailor, or lawyer? Your mother has great plans for you, I am sure.’
Edward smiled and shook his head.
‘I shall never be a great man,’ he said. ‘And I do not want to be famous. I am very shy, as you know, and I do not like meeting strangers.’
‘But we are your friends, Edward,’ Marianne said. ‘You do not need to be shy with us. Do not hide your true feelings from us.’
‘I apologise,’ said Edward. ‘I know that you are my friend — and I shall try to be more cheerful.’
Elinor was sorry for her friend. He was certainly very unhappy, but she could not understand why.
At breakfast the next morning, Marianne saw that Edward was wearing a ring with a lock of hair in it.
‘You are wearing a new ring, Edward,’ Marianne said. ‘Is that a lock of your sister’s hair inside it? I thought that Fanny’s hair was darker.’
Edward answered very quietly. ‘You are right. This is my sister’s hair,’ he said. But he looked at Elinor as he spoke. She was sure that the lock of hair was her own. She felt pleased, but she did not say anything.
Later that morning, Sir John and Mrs Jennings came to visit. Mrs Jennings was very interested to hear that Edward’s last name was Ferrars. She was already thinking of jokes about the letter F. She was already thinking of teasing Elinor about Edward.
Edward Ferrars stayed at Barton Cottage for a week. During that time, he became happier, but he said very little. Elinor believed that his mother was making Edward unhappy. But Mrs Dashwood had another idea.
‘Edward,’ she said as he was leaving. ‘You have nothing to do. That is why you are not happy. You are an educated man. You should have a profession.’
‘I agree, Mrs Dashwood,’ Edward said sadly, I would like to be a clergyman, but my family do not believe that this is a good profession. My parents wanted me to be a soldier or a lawyer, but these professions were not right for me. When I was eighteen, my parents sent me to study in Oxford. However, since then, I have done nothing.
‘And I believe that I will never do what I wish to do,’ the young man added sadly.
‘Dear Edward, try to be happy,’ Mrs Dashwood said. ‘The future may be better than you think.’
Edward bowed politely. He thanked Mrs Dashwood for her kindness. Then he smiled sadly at Elinor and left Barton Cottage without another word.
Marianne had wept when Willoughby went away. But when Edward left, Elinor did not show her feelings. She sat down at a little table in the sitting-room and began to draw. She was busy all day, but she was thinking of Edward. Elinor was very worried about him. Then she remembered the ring that Edward was wearing. He was wearing a ring with a lock of hair in it — hair which she believed was hers — and she felt much happier.