Sense and Sensibility Chapter 32
To hear the Colonel's story seemed to increase Marianne's respect for the Colonel, and also to increase her grief. "She felt the loss of Willoughby's character yet more heavily than she had felt the loss of his heart." Chapter 32, pg. 179 Mrs. Dashwood received Elinor's letter, and felt all the same surprise and sadness at its contents. Though desiring to see Marianne, Mrs. Dashwood thought she would be better off anywhere than Barton, where everything would probably remind her of Willoughby. So the Dashwood girls remain in town. Elinor knows she will likely not be able to avoid Edward, but she is happy for anything that will save Marianne some pain.
Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton, Sir John, Mr. Palmer, and Mrs. Palmer, all avoid Willoughby's name around Marianne, but they speak of him constantly to Elinor when Marianne is not present. They do not imagine that hearing constant talk on this subject might bring Elinor pain, which it does. They all speak poorly of Willoughby, and Mrs. Palmer takes it upon herself to find out everything she can about Miss Grey and the wedding, and then tells it to Elinor. Only Lady Middleton remains blissfully silent on the situation. For once, Elinor appreciates her cold and quiet personality. But she cannot approve of Lady Middleton's decision to leave her card with Miss Grey, as soon as she is married to Willoughby. To Elinor, only the Colonel behaves acceptably.
Two weeks later, Elinor learns that Willoughby and Miss Grey have married, and she tells her sister, whose grief is renewed. Soon after, Lucy and Ann Steele arrive in town. The girls are as awful as Elinor remembered. Ann talks about Dr. Davies, her imagined beau, but nobody cares. Lucy is only concerned about whether Elinor has kept her word, which of course she has. The Steeles speak with the same rudeness, and Elinor is happy when they leave for the night.