Anne remains unsettled with Mrs. Clay’s constant presence in the Elliot home. One morning, she overhears Mrs. Clay saying to Elizabeth and Sir Walter that perhaps it is time for her to leave, now that Anne is living there. Elizabeth assures Mrs. Clay that there is no need for her to leave, and then she confides that she truly prefers Mrs. Clay to Anne. Sir Walter also confirms that Mrs. Clay has only been with them a short time and should not be leaving so soon.
Later, when Anne is alone with her father, Sir Walter comments on Anne’s improved looks. He asks her if she is using any lotions. Anne answers in the negative; she has not been using anything. Sir Walter recommends a special cream, and he says he made the same offer to Mrs. Clay. Then Sir Walter suggests that Anne inspect Mrs. Clay’s complexion so she will see the effects this ointment has had. Mrs. Clay, Sir Walter tells Anne, no longer has any freckles.
These incidents make Anne consider the possibility that her father might one day marry Mrs. Clay. Both her father and sister are very much affected by Mrs. Clay. If Elizabeth should marry first, then there would be no problem; Elizabeth would not be forced to find a place to live on her own. Anne believes she would live with Lady Russell if her father should marry.
One day while speaking to Lady Russell, Anne realizes that she and Lady Russell do not have the same thoughts about Mr. Elliot. Lady Russell finds that Mr. Elliot has completely turned his character around. Now that Mr. Elliot is a widower, Lady Russell believes it is only natural that he would be seeking a new wife. She also thinks that the mistakes he made in the past were because of his youth. He has matured, and so naturally his character has improved. She forgives him for having turned his back on Elizabeth and the rest of the Elliot family. She also tells Anne that if Mr. Elliot should want to marry Elizabeth, that would be an excellent decision on his part.
Anne, on the other hand, still thinks there is something suspicious in Mr. Elliot’s pursuit of Elizabeth. She still cannot figure out what he would gain in the marriage. Internally, Anne also berates Mr. Elliot for seeking a new wife so shortly after his first wife’s death. She believes he should spend more time in mourning.
Despite her misgivings, Anne has to admit that she enjoys Mr. Elliot’s company. She knows no one else who is as pleasing to be around. She enjoys conversing with Mr. Elliot about Lyme. This is not to say that she enjoys everything about him. Mr. Elliot is obviously more concerned about social rank than Anne is....
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