Chapter 21 Summary

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The next day, Anne visits the ailing Mrs. Smith. Her friend notices that Anne is in good spirits and suggests that it might have something to do with Anne’s outing to the musical performance the previous night. Anne thinks that Mrs. Smith is very observant and blushes. But as Mrs. Smith continues the discussion, Anne realizes that Mrs. Smith believes that the object of her excitement is Mr. Elliot, not Captain Wentworth.

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Mrs. Smith suggests that Anne will soon be engaged to be married to Mr. Elliot. Rumors are abundant around town that this is so. When Anne attempts to deny this, Mrs. Smith thinks that she has overstepped a social boundary in her assumption. Anne insists that Mrs. Smith has not done so. Anne merely wants to make the point that though she does not know Mr. Elliot’s intentions, she has no intention of marrying him.

Upon hearing this, Mrs. Smith provides an interesting story that includes details of Mr. Elliot’s background. First she tells Anne that she and her husband once were close friends of Mr. Elliot’s. The acquaintance began before Elliot’s marriage. At that time, Elliot had very little money. He confessed to Mrs. Smith and her husband that he was looking for someone to marry who could afford him a great inheritance. This occurred when Anne’s sister, Elizabeth, was considering marrying Elliot. Mrs. Smith shows a letter Elliot had written to her husband in which he stated all the reasons why he wanted nothing to do with Elizabeth. In essence, the letter claims that Elliot found Sir Walter and Elizabeth so disgusting that he wished he could change his name so as to not be associated with them. He wanted nothing to do with their pompous attitude.

Shortly afterward, Elliot found the woman he would marry. She had no claim to society, being the daughter of a butcher, but she did inherit a lot of money. After marrying her, Elliot got into the habit of spending great sums of money. Mrs. Smith’s husband attempted to keep a similar style of life as Elliot’s and took his accounts to the point of bankruptcy. This is why Mrs. Smith was left almost penniless. In an attempt to reclaim some of her husband’s estate, Mrs. Smith was going to ask Anne to beseech Mr. Elliot, on her account, to look into a parcel of land her husband still owned. Mrs. Smith did not have the money to hire a lawyer to file the necessary papers;...

(The entire section contains 657 words.)

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