Edward looked so astonished at being presented the news of Elinor's engagement, upon the occasion of his much-delayed visit to Barton Cottage, as to completely lay to rest any doubts the manner of their parting may have engendered as to the nature of his feelings.
Months before, his speaking glance might have roused equal feeling within her own breast; but having since formed the intimate acquaintance of a man whose own reserved demeanour issued from no unaccountable want of spirits-- in fact concealing a steadfast heart and mind as well-fitted to her's as seemed possible to exist-- she could only speak of sisterly commonplaces until Edward regained his composure, and relate the whole to Colonel Brandon later that afternoon.
"So that is the infamous Mr F," he observed, lifting her hand to his lips. "I cannot fault his taste; though I must own to a sense of gratitude for his lack of initiative. It has proven very much to my gain."
Elinor could not but laugh. As well thank Marianne for her subdued spirits since quitting Norland; Mrs Jennings had been very keen to promote a connection between the handsomer Dashwood girl and her son's particular friend. Had anything of dramatic nature occurred to bring out Marianne's natural vivacity, or interrupt the deepening of Elinor's friendship with the colonel, their affections might now be very differently disposed.
But it had not; and now the only blot upon the perfection of her happiness was the fact that those dearest to her were not equally well disposed. But time would surely mend that error, as it had for her.
"And what of MY gain?" Elinor teazed back; and smiled up at him with such warmth as to tempt him to place his next kiss somewhere a great deal tenderer than her hand.