Of course, Fanny inviting Lucy and her sister to stay with them is only going to encourage Lucy in this notion. Which is understandable. And I have to say, Fanny and Lucy are a fun pair to watch because they're both so determinedly insincere, both saying nice things and not meaning them at all.
But I really can't stand either of them.
Also, so, is it terribly mean of me to absolutely love the scene where Edward walks in on Fanny and Elinor chatting and we have The Most Awkward Five Minutes in British Literary History ever? It's really horrible for all of them... and yet it makes me laugh. Especially the bit where "Edward seemed to have as great an inclination to walk out of the room again, as to advance farther into it" (p. 448). It's horribly embarrassing for everyone except Lucy Steele... but honestly, I end up just feeling really proud of Elinor through the whole ordeal, and laugh at Lucy for being such a prim little minx and behaving rather badly by being "determined to make no contribution to the comfort of others" (p. 450) and not participating in the conversation. That's terribly rude, and I know Edward sees her that way.
By the time I got to the bit where "Edward muttered something, but what it was, nobody knew, not even himself" (p. 452), I couldn't help laughing aloud. I'm grinning at it even now. Wow. How does Austen make a scene that's so ridiculously awkward also be so funny and even enjoyable?
Chapter 36 is dull by comparison, but has some funny bits, mostly at Robert Ferrars' expense. And Mr. Palmer's refusal to say his baby is the most beautiful baby ever made me chuckle.
1. Do you think Lucy Steele and Fanny Dashwood realize at all that they're both just using each other for very selfish reasons? Or does Lucy think Fanny is actually being kind, and Fanny think Lucy actually likes her little boy and so on?