Captain Wentworth arrives at Kellynch to visit his sister, Mrs. Croft. Mr. Musgrove goes to call on him and decides he likes the Captain very much. He invites Captain Wentworth to the Great House at Uppercross, and Mary and Anne are invited to join them in the visit. Anne is quite nervous at the prospect of seeing Captain Wentworth again after such a long time. The two sisters are on their way to the Great House when Mary's oldest son has a bad fall and seriously dislocates his collarbone. Everyone is in distress and they call for the apothecary to come examine the boy. They find that his injury is not life-threatening.
Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove come to visit the child. They bring news that Captain Wentworth has been to their house; they both appear absolutely smitten and pleased by him. It is announced that he will have dinner the following day at the Great House. The next day, the boy is in stable condition and Charles Musgrove (the boy's father) announces his intention to dine with his parents and Captain Wentworth. Mary is upset that Charles would leave her alone at home with Anne and the child. She is mostly angered by the idea that her husband may enjoy himself while she is stuck at home. Anne settles the matter by offering to stay home with the boy while Mary goes to the dinner with her husband. Though Anne consoles herself that she will be very useful to the sick child, she cannot believe that Captain Wentworth is less than half a mile away. That evening, Charles and Mary return after a lovely dinner. Everyone is charmed by the humor and good manners of the Captain.
The next morning, Captain Wentworth comes to call on Mary at breakfast before he and Charles go out shooting. Anne and the Captain glance at each other briefly, but it is a short meeting. Anne wonders how eight years have changed the Captain's feelings for her. Mary tells Anne that Henrietta asked the Captain what he thought of Anne and he responded that Anne "was so altered he should not have known her again." Anne is understandably hurt by this remark, but she reasons that it is better to know his feelings for her, whatever they may be.
The narrator tells the reader that Captain Wentworth has not forgiven Anne. He was very attached to her, and he feels that her actions eight years ago show a "feebleness of character" that he cannot endure. Now he is on the hunt for a pleasing woman to marry; anyone, he thinks, except Anne Elliot.
Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot are now in the same social circle and must repeatedly dine together. They refrain from having any conversation, however, except what politeness necessitates. Anne thinks about how their temperaments are perfectly suited to each other. She thinks that Admiral and Mrs. Croft are the only couple she knows that could be nearly as attached and happy as she and Captain Wentworth once had the chance of being.
The dinner conversation turns to the Navy and to Captain Wentworth's experiences on the ships. Mrs. Musgrove implores him to tell her what he knows of her late son, Dick Musgrove, who served beneath him on the Laconia. Captain Wentworth moves to sit next to Mrs. Musgrove and talk to her, comfortingly, about her son.