The party all goes out for another walk and is joined by Captain Benwick and the Harvilles. Captain Benwick seeks Anne's company again, and Captain Harville mentions that Anne has done quite a good deed in getting Benwick talking again and bringing him out of his shell. They continue on their walk and come to a set of stairs. Louisa insists on being jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. She gets down safely but enjoys the sensation so much that she desires to do it again. But she jumps a second too soon and lands on the wall, unconscious. Mary and Henrietta become hysterical, but Anne remains calm. She directs Captain Benwick to run for a doctor and Captain Wentworth to carry her to the Inn. The Harvilles insist that Louisa be brought to their home, and there the doctor comes to examine her.
The doctor concludes that she has a severe head injury, but all is not hopeless; she will most likely have a long recovery. The Harvilles offer their home for Louisa for as long as she needs it. They decide that Captain Wentworth, Henrietta, and Mary should travel back to Uppercross to give the news to the Musgroves. Wentworth praises Anne's capability to care for Louisa. But Mary objects and will not hear of leaving her sister-in-law. She decides to stay in Lyme and sends Anne back in the carriage with Captain Wentworth. Mrs. Harville, who has nursing experience, will care for Anne.
On the ride home, Captain Wentworth expresses the guilt he feels for Louisa's fall. He asks Anne her opinion regarding the plan for breaking the news to the Musgroves. She feels grateful that he values her opinion. Captain Wentworth tells the Musgroves of Louisa's fall, drops Anne off at home, and returns as soon as possible to Lyme.
Chapter 12 signals a climax in the novel's narrative. Persuasion is a linear narrative that is organized chronologically. The original edition of this novel was published in two volumes, the first volume ending at the close of Chapter 12. Louisa's fall is the greatest dramatic occurrence which has happened so far. By inserting the fall here, Austen creates a cliffhanger and encourages her readers to buy the second volume of her novel. In these chapters, the reader is shown the negative effects of what can happen when one is too stubborn. Louisa would not be persuaded to keep from jumping off the wall. Her firmness of mind means serious injury for her and significant guilt for Captain Wentworth. He is encouraged to rethink his initial judgment of the benefit of a "strong character."