Joab notices that David is missing Absalom. He bribes an old woman to dress herself in mourning and pretend to be grieving, and tells her to repeat another parable. I think David really likes it when people sit down and tell him bedtime stories.
So she goes to him and throws herself at his feet. He asks what's wrong and she tells him her two sons fought and one killed the other, and now her neighbours are harrassing her to turn over the surviving son for punishment, only she doesn't want to because then she won't have any children left. David sends her home and tells her not to worry about what her neighbours are saying, because he absolves her son. Before she leaves, she asks if she can just say one more thing. He agrees, and she asks why he'll forgive her son, but not his own. D'oh!
David thinks about it for a second and finally asks her if Joab put her up to it. She confesses that he did. David calls for Joab and asks him to bring Absalom home, but still won't look at him face to face.
We then get a couple of verses praising Absalom's physical beauty. Apparently he has very thick, luxurious hair that he only cuts once a year. We also find out that he uses his time under house arrest productively, fathering three sons and a daughter in two years. Yup, he's also a polygamist. He names the daughter Tamar, and she's also beautiful.
Eventually Absalom gets tired of waiting for his father to summon him, so he summons Joab, who ignores him. This goes on for a while, but fortunately Absalom is a sociopath, so when he gets frustrated, he sets Joab's barley field on fire to get his attention. It is effective, and Joab shows up all grumbly, but finally agrees to set up a meeting with David.