Emma anticipates Frank’s return with concern that she must disappoint his feelings. She believes her own affections have subsided to insignificance, but that Frank has always been the more in love of the two. However, when he visits Hartfield for only a brief fifteen minutes before dashing off to make other social calls, Emma concludes he must also be less in love than previously.
Emma continues to believe Frank to be in love with her, as she has interpreted all of his actions according to the immense gratification of her own vanity. However, she is not cruel: she has no desire to encourage unrequited affection, and desires to protect his feelings as much as possible and watches accordingly.
Frank soon departs for London again, on account of Mrs. Churchill’s illness. She has decided that they must move from London to Richmond, which will be better for her nerves and health. This move brings Frank closer to Highbury, to the delight of the Westons and Frank himself. Mr. Weston can finally hold the ball with certainty, and Mr. Woodhouse resigns himself to the evils of such excitement.
Mrs. Churchill’s health and whims are a major factor in directing Frank’s fate. Though he is indeed a privileged young man, he is still reliant upon his guardian and benefactress for many of his pleasures. Indeed, as we will discover, he cannot marry against her wishes as he financially depends on her (though of course he could also do as Mr. Weston did and make his own way in the world, which Frank seems unwilling to do).