Fanny, now the only young woman in the house, becomes more sought after company for her family and for Mary, whom she begins visiting after being invited into their house one day when she is caught in the rain. During that accidental visit, Mary plays her harp for Fanny while Fanny thinks of all the times Edmund must have listened to her play the instrument. Mary asks Fanny to come back again, and they begin a friendship.
Fanny’s love for Edmund colors her budding friendship with Mary, and Fanny thinks of him often when she is with Mary. Whether the friendship is genuine is unclear, because Fanny has never really liked Mary, and Mary’s interest in Fanny may be because she wants an ally in pursuing Edmund.
Fanny goes to the Parsonage every few days, often walking with Mary in Mrs. Grant’s garden, where Fanny admires the nature. Mary, who is not a great lover of the outdoors, is less enthusiastic. She marvels at the fact that she has come to like Mansfield Park despite her urban inclinations.
Once again, Austen juxtaposes Fanny’s love of nature, which helps her fit in at Mansfield Park, with Mary’s lack of enthusiasm for it (although she likes Mansfield anyway) and her preference for the city.
They are sitting on a bench and discussing Mr. Rushworth and Maria’s marriage when Edmund appears with Mrs. Grant. Mary tells Fanny she is glad that Tom is gone so she can call Edmund “Mr. Bertram” again, and Fanny disagrees, saying the title feels cold. Edmund, who is happy that Mary and Fanny are growing closer, is happy to see them.
Mary’s comment that she prefers when Tom is gone so she can call Edmund “Mr. Bertram” speaks to her continued wish that Edmund were the older brother, and so an heir and future baronet. Fanny, on the other hand, prefers Edmund as he is.
Mary and Edmund flirt, discussing the weather and debating whether it is warm out or not. Mrs. Grant mentions that she had intended to have her cook fix Dr. Grant a turkey on Sunday, but because of the warm weather, they will have to prepare it for the next day or it will spoil. Mary and Edmund banter back and forth, discussing whether Mary requires a large income, with both of them knowing that Edmund will likely not have one, and with heavy undertones about the possibility of them getting married.
Mary and Edmund’s flirtation circles around one of the central tensions in their relationship: Edmund’s lack of an inheritance. As they negotiate that problem through veiled reference and hypothetical, depersonalized speech, they reveal their deep interest in each other. Meanwhile, Fanny looks on, presumably painfully aware of this subtext.
The flirtation between Mary and Edmund distracts Fanny, and she resolves to leave. They all go back into the Parsonage, where they find Dr. Grant. Dr. Grant invites Edmund to eat with him the next day, and Mrs. Grant invites Fanny as well. Fanny is bashful, but they insist that she accept. Mrs. Grant tells them that, as she said before, they will be eating turkey. Edmund and Fanny say goodbye and walk home, mostly quiet.
When Mrs. Grant invites Fanny to dinner, Fanny is surprised because she is usually excluded from personal invitations because of her class. The invitation shows how, through her good graces, Fanny is beginning to transcend the boundaries of her class and assume a position as her cousins’ equal.