Henry decides to stay in Mansfield for two weeks. Henry tells Mary that he intends to try to seduce Fanny for fun, and Mary says that it is only because he has no one else to be interested in. Henry indicates that he finds Fanny interesting because she dislikes him so much. Mary asks him not to break Fanny’s heart, and Henry says that all he will do is flirt with her and make her “feel when [he goes] away that she shall be never happy again.”
Henry now focuses his rakish ways on Fanny. Mary’s comment that he is only doing so since Fanny is the only option suggests that she does not think Fanny is especially romantically intriguing (which is ironic, since ultimately Mary loses Edmund to her). Henry clearly does not take love seriously, perhaps because, as a wealthy man, he has little to lose—he just enjoys manipulating women’s feelings.
As Henry flirts with Fanny, Fanny does not forget what Henry did to Maria and Julia, but feels his charms soften her hatred for him. Henry tries to be the first to break the news that William’s ship has returned from sailing to England, but Fanny receives a letter from him just before he can bring her the newspaper. Henry devotes himself to learning about William, who is clearly very close with Fanny and a good way to her heart.
Although Fanny is skeptical of Henry, she is not totally immune to his charms, and her hatred for him begins to abate, showing how good manners can soften even the most principled people’s resolve. Letters resume their importance, showing how Fanny uses them to remain close with William.
William comes to Mansfield to see Fanny, and they are both extremely happy to be reunited. Their conversation is at first awkward between the siblings, who have not seen each other in years, but they quickly warm back up.
William and Fanny’s reunion at Mansfield shows how, though many years have passed, Fanny has not forgotten her humble origins and her family.
Henry is struck by the intimacy that William and Fanny share, and by how much he likes William. Henry also begins to genuinely admire Fanny, and decides to extend his stay. At night, William tells exciting stories about his life in the navy that scare Mrs. Norris and Lady Bertram, but excite Henry’s sense of adventure and make him feel that his own life is fairly boring. Henry likes Fanny’s brother so much he even lends William his horse to go hunting with him and Edmund.
William and Henry, whom the narrator contrasts, highlight the difference between the young men of the gentry and those of the middle class. The narrator seems to favor William, and thus the middle class, by noting how Henry’s own pampered lifestyle is far less exciting, and not something Henry works hard for.