Fanny arrives in the drawing room, where everyone is waiting for the guests to arrive. Everyone says Fanny looks nice, though Mrs. Norris manages to be mean about it. Edmund tells her to reserve two dances for him.
Fanny, who has long been kept in the shadows at balls because of her lower status, is suddenly the center of attention.
The guest’s carriages begin to pull up to the house. Fanny finds herself being introduced and making small talk. The Grants and the Crawfords arrive. Fanny watches Edmund and Mary’s interactions carefully. Henry approaches Fanny and asks her for the first two dances, relieving Fanny of her anxiety that she will have no one to dance with.
Henry strategically asks Fanny for the first two dances, a relief for Fanny, who is used to not having anyone ask her. Despite Henry’s welcome offer, she still focuses on Edmund and Mary, watching for evidence of a proposal or a rejection.
As everyone moves into the ballroom, Fanny ends up near Mary, and explains to her that she is not wearing her chain because it did not fit, and that Edmund gave her another chain that did. Mary is delighted at Edmund’s kindness, and Mary’s clear continued interest in Edmund disappoints Fanny.
While Fanny had hoped that, as Edmund had indicated to her, Mary was losing interest in Edmund because his ordainment was approaching, Mary still seems to love him. Fanny, of course, does too.
Sir Thomas tells Fanny that she and Henry are to open the ball, much to Fanny’s surprise and happiness. During the first two dances, Fanny is totally bewildered, but slowly warms up. The company generally approves of Fanny, and she makes Sir Thomas proud. Mary, noticing Sir Thomas’s affection for Fanny, decides to say something about her to him. Mary schmoozes with Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris as well.
Fanny continues to be surprised by all the attention she is receiving, as she is not used to being the most important person at a party. When Mary strategizes to endear herself to Sir Thomas, she shows that she is calculating and ambitious, traits that contrast starkly with Fanny’s nature.
When Mary tries to endear herself to Fanny, however, she missteps by trying to suggest Henry’s interest in Fanny, only to embarrass and confuse her. Henry’s attention to her during the ball does not especially make Fanny happy, but neither does she mind. Fanny enjoys her dances with Edmund, who is not in good spirits because he and Mary have been quarrelling.
Mary’s attempt at gaining Fanny’s affection through charm and flattery backfires because she does not realize that Fanny, until many other women in their circles, does not place her self-worth on male attention, and so finds Mary’s comments about Henry uncomfortable.
After dancing with Edmund, Fanny is out of breath and must sit down. William, Henry, and Sir Thomas keep her company, and they make plans to have breakfast the next morning before Henry and William leave. Henry’s enthusiasm convinces Sir Thomas that he is in love with Fanny. Fanny, meanwhile, wishes that she could eat with her brother alone. Afterward, Sir Thomas tells Fanny to go to bed, and she leaves reluctantly, thinking the ball was delightful.
Sir Thomas’s observation that he thinks Henry is in love with Fanny serves as another example of how married older adults in the story continue to focus on courtship. Fanny still has not reversed her opinion on Henry, however, as evidenced by her desire to eat alone.