Henry makes his plans to leave Mansfield for London, and Sir Thomas determines to try once more to help Henry win over Fanny before he goes. Edmund, who had intended to let Fanny bring up the matter if she wanted, resolves to speak with her before he joins in helping Sir Thomas. He finds her in the garden and asks to walk with her.
Sir Thomas recruits Edmund for his last attempt to get Fanny to agree to marry Henry. Edmund clearly thinks Fanny should marry Henry—Edmun still doesn’t think of her in any romantic capacity—but he decides to have a talk with her about the matter first, to get a sense of her feelings.
Edmund asks Fanny if she is the only one who will not tell him about Henry’s proposal, upsetting Fanny, who appears to not want to discuss the matter. Edmund says that he thinks it would be a good match but that if it is not what Fanny wants, then she should not marry Henry, since he would never advocate for a loveless marriage. Fanny, who had thought Edmund blamed her for rejecting Henry, is extremely relieved.
While Edmund says that he would never advocate for a loveless marriage, and though Edmund, as a minister, should think of marriage as a sacred love match, his encouragement of the engagement somewhat undercuts this.
Edmund goes on to tell Fanny, however, that she should try to let Henry succeed in winning her over. When Fanny insists she will never love him, Edmund keeps encouraging her to try, and tells her they are not as unalike as she thinks, that she should judge him less harshly for his behavior toward Maria and Julia during the play. Fanny senses, as Edmund talks, that his thoughts drift to Mary, who he has begun seeing again. When Edmund suggests that Fanny will be everything to Henry, Fanny says that she does not want that responsibility.
Though Edmund professes to understand Fanny’s reasons for rejecting Henry, his belief that Fanny will change her mind shows that, in fact, he does not recognize Fanny’s commitment to her convictions. Edmund is distracted by his thoughts of Mary, for whom he has been willing to compromise on some of his morals. Moreover, he of course does not know that Fanny is secretly in love with him.
Edmund then describes his conversation with Mary about Henry’s affection for Fanny, saying that Mary loves Fanny and approves of the match. Fanny notes that she has not seen Mary in over a week, and Edmund tells her that Mary is angry with Fanny for her rejections. Fanny says that her rejection was natural, because she had no idea Henry was in love with her, and even if she did, after what he did to Maria and Julia, she could not trust him. Edmund understands, but Fanny is growing agitated.
Fanny appears to grow frustrated with the fact that everyone is contriving to convince her to marry Henry, including Edmund, despite the fact that she has clearly indicated she has no interest in Henry. Mary’s anger at her rejection of Henry might be especially frustrating to Fanny, since Mary is taking Edmund’s love for granted.
Edmund, recognizing this, changes the subject, telling Fanny that the Crawfords are leaving Mansfield on Monday, and that Edmund almost missed seeing them. Fanny asks how Edmund’s time at Mr. Owen’s was, and he says it was very nice. Fanny asks what he thought of Mr. Owen’s sisters, and Edmund says they were lovely, but that he is spoiled when it comes to women’s company, so no one seems as wonderful as Fanny or Mary.
Fanny, remembering Mary’s jealousy towards Mr. Owen’s sisters, asks about them. Edmund’s response, that they were not as good as Mary or Fanny, once again puts Mary and Fanny in the same category in a way that compares the two and makes Edmund’s continued love for Mary clear.