By the end of the week, Fanny receives news from Lady Bertram that Tom’s fever breaks, but that the doctors continue to worry about his lungs. Edmund serves as the primary source of comfort to Lady Bertram and helps tend to Tom. He writes to Fanny that he has decided not to send Mary a letter declaring his desire to marry her.
Fanny continues to be updated by letters, which are of supreme importance in this part of the book, while Fanny is away and a great many events occur in London and at Mansfield.
As Fanny’s time at Portsmouth reaches three months, she longs to be taken back to Mansfield and worries she will be left in Portsmouth much longer. Fanny had hoped that Portsmouth would be a home to her, but she learns that Mansfield is her home. Fanny wishes she could comfort everyone at Mansfield through Tom’s illness and enjoy the spring weather. Fanny is astonished that Maria and Julia remain in London during their brother’s time of need, and decides that London is a bad influence on people.
Austen again contrasts Fanny’s life at Mansfield with her current situation at Portsmouth. Fanny finally realizes that she belongs at Mansfield, and thinks of the reasons she prefers it—both due to the inhabitants and to its place in the country, where she can enjoy the nature. This shows again how Austen prefers the countryside to the city.
After a long silence, Fanny receives a letter from Mary, saying that she hears that Tom may be dying, and asking Fanny whether this is true. Mary says she would be sorry if he died, but implies that then Edmund would inherit the estate and she would be able marry Edmund and live the lifestyle she wants, despite his occupation as a clergyman. In a postscript, Mary says that Henry has just seen Maria and discussed Tom’s illness with her. Despite Henry’s attentions to Maria, Mary reassures Fanny that Henry is still totally devoted to her. She tells Fanny to please accept their offer to take her back to Mansfield.
Though before she left for London Mary told Fanny she was one of her best friends, Mary has not been writing her often, shedding doubt on Mary’s assertion. When Mary does finally write again, asking about Tom’s health, her inquiry, rather than being a kind and sympathetic message from a friend, shows how Mary is using Fanny to gain information that might benefit her. Her letter also crucially reveals her character, as Mary suggests that Tom’s death wouldn’t be so bad since it would benefit Edmund (and thus Mary herself, if she were to marry him), displaying a callous and greedy nature.
Mary’s unsavory hope that Tom will die disgusts Fanny. Likewise, she is skeptical of Henry’s relationship with Maria, which she suspects is a flirtation. She is, however, tempted to take Mary up on her offer to convey her to Mansfield. In her reply to Mary, Fanny ultimately rejects the offer, saying it is up to Sir Thomas when she should return.
Mary’s suggested hope that Tom will die so Edmund can inherit shows how the systems of marriage and inheritance result in the worst forms of moral depravity, with Mary going so far as to hope her lover’s brother dies so she can marry him and have money.