The next day, Edmund asks Fanny what she thinks of Mary. Fanny says she enjoys Mary’s engaging way of speaking and her beauty. Edmund agrees, but asks Fanny if anything that Mary said struck her as “not quite right.” Fanny mentions Mary’s way of speaking of her uncle struck her as improper. Edmund agrees that she should not openly reveal such opinions in public. They go on to discuss Mary at length, with Edmund giving a much more positive opinion of her.
Fanny and Edmund both find Mary’s way of talking about her uncle unacceptable, and talk about how it contrasts with the seeming goodness of her manner. Mary, like many of the other characters, reveals how good manners can obscure deep personal flaws and an inclination towards cruelty or disrespect.
Edmund goes to the Parsonage daily once Mary’s harp arrives to listen to her play, and in doing so becomes more and more fond of her, until he is totally in love. Mary, who previous was uninterested in Edmund, begins to find him intriguing. Fanny is surprised by Edmund’s tolerance of Mary’s company more generally, despite the faults they already pointed out together, and which continue to annoy Fanny.
As Edmund falls in love with Mary over her harp playing, Fanny, whose manner and morality are generally in harmony, cannot understand how Edmund reconciles Mary’s questionable comments with her sweet manner.
Edmund’s attention towards Mary becomes especially hurtful when he starts using the mare he acquired for Fanny to teach Mary to ride. The first time, this does not bother Fanny, nor does it keep her from riding. But the second time, Mary and Edmund keep the horse out so long that Fanny misses her chance to ride. When Fanny goes to look for them, she finds a whole party (including Mary and Edmund, as well as the Grants and Henry) gathered without her to watch Mary ride. Fanny is extremely hurt that Edmund would forget her.
Edmund, now totally enamored of Mary, starts to forget Fanny and her feelings just as everyone else does. Edmund’s love for Mary, rather than improving him, makes him inconsiderate and neglectful. While Fanny has not yet explicitly articulated her feelings toward Edmund as romantic love, her competition with Mary for Edmund’s attention sets them up for a later love triangle.
Fanny, afraid of being noticed by the party and seeming impatient for her turn, walks over and says hello to the party. Mary apologizes for keeping her waiting. Fanny responds politely and Mary dismounts and wishes Fanny a pleasant ride.
Mary’s manners are perfectly civil as she apologizes to Fanny. However, her actions showed a clear lack of consideration for Fanny’s feelings.
Fanny is lifted on to her horse and starts her ride, watching with sadness as the group walks together to the village. The coachman comments that Mary is an exceedingly good horsewoman, comparing her to Fanny, which further annoys her.
When the coachman compares Mary to Fanny, he sets the two up as foils to each other, and their comparison will continue throughout the book as they compete for Edmund’s love.
As everyone goes to bed that night, Edmund asks Fanny if she plans on riding tomorrow, because he would like to take Mary to the Commons, a longer ride. Fanny says she is not. The next day, Mary, Edmund, Henry, and several others ride to Mansfield Commons. They enjoy the ride so much that they decide to go out on a far ride again the following day. This pattern repeats itself for four days in a row, so the Crawfords can begin to know the countryside.
In Mary’s presence, Edmund favors good manners over kindness. Although Edmund exhibits good manners by asking Fanny if she plans to ride the next day, Edmund, who knows how Fanny is often excluded, fails to be genuinely kind to her and find a way to allow her to take part in their outing.
On the fourth day of these long rides, Edmund and Julia are invited to dinner at the Parsonage, but Maria is not because Mr. Rushworth is supposed to pay a visit to Mansfield. Still, the lack of an invitation upsets Maria. When Mr. Rushworth does not end up coming to visit, she is even angrier.
Although Maria has ostensibly succeeded in her duty to marry through her engagement to Mr. Rushworth, her engagement bars her from taking part in certain social activities, making it unsatisfying.
When Edmund and Julia return from dinner, the atmosphere of the drawing room, clouded by Maria’s bad mood, is sullen. Edmund finds Fanny lying on the sofa at the other end of the room. Mrs. Norris then scolds Fanny for lying down instead of doing work. Edmund perceives that Fanny looks unwell, and Fanny admits that she has a headache.
When Fanny gets scolded for lying on the sofa, the reader may contrast Fanny with Lady Bertram. Lady Bertram’s higher status allows her to lie on the sofa without any repercussions, whereas Fanny is punished for the same behavior.
Mrs. Norris explains that Fanny went out to cut roses for Lady Bertram while Lady Bertram sat outside, and she walked to Mrs. Norris’s house twice that day to drop off the roses. When Edmund hears that Fanny has been overexerting herself, he is very angry and argues that someone else should have been sent to bring the roses to the White House.
Edmund says that a servant should have been sent to bring the flowers to the White House, implying that Fanny is being treated as lower class than she actually is. Although he collapses the class divide between the Bertrams and Fanny, he also reinforces the divide between Fanny and the lower classes.
Mrs. Norris defends herself, saying she makes the same walk all the time. Edmund responds by pointing out that, unlike Fanny, Mrs. Norris is in good health. Mrs. Norris then points out that Fanny would be in better health if she could go out riding.
Mrs. Norris continues to reveal her bad character by trying to shift the blame for mistreating Fanny from herself onto Edmund, showing no remorse for her neglect.
Edmund does not respond to these comments, and instead brings Fanny a glass of wine. Fanny has started to cry. Edmund is annoyed at his mother and aunt, but especially annoyed at himself for neglecting Fanny and allowing her to go four days without riding or companionship. He resolves never to let it happen again.
Edmund’s regret at his mistreatment of Fanny shows how he, unlike Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris, feels genuine remorse when he neglects her. Edmund’s realization of his own mistake shows his inner goodness.
Fanny goes to bed, and though she has been feeling very sad and her head hurts, she is suddenly incredibly happy about Edmund’s concern for her and his kindness towards her.
Fanny is overwhelmed by her appreciation for Edmund. Her love for him gradually develops, though the narrator has not yet articulated it as such.