Fred goes to Mr. Featherstone’s house, Stone Court, and dramatically announces to Mary that from now on she will only have the worst opinion of him. He explains the whole story, and Mary immediately cries out in sympathy for her father. Fred begs for Mary’s forgiveness, but she says that’s not the point. Her forgiveness will not fix the fact that Mrs. Garth has lost her savings and Alfred will no longer be able to do his apprenticeship. Fred asks if Featherstone might advance Mary her salary, to which she replies: “my family is not fond of begging, Fred. We would rather work for our money.”
Here we see that Mary is far ahead of Fred when it comes to maturity. Even as Fred is apologizing to her, he remains fixated on himself and his own feelings, which—as Mary points out—are not the point. Moreover, Mary has honor, which leads her to state that she and her family work hard for their money and do not resort to begging. Again, it is clear that these noble qualities are far more important than money.
Mary observes that selfish people always prioritize their own feelings over the harm they’ve caused others, just as Fred is doing now. Fred attempts to defend himself, but Mary will not hear it. Fred begs her to tell him she loves him, and Mary teases him in return, dreaming up a horrible future for him. However, this makes her smile, and soon after, she runs to tell Featherstone Fred is there. Fred harbors no fears about his future due to the inheritance he presumes he will receive from his uncle. He speaks with Featherstone only briefly before returning home.
This passage shows that Fred and Mary’s relationship is remarkably resilient. Mary is painfully aware of how badly Fred has behaved, and does not spare his feelings. Yet just as her mother forgave her father at the end of the last chapter, Mary’s fondness for Fred remains. Unfortunately, Fred’s ongoing confidence in inheriting Featherstone’s wealth suggests he has not learned his lesson.
Later Mr. Garth comes to Stone Court. Alone with Mary, Mr. Garth says he has bad news, but Mary replies that she already knows it. She has already set aside the £24 she has saved, explaining that Fred came to see her that morning. Mr. Garth is overwhelmed with emotion and assures her they only need £18. He then tells Mary to beware of Fred, who has proven to be untrustworthy. He explains that he knows Mary is reasonable, but he still worries as her father. Mary assures him that she will never accept a man who is not financially independent, and father and daughter share a tender moment.
Mary clearly loves Fred, but unlike Dorothea and Rosamond, she has not let love lead her to develop illusions about who Fred is. Her conversation with Caleb suggests that she is able to remain level-headed in part because of the extremely close relationship she has with her family. Mary is in no rush to get married because she is so loved and fulfilled by her parents and siblings.