Chapter 22 Summary
With Maria on her honeymoon and Julia gone to join her, Fanny finds herself the only young female at Mansfield Park. This condition has given her more attention than she has ever experienced in her life. Not only is she called upon to do chores, she is also required to act as a companion. This includes requests by Mary Crawford.
Fanny visits the parsonage more frequently now, and though their personalities and favorite topics differ, she spends hours in Mary's company. Sometimes Fanny just sits and listens to Mary play the harp. Often they walk through the gardens as they talk. Fanny admits that she does not love Mary, but she is amused by the woman. For her part, Mary enjoys Fanny through her constant desire to experience something new.
In their conversations, Fanny tends to talk about her fascination with nature. This is a topic with which Mary, having spent most of her life in the city, is not very interested. Mary admits that she has enjoyed the summer in the country, but in the future, she would prefer having two houses. One house might be in the country. The other would definitely be in a more urban setting. The country, though beautiful, is too quiet for Mary. Her love of the country, she suggests, is tempered by the prospects that her visit might contain. This is an allusion to the possibility of Mary and Edmund getting married. Though it is not spoken out loud, Fanny understands the underlying message.
As Fanny and Mary are sitting outside on a bench after their walk, Edmund appears with Mrs. Grant. When Edmund is referred to as Mr. Bertram, Mary says she prefers to hear him called Edmund. Fanny disagrees, saying that Mr. Bertram has a warming effect on her, one somehow making her feel more familiar with him. Mary declares that if Edmund had a title, such as Lord or Sir, she might change her mind.
When Mrs. Grant talks about a problem she is having with the cooking staff, Mary says that when she owns a household, she will be so rich that she will never be involved in what happens in the kitchen. Edmund asks: "So you want to be rich?" Mary responds: "Don't you?" Edmund says the question is outside his means, as he has no choice but to accept whatever salary he will make as a clergyman. Besides, Edmund would rather emphasize other attributes that are more important, such as honesty. Mary mockingly announces that that is fine with her, but she will not respect him if he is poor.
With this conversation, the differences between Mary's expectations and Edmund's are advanced. Fanny, having heard enough from the two of them, decides to return home. Edmund then remembers that was why he had come. He had been looking for Fanny, for she is needed at home. Fanny is both surprised and grateful when Edmund leaves Mary and Mrs. Grant and joins her on her walk home.