Chapter 26 Summary
After overhearing William talk about dancing and asking if Fanny had ever been to a ball, Sir Thomas puts a lot of thought into seeing Fanny dance for himself. He decides that she deserves to attend a ball. But where was a ball to be held? William would be leaving soon, so arrangements would have to be made before his departure. Sir Thomas quickly decides to assemble a ball at Mansfield Park.
After mild complaints by Mrs. Norris, who disagrees with having a ball at Mansfield Park without the Bertram girls, the invitations are sent. Mrs. Norris soon reverses her position and decides to claim the honor of seeing to all the arrangements. This would keep her busy, and in the end, she could take all the credit for the event.
Edmund is the only one in the household who does not become distracted by the excitement. He has other things on his mind. First, he will soon be ordained. Because his ordainment has already been arranged, he does not have to spend much time or effort in contemplating this great even in his life. There are other matters, however, that he has to consider carefully: he must chose a wife.
Edmund has grown uncertain of Mary Crawford. His affections for her have not changed, but he is now not certain whether Miss Crawford would accept his marriage proposal. He knows that their personalities differ and that Miss Crawford's emphasis on social status and wealth do not match his. The important question to him, however, is this: does Miss Crawford love him? Sometimes, such as when he heard Mary tell her sister, Mrs. Grant, that she does not want to leave Mansfield Park, Edmund thinks that he is the reason Mary wants to stay. Confusingly, Mary also makes comments that lead Edmund to the conclusion that she has no feelings for him at all.
Fanny, on the other hand, has little more to think about than the dress she will wear to the ball. She has little idea of what is appropriate, as well as few dresses from which to chose. She is sure that she will wear a special small cross—a gift from William—as her only adornment. The only problem is that she has no necklace on which to hang the ornament. She has worn the cross once, but she had used a ribbon. Where would she find a pretty chain?
Fanny walks to the parsonage to consult with Mary about a dress. On the way, she meets Mary, who has come to fetch her. While they talk about dresses, Mary reveals a small package that contains several chain necklaces. She tells Fanny to chose one. Fanny is reluctant but finally gives in. Mary is delighted at Fanny's choice. The one Fanny has selected had been a present from Mary's brother, Henry.