Chapter 42 Summary

The next morning as Fanny and her family are preparing to go to church, Henry shows up at their door. He is prepared to attend church with them. Although Fanny is not glad to see him, she is pleased that Henry should see her family on a Sunday: on this and only this day each week, her family is washed and dressed in their best clothes. Once outside the confines of the small house, the children are also on their best behavior.

Fanny observes her mother and again compares her to her two sisters at Mansfield Park. The years and stress have not been good to her mother. Although she resembles Lady Bertram in looks and temperament, years of childbirth and poor nutrition have worn down Fanny’s mother. The lack of money makes her mother look shabby.

After church, as they are walking through the neighborhood, Fanny suddenly feels Henry locking his arm in hers. She is embarrassed but does not pull away. As they stroll down the streets, Fanny notices that Henry is capable of not only observing nature but also commenting on it. He is not quite as eloquent or thoughtful as Edmund can be, but Fanny again notices a change in Henry.

At one point, Henry takes a good look at Fanny and is surprised that she is so pale. He asks Fanny if she is feeling well. Fanny says she is. Henry worries that the conditions in which she has been living for the past month are not good for her. He asks how much longer she will be staying in Portsmouth. Fanny tells him at least one more month or until her uncle calls for her to return. Henry knows how negligent the Bertrams can be when it comes to Fanny’s welfare. He tells her that she must write often to Mary to let him know how she is doing. He knows she cannot lie, so he tells her that in each letter she must state she is doing well. If she does not state this in her letters, he will know that she is not feeling as healthy as she should. He and Mary will then come and get her and take her back to Mansfield. Henry, as usual, makes Fanny feel uncomfortable. She does not like for him to fuss over her. Henry explains to Susan that he does so because he knows that Fanny’s health has always been somewhat frail, and she needs the country air to keep her from becoming sick.

After Henry leaves, Fanny finds her emotions are mixed. She is glad he is gone, but he has stirred memories of Mansfield Park. With him gone, her longing to be back there increases.