Chapter 45 Summary
Fanny receives another letter from Lady Bertram, which tells her that Tom is getting better. The fever has broken, though he is still in bed. Lady Bertram is relieved that Tom will soon be himself again.
Fanny relaxes with this news until she receives a letter from Edmund. Although Tom’s fever has broken, the doctor worries that Tom’s lungs have suffered and may never recover. Edmund and his father are not communicating this information to Lady Bertram because they fear for her well-being. Edmund also tells Fanny that he has decided not to write to propose to Mary, and he will postpone his visit to London until Tom is stronger.
Easter has come and gone, and still Fanny has not received a letter from Sir Thomas giving her a date for her departure from Portsmouth. She longs to go back to Mansfield Park. Spring has come, and yet she cannot truly see it in the city. In the country she is so attuned to the changes in nature that it makes her spirits rise. It makes her sad that she cannot go back immediately. It has been almost three months since she was there. She is careful not to let her parents know how much she wants to leave. However, sometimes when she is talking to them, she refers to Mansfield not as the place she has been residing but as her home.
Even though she cannot return until she is invited, Fanny wonders why Maria and Julia do not go home. She also questions Mary’s intentions. Should not Mary be concerned about the Bertrams? Then she receives a letter from Mary. Mary asks Fanny to provide details about Tom’s health. She writes that at first she thought it was merely Tom’s way of getting attention, that he might be only slightly indisposed; he might be exaggerating his illness. But rumors about the severity of his sickness had begun to circulate, and Mary has become concerned for Tom’s life. If Tom should die, Mary worries that though Edmund would inherit all the money and land, this burden would sadden Edmund. Mary adds that even though it would be difficult, Edmund probably would be the better master of the land.
Also included in Mary’s letter is the information that Henry has been visiting with Maria while Mr. Rushworth is away. This news, as well as Mary’s other insinuations, disgust Fanny. She translates what Mary is really saying and concludes that Mary will adjust her style of life and forgive Edmund for being a clergyman because he now will have considerable wealth if Tom should die. She also reflects on Henry’s visits to Maria, which reminds Fanny of how much Henry had previously flirted with her cousin. Although Fanny has recently begun to see Henry in a better light, she realizes that his true character is as weak as she had formerly judged it.