After moving in to Norland, Mrs. John Dashwood (a.k.a. Fanny) and her henpecked husband try to decide how much financial support to give to his sisters.
Though John initially has a rather generous plan to give each of the girls a thousand pounds (a fairly substantial gift), his wife has other ideas – she complains that to remove a total of three thousand pounds from their young son's inheritance would be too cruel.
John protests that it was his father's last wish that he should take care of his half-sisters. Again, Fanny brushes him off, saying that the dying man probably didn't even known what he was talking about.
John then lowers the amount to five hundred pounds each – surely that's enough? Fanny agrees that's plenty of money. In fact, to her, fifteen hundred pounds altogether is still too much money to part with.
OK, back to the drawing board. John has the idea that perhaps he should give money to Mrs. Dashwood, instead, to benefit the whole family – say, one hundred pounds a year.
Once again, Fanny shoots him down; after all, she says cruelly, what if Mrs. Dashwood lives more than fifteen years? Then they would be out more than fifteen hundred pounds in total.
John agrees – after all, paying an annuity is such a hassle.
In the end, the couple settles on a simple solution: they won't give the Dashwood any money, except for the occasional small gift here and there. After all, they reason, what can a household of four women need any money for?
Fanny, of course, has to have the final word – she bemoans the fact that Mrs. Dashwood got all the nice china and furniture from Norland (apparently, getting the house and the money wasn't enough for Fanny – she wants the household things, as well!).