Her Power With Him
Part 1: "This Meeting of the Two Parties "
The Reverend Wentworth arched his brow when the Captain Wentworth asked for what reason would he be visiting his sailor-brother in the port-town of P -- when he had a lovely betrothed back in Shropshire. He looked down at his Geneva-bands, making sure that they were perfectly in order before he brought himself to explain.
"Well, you see, Frederick, I have news that will be of interest, perhaps of great interest, to you. Sophie and the Admiral have found a new residence -- "
"I fail to see why you should come all the way here -- though I greatly appreciate it -- when I could have had that from Sophia, Edward."
"Please, brother, hear me out. As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted," he attempted humour, "Sophia and the Admiral will have got into their new residence by Michaelmas. Would you like to guess what residence they are taking up?"
"You might as well have made me to guess what colour neck-lace His Majesty's youngest daughter wore to her coming-out party! I have not the slightest idea!"
"Ha-ha, I doubt that you don't have any idea, but What ever you say is Gospel-truth, Sir. Whether you have guessed it or not, they are renting Kellynch Hall."
"You are quite the clever one, Edward! And I thought I was ever-so witty!"
"All jokes aside, you might deny the fact, Frederick, but I'm sure that it 's true. "And you will never guess what lovely place we have chosen to let! The very one that you and Frederick had visited when you were at Monkford: Kellynch Hall!" Those were her very words."
"Of all the curst and horrid fixes! Of all the estates or all the houses in all of England, whose did they have to rent but hers? "
"I feel for you, certainly. I would not have had you, on any account, visiting the Admiral and Sophia, and finding out these tidings, without having heard them, and from someone who understands."
"I appreciate your doing so, brother, of course. So -- did they meet all of the owners?"
"She only met the master and mistress."
"I'm sure she thought they were very agreeable too -- Ha! Lucky for her that she only met them. But really, how very like the other one of them to hide away! -- "
The former curate of Monkford voiced and displayed his disapproval of the former Commander's scornful words, and his brother replied --
"I knew you always admired her, but you must allow -- "
"Frederick," the Reverend interpolated. "I very much pity the years of pain that you have felt -- No! No! -- don't deny it; I know you too well! -- , but frankly I believe that you are too harsh on her. I am sure that Miss Elliot had very good reasons for doing what she did. I always found her to be a lady of much honour; and whether her reasons were bad or not, I am sure that she has suffered as much as, if not more than, you have. She is, after all, still Miss Elliot."
"Well, perhaps. I might just credit her with avoiding any more 'entanglements,' but further than that I cannot credit her with.
"I am thinking about what I ought to do, Edward: do you think it might be wise for me to get the meeting over with? After all, I would not want to seem as if I were avoiding; I might as well shew my indifference as soon as possible."
His brother again smirked at the idea of the Captain's being indifferent; and said:
"Well, I believe I would if I were as indifferent as you are. In fact, I'm sure that you are long overdue for a visit with Sister and Brother."
"I agree! I will leave on the morrow! Would you like to -- ? but no, you are no longer free to do as you please; you must follow your heart."
"Indeed, I must, but that certainly doesn't mean that not accompany you as far as C -- . I am not so un-brotherly."
Captain and Reverend Wentworth set off as planned, with the former to the Crofts' in L -- ; and the latter to his vicarage in Shropshire. Frederick Wentworth was met with much happy surprise, and an instant invitation to come and visit them as soon as they were settled, in a fortnight and a sen'night.
As soon as the said time had elapsed, Frederick came to Kellynch Hall, a lovely estate that he had not seen for nearly eight years, to visit. And he was altogether pleased with the place, as it had not changed much at all, besides the interior changes necessary to the mistress' whims of the season.
He had sorely missed Sophia and the Admiral, having not seen them in over three months. They were very welcoming, for they had missed him also. His stay was really quite uneventful at first. Then, from the time Mr. Musgrove came to call on him, there was practically no rest. One of the few times where he could comfortably chat with his sister, he said something that, apparently, Sophia found very charming. He could so suppose because she had then asked him, "Why has a man like you never fallen in love? I don't doubt that many girls have been in love with you; why not you with them? You "re not being fastidious, are you? I want to know your standards; what are they? Out with them! I've a good mind to play the match-maker with you and the woman of my choice!"
He initially had frowned at her first thought; but he warmed to her banter, and replied (not without a little rancour, however), "I assure you, dearest sister, that I've not avoided the marriage state. I simply wasn't -- willing -- well, shall I say Fortune has not favoured me? But in any event I am ready to marry. And as for my standards, they are not high at all! Yes, here I am, Sophia, quite ready to make a foolish match. Anybody between fifteen and thirty may have me for the asking. A little beauty, and a few smiles, and a few compliments to the navy, and I am a lost man. Should not this be enough for a sailor, who has had no society among women to make him nice?"
Of course, this was said to be contradicted; his bright, proud eye spoke the conviction that, for certain, Captain Frederick Wentworth was nice. He became serious and earnestly answered her question, "A strong mind, with sweetness of manner," and as he said so, he unwittingly (sic) thought of a Certain Person. "This is the woman I want. Something a little inferior I shall of course put up with, but it must not be much. If I am a fool, I shall be a fool indeed, for I have thought on the subject more than most men."
He had, of course, failed to mention his only secret exception. Anne Elliot he had not forgiven. She had used him ill, deserted and disappointed him; and worse, she had shewn a feebleness of character in doing so, which his own decided, confident temper could not endure. She had given him up to oblige others. It had been the effect of over-persuasion. It had been weakness and timidity. He had been most warmly attached to her, and had never seen a woman since whom he thought her equal; but, except from some natural sensation of curiosity, he had no desire of meeting her again. Her power with him was gone for ever. It was now his object to marry. He was rich, and being turned on shore, fully intended to settle as soon as he could be properly tempted; actually looking round, ready to fall in love with all the speed which a clear head and a quick taste could allow. He had a heart for either of th Miss Musgroves, if they could catch it; a heart, in short, for any pleasing young woman who came in his way, excepting Anne Elliot.
He had previously, due to this indifference to the lady, been unaffected when he was invited to dine with the Musgroves and Mrs. Charles Musgrove's sister, Miss Anne Elliot. If he were affected, it would have been a relief to him when the youngest Charles Musgrove fell and broke his neck, and his aunt cared for him at the Cottage whilst the mother and father enjoyably dined at the Great House. But since he was not, it was not. He decided to prove this, once and for all, by visiting the invalid soon after. He was pleased to know that the ladies of the house were still at breakfast, though he made Charles to go on ahead and see if the visit were all right.
All at once he found himself in the breakfast-room; his eyes swept the room, glancing past Miss Elliot, before they out of propriety stopt at Mrs. Musgrove. That lady chattered on and on about his kindness and whatever else she willed, it seemed, until she paused to introduce, or rather introduce again, him and her sister. He finally allowed himself to look at his former betrothed; and what he saw astonished him.
The colour had all but gone from her complexion, and her eyes wanted their old fire. The lines of worry and care were imprinted on her countenance. She gave him a forced, tight little trace of a smile, a smile nothing like that full, charming one of old, rather, one that seemed instantly to show her true feelings of misery and of other's neglect of her, a smile so bare and so careworn that he would have preferred to see her frown. He bowed rigidly, and she curtseyed in return. He then quickly turned to Mrs. Musgrove, and from her to the Miss Musgroves, who had accompanied him. Charles soon appeared at the window, and so he said a few kind words, bowed, and left.
Thus ended what might have been, were he not indifferent, the worst time of his stay with the Crofts. If he were not indifferent, he would at first have experienced a rush of feelings indescribable, and would soon have been discontented. As it was, he was solely discontented. He thought her wretchedly altered, even painfully so. During hunting with the Musgroves (Mrs. Charles included), he told Henrietta so (if a little more tactfully), though he could have had little idea that it would be carried round to the subject of the speech.
Part 2: 'So Overcome By Such a Trifle'
Captain Frederick Wentworth was in a mood that was not to be ignored. He was going to leave Kellynch Hall, which his sister and brother-in-law had rented, to see the Musgroves, an amiable family in the neighbourhood. Hence, his mood was not ignored by his sister. As he was about to leave the Hall, his sister, the kind Mrs. Sophia Croft, called him back into that grand building, and asked to where he might be in such a rush.
"Just to the Musgroves', Sister. I have an engagement to walk with the Misses Musgrove."
"Indeed! And that brings me to another thought: The Musgrove girls. Why are you chasing them so? Do you truly like them that much? For, I must say -- "
"The Musgrove girls! Like them that much! I don't like them in any way different from how I like you!"
"You do not act like it. You certainly seem as if you, well, admire both of them extremely. I mean-- "
"I believe I do understand your meaning, Sophy. Perhaps I am a little too improper with them ; but if I am, I shall be knowing of it henceforth. Good day, dear sister!"
That particular officer of His Majesty's Navy was much appalled with the thought that someone could think him attached to either Musgrove so very much. It was true that he did like them, but neither did by any means answer his idea of a superior woman. He had secretly set a standard, which so far only one could meet. Though that superior one did meet his standards, she did not hold a place in his heart anymore -- how could she, after being so weak and disloyal as to forget him so quickly?
The amiable Mrs. Musgrove deferred him to the Cottage, and to there he was going when he realised just to whom he was going, and practically lost his cold attitude towards her in the meanwhile. His mind was so engaged thus, that he hardly had time to go into true shock at the real, unimagined sight of one Miss Anne Elliot standing alone in the drawing-room into which he was ushered.
The Captain, who had kept calm in times of infinite danger, could not find even one word to say to Miss Elliot, for at least several moments. After paling and most likely appearing quite stupid, he stuttered out some stuffs which he could not remember a moment later, something to the effect of "thinking the Miss Musgroves had been there," and then wandered towards the window. This distance did not seem to comfort him in the least, as he was lecturing himself on how a man unaffected by the appearance of Miss Elliot ought to behave. This author has humbly chosen to elaborate on this statement:
"Why would such an appearance affect him so? He did not care for her at all, so why did he become so -- flustered, when he saw her alone?- "
"He remembered the last time they were alone together. That was the worst day of his life! She had used him so ill! Though, now that he thought about it, she was so gentle and amiable, always thinking of what he felt, at the time. She did seem quite upset by the whole. Then again, she always was kind, selfless, the perfect medium between gentleness and obstinacy. She was the most amazing woman he had ever met. She was, in a word-- "
He interrupted himself, though he let these dangerous thoughts lead him to watch the object of them. Briefly noticing her changed complexion, he admired the grace of her touch on the invalid Charles Jr., who was lying on the sofa, and he then was dragged far from his usual coldness. He then smiled as she kindly dealt with the spoiled child's complaints. His actions-and thoughts-were by then, so dangerous as to make something as dramatic as another person approaching the only event that could disturb them.
And so it was, that when Charles Hayter, cousin to the Misses Musgrove, entered, Frederick was so felicitated to see another man enter the room -- perhaps thanks to the realisation of the danger of his sentiments -- that he made a dolt of himself trying to speak; while Miss Elliot -- and most especially Charles Hayter -- remained perfectly reserved. Mr. Hayter started to read a newspaper; and she returned to her duties.
The latter, however, was interrupted in her duties by the entrance of the stout, forward, two-year-old Walter Musgrove, who was quite demanding of a bit of food; Frederick neither knew nor cared what. The little child obviously was denied that bit, for he started to teaze his Aunt, after trying the same with his brother. He quickly fastened himself onto her back, and would not let go. Miss Elliot was busy with young Charles, so he was ignored as much as possible, though she did manage to extract him from herself for a moment.
Captain Wentworth was watching this exchange with a small amount of amusement. His lip twisted into a half-smile when Auntie would try her best not to get angry. She was truly amiable! He nearly laughed out loud when "Cousin Hayter" entreated the child to "come to him." However, when Miss Elliot started to become upset by the ordeal, Frederick lost his sense of humour and, without any premeditation, acting only on those unwanted sentiments expressed earlier, he virtually tore the child off her back.
He proudly chose to turn his back on her; and scolded the child as loudly as he could; though he later realized later that what he had wanted more than anything was to see the look of gratitude Miss Elliot bestowed on him. He was not about to let her think he did this for her. Oh no!, "twas all done for the sake of Charles' nurse; not Miss Elliot, the girl he had once loved. How he could have ever loved such a weak, immature thing he would never know! So heartless, so selfish, so fickle! She was the last woman that he had met, or ever would meet, whom he would ever marry. In a word, she was deterring!
Part 3, (The Long Walk): "I Am Fond of a Long Walk "
Captain Wentworth had just returned from an unsuccessful early morning's hunt with Mr. Charles Musgrove Jr., when they met the ladies. The Miss Musgroves invited both him and Mr. Musgrove on a "long walk." Both of the young men were most happy at the prospect.
Captain Wentworth was engaged in speaking to both the Miss Musgroves, two lively and pretty young girls, of about nineteen and eighteen, he assumed. But mostly, he was talking with Miss Louisa, who was more earnest than her sister Henrietta. They were almost continually praising the fine day. The Captain broke the pattern by wondering whereabouts his sister and the Admiral would upset to-day, but assuring the lady that his sister would as lieve be tossed out as not. Miss Louisa had a most interesting (and enthusiastic) response, "Ah! You make the most of it I know, but if it were really so, I should do just the same in her place. If I loved a man, as much as she loves the Admiral, I would be always with him, nothing should ever separate us, and I would rather be overturned by him, than driven safely by anybody else."
To this, Frederick replied, with immediate feeling, "Had you? I honour you!"
He had nothing else to add, as his own mind was involved in a reverie: Did not this completely contradict the feelings of his own Miss Elliot of seven years past? Yes, it did, and rightly so! Were not Miss Louisa's so very constant, so very admirable, while Miss Elliot's were -- Were what? Were inconstant, disloyal, selfish, and unloving!
How strange, then, that this reverie should be interrupted -- though briefly -- by the half-subject of it! For Miss Elliot then questioned, "Is not this one of the ways to Winthrop?" a question for everyone intended and by almost everyone ignored. The Captain, however, did give her a look that would have answered for his ignorance, if Miss Elliot had been but looking at him.
Not more than a few moments after Winthrop, without beauty and without dignity, was stretched before them, a much louder exclamation came from the direction of Mrs. Charles:
"Bless me! here is Winthrop -- I declare I had no idea! -- well, now I think we had better turn back; I am excessively tired."
Miss Henrietta was the only person ready to acquiesce to her wishes. Yet note how the word "ready" is used -- indeed, her brother and sister persuaded her to go and visit with her aunt Hayter; in particular, Miss Louisa did so.
So, the result of all this was Charles' and Henrietta's going to visit Mrs. Hayter -- and perhaps Mr. Charles Hayter as well -- and the others left to their own devices.
Soon enough, though, another unwanted exclamation came from the quarter of Mrs. Charles, "It is very unpleasant, having such connexions! But I assure you, I have never been in the house above twice in my life."
He gave her an artificial, assenting smile, but then reserved a contemptuous glance for anyone chusing to pay him attention. How ridiculous she made herself with her arrogance! Those Elliots and their pride! Had he but never met them! All they ever did was ruin one's enjoyment -- or, perhaps, cause it, he thought with a quick half-smile as Miss Louisa returned. She, naturally, thought it for her, and so bore him away to glean nuts from the hedge-row.
Louisa almost immediately began to explain why she had taken such drastic measures for Henrietta to pay such a simple visit to her Aunt's. It had appeared that Henrietta and Mr. Hayter had a mutual understanding, weakened by the Captain's arrival in the area, and perhaps broken if Louisa had not taken such a measure as she had. And so it was, that she was in the middle of a very eager speech, "And so, I made her go. I could not bear that she should be frightened from the visit by such nonsense. What! -- would I be turned back from doing a thing I have determined to do, and that I knew to be right, by the airs and interference of such a person? -- or, of any person I may say. No, -- I have no idea of being so easily persuaded. When I have made up my mind, I have made it. And Henrietta seemed entirely to have made up hers to call at Winthrop to-day -- and yet, she was as near giving it up, out of nonsensical complaisance !"
What a pretty speech it was!
"She would have turned back then, but for you?"
"She would indeed. I am almost ashamed to say it."
"Happy for her, to have such a mind as yours at hand !--After the hints you gave just now, which did but confirm my own observations, the last time I was in company with him, I need not affect to have no comprehension of what is going on."
The rest of this long, heart-felt speech, this author does not choose to elabourate on. All that need be known, is that his most eloquent oration-and ovation- was spoken from much experience of pain; and was as much for Louisa's happiness as his own.
Therefore, Captain Wentworth had just done with his last moving line in this speech, "If Louisa Musgrove would be beautiful and happy in her November of life, she will cherish all her present powers of mind,and Miss Musgrove, eyes to the earth, would not say a word for several minutes.
When she resumed speaking, however, her words had a large effect on the whole walk. "Mary is good-natured enough in many respects," said she, "but she does sometimes provoke me excessively, by her nonsense and pride; the Elliot pride. She has a great deal too much of the Elliot pride. -- We do so wish that Charles had married Anne instead. -- I suppose you know he wanted to marry Anne?"
His first feeling was that of stupefaction. But he realised just how stunning this bit of information was, and thought, Why would she refuse him? Such prospects would never, could never, be looked for again!
He realised that this moment's reflection was displayed on his face, so he attempted to cover with an immediate query (though this he truly did want to know), "Do you mean that she refused him?"
Her answer being in the affirmative, his response was shaky and interested.
"When did that happen?"
He caught pieces of the reply, "--year before he married Mary -- wish she had accepted him. -- great friend Lady Russell's doing, -- persuaded Anne to refuse him."
The feelings of hope of the moment before were smashed like a ship against the rocky shore. He had almost forgotten about Lady Russell. Charles was probably too inferior to Miss Elliot in book-learning for her -- why had he not thought of that?
For a moment pure resentment swept through his heart; but he was a new man. He had to remember that she had refused him, that they were not still engaged, that Lady Russell had persuaded her weak and foolish friend to refuse both him and Charles. Yet, he could n"t but try to figure when Charles and Mary were married. Miss Elliot was seven-and-twenty, and Mary four years her junior, making Mrs. Charles only three-and twenty. That would most likely make the wife at least nineteen when she met Charles (considering their children's ages). Then, it must have been after Miss Elliot broke their engagement. Perhaps she did do it for him!
"--Do not you agree, Captain Wentworth? After all, Mamma is not yet passed away. Mary, I believe, has no right to precedence. Being a Baronet's daughter is her only excuse; and a silly one, if I may say so."
Miss Louisa had been talking all this while ! It surprized him very much, yet he recovered enough to agree whole-heartedly, and with another resolution never to think thus again.
Soon enough they were joined by Charles, Henrietta, and -he observed with a wry smile -- Charles Hayter. Thank the Lord for Louisa's firmness!, were that he had experienced such a thing !
The Captain observed with glee the enamoured couple. They spoke of almost every conceivable topic; and seemed never to tire of it. Seeing such talk reminded him of another time; yet he had forgotten with whom he was walking; and rapidly threw himself into a long chat with her.
Despite the fact that he was deep in conversation with Miss Musgrove, he proved himself not to be unconcerned with the feelings of another Miss. He had noticed already how Charles had preferred to take her arm over her sister's, visibly out of spite; but his "information" suggested that perhaps it was for a quite different reason, he thought with a tinge of jealousy--; he had observed that he had dropped both arms in order to run after a weasel; he had even caught sight of her long enough to notice that she was struggling to overtake the rest of the group.
He saw all this, and pitied her for it; and therefore, when his sister and brother-in-law came riding by and stopped to offer a seat to any lady who might be particularly tired; the first thought that came to his head was (though it might lack propriety) Anne. Though everyone had declined the kind invitation and had started back to Uppercross, Captain Wentworth's heart controlled his body, for the first time in years; and he cleared the hedge in a moment, and entreated his sister and brother to take Miss Elliot with them.
"Miss Elliot, I am sure you are tired," importuned Sophie. "Do let us have the pleasure of taking you home. Here is excellent room for three, I assure you. If we were all like you, I believe we might sit four.-- You must, indeed, you must."
The Admiral hastily agreed. Although she at first refused politely, with their hearty supplications, and her grateful heart, combined, Miss Elliot quietly assented.
All the while, the Captain had his eyes on her countenance; and enjoyed watching her actions, all the epitome of kind doing. When the time came for her to ascend, he rushed to her assistance. Though he resisted, he could not but see her off for as long as he could before being called back. He then resolved to -- and in actuality did -- forget about her for quite some time afterward. Instead, he listened to and learned to take pleasure in Miss Louisa's smiles and words, and even was amused by Mrs. Charles.
Part 4: Lyme: "An Agony of Silence "
Captain Wentworth was amusedly conversing with Louisa Musgrove as they strolled along before breakfast, until they saw Miss Henrietta and Miss Elliot walking also; and decided to go to them. As soon as they reached the others, Miss Louisa recollected an errand at a shop, and so the four (all being at her disposal) went back into the town. They had to ascend steps in order to go from the beach; and as they were going up, a gentleman was just preparing to descend, but he drew back and stood waiting at the top. They went up the steps; and when they passed the gentleman, Frederick quickly noticed that the man was earnestly looking at Miss Elliot. Miss Elliot seemed to notice also; indeed, it would be very difficult for her not to notice. He seemed to admire her exceedingly. Wentworth immediately turned his own eyes to her and shewed his notice of the gentleman's regard. After glancing at her, and seeing the personal attractions that caused the admiration, he acknowledged them to himself and to her, with a look that said, "That man is struck with you, and even I see something like Anne Elliot again."
At breakfast, a curricle with a servant in mourning was preparing to leave, with the appropriate attentions and bustle attending its departure. At first, only Musgrove and Miss Elliot, then all, went to look at it out of curiosity. (Musgrove, of course, wanted to compare the curricle to his own.) The moment Wentworth saw the owner of the curricle emerge from the establishment, he cried, "Ah! it is the very man we passed," and knowingly glanced at Miss Elliot. The innocent Misses Musgrove agreed; they all politely watched the gentleman until they no more could; and soon they returned to the table. The waiter entered the room, and, on impulse, the Captain asked, "Pray, can you tell us the name of the gentleman who is just gone away?"
He was a Mr. Elliot, a gentleman of large fortune, who came in from Sidmouth in his way to Bath and London.
"Elliot!" was the exclamation heard 'round the room, even before the quick waiter was through.
Quite a bit later, Mrs. Charles was yet on the topic, musing on each different happenstance that prevented her from recognising Mr. Elliot as such, with Miss Elliot trying to control her sister's thoughts. From listening to their conversation he could assume that there was a break between Sir Walter Elliot and his heir-presumptive. Frederick, both from vexation on Miss Elliot's behalf and from vexation on his own behalf, said, "Putting all these very extraordinary circumstances together, we must consider it to be the arrangement of Providence, that you should not be introduced to your cousin."
This seemed to amuse everyone but Mrs. Charles, who did not quite comprehend him. They then went off on another of their walks about Lyme, with him and all the others together; excepting Captain Benwick and Miss Elliot, who were conversing rather separately. The latter two seemed to be having a literary discussion. Captain Wentworth, eager to hear what was being said between the two, took advantage of a want of Captain Harville's. His friend appeared to be anxious to speak with Miss Elliot alone; and so Frederick asked him if Harville could bring Benwick to him. He so afforded himself the opportunity to ask Benwick about what literary subject they were speaking.
Wentworth found, from him, that Benwick and Miss Elliot were speaking of Mr. Scott and Lord Byron. Benwick went on to say, that Miss Elliot could not approve of Benwick's excessive reading of melancholy poetry; and that she recommended that he try to read more cheerful poetry, or, even better, prose. Frederick's own observations were confirmed: she, indeed, was helping the long-pained James Benwick to be on the mend. The thought of this caused such a surge of feelings proud and delightful, that he scarce knew what he was doing as he turned to look at her and Harville, seemingly in a very serious conversation. Harville then appeared to be pointing at him, Captain Wentworth!
Frederick wondered about what they were talking, and why his friend Harville did what he did. He wondered, and then gave it up entirely when Mrs. Harville made his friend to stop over-exerting himself. The whole party therefore were directed to the Harvilles'; but the temptation to walk again along the Cobb was simply too great. There was then a general agreement that the Harvilles would return to their residence, and leave the others to their last walk. Benwick immediately resumed both his location and conversation with Miss Elliot; and so Wentworth was left to Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove. This proved to be a very unfortunate placing for all the party.
He had often, in Uppercross, jumped Miss Louisa from the stiles in their country walks; quite naturally, the sensation was not altogether displeasing for her, and so he found himself being entreated to jump her from the steps to the Lower Cobb. He agreed, though not without some vocal misgiving on the subject of the pavement's hardness upon her feet. She was down safely, and, to demonstrate her delight, she instantly dashed up the steps so he could jump her down again. This time he was much more adamant; but his pleas and suggestions were vainly said, for Miss Louisa merely smiled, and cried, "I am determined I will!" Hands were instantly put out, but she was only half an instant too precipitate, and so she fell onto the pavement of Lyme's Lower Cobb, seemingly lifeless. No wound, no blood, no external bruise was there; yet her eyes were shut, she breathed not, and her face was white as death.
Horror stole over Frederick Wentworth; his face became as Louisa's. He caught her up, and knelt with her in his arms, in an agony of silence. Mrs. Charles immediately screamed, "She is dead! She is dead!", a statement which did nothing to assuage his pain.
She caught hold of her husband, and assisted his horror, in immobilising him. Henrietta, too, lost her senses, and might have fallen onto the steps, had not Benwick and Anne caught and supported her between the two of them.
All of this, however, Captain Wentworth did not notice. He merely thought of one idea, whose words burst from him:
"Is there no one to help me?"
The man was in a total state of despair; all his strength was drained from him. Only these two things combined could have elicited such desperate words from such a man of action as he was. But then, as if a very Angel from Heaven Itself were come to save him, a Voice -- a Heavenly Voice -- cried in response, "Go to him, go to him, for heaven's sake go to him. I can support her myself. Leave me, and go to him. Rub her hands, rub her temples; here are salts; take them, take them!"
Instantly, Benwick obeyed the Voice (who had proved to be Anne Elliot), and so did Musgrove. Louisa was raised and more firmly supported by the two, and all that she had said was speedily done; but vainly. Frederick staggered against the wall to support himself, and, miserable, exclaimed bitterly --
"Oh God! her father and mother!"
Immediately, the Voice said, "A surgeon!"
That word at once stirred him; he merely agreed before he darted away. The Voice, indefatigable, suggested --
"Captain Benwick, would not it be better for Captain Benwick? He knows where a surgeon is to be found."
There was universal agreement, and in less than a moment, Benwick was off to town, having resigned the semblance of a corpse to its brother.
Musgrove was seriously afflicted, emitting grieving sobs while hanging over his sister. Not only was this a source of affliction: he had but to glance over at his other sister, who was as insensible as the first, to pain himself more. This he might have been able to bear; but with his wife calling on him for help, which he could not possibly give, he was miserable.
The owner of the Voice tended to Miss Henrietta with the utmost vigour, zeal, and thought which instinct could possibly have supplied. She still, at different times, tried at comforting the others, quieting Mrs. Charles, animating Musgrove, and assuaging the feelings of Wentworth. The men very much looked to her for directions.
Musgrove cried, "Anne, Anne, what is to be done next? What, in heaven's name, is to be done next?"
Wentworth turned his eyes towards her in a silent, echoed entreaty.
"Had she not better be carried to the inn? Yes, I am sure: carry her gently to the inn."
He, as animated as was possible for one in his condition, eagerly told all that were sensible that he would carry her himself, and that Charles should see to the others.
He set off in a moment for the inn; only to be stopt by Harville, who had seen Benwick flying by their house with a warning countenance; and who had immediately set off, with his wife, towards the spot. Though he was very surprized at the news given him, he shewed them what a clear head could accomplish. He but looked at his wife for approval; and it was then decided, that she would be taken to their house; and would await the surgeon there. No objection was heard; they all entered his house, with Louisa conducted upstairs, Mrs. Harville directing her conductors, and Harville supplying assistance, cordials, and restoratives.
At one point, Louisa had unclosed her eyes; but she soon closed them again, and without any visible consciousness. This evidence of her living brightened the aspects of her sister, and even of Mary Musgrove.
The surgeon was almost instantly with them; it almost seemed an impossibility for the human body to travel so quickly. Terror filled them as he examined; but there was no need. He was sanguine.
This, at least, could somewhat comfort the Captain; and he immediately exclaimed, "Thank God!" His pallour slightly -- but ever so slightly! turned to colour. "Her limbs had escaped injury! There was no injury, but to the head!" Those words resounded in his ears endlessly, as his only chance at alleviation.
A little afterwards, as they all were in the sitting-room, he leant over a writing-table and, arms folded, slowly lowered his face to the cool surface and thought, long and hard.
"What folly it was ever to have let her jump! Even the first time, it was utter stupidity! What a dolt he was! Dearest Lord, please help him to be as penitent as he ought! He prayed that no more harm, than that which had already came, would befall the dear, sweet girl and her family and friends! The poor, darling child was up-stairs, lying on a bed, fully unconscious and so close to having died; her brother was thoroughly affected, even to the point of tears, her sister pained even more visibly, with a constant sniffle, and red eyes and barely intelligible speech! Even Mrs. Charles was upset by it: she was for so long in a sort of stupour, only able to stammer out, that Louisa was dead! Benwick, usually so calm, even when under a dread enemy attack, could not even think to get a surgeon! no! that had to be left to Anne. Always so very level-headed, with a steady sense, not even shaken from the near-mortal tragedy that had befallen them. But even she was at least partly distressed by the events of late; he had noticed her own blanched complexion, and vibration of her voice! Could he not have guessed how it might have ended, back during that unfortunate second ascent of the steps? He ought to have done so! What idiocy! To have disturbed so many people, all at once, and all such good, kind, selfless, generous people as he had not often previously met with! He was a blackguard even to have approved of the idea in the first place! If he were a real gentleman, he would have refused to have a hand in it at all. What sort of real lady would jump stiles and steps, anywise? Anne would never have done -- What, in the name of God, was he suggesting? That it was, in any small wise, Louisa's fault? How could he think such a thing? He knew very well, all too well, that the fault was entirely his. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, that he could do about it. "
Some of the party went up-stairs to see her; he knew not who went; but he raised his head after the door closed, and discovered, that Captain and Mrs. Harville, and Anne Elliot, had gone.
"But he had not even yet thought of those of Uppercross! Her father, her mother, her sisters and brothers, how would they react? The poor, dear folk, so strongly attached to their daughter, and so sensitive to whatever pain she might feel: how would they react?"
He realised that the second of these statements about the Musgroves was spoken aloud. Apparently, it was not uttered in an inaudible tone; for then, Charles and Henrietta Musgrove entreated him to consult with them about what to do. The substance of that consultation was thus:
"Uppercross, -- the necessity of some one's going to Uppercross, -- the news to be conveyed -- how it could be broken to Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove -- the lateness of the morning, -- an hour already gone since they ought to have been off, -- the impossibility of being in tolerable time."
For some time, they were capable of nothing more to the purpose than such; but Frederick soon exerted himself, saying, "We must be decided, and without the loss of another minute. Every minute is valuable. Some one must resolve on being off for Uppercross instantly. Musgrove, either you or I must go."
Musgrove's reply was agreement; but an assertion that he himself would not leave his sister's side. He would try not to be an incumbrance to Captain and Mrs. Harville; but as to leaving his sister in such a state, he neither ought, nor would. So, that was decided. The ladies were left to be decided upon. Miss Musgrove at first declared the same for herself; but was quickly persuaded otherwise. The use of her staying! -- She, who had not been able to remain in her sister's room, or to look at her, without sufferings which made her worse than helpless! She finally acknowledged, that she could do no good, yet she was still unwilling to leave, till the thought of her father and her mother made her give it up; and she consented.
He continued with a new thought of his, "Then it is settled, Musgrove, that you stay, and that I take care of your sister home. But as to the rest; -- as to the others; -- if one stays to assist Mrs. Harville, I think it need be only one. -- Mrs. Charles Musgrove will, of course, wish to get back to her children; but if Anne will stay, no one so proper, so capable as Anne !"
His face became quite flushed with emotion, quite unlike what it had been for some time; and nothing like his countenance since the Accident. Even his voice was shaking; this was so unlike him! In fact, he could not remember a time that his feelings had controlled him so, since -- well, it had been some years. Musgrove and his sister were warmly agreeing.
He heard a light footfall, turned his head, beheld the object of his praise, and instantly cried, "You will stay, I am sure; you will stay and nurse her."
She coloured deeply. At her blush he recollected himself and moved away; still waiting for her response. It came:
"It was what she had been thinking of, and wishing to be allowed to do. A bed on the floor in Louisa's room would be sufficient for her, if Mrs. Harville would but think so."
"How selfless! How modest! How obliging! Now he could see what his foolish pride had cost him!"
Many things were then settled, one of which being, that it was preferable that Wentworth take a chaise from the inn, rather than use Mr. Musgrove's rather slow horses and carriage. This fact standing, he went off to the inn to engage the horses, in much the same sort of self-reproach as that in which he was engaged previous. The authoress will not deign to mention the finer points of it, for the authoress believes that a mere repetition of sentiments earlier expressed would only inflict upon the readers a strange unconscious state, oddly similar to that of Louisa. May it please the reader to say, that he got his chaise with no exultant or confident spirit.
He looked for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Musgrove, and Miss Musgrove; but instead he saw Mr. Charles Musgrove, Miss Musgrove, James Benwick, and Anne Elliot! Why was -- ? What could -- ? He was quite perplexed; and voiced his thoughts as soon as they approached. Musgrove's explanation was even more astonishing, though the actions and words of the players in it were not so much so.
So the obstinate Mrs. Charles was not to be crossed, eh? She thought she had just as much right as her sister -- no, more so! to stay and nurse her husband's sister. He suppressed many a contemptuous word and glance; and managed to maintain an appearance of sole amazement. Her poor sister! Always to be pushed aside and neglected, treated as a servant, though she had more right than Mrs. Charles to have the infamous Elliot pride! Only Anne could tolerate such misuse!
He handed the ladies into the post-chaise and placed himself in between them. Do not, reader, deceive yourself, and think that it was for care of One that he placed himself so. Nay! he was devoted to Miss Musgrove; always turning to her, and answering her every need as he was able. Any words he uttered were for supporting her hopes and raising her spirits. His voice and manner were studiously calm; he would never allow for them to be otherwise, until Anne grieved over the last ill-judged, ill-fated walk to the Cobb, bitterly lamenting that it ever had been thought of. He then burst out, completely and wholly overpowered --
"Don't talk of it, don't talk of it! Oh God! that I had not given way to her at the fatal moment! Had I done as I ought! But so eager and so resolute! Dear, sweet Louisa!"
This made him lapse into another one of his deep mental lamentations, which lasted for some time, "til he recognised the neighbourhood of Uppercross; and thought of what they ought to do. As soon as he came up with an idea, he addressed his only conscious companion --
"I have been considering what we had best do. She must not appear at first. She could not stand it. I have been thinking whether you had not better remain in the carriage with her, while I go and break it to Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove. Do you think this is a good plan?"
She agreed; he was satisfied, and said no more. Many things were said, however, in his mind: "When he said that he thought of Louisa's temper as so eager and so resolute, he was right. It most certainly did not, however, endear her to him; nor did it make her his 'dear, sweet Louisa', on the contrary. The girl's misfortune (due to his irresolution) made her a better person in his mind than what she would normally have been, but he would always be sure of one thing: that he did, always had, and always would, love Anne Elliot, and think of her as maintaining the perfect medium between fortitude and gentleness. She was a Paragon, in the best sense of the word! But -- " a melancholy thought interrupted the fount of love, "she was unattainable. While he was in Lyme, he had found out that even Harville, who had seen so little of him of late, and who knew him so very intimately, considered him as an engaged man! That he could not stomach, yet the rationality of the statement could not escape him! It was all too true! Others might have felt the same -- her own family, nay, perhaps herself -- he was no longer at his own disposal. He was hers in honour if she wished it. He had been unguarded, wholly and stupidly unguarded! He had not thought seriously on the subject before. He had not considered that his excessive intimacy with the girl must have its danger of ill consequence in many ways; and that he had no right to be trying whether he could attach himself to either of the girls, at the risk of raising even an unpleasant report, were there no other ill effects. He had been grossly wrong, and must abide the consequences. The consequences being, that he must get used to hearing the words 'Louisa Musgrove' forever connected with those of 'Frederick Wentworth' and 'love, honour, and obey' in the minds of his dearest friends; that he must get used to cherishing obstinacy, impulse, rashness, et al.; that now the only Mrs. Frederick Wentworth that could ever be was 'Mrs. Louisa Wentworth', that -- " but he ventured no more in such self-torture. Now he must speak and explain to her father and mother, hear more cries and see more tears, and try not seriously to chastise himself yet again.
Yet he could not help observing that "this chat with Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove tonight would prove to be quite different from his chat with Louisa Musgrove of the morning," thought he despondently; and with that he stepped down from the carriage and went over to the door.
Part 5, A "Patch": The First Time Since the Accident
"It appeared that each lady dated her intelligence from the same hour of yester morn, that Captain Wentworth had been in Kellynch yesterday -- (the first time since the accident) had brought Anne the last note, which she had not been able to trace the exact steps of, had staid a few hours and then returned again to Lyme -- and without any present intention of quitting it any more."
One day, a while ago, I was thinking, "What if Anne and Lady Russell had come to visit a day earlier? Captain Wentworth's emotions would just be recently discovered, and not used to such pain. Hmm..."
Captain Wentworth smiled slightly at the sight of Kellynch. His sister would be waiting for him in the drawing-room, most likely; but he had to give her but a short visit; he had only to stay and talk for little more than an hour: to give an account, to explain, to listen, to entrust, then to away. He came to a stop, gave over his equipment to Matthew, then quickly approached the front doors. His fingers absent-mindedly closed about something in his hand. Of course! The letter! He had almost forgot! His countenance betrayed quite a different sort of smile; but he almost instantly returned to his original expression as the magnificent facade of Kellynch opened to accommodate a wigged man and a beaming woman.
"Frederick! I thought you were swallowed up into the Charybdis of Lyme!" She smiled so that he could not but kiss her cheek. The Captain already felt his spirits temporarily rising.
"My lady, even if I were, I would still be compelled to this place by the Siren before me!" He braced himself for what his sister might say.
"Goodness, you seem to have cheered up already; but I'll hear no compliments that don't come from my George!"
An older, snow-capped, and jovial man entered the hallway at that word. "What 's this I hear of myself?"
"O dear, you never mind what you heard or didn't hear. Let "s enter the drawing-room so you may from then on hear all. Shall we?" triumphantly cried she with an arch look at her brother.
"You shall hear no objection from your foolish brother here!" he stated as he returned her look. He was not to be outdone.
"I'll hear no more of this from you two!" Admiral Croft caught on to their banter. All three laughed as they entered the afore-spoken room.
Despite their usual ease with each other, however, the Lyme incident could not be spoken of without some large amount of awkwardness. Mrs. Croft could not do but chastise her brother for his imprudence; Captain Wentworth could not but feel ashamed for the same; the Admiral could not help but feel uncomfortable at the tension between the two others. Even though Mrs. Croft was seemingly not serious in her accusations, he could -- even a fool could -- tell that she was not in jest.
The atmosphere was lightened, though, when the Captain apologised sincerely. Then, his sister could do nought but drop the subject in its entirety. She asked him how everyone was doing in "that horrid place:' the Harvilles, Captain Benwick, the Musgroves, Charles Hayter, Miss Anne, all were enquired after.
The Harvilles were well and unremittingly kind and congenial, as always; Captain Benwick seemed to be on the mend, if such a thing were possible; the Musgroves were also becoming more cheerful as the days advanced; Charles Hayter-it was believed that he was not still in Lyme, but he possibly had reason to be very happy after all this business was settled; and Miss Elliot had not been in Lyme for quite some time; no -- she had returned when he had the first time. He hoped she was well; and not the worse for all her exertions -- and they had been great, despite what her modesty might impart to the Crofts; but he had not seen her since he left Uppercross to return to the place.
This reminded Captain Wentworth of one of the reasons for his coming; and he lifted up the arm that contained the note for Miss Elliot, held it tightly, and handed it to his sister with some rather uneasy words of explanation.
Mrs. Croft heard all this; and with keen senses she noted the constraint and near coldness at the mention of the latter's name; and added this particular instance to others she had seen whilst at Uppercross. She was not one to be overly curious; but some of her sex's inquisitiveness permeated her worthy self, and she was intrigued. It was not long, however, before she could test out any theories she might have. A minute's slightly unusual commotion in the hall heralded an unclosing of the door and the same wigged servant as before was in charge of announcing Lady Russell and Miss Anne Elliot.
Captain Wentworth almost leapt from his chair. Instead, he bent down, feigning the need to tie his boot-laces.
Anne looked up from the floor to take in the scene before her. Lady Russell was obviously affected, the Crofts were both curious and polite, and Captain Wentworth was tying his boot-lace. Captain Wentworth? Unusual for their re-introduction so far, she felt not as surprized, nor as awkward as he, unbeknownst to her, was.
Lady Russell was indeed unpleasantly taken aback. She cast an enquiring glance at her young friend, saw she was perfectly composed, and was happy for that. Maybe, after all, she had forgot about the impudent man. Apparently, there was some discomfort on his side. She was even gladder for this. That ought to show him! Let him grovel at her feet; he may entreat and implore, he could beg; but her sweet Anne wouldn't accept him! Good for her! The good Lady straightened her back and gave a smug smile to the now-bowing Captain.
Mrs. C watched all that was about her with some interest. Lady Russell's self-assuredness in the ordeal, her brother's uncharacteristic behaviour, Miss Anne's studied composure, all made a very intriguing picture to the clever woman. Her smile for the two ladies was perfectly genuine.
Admiral Croft was bemused by the whole; he did not even want to understand. His brother's out-of-the-ordinary actions, compared to Miss Anne's normal kindness, were quite peculiar; Lady Russell's smugness was confusing: all these were puzzles which he did not desire to solve. His wife's perplexity he dared not even think of.
Captain Wentworth was most definitely stunned to see her. He hoped she did not notice his discomposure all too much. All he needed was for her to guess his change of feeling! -- Despite her initial self-denial of such a thing (due to her sweet modesty), her powers of perception would indubitably suspect. What a blackguard she would think him, if she knew what his thoughts toward her were at this moment! He bowed as stiffly as was possible; but then he noticed Lady Russell and became somewhat more naturally colder; not for long, however. How did he ever manage to act so icily towards her in Uppercross? Even with his most despised enemy beside her, looking as if the two were still the best of friends, he could not but steal at least several warm glances at her. In any event, his sister was calling on him for some sort of opinion; he must reply.
"Frederick? Have we changed Kellynch so very much? I don't think so; what would you say?"
Captain Wentworth glanced at his surroundings, but there was almost no need to do so; he had long ago memorised this room and several others There was a curl of his handsome lip as he answered, that no, this room at least was yet unchanged.
Anne either had to admire his memory or consider herself flattered that he chose to recall; one can guess which of the two she chose. She had, however, to interrupt her choice, for she found herself addressed by the object of her reverie.
Captain Wentworth's eyes seemed to dart about the room before he coloured and abruptly explained himself -- "Do you believe it has changed overmuch?"
She was uncomfortable in responding; and therefore, ended her reply with a seeming indifferent question after Louisa's health.
His blush faded, yet it seemed like a larger wave of feeling swept over him; for he showed where his present affections lay. "Lou--Miss Louisa does as well as can be expected, though not as--" quoth he. The way he hardly refrained from using solely her Christian name, the abrupt ending of an already-understandably attached answer: all these contributed to force Anne to consummate her belief in their mutual affection.
He could absolutely not continue lying thus. To think, his angel on Earth speaking -- and to him!; and he feigning indifference toward the one dearer to him than -- but, there was her seraphic voice!
"I do hope, very much so, that she betters apace."
"That is very -- kind, Miss Elliot; but your goodness omits one great ill person to become better: yourself. You, I am sure, Madam, suffered extremely, all the more so on account of your forbearance and exertions."
Now that he had expressed some small part of his feelings, his heart inwardly sighed yet beat rapidly and passionately; but his mind attempted to safeguard him from any avowal of his disposition toward her.
Miss Elliot denied any exertions on her part. She assured him, and everyone else also, that she did absolutely nothing out of the common way. Captain Wentworth controlled his urge to say that indeed, it was not out of the common way for her, and sat intently smiling at her until Lady Russell begged to be heard.
Anne did not understand this strange turn in treatment of herself by the Captain. Why was he so kind? Perhaps this was his further exhibition of friendly feeling. O! -- how wonderful it would be to be more than just an acquaintance again, to have an impulse of pure and acknowledged friendship! Such thoughts were too good to be true, and yet! -- She was sure he meant to be her friend again. Though they could never return to what was, they could always have discussions such as Captain Benwick and she had shared. Perhaps she could start one--, but lo!,--Lady Russell spoke.
Lady Russell was even more pleased than at first. The sailor really did still love Anne! At least he didn't transfer his affections from an Athene to an Arachne! Perfect! -- Anne wasn't even responding in any uncommon way, not even uncomfortably. She spoke, for she saw that the sea-captain's smiles could have led to something more bewitching, if she hadn't. She merely asked the Captain if he was better than before, for after all, he must have suffered quite a bit in the ordeal. She saw his change of visage from red to white happily; saw that he was even more upset than he was by Anne's question; saw that he looked from Anne to herself to Mrs. Croft, in a distracted and highly unsettled sort of way; and noted his forced speech, begun after at least five moments had torturously crept by.
Mrs. Croft's interest steadily increased. Frederick was certainly enigmatic. At times she was sure of his love for Louisa; but then the way he repetitively and almost uncontrollably glanced and spoke to Miss Elliot, seemed becoming of an admirer. She could not but be uncertain of the former. She decided to try the two out together; she had a suspicion. She had to test out her plan.
"Miss Elliot, what exactly was your relationship with Frederick? I mean, how did you meet?"
She saved the audacious and complete impertinence of the first query by the sense of the latter, not to mention herself from the bemused looks of her husband. Feigning innocence and a lack of common sense might not normally work; but if she proved to be right, it would not signify.
There was a silence as Miss Elliot appeared to think. She was about to speak when Captain Wentworth broke in. -- "As you know, Edward had the curacy here at Monkford in the summer of the year '06. I came to visit; we drove out in a gig, I believe; and -- Miss Elliot was reading a book on a bench."
It was at first hard for him to say; but once his heart took the reins, the words flew into place. Luckily got everything, however, his sense of honour and pride hijacked the carriage; and he refrained from going into any more personal and nostalgic details. At least Miss Elliot helped check him also, by bobbing her head in agreement.
Mrs. Croft was not satisfied; but discretion and propriety were most certainly not the least prevalent in her actions. She decided that the test had lasted long enough; and was to proceed ending the visit, when someone preempted her.
Captain Wentworth was made extremely uneasy in the last few minutes, so much so that he had decided to "abandon ship, ' even though he was a Captain. He had stood when he realised half of his purpose in the visit was as yet unaccomplished. He slyly attained the missive from beside his sister; and in a long stride crossed the half-room that lay between him and Miss Elliot. He slightly shook at the proximity of his position; and cleared his throat before addressing the already attentive Miss Elliot. "Miss Elliot, I was commissioned to give this you from Lyme. I hope you enjoy it." He felt his cheeks flaming, not only at the closeness, but at his foolish words. He nonetheless reached an arm towards her, to give it her. It was inevitable that the newly-felt sensation of mutual touch would affect him; he was yet unprepared for the shiver that flew up and down his backbone. He drew back quickly as soon as she thanked him and, after announcing his intentions of returning to Lyme, and stealing one glance at his beloved; he took his leave, never once forgetting that this take-leave could very well be his last while at liberty.
Part 6: Molland's"It Was ... a Something Between Delight and Misery "
Captain Wentworth had indeed come to Bath; and for one purpose alone had he done so. He was, however, perfectly disposed to spend at least this newly-wet afternoon in un-amatory affairs with two of his childhood's friends and their wife and sister respectively. Taking notice of the espoused persons, however, made him lament certain actions, and since he had desired innocent enjoyment, he chose to leave Mr. and Mrs. Stuart to themselves for the most part, preferring the company of Thomas and Maria Tudor. Those two "talked and laughed a great deal"; but he liked that sort of society. He was much grateful for the cheer and amiability that they expressed with clarity. As the three walked a little behind the two, (for an minute he left the brother and sister together and walked a little behind himself because of some momentary awkwardness,) they had not been walking along Milsom-Street (down which they had planned to stroll for a significant while) for very long, when several rain-drops commenced falling. Stuart was immediately concerned for his "weak wife" and begged their pardon, but he needed to find her shelter (despite her protests). The Captain's companions were amused by Stuart's assiduousness, yet perfectly agreed; and everyone thought it best to enter Mrs. Molland's Confectionery. He was in the midst of explaining how a sailor kept his sanity in times of intense tempest when, as he was entering the shop, out of the corner of his eye he saw Miss Elliot!
She apparently was withdrawing from approaching the outer door, but he was not exactly sure. All rational thought had flown from his mind: the only thing of which he could think was she was there!
He remembered his manners quickly, though he fumbled through the ordinary queries. He felt his face reddening. He was sure that he seemed ridiculous before her. Guilt for past actions, surprize at seeing her so suddenly, and embarrassment at her finding him thus affected, all combined (along with civility towards his companions) to prompt him to excuse himself from her. He did not intend to return; but the temptation was too great. In a short while, he found himself making his excuses to his friends and re-joining her.
He enquired after her health, and that of her family, at least once, before moving on to even more commonplace subjects.
There was a momentary return of glib conversation when she asked him whether he liked Bath ; and he instantly replied that he had yet to see it, and feelings toward it, whether of pain or of pleasure, had yet to be discovered. He watched her countenance even more carefully as he said this; but she seemed not to catch his full meaning, and so he happily (though again uncomfortably) talked of Uppercross and of the Musgroves, and he looked arch as he mentioned one of their daughters.
As he spoke, he happened to glance nervously, as it happened, at Miss Elizabeth Elliot, whom he instantly recognised, and who recognised him; but did not acknowledge him. He had forgotten the cruel ways of the eldest sister, and so had been momentarily surprized when she refused to know him. This made him pity the middle daughter all the more; and he turned back to her (she was apologetically smiling) with renewed assiduousness and awkwardness, until there was a halt to the general hum of voices, and a cry of "Carriage from the Viscountess Dalrymple calling for the Miss Elliots!"
On impulse he turned to his companion and motioned towards something or other in such a way that it was supposed to be interpreted as a gallant, yet wordless, offer of his services.
Answered she, "I am much obliged to you, but I am not going with them. The carriage would accommodate so many. I walk; I prefer walking."
He fired up at her relatives' lack of care. To leave such a fragile thing to walk, unescorted, in the rain! But he then was stunned by her innate ability to charm him with her selflessness, and stammered, "But it rains."
"Oh! very little. Nothing that I regard."
Should he accompany her? Or would she -- of course she would prefer to keep her own company.
"Though I came only yesterday, I have equipped myself properly for Bath already, you see (he pointed to his new umbrella); "I wish you would make use of it, if you are determined to walk; though I think it would be more prudent to let me get you a chair."
She said she was much obliged, but graciously declined, reasserting her opinion of the rain, and adding, "I am only waiting for Mr. Elliot. He will be here in a moment, I am sure."
The image of a man adoringly addressing Miss Elliot sprang to his mind, and not long after, to his eyes. Acting on an impulse yet again, he scowled until the man could come close enough to notice. But it did not signify, for Mr. Elliot saw and thought only of his cousin, and was most solicitous in getting her home before the rain became too unbearable; and only briefly noticed him as Miss Elliot, delicate arm under her cousin's, gave the Captain a "gentle and embarrassed glance, and a 'Good morning to you!'" He could nearly feel the heat of his jealous anger: the two made such a nice couple. He frowned again and went to his party to attempt to soothe his feelings; but was only met with an agitating conversation:
Mrs. Stuart, now thoroughly content to have a female companion, was commenting to Miss Tudor, "Mr. Elliot does not dislike his cousin, I fancy?"
Captain Wentworth dared neither turn to the men nor reply to the ladies, so he stayed in between, listening whole-heartedly.
"Oh! no, that is clear enough. One can guess what will happen there. He is always with them; half lives in the family, I believe. What a very good-looking man!"
"Good-looking, indeed! " thought he.
"Yes, and Miss Atkinson, who dined with him once at the Wallises, says he is the most agreeable man she ever was in company with."
"Agreeable! " He turned the thought over in his mind.
"She is pretty, I think--"
He turned away and stared out of the window.
"--Anne Elliot; very pretty, when one comes to look at her--"
He nervously twiddled his umbrella in his hands.
"--It is not the fashion to say so, but I confess I admire her more than her sister."
"Oh! so do I."
"No comparison. -- Anne is much too delicate for them."
"Too delicate?" thought he, and he turned to the gentlemen and said, "Those ladies of yours are so charming!"
Part 7: The Concert: "He Did Not Hear a Note!"
Captain Wentworth made sure that he was as upright as possible as he entered the Octagon Room. He had expected to be waiting at least for a little while; but it was not to be, for the very object of his expectations was the very object of his eyes. He took a small breath as he bowed as deeply as wasn't mortifying; and began to pass on in mental reluctance, when she gently asked him how he did. The four words were life to him as he stepped out of "line" to stay and speak with her.
"I can see that you are well, Ma"am," said he; and indeed, it was true. Miss Elliot was in peerless looks that night. Her dress perfectly suited her complexion; her hair was arranged most becomingly indeed; her cheeks had just enough colour for one to say she was animated. As he questioned her on how she liked Bath, and its rather mediocre weather, he noticed a simple acknowledgement from the direction of Sir Walter and Miss Elizabeth Elliot; and distantly bowed in return.
He resumed his attention to Miss Elliot. That lady was as optimistic as was possible, speaking of the subject for as long as she could; but the conversation waned and he could tell that she was expecting him to go, but his body was nearly planted in the ground. Something struck him; he said --
"I have hardly seen you since our day at Lyme. I am afraid you must have suffered from the shock, and the more so from its not overpowering you at the time."
She assured him that she had not.
He presently let his smile fade away, even though he wanted, with all his heart, to do so because of her gentle strength; instead, he gave a cry.
"It was a frightful hour," said he, "a frightful day!" as he passed his hand over his eyes, affecting the great pain, of which he in reality had a taste of late, and which was only too recently begun to be assuaged by something more pleasurable. Trying to be sure that the conversation would continue unbroken; and not wholly unaware of the impression, that the latter part of this future comment would make on the lady, he added, half smiling again, "The day has produced some effects however; has had some consequences which must be considered as the very reverse of frightful. When you had the presence of mind to suggest that Benwick would be the properest person to fetch a surgeon, you could have little idea of his being eventually one of those most concerned in her recovery."
She smiled brightly and warmly (he hoped in response to his pathetic attempt at wit); and replied, "Certainly I could have none. But it appears -- I should hope it would be a very happy match. There are on both sides good principles and good temper."
He wished most exceedingly to assure her of something; this, indeed, was the best opportunity yet useable by him most subtly; and so he started unburden his mind. He said, that there ended the resemblance, and that he wished them happy. He also mentioned that he was happy that circumstances favoured the union. They had no difficulties to contend with at home, with the Musgroves, behaving like themselves, honourably and kindly, solicitous for their daughter's comfort. This, all this was much, oh! -- so very much- in favour of their happiness; certainly more than perhaps --
He had forgot of what he was speaking, by means of a sudden recollection, that affected him as much as it affected the delicate Miss Elliot facing him, who was presently turning the russet eyes, above her becomingly blushing cheeks, to the ground. He cleared his throat in a most unmistakable indication, that he was to proceed.
"He thought the disparity too great in the essential point of minds. He regarded Louisa Musgrove as very amiable, sweet-tempered, and not sufficient in understanding; but he knew that Benwick was something more. Benwick was a clever man, a reading man, and the Captain did consider his attaching himself to her with surprise. Had it been the effect of gratitude, it would have been another thing, but he had no reason to suppose it so.
"It, on the contrary, seemed to be perfectly spontaneous, untaught feeling on his side, which was highly surprising. A man like him! with an almost-broken heart for Fanny Harville, a most superior creature, and he was indeed attached to her. A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman. He ought not; he does not."
His voice had, by this time, become so agitated, that one might have even called it gruff; and he awaited her answer rather unsurely.
She only slightly changed the subject; but just enough for him to admire her propriety in asking him if he stayed a good while at Lyme? Quite ready to speak in a semi-rational manner, he spoke then of his agony due to his weakness, and then of his admiration of the country surrounding.
Said Miss Elliot in reply, "I should very much like to see Lyme again."
"Indeed!" replied he with much feeling. "I should not have supposed that you could find anything in Lyme to inspire such a feeling. The horror and distress you were involved in, the stretch of mind, the wear of spirits! I should have thought your last impressions of Lyme must have been strong disgust."
Her next words, were imprinted on his mind as some of the most selfless and beautiful orations ever spoke; and as permanent proof of her goodness.--
"The last hours were certainly very painful, but when pain is over, the remembrance of it often becomes a pleasure. One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering, which was by no means the case at Lyme. We were only in anxiety and distress during the last two hours, and preciously there had been a great deal of enjoyment. So much novelty and beauty! I have travelled so little, that every fresh place would be interesting to me; but there is real beauty at Lyme; and in short" (she coloured for but a moment, he dared not think why) "altogether my impressions of the place are very agreeable."
These words affected him so much, that he hesitated, thinking of what it would be like to hear her comments on such places as he had often visited while in His Majesty's service. That it was his dearest wish at that moment, he did attempt to hide from himself, for he knew that all too well. For all this hesitation and lack of control from himself, he was made to pay, however. He was stunned from his reverie by a general pacifying of the great commotion and bustle, to realise that "Lady Dalrymple" had arrived; and, in all the scraping and curtseying, he lost nearness to his conversation partner.
Captain Wentworth was not in the end, however, too sorry for the separation, for he saw Mr. Elliot's entrance; and did n"t fail to notice his notice of Miss Elliot. He would not for the world have experienced again the feelings of Mr. Elliot's, Miss Elliot's, and his last meeting.
The obvious delight and radiance on her countenance was not to be missed by a man who was particularly inspecting that face. He supposed the source of these expressions to be the other man with whom she was presently conversing. The blush on her cheeks, the gait of her mien, the persistence of her smiles, all made him conclude that Mr. Elliot had won, if not her affections, her studious and eager attention; and he was just able to see her partially remove herself from the rest of her party before he disappeared, with the crush of the crowd, into the Concert Room. All this, however, did not deter his eyes and thoughts from the door and one specific person outside of it; rather, it had quite the opposite effect. He was unable to control his eyes enough to stop their resting themselves, if but for a moment, on her as she entered, all aglow; and bright eyes darting about in the animated fashion, in which one is n"t looking for anything, just trying vainly to find a place on which to fix them.
Her party settled itself in a rather distant part of the room, with her cousin maneouvering to seat himself by his dear cousin. The first act began, and not so badly as he had expected, contrary to what he was disposed to anticipate from his present mood. The music was good, although there was no singing, and there was not even that much at The Other End of the room to excite his disappointment. These feelings, however, were not to last.
Towards the close of the act, he looked to the opposite side another time; but this time, what he saw only made the quality of the music fade from his memory: the lady and her cousin had a concert-bill between them and were in earnest conversation. He could just discern fragments of phrases --
"--am a very poor Italian scholar -- " -Miss Elliot. (He smiled bitterly.) "--translate at sight these inverted, transposed, curtailed Italian lines, into clear, comprehensible, elegant English. -- knowing something of Miss Anne Elliot -- too modest for the world in general to be aware of half her accomplishments, and too highly accomplished for modesty to be natural in any other woman." -Mr. Elliot. "- -- too much flattery (she turned to the bill; the Captain controlled his start)" --Again, the modest Miss Elliot. "--had a longer acquaintance with your character than you are aware of -- " "--Indeed!"
The Captain again started at her interest as she and her cousin continued until the auditor caught something highly striking to him. --
"The name of Anne Elliot," intimately whispered Mr. Elliot, "has long had an interesting sound to me. Very long has it possessed a charm over my fancy; and, if I dared, I would breathe my wishes that the name might never change."
No sooner had he attempted to gain control of the jealousy that he could feel searing his heart, than the object of the speech uttered of late fixed her piercing gaze on him; and he was obliged to take his off of her. He finally understood why she had searched him out at such an unusual moment when he heard Sir Walter say disdainfully to the Viscountess, that he only knew the Captain's name, rank, and sister's relation to himself. In any event, she fixed her gaze on him for longer than he would have expected; and he was hard-pressed to continue keeping his from her. By the time the performance recommenced, the temptation became so great that he moved away.
He did not hear a note of the rest of the act; he could not even if he had wanted to, and he certainly had his thoughts employed in a much more interesting -- if more painful -- manner.
At the close of Act the First, and after a period of nothing-saying, most of her party went in search of tea, leaving her and her friend of so many years, the name of whom Captain Wentworth chose not to bring to his mind, no matter how well he might remember it. This was an opportune time for the Captain Wentworth of the Octagon Room, but certainly not for the Captain Wentworth, member of the Audience of the First Act of the Concert in the Assembly Rooms, to be given in Italian, by the Patronage of the Viscountess Dalrymple. The present state of his emotions overcame the greatest of his desires for the moment. His only comfort, but a small one, was that she had somehow been placed at the near-end of the bench, with a vacant spot at her side, by the close of the singing. He then gathered up enough nerve to approach her but slowly, and to come and speak with her.
His look, he knew, was grave, even despondent, and he spoke so poorly of the concert that even he was surprized at himself. She, though, spoke so approvingly of the concert, and yet she allowed so for his feelings, that his self-froze heart melted, and he almost permitted himself to smile at her charms. The image, as of many from the evening, remained implanted in his heart. He continued to speak with her, this time letting himself speak almost as animatedly as how he had spoke in that Other Room in the building, that room which had led him to such feelings as cannot be penned! He even considered indulging himself by filling the space -- But the pseudo-euphoria to which the moment had brought him was not bound to last. Mr. Elliot's smiling, simpering face dared to show itself from behind! His partner was to use her abundant knowledge to Miss Carteret's advantage (and perhaps to her cousin's also?), but most certainly to the Captain's disadvantage and to his high -- high? that was not even the word! -- dudgeon.
There was a sort of pacing about in Captain Wentworth's mind as he decided what was his next course of action. Was he to retreat, or continue as a flouted admirer? His pride answered the question; so that when Miss Elliot was able to return her attention to him, he was ready to (and did) tell her that "he must wish her good-night; he was going; he should get home as fast as he could."
Her lovely face being a mixture of emotions, she queried him, "Is not this song worth staying for?"
She seemed quite assiduous; he could almost have given in; but no, he knew when to withdraw unwanted attentions, and so he gravely answered her -- "No! There is nothing worth my staying for."
He did not look back, for all his desire to do so; he simply "got home as fast as he could", disregarding propriety or civilities in the mean-time. He got his over-coat, etc., from the servant and went directly out the door. The fresh night air cooled his burning self considerably, both in body and in mind; and he was led to remember certain images from the night that was certain to remain foremost in his memory. He thought not of how he would explain his early arrival to his sister and brother, nor of how long he could stay in Bath, or rather how long he could bear staying in the same city, or even country, as that in which the lady he l -- liked most -- was living for -- or even engaged to -- a Someone Else. Nay! he thought only of sweet memories, of how she stepped from the line in order to speak to him, how she delicately and modestly changed the subject, how she looked like an Angel with face aglow and eyes sparkling, how she modestly denied her knowledge of Italian, and lastly -- this was certainly the most dear, yet most painful, recollection of them all -- how she solicitously asked him whether that song were not worth his staying for? He never allowed the vision which had made him leave, to get into his mind; he thought only of the debonaire and of the dear, of the superfine and of the superior, of the lovely and of the beloved!
Part 8: (The Letter!) "Happier Than He Deserved"
Miss Anne Elliot was the only person that Frederick saw as he entered the room through the servilely-opened door; but this time, he was ready for her presence. He merely nodded at her, then turned away. Only feeling such as the ones that he had experienced in the Concert Room could have precluded him from speaking to her; and since he experienced the feelings of the Concert, he did not speak to her.
Suddenly, Mrs. Charles addressed her sister, saying that "Elizabeth Elliot's friend, Mrs. Clay, was standing under the colonnade, with a gentleman. Who was it? -- Good heavens! -- It was Mr. Elliot himself."
Miss Elliot instantly replied, "It could not be Mr. Elliot. He was to leave Bath at nine that morning, and did not come back till the morrow."
The moment he heard her statement, his eyes were drawn to her. "Of course she knew of her dearest cousin's whereabouts! It was only natural, considering their relationship?" David's feelings towards Uriah could not have been too much worse than his for Mr. Elliot in that instant; his cold gaze followed Miss Elliot as she first refused to go to the window, then noticed the knowing glanced being exchanged among Mrs. Musgrove's friends; and reluctantly and quietly moved to the window. She deliberately responded, "Yes, it is Mr. Elliot, certainly. He has changed his hour of going, I suppose; that is all, or I may be mistaken; I might not attend;
by which response he was somewhat startled; but he -- for then -- no more let himself think on such matters.
Musgrove, having just done with bidding adieu to the guests, abused them for having come, as soon as the door closed. He then opened with, "Well, mother, I have done something for you that you will like. I have been to the theatre, and secured a box for to-morrow night. A" n"t I a good boy? I know you love a play; and there is room for us all. It holds nine. I have engaged Captain Wentworth. Anne will not be sorry to join us, I am sure. We all like a play. Have not I done well, mother?"
Mrs. Charles immediately interjected, through all Mrs. Musgrove's good-humoured acquiescence, that on no account could they do such a thing; what he could possibly have been thinking?, for they particularly invited to the family-party at Camden-place, to meet all the family connexions, and to mingle with such as the Viscountess Dalrymple, the Honourable Miss Carteret, and Mr. Elliot. Replied Musgrove, "Phoo! phoo! what's an evening party? Never worth remembering. Your father might have asked us to dinner, I think if he had wanted to see us. You may do as you like, but I shall go to the play."
He again caused considerable agitation in his fair wife: she declared it was abominable, for he had promised to go.
"No, he did not promise. He only smirked and bowed, and said the word 'happy." There was no promise."
They continued on with their ridiculous and rather indelicate argument, until they got to talk of the unforgettable Mr. Elliot. Charles had just said, "If I would not go for the sake of your father, I should think it scandalous to go for the sake of his heir. What is Mr. Elliot to me?"
Frederick's gaze instantly flew to Miss Elliot in a silent enquiry: What was Mr. Elliot to her? Oddly enough, for once, her gaze was on him; and she seemed to understand, and though it was very probably wishful thinking, he almost seemed to read a feeling of indifference in that sweet gaze.
He only drew his from her when Mrs. Musgrove said, "We had better put it off. Charles, you had much better go back, and change the box for Tuesday. It would be a pity to be divided, and we should be losing Miss Anne too, if there is a party at her father's; and I am sure neither Henrietta nor I should care at all for the play, if Miss Anne could not be with us."
He noticed that Miss Elliot's countenance was rather rosy, as she answered:
"If it depended only on my inclination, ma"am, the party at home (excepting on Mary's account) would not be the smallest impediment. I have no pleasure in the sort of meeting, and should be too happy to change it for a play, and with you. But, it had better not be attempted, perhaps."
"There was his darling! Of course she would prefer the Musgroves to her cruel family!" Even the added exception -- for Mary's appeasement, of course -- was so undeniably considerate and unworldly, that he felt his own cheeks redden with emotion that he had suppressed.
The whole, simple dilemma was solved quickly; and by the time it was done, he had resolved to speak to her again. He called his cleverness into considerable question by walking to the fire-place; and soon afterwards taking a station by her.
He began the conversation with a quizzing look, and with
"You have not been long enough in Bath to enjoy the evening parties of the place."
"Oh! no. The usual character of them has nothing for me. I am no card-player."
Again, his pride on her behalf was greatly increased; and he affectedly answered, "You were not formerly, I know. You did not use to like cards; but time makes many changes." He challenged her again.
"I am not yet so much changed," cried she.
He waited for her to say more, thought she would, but after waiting a few moments, he said that "It was a period, indeed! Eight years and a half is a period!"
He awaited the return of her dear, sweet voice, and longed to hear what her response would be; but alas! such bliss was not possible for him; for Miss Musgrove entreated his conversation-partner to go out with her, and her other companions, before someone else should call. They were to leave, when alarming noises sounded outside, and the door was opened for Sir Walter and Miss Elliot.
(In the words of that Most Superior Authoress,) "The comfort, the freedom, the gaiety of the room was over, hushed into cold composure, determined silence, or insipid talk, to meet the heartless elegance of her father and sister."
Miss Anne Elliot appeared most mortified. He truly felt for her; but he had not time for pitying -- Elizabeth Elliot (and her father, but most particularly she) was actually acknowledging him, and in as near to a gracious manner as she could inhumanly get. He was perplexed, yet not so perplexed, by the courteous manners of father and daughter. He had even been particularly invited to the evening party, with an especial card just for him. His scorn mounted: "What? Should he accept such an offering, as atonement for all the horrid, cruel insolence of the past?"
After the couple left, he stood deeply considering it. "Should he or should he not? He wanted to revenge them; but the temptation to be in the presence of -- He could not resist it! Or could he?"
That most audible comment of Mrs. Charles', that he was so delighted that he could not put the card out of his hand, simply assisted his spite. He knew his cheeks glowed from the possibility of slighting two of the most detestable persons of his acquaintance; so he just gave one contemptuous smile before contemplating the strange, yet not wholly unjust, ways of Providence.
Then, the ladies and gentleman parted company. He was left to run about the town executing tasks with Harville; and to await the morrow's likely meeting with the Musgroves, and hopefully, with their "Miss Anne."
Even though he and Captain Harville were discussing the matter of Benwick's miniature, Frederick still managed to make a side-glance at the handsome mantle-clock. For what reason he did so, he himself was not definitely sure. For some irrational reason, to-day he was in nervous spirits. Harville, whom he had been attending, though not perfectly well-attending, even made so bold as to query him what had him in such a restless mood?
He knew not how to answer, said so; and he then keenly heard noises at the door, and again made a side-glance at that portal, the restlessness inside of him nearly causing him to shake outwardly. No wonder he was nervous! for he knew who would be coming through that door, and at that time, and the knowledge of it nearly made him to blush as Miss Anne Elliot was announced. After sketching a bow to her, and waiting for Harville to do the same, he resumed his conversation with much more ease than formerly.
Again, he was anxious to finish with the ridiculous errand of his, so he said to Harville that he would write the letter they were talking of. The materials he needed were on a separate table; he seated himself at it, and wrote studiously. There -- not three minutes thenceforth -- were, however unfortunately, distractions for the Captain. --
Mrs. Musgrove and Sophia were engaged in a discussion (though nearly one-sided, due to Mrs. Musgrove's loquacious disposition) of the question of long engagements, probably due to the issue of Charles Hayter's and Miss Musgrove's engagement.
"There is nothing I so abominate for young people as a long engagement," cried Mrs. Musgrove. "It is what I always protested against for my children. It is all very well, I used to say, for young people to be engaged, if there is a certainty of their being able to marry in six months, or even in twelve, but a long engagement!"
Replied the clever Sophia, "Yes, dear ma"am, or an uncertain engagement; an engagement which may be long. To begin without knowing that at such a time there will be the means of marrying, I hold to be very unsafe and unwise, and what I think all parent should prevent as far as they can."
Immediately, he paused in his writing; how could he not feel its application to his own self? He very purposefully directed his gaze towards Miss Elliot; and oddly enough, she was looking at him also. The two ladies, of course, continued their talking, and Miss Elliot had gone to her own thoughts; but the room was little more than a surrounding haze for Frederick Wentworth, the sounds in that room little more than a buzz in his ears. He had to contemplate what her thoughts were, if she felt the same way about the past, whether she would welcome his attentions and his affections, and whether he ought to address her at the soonest opportunity. Naturally, with such thoughts in his mind, he failed to notice that Harville had moved to a window, and had begun a conversation with her. He eventually noticed, though, and just as soon as he had heard Captain Harville say "It was not in her nature. She doted on him," he most anxiously awaited her response:
"It would not be in the nature of any woman who truly loved."
Those words would have set his heart full of such emotions as were indescribable and uncontrollable, and set his voice speaking; but in this case they only caused his cheeks to redden and his pen verily to fly over the paper. He signed his name to the paper in a script hardly legible even to himself, and withdrew another leaf from the writing-paper.
With trembling hand he drew the pen from its ink-well and began furiously to write:
"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago."
Just at that moment, he caught a further comment on women's feelings --
"Yes. We certainly do not forget you, so soon as you forget us. It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us. You are forced on exertion. -- continual occupation and change soon weaken impressions."
"Did she really think so, the unappreciated paragon? Did she have such a small opinion of him and his constancy and affections? Well, he hoped he could prove her wrong before long!"
He continued scrawling, "Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. -- Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? -- I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine."
As he rarely heard Harville's parts in the discourse, it was some thing for him to have heard: "No, no, it is not man's nature. I will not allow it to be more man's nature than woman's to be inconstant and forget those they do love, or have loved. I believe the reverse. I believe in a true analogy between our bodily frames and our mental; and that as our bodies are the strongest, so are our feelings; capable of bearing most rough usage, and riding out the heaviest weather."
"Well, Harville defended man's feelings rather well. He thought he could not have done better himself indeed: each word that Harville had spoke applied most perfectly to himself!"
He awaited Miss Elliot's gentle response. "Your feelings may be the strongest, but the same spirit of analogy will authorise me to assert that ours are the most tender. Man is more robust than woman, but he is not longer lived; which exactly explains my view of the nature of their attachments. Nay, it would be too hard upon you, if it were otherwise. You have difficulties, and privations, and dangers enough to struggle with. You are always labouring and toiling, exposed to every risk and hardship. You home, country, friends, all quitted. Neither time, nor health, nor life, to be called your own. It would be hard indeed if woman's feelings were to be added to all this."
In reply he began to write:
"I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me, "when he dropt his pen, because he was very much trying to hear what was said, and had been utterly and foolishly distracted. He was mortified; but managed clearly to reply to Harville's question, whether he had finished his letter --
"Not quite, a few lines more. I shall have done in five minutes."
"There is no hurry on my side. I am only ready whenever you are. -- I am in very good anchorage here, (he smiled at Miss Elliot) as I was saying -- "
He heard no more. He was thinking of what next he ought to say, when he heard her newest response to Harville:
"--Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything."
"No, indeed, Madam, for no book could ever do justice to such tender feelings as, I am so very sure, your heart is capable of retaining."
He quickly added, "You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others."
This next of Harville's was the second -- and last -- of Harville's comments, that he heard. --
"Ah! if I could but make you comprehend what a man suffers when he takes a last look at his wife and children, and watches the boat that he has sent them off in, as long as it is in sight, and then turns away and says, "God knows whether we ever meet again!" And then, if I could convey to you the glow of his soul when he does see them again; when, coming back after a twelvemonth's absence perhaps, and obliged to put into another port, he calculates how soon it be possible to get them there, pretending to deceive himself, and saying. "They cannot be here till such a day," but all the while hoping for them twelve hours sooner, and seeing them arrive at last, as if Heaven had given them wings, by many hours sooner still! If I could explain to you all this, and all that a man can bear and do, and glories to do for the sake of these treasure of his existence! I speak, you know, only of such men as have hearts!" and he warmly pressed his own.
"Very fine! With her loving, pardoning heart, he found it hard to imagine her being unaffected by such an explanation!"
And indeed, she did not fail him, "Oh! I hope I do justice to all that is felt by you, and by those who resemble you. God forbid that I should undervalue the warm and faithful feelings of any of my fellow-creatures. I should deserve utter contempt if I dared to suppose that true attachment and constancy were known only by woman. No, I believe you capable of everything great and good in your married lives. I believe you equal to every important exertion, and to every domestic forbearance, so long as -- if I may be allowed the expression -- so long as you have an object. I mean, while the woman you love lives, and lives for you. All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one, you need not covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone."
"Such an admission! Such feelings! Such a heart! Such a lady!"
His pen dashed the necessary (though hardly legible) characters for:
"--Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in
He nearly had forgot her family-party, but he reminded himself soon afterwards, and instantly added a few more sprawled lines. --
"I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening, or never."
And he had done. He was in no mood to speak rationally, not even when Sophia addressed him. He was too engrossed in folding up his precious declaration. All he heard, was "--you and I part company, -- I understood Frederick had a card too, though I did not see it -- and you are disengaged -- ?"
As his attendance at the party -- and his attendance on Miss Elliot -- depended on his letter, he chose to evade the question, and solely answered the statement.
"Yes, very true; here we separate, but Harville and I shall soon be after you, that is, Harville, if you are ready, I am in half a minute. I know you will not be sorry to be off. I shall be at your service in half a minute."
Having just thought up a way to shew her the letter without being conspicuous, he sealed the letter with great haste, and concealed it, and was ready. The further knowledge that the agitated spirit which had so vexed him earlier on that day, was indeed not gone, did nothing to help him be unhurried. So rushed and irritated did he feel, that he believed that even a fleeting glance in her direction would make him tell her the sentiments already expressed when he could control what he communicated, in a way that he could not at all control, and in a way that would most likely be highly impertinent and absurd. So instead he listened to Harville's kindly "Good morning, God bless you!" with envy, and passed out of the door.
On beginning to descend the stairs, Harville had raised a brow, and was starting to comment on something (most likely his friend's most odd behaviour), when Frederick exclaimed that he had forgot his gloves, and was sorry, but said that Harville could continue without him. As he turned back, he thought he saw the other brow raised, but it could just have been nothing. He opened the door, and begged their pardon, but he had forgotten his gloves.
Instantly he crossed the room, drew out the letter, placed it before Miss Elliot, and with his eyes appealed her, with the utmost fervour and with a glow, not to repulse his love-offers. He hurriedly collected his gloves, and departed in an instant.
Captain Wentworth heavily sighed as he decided where to go. Should he return later, or follow her party? Perhaps he could walk along the streets, just to try to calm him as much as the fresh air could. He rather thought he would; and if his lady did not make an appearance after several hours (which he hoped to G-d she did), then Providence had decided against a second chance at happiness for him; and rightfully so! But no! this was not Lyme, a place of self-made torture! This was Bath, a place of new beginnings, and if she did not appear, then he would return to the Musgroves' lodging. Anything was possible! Who could know? she might even have pardoned him his offenses! And so he set off in the general direction of Camden-place.
Frederick Wentworth was hardly soothed, by the air, or by anything else, for that matter. He could not be easy or rational until he had had his answer. At this point, he really could not mind very much if it were assenting or dissenting, just as long as it would answer. He scanned every feminine figure for that of his beloved. Every word spoken by anyone, be it from man or woman, on the streets engaged his full attention. He was disappointed, however, until he reached Union-street. When there, he immediately recognised that graceful walk and figure of Anne Elliot, walking beside that of -- was it Charles Musgrove? He was not sure, all he knew is that he absolutely had to overtake them. He quickened his step even more than before, drew a rather deep breath; and made ready for the deciding moment.
It did not take him long to overtake the pair; they were walking quite leisurely. He immediately, upon doing so, looked on with anxiety. She did not repulse him. O G-d! she did not repulse him! her cheeks glowed, and her fine eyes were bright; his step was sure now; he walked beside her confidently, waited impatiently for the time when he could be rid of the third party, and delighted in such euphoria as he had not felt for eight years-and-a-half; his heart was full.
Musgrove, after what seemed like an eternity, addressed him --
"Captain Wentworth, which way are you going? only to Gay-street, or farther up the town?"
He was not ready for such a question's being put to him, and answered, "I hardly know."
"Are you going as high as Belmont? Are you going near Camden-place? Because if you are, I shall have no scruple in asking you to take my place, and give Anne your arm to her father's door. She is rather done for this morning, and must not go far without help. And I ought to be at that fellow's in the market-place. He promised me the sight of a capital gun he is just going to send off; said he would keep it unpacked to the last possible moment, that I might see it; and if I do not turn back now, I have no chance. By his description, a good deal like the second-sized double-barrel of mine, which you shot with one day, round Winthrop."
That speech normally would have seemed tedious; but Captain Wentworth did not mind at all. In fact, he had rather despaired of ever having a private talk with her before the party at all; and was extremely glad for the chance that the most kind Charles Musgrove -- and, of course, his "fellow in the market-place"--had afforded him. He was all alacrity and obliging compliance and smiles. In fact (to borrow from another superior authoress), "smiles reined in and spirits dancing in private rapture." Soon enough, Musgrove had gone all the way to the bottom of Union-street again, and they proceeded together; and they had bandied words enough to have decided that they were directed to the quiet and retired gravel-walk. (Here again, the superior authoress reigns on High, and is quoted) "There they exchanged again those feeling and those promises which had once before seemed to secure everything, but which had been followed by so many, many years of division and estrangement. There they returned again into the past, more exquisitely happy, perhaps, in their re-union, than when it had been first projected; more tender, more tried, more fixed in a knowledge of each other's character, truth, and attachment; more equal to act, more justified in acting."
Nothing could they heed, but their own private admissions, confessions, and declarations, and nothing in those afore-mentioned three could be more repentant adoring, and contrite than the admissions, confessions, and declarations of Frederick. Vulgarly summarily, they consisted of this:
Jealousy of Mr. Elliot had been his greatest impediment, agony, and dubiety. In Molland's had it first plagued him; it had destroyed his enjoyment of the Concert; had been a part of everything he had said and done, or neglected to have said and done, in that past day. A word, a look, an action from her would, bit by bit, chisel away at it; and it had finally been defeated by those tender sentiments expressed to Captain Harville which had reached to him; and thanks to which he had poured out his feelings, and was able to be standing there and speaking to her.
From his letter, he could neither disavow nor qualify any sentiment or word. He had truly loved none but her. She had never been supplanted. Never did he see her equal. Though he was obliged to admit; that he had been true to her unconsciously, even unwittingly, and that it was his design to forget her, and he had believed he had done so. Anger had been mistaken for indifference; his injustice to her many merits sprang from his having suffered from them.
Her character? "It was now fixed on his mind as perfection itself, maintaining the loveliest medium of fortitude and gentleness. He was six weeks with Edward, and saw him happy. He could have no other pleasure. He deserved none. He enquired after her very particularly; asked even if she were personally altered, little suspecting that to his eye she could never alter."
She seemed pleased by this compliment; she let it pass without expected comment.
He escorted her to the door in the happy knowledge that he would be able to see and speak with her that very night.
Frederick saw her nearly flit about the room, approaching all her dearest friends, and even those for whom she could not bring herself to care, and felt himself glow as he noted her own incomparable glow, and her loveliness, which attractions could only stem from her own greatness of heart. Just the knowledge of her being there sent him into "private rapture", but even more exciting were the moments of precious communications, "each apparently occupied in admiring a fine display of greenhouse plants." In one of these short meetings, she said --
"I have thinking over the past, and trying impartially to judge of the right and wrong, I mean with regard to myself; and I must believe that I was right, much as I suffered from it, that I was perfectly right in being guided by the friend whom you will love better than you do now. To me, she was in the place of a parent. Do not mistake me, however. I am not saying that she did not err in her advice. It was, perhaps, one of those cases in which advice is good or bad only as the event decides; and for myself, I certainly never should, in any circumstance of tolerable similarity, give such advice. But I mean, that I was right in submitting to her, and that if I had done otherwise, I should suffered more in continuing the engagement than I did even in giving it up, because I should have suffered in my conscience. I have now, as far as such a sentiment is allowable in human nature, nothing to reproach myself with; and if I mistake not, a strong sense of duty is no bad part of a woman's portion."
"Could she ever think that he would not agree with her? Of course she should have suffered in her conscience; her strong sense of duty, so delightful and so attractive, would not have allowed it! If such a test of his love came to him as the one that he had miserably failed in the year six, he hoped that he would pass, and so prove to himself that he was at least a little less unworthy of her than he had assumed. -- But he had to let her know the results of his consideration of the past, and of the year eight. He would do Lady Russell an injustice -- and would be excessively partial to himself -- if he did not!"
(Quoted, yet again, from that Superior Authoress) "He looked at her, looked at Lady Russell, and looking again at her, replied, as if in cool deliberation -- "
"Not yet. But there are hopes of her being forgive in time. I trust to being in charity with her soon. But I too have been thinking over the past, and a question has suggested itself, whether there may not have been one person more my enemy even than that lady? My own self. Tell me if, when I returned to England in the year eight, with a few thousand pounds, and was posted into the Laconia, if I had then written to you, would you have answered my letter? would you, in short, have renewed the engagement then?"
"Would I!" was her only answer; but it was sufficient to disturb him greatly and make him cry, "Good G-d! you would It is not that I did not think of it, or desire it, as what alone could crown all my other successes: but I was proud, too proud to ask again. I did not understand you. I shut my eyes, and would not understand you, or do you justice. This is a recollection which ought to make me forgive every one sooner than myself. Six years of separation and suffering might have been spared. It is a sort of pain, too, which is new to me. I have been used to the gratification of believing myself to earn every blessing that I enjoyed. I have valued myself on honourable toils and just reward. Like other great men under reserves, (he smiled) I must endeavour to subdue my mind to my fortune. I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve."
"Edward, dear, what does he say?" asked Reverend Edward Wentworth's charming young bride.
"Well, my dear, I have not read it yet myself, so I "ll read his letter:
-- Street, February.
MY DEAR BROTHER AND LOVELY SISTER,
YOU HAVE found, I am sure, that I have been most cruelly remiss in writing you. I will, of course (for as you know I have a strong instinct of self-defence) defend myself with vigour. I have been most occupied in this charming city; and to be sure, you know the primary reason. But other distractions have shown themselves: namely the charming one of the presence of Sophia and the Admiral, and the not unmixed pleasure of the Musgrove & Lyme Co.'s appearance. You need not fear, however, dear brother and sister, that the feelings that had chiefly governed me while visiting you (though I had a most delightful time, to be sure!) totally overwhelmed me while here. --
When first I met the object of my affections here, she was looking as acting as flawless and flawlessly as ever. I must admit, that I had not expected to see her; and so I acted as the most complete buffoon that ever did speak to a charming lady. She, I am sure, was most amused by my condition; now I cannot but laugh to think on it. Even worse, I found that her cousin, Mr. Elliot, the gentleman who had admired her so greatly at Lyme, and apparently greatly admired her still, was now with her, and with all the familiarity and ease which the relationship of family can give. When next I saw her, at an evening concert, I was more composed and ready, and made sure that she understood my feelings. But unfortunately, later on, her cousin -- whom, as you probably do not know (though all of Bath was then talking of it), she was generally expected to wed -- continually shook my resolve to continue courting her throughout the evening with his simpering smiles and his wooing words. I actually became so disgustedly jealous that I left early, with a parting message to the lady that could leave to her no doubt of my reason for leaving. Ridiculous folly that made a Captain of my supposed bravery abandon ship! In any event, the past could not be undone. Later, we met again at the Musgroves' lodgings at the White Hart. Some of the particular words and expressions she used, when we were in each other's company, began to lessen my jealousy, until at long last, she held a conversation with Harville, about the unfortunate Miss Harville, and it led to a discussion on women's constancy, and her sentiments utterly convinced even my despondent self, that there was positively no need for such strong jealous feelings as I had experienced and exhibited. Though I was supposed to be writing a letter as a commission, I made a poor ending of it, and began a humble pouring of my feelings on paper, for the lady. I managed to give it her a few minutes later, and left, awaiting something, anything, that would convey to me her feelings, her reaction. You cannot imagine my torture in those minutes, as I wandered the streets of Bath! I was in such anxiety, such restless anxiety, that I searched in every lady that passed, for the figure and gait of my lady, though if I were rational, I ought not to have been expecting anything. Can you conceive my surprize, my utter surprize, when I caught her charming figure on the arm of Mr. Charles Musgrove!
To be sure, I sped up even more than I had previously; and as soon as I approached, questioningly gazed at her; and to my thorough elation, joy, and Heaven, she did not repulse my gaze! Her lovely cheeks were actually coloured, and her fine eyes, brightened! I could have embraced her, just from gratitude, if not from some baser emotions! Oh, Good G-d Edward! And wife! I could not have been more blessed! As soon as her companion had left, I poured out my apologies, affections, and plans, though when her melodic voice chose to add her own ideas, I was more than willing to listen, enchanted, to any thought she might care to express. O! what felicity I knew! What felicity I know! --
She actually is happy to be affianced to me, poor worthless little me, and I have just today applied to her father (though such an application is truly unnecessary). I must say, Edward, that he behaved today with much more kindness than I could have thought possible, considering my last interview with him on the subject! (Well, Sir Walter is in reality, the same as he has always been, but I am just twice as tolerant, and he has given his consent, and will actually go so far as to give her some share of what ought to be her true dowry!) I have even learnt (or, rather, have begun to learn) to forgive that woman who, I had previously thought, was the cause of so many years of misery. Another thing I have learnt, is that above any one else, I ought to be the one who is to blame for the past. I must, as I told my darling, endeavour to subdue my mind to my fortune. I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve.
And so, my dear brother and sister, I shall close this missive, and perhaps, soon enough, you shall receive an ornate invitation-card, addressed to the Reverend and Mrs. Edward Wentworth, to the Most Holy and Sacred Sacrament of Matrimony. Whose it might be, I shall not hazard a guess. I shall only say that Mrs. Anne Wentworth sounds so wonderfully charming and peerless! I wonder, also, if the Wentworth name was designed for so lovely a name as Anne! Ah! I can hardly await the day with patience! And so,
I am, Sir and Madam,
Yr most Elated yet Humble Svt,
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