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More Justified In Acting Chapters 1-3 (Post 1)

October 01, 2017 04:54AM

More Justified in Acting

Summary: A discovery in the Kellynch library gives Captain Wentworth greater insight into events of the past and the possibilities of the future prior to his re-introduction to Anne Elliot causing him to question his long held beliefs regarding their separation.

Licensing Note: This story is based on characters and plot from Persuasion by Jane Austen which is in the Public Domain. Text quoted from Jane Austen is in purple. All original content and plot for More Justified in Acting is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license by Morgan A. Wyndham.

Chapter 1

Kellynch, August 15, 1809

Anne Eliot was miserable. In truth, her spirits rarely rose above melancholy in the past three years. She was nestled into a window seat in the library staring morosely out the window, her diary laying forgotten on her lap as she desperately tried to sort out her feelings. She knew that most women would be happy, if not elated to find themselves in her present circumstances, she had just received an offer of marriage from from Charles Musgrove. He was heir to Uppercross, a modest estate not five miles from Kelnych. Her father's sense of superiority would have seen the alliance as a degradation had Mr. Musgrove applied to her beautiful elder sister, Elizabeth – for whom he had much loftier plans – but for Anne, he felt the match would do nicely. The Musgroves held a respectable position in local society and Anne's marriage would take some strain off of his deteriorating funds. Even Lady Russell looked favorably on the match between her favorite god daughter and the unassuming young squire. Partial as she was to Anne, she had to admit that much of the bloom and vivacity that had been so promising at nineteen had since faded and it was by no means certain that Anne would receive any more eligible offers.

Anne herself, however could not reconcile herself to the match. She had nothing to say against Charles Musgrove, he was always kind, affectionate, polite, and solicitous of her feelings and well being, even if they shared few common interests. She even believed that Charles might actually love her in his own way; and yet, Anne knew with a certainty that she could never return that love. She had never stopped loving Frederick Wentworth – the dashing young Captain she had been persuaded to cast off three years prior – and she simply could not imagine loving any other man.

Even so, Anne had requested time to consider before she gave him an answer. She tried to think rationally over the screaming protests of her heart that she could not bear such a marriage. Charles was offering her a comfortable home, a family, a position in society. She'd always had a fondness for the Musgroves, their loud, happy, loving family had always served as a perfect foil to the cold indifference of her own home since her mother's death. Her father was vain, conceited, and full of his own importance. Her sister Elizabeth, who bore the closest resemblance to Sir. Walter in both beauty and personality, was the eldest and served as mistress of Kelynch; she therefore was the only daughter that Sir Walter gave any attention or consequence to. If Anne accepted Charles's offer, she would be free of the oppressive superiority and indifference of her father and older sister and ensconced in the comfort of the Musgroves.

Her tears dropped onto the open pages of her diary as she considered Frederick. They had met in the summer of the year six when he visited his brother in a nearby parish and they had fallen incandescently in love. Anne had never before felt a closer connection to any living being, they both possessed quick intelligence and shared many interests. Their hearts were in perfect harmony and before long he had proposed and she had gleefully accepted. Her father had given his consent reluctantly and threatened to withhold her dowry if she persisted in such a degrading match. Initially, Anne had paid little heed to her father's superficial complaints. She was certain that she and Frederick were capable of matching any adversity as long as they were together. She was less equal to withstand the more rational arguments of her friend Lady Russel – who had served as a maternal confidant since her own mother's death. Anne had been persuaded that without the benefit of her dowry, a wife would only hinder Frederick's success in his career. In the single most painful moment of her life, she broke off her engagement to the only man she had ever loved. She pleaded with him to listen to her reasons, but his face had contorted with anger and hurt and he stormed away. She had been haunted by that last crushing parting for three years.

She was a sensible girl and knew that he was too wounded by her betrayal to renew his addresses if he had not done so already. Even without any hope of his return, could she marry Charles while her heart was yet full of another? Could she bear a life of spinsterhood if she denied him? She had returned to committing these thoughts to her diary when a servant announced the arrival of Mr. Charles Musgrove. Her face drained of color, her time was up and she must seal her fate. She hastily hid her diary behind some pillows on the window seat before joining him in the drawing room.

In the turmoil of emotions following her interview with Charles, she had quite forgotten about the hidden diary until that evening. When she went to retrieve it she was shocked to discover it missing. Initially she blushed in mortification of her sisters reading her personal thoughts but then realized that Elizabeth would find little interest in her sister's turmoil and Mary was, thankfully, still at school. The room had been tidied, so she was left to pray that a servant had merely misplaced it.

Chapter 2

Kellynch, October 20 1814

Captain Frederick Wentworth was under assault and unfortunately not the type he was accustomed to at sea. Cannon fire and French bayonets were nothing to the emotional assault of returning to Kellynch. He would far rather be rotting in a French brig than sitting in the lavish library of this illustrious estate. It was the cruelest trick of fate that the Crofts had somehow managed to lease this very house … her house. His initial inclination was to avoid Somerset, Kellynch, and any mention of the Elliots. But it had been nearly five years since he had seen his sister Sophy and nearly a decade since he and Admiral Croft were both ashore at the same time for any length of time. It would be impossible to make his excuses without telling them of his history with Anne. As it was, only seven people were aware of his failed betrothal and that was already far too many for his taste. It was a circumstance he would gladly forget himself if he could. And yet here he was, torturing himself in a room full of ghosts.

This was the very room in which Sir. Walter Elliot had abused and berated him for the affront of falling in love with his daughter. Frederick had been so struck by the absurdity of the meeting that he had little notion at the time of the disaster brewing for him. Within the span of one brief rant, Sir. Walter had reluctantly given his consent, declaimed Frederick's presumption at aspiring to marry a lady so far above him, belittled Anne's beauty and worth as the least desirable of his daughters, and withheld her rightful dowry if they went through with this 'ill-advised' marriage. Her dowry had mattered little to him as he was confident he would be successful enough to support his wife, and she would be far better off in his care than in her father's neglect. His Anne had bravely withstood her father's opinions and would have married him regardless had it not been for the malicious interference of Lady Russel.

He felt a sharp stab of pain in his heart as another vision came to mind of Anne sitting in this very window seat. She had obviously been crying and allowed him to hold her and comfort her for some minutes before she rallied enough to rip his heart out by breaking their engagement. She had parroted the structured arguments that Lady Russel had prepared regarding his lack of fortune, the insecure prospects of his career, and the hindrance she would be to his future success. Hindrance! Of course, he did not believe that Lady Russell had any more noble motives than Sir. Walter, but she had calculated her arguments precisely to prey on Anne's weakest points and her campaign had been successful. His Anne had been persuaded against him.

He had never doubted that she loved him all those years ago, just not enough to fight for him. She had proven herself weak and irresolute and thrown aside all of their plans for the future. He turned sideways and leaned his head against the glass, as if turning away from the room would banish the memories that it evoked. Even as he struggled with the painful memories, he hardened his heart against Anne. She could be nothing to him now and he was sure he was nothing to her. The Elliot pride would not allow her to pine away for a lowly sailor for years. He sat there for several minutes attempting to regain control of his emotions before he opened his eyes. A small swatch of green stood out in his eye in the sliver of light that reached behind the mahogany book case abutting the window seat. With the nimble fingers of a practiced sailor, he fished out the small book. He opened it to the first page in idle curiosity and immediately dropped it as if he'd been burned. Surely the universe was laughing at his misery. He picked it up again, too curious to resist its pull.

Diary of Anne Elliot 1808 ~

He ran his fingers over the scrawling text, he would recognize her handwriting anywhere. He had a few precious letters which she had written to him during their courtship. The rational portion of his brain had urged him to burn them after she had cast him off, but his heart would not allow it. They had traveled the world with him, hidden in the bottom of his trunk in his cabin. At first, even in his anger against her desertion, he had read them in his loneliest moments then cursed himself for such weakness. For years now they had remained untouched. He had meant to forget her, and believed it to be done but the sight of her handwriting was so bound to the endearments of her letters and evoked such tender feelings that he at once knew he could never be indifferent to her. As a gentleman, he knew that it was improper to read a lady's diary but he found he could not resist. He lifted the ribbon and opened the diary to the last entry.

August 15, 1809

Charles Musgrove has proposed. I ought to be happy, he is a kind, amiable man who is rather attached to me. Everyone seems to be in favor of the match. Father has given his consent and has even roused himself to congratulate me. Lady Russel is a touch worried that our interests are so different, but believes that we will complement each other nicely and have a happy, if not brilliant marriage. At two and twenty I know that a brilliant match is unlikely. I may never receive another offer. I would like to have my own home, my own family, my own children. And yet...

How can I throw myself away on a marriage of convenience when I have known love, passion, and equality of mind? I know there is no hope for me and my dearest Frederick but he will always be my dearest, even if we are forever separated. Would it be fair to Charles? He insists that my love for him will grow in time, but he does not know that my heart already belongs to another.

I suppose part of the problem is that I do like and respect Charles. I have known him since we were children and have been aware of his partiality for me for nearly as long. If it were some mere acquaintance who was only looking for a sensible wife and was not attached it would be different but where am I to find such a man? Single men are scarce in the neighborhood and gentlemen that my father would approve of are even scarcer. Elizabeth's idea of economy is to exclude me from the annual trip to London and I detest Bath.

With no other options available to me, am I prepared to commit myself to a life of spinsterhood? To remain a burden on my father's strained resources? To allow Elizabeth to heap all privations on my shoulders while she bleeds the coffers? And what would become of me when father dies and Mr. Elliot inherits? With the current breach between father and Mr. Elliot over his unfortunate marriage, what could induce him or his wife to support me when they inherit?

If only________

The last trailed off with a small line as if she had been surprised while writing and the splotches on the facing page indicated that she had hastily closed the book before the ink dried. He foolishly flipped the page, hoping for further information, for resolution but there was nothing. His finger traced over the words “my dearest Frederick” which were slightly marred by tear stains. Her tears. For him. For their lost future. She loved him then, years after Frederick sailed away from her, but what of now? Was she married? Was she persuaded into an unwanted marriage as easily as she was persuaded out of a desired marriage? His heart squeezed at the thought. At that moment when all seemed lost he finally knew his own heart. He had imagined himself indifferent, when he had only been angry; in truth he had never stopped loving her.

Such an account was not to be soon recovered from. Half an hour's solitude and reflection might have tranquillized him; but the ten minutes only which now passed before he was interrupted, with all the restraints of his situation, could do nothing towards tranquility.

“Well Frederick, here you are. We have had a delightful drive through the neighborhood. It's a shame the gig seats only two, you ought to take a horse and explore for yourself one of these days.” Admiral Croft imparted as he bustled into the room. “By the by, we ran across one of our neighbors in the lane and are invited for dinner tomorrow evening at Uppercross. You remember Mr. Musgrove, he called on us when you first arrived.”

Musgrove! Frederick remembered the man as a ruddy, pleasant, older gentleman. Anne couldn't be married to him, could she? He's old enough to be her father! “Yes, was that a Mr. Charles Musgrove?” Only years of command allowed Frederick to maintain a steady voice despite his agitation.

“Hm? No, no, Charles is his son. Pleasant young fellow, rather slow for any active profession, mad about hunting though. I dare say you will meet him and his wife at dinner.”

“Wife?” The desperation was surely seeping into his voice at this stage.

“Aye, a rather fine young woman, she used to be one of the Miss. Elliots. One of her sisters is visiting them, and there are two charming young Miss. Musgroves though I never can recall which is which. I wish young ladies had not such a number of fine Christian names. I should never be out if they were all Sophys, or something of that sort.”

If the Admiral noted Frederick's lapse into silence, he did not remark upon it. One thought kept ricocheting across his brain: Oh God, she's married! He was too late. If eight years had been insufficient to purge his heart of Anne Elliot, he doubted he'd ever succeed and now he was doomed to a life without her. Could he bear to see her at dinner with her husband, surrounded by that lucky man's family? Would her children be there? The same arguments which had compelled him to visit Kellynch against his better judgment would of course compel him to visit Uppercross. It would be unaccountably rude to cry off with no reason and revealing his reasons to the Musgroves would only make things uncomfortable for Anne.

Chapter 3

Uppercross Cottage, October 21 1814

Anne Elliot watched from the nursery window as her sister and brother-in-law walked to the great house where they would be introduced to Captain Wentworth. Frederick. She could never be happy for a child's injury, yet she was grateful that little Charles's accident gave her a reprieve from a most painful meeting. Still, as happy as she was to be useful she could not approve of Mary and Charles's behavior this evening, leaving their injured heir at home in the care of others while they went out to be happy. Of course, they were always a bit selfish and accustomed to behaving just as they chose. As for herself, she was left with as many sensations of comfort, as were, perhaps, ever likely to be hers. She knew herself to be of the first utility to the child; and what was it to her if Frederick Wentworth were only half a mile distant, making himself agreeable to others?

She would have liked to know how he felt as to a meeting. Perhaps indifferent, if indifference could exist under such circumstances. He must be either indifferent or unwilling. Had he wished ever to see her again, he need not have waited till this time; he would have done what she could not but believe that in his place she should have done long ago, when events had been early giving him the independence which alone had been wanting.

She had long since given up hope of his returning for her, or returning her feelings. While she could never cease loving him, over time the pain had numbed and she had settled in to her sad life. This sudden reappearance, however, was almost too much to bear. How could she be content as the spinster aunt while the only man she had ever loved was so near, reminding her of what could have been. She could bear being pushed to the side by her family, she was rather used to neglect, but she was not certain she could withstand such neglect from her Frederick.

She also knew that the Miss Musgroves were quite ready to be fallen in love with and Captain Frederick Wentworth was just the sort of romantic hero they were lacking in their confined society. She had never doubted that he would move on with his life: Fall in love, marry, have children. She had almost convinced herself that she could be happy for him when the future Mrs. Wentworth was a faceless woman in a distant county. The prospect of Henrietta or Louisa Musgrove taking the place which she would have claimed had she not been swayed by Lady Russel's advice was almost too much to bear. She would have to see their courtship, attend their wedding, watch their family grow.

Little Charles called out for her and she hastily dried her eyes before turning to the child, a smile upon her face. She would endure.


The Great House at Uppercross, October 21 1814

Frederick entered the drawing room of Uppercross with trepidation. His eyes scouted the room searching in vain for Anne as Mr. Musgrove rose and made an exaggerated welcome to his home. He then began the introductions: “My wife, Mrs. Musgrove,” he gestured toward a jolly, plump matron. “My daughters Miss. Henrietta and Miss. Louisa,” he turned toward two handsome but insipid girls who preened toward him, “and my son and daughter-in-law Mr. and Mrs. Charles Musgrove,” he ended on a jovial plain man and a delicate woman with her nose in the air – ah, the Elliot countenance. He blinked as the realization began to set in.

“Mrs. Charles Musgrove?” She nodded and his smile grew of its own accord, probably giving Mrs. Musgrove the wrong impression of his intent. “Formerly Miss. Mary Elliot?”

“Indeed Captain, have we been introduced?” She asked with a bemused smile.

His good intentions for circumspection fled as the weight lifted off of his chest. She is not married! “No, no, though I have heard much about you. I was acquainted with your sister some years ago when I visited my brother when he was the curate at Monkford. I understood she would be here tonight as well.” He knew it was imprudent to reveal the depth of their acquaintance before he ascertained Anne's feelings, but he feared she had stayed away to avoid him.

“My sister Elizabeth is in Bath with my father Sir. Walter Elliot, Baronet.” Those two personages he would gladly forget, and the way Mary Musgrove casually dropped her father's title into the conversation revealed that she was likely closer in her ideas of consequence to her father and Elizabeth than to Anne. “My sister Anne is making an extended visit with us at Uppercross Cottage, but was unable to join us this evening as she is attending my son following an accident.” Her speech ended with an exaggerated sigh and a delicate dabbing of her eyes.

“Little Charles unfortunately fell out of a tree yesterday. He dislocated his collarbone and sustained an injury to his back. He is getting on well now, but Anne did not like to leave him alone with just his nurse tonight.” Mr. Charles Musgrove clarified.

“I wonder that you find yourself able to leave him so soon after such an injury and yet your sister remains Mrs. Musgrove. Has there been any damage to the spine?”

“Well! As the apothecary examined him this morning and ascertained that the bulk of the danger had passed, and as my husband was coming up to the house I saw no harm in joining him. The apothecary is still concerned about some complaint of the spine or other, but... Oh! Anne would be better able to explain it,” she stammered in reply.

“Oh yes, Anne is the best nurse!” Cried Louisa energetically, apparently trying to draw the attention back to herself.

“And her temperament so well suited to the sickroom!” Added Henrietta, not to be outdone by her sister.

Frederick smiled as he settled into a chair. “As I recall, she was nearly as qualified as some ship's surgeons I've had and has a far better bedside manner.”

“I imagine she's a much more pleasant sight to wake to than most ship's surgeons as well,” added the Admiral gruffly. Frederick was momentarily struck dumb by the alluring vision of waking to see Anne's face but luckily his companions merely laughed at the Admiral's remark and the conversation moved on to more general topics. The evening progressed pleasantly there had been music, singing, talking, laughing, all that was most agreeable. The Miss Musgroves were, perhaps a bit too eager to please and be pleased – as girls just out of the schoolroom are wont to be – but Frederick's spirits were so heightened by the revelation that Anne Elliot was not married to be much bothered by anything.

Of course, he wouldn't let himself get too far ahead of himself, he was still unsure of her feelings. Her caring heart and propensity as a nursemaid might be excuse enough for her absence tonight, but she may still be avoiding him. He had not seen her in over eight years but he keenly felt her absence this evening. Therefore, when Charles Musgrove invited him shooting in the morning, he did not hesitate to ask if he could call at Uppercross Cottage to pay his respects to the ladies and inquire as to the health of the boy. Mrs. Charles Musgrove was delighted by the scheme and invited him to breakfast at the cottage before the shooting. Noting the dejected looks on the Miss Musgroves, Mr. Musgrove offered breakfast at the Great House instead. As that would not suit his purposes at all, Frederick insisted that as Mrs. Charles issued her invitation first he would break his fast at the cottage. Tomorrow. He would see Anne tomorrow.


Author's Note: I can't wrap my head around writing only a few chapters at a time, so I've written the whole story (9 chapters, ~24,000 words) and am uploading them in chunks because it's too long to do in one post. If you would like a pdf of the whole story now, e-mail me at cynicallycharged@gmail.com

More Justified In Acting Chapters 1-3 (Post 1)

MorganAOctober 01, 2017 04:54AM

Re: More Justified In Acting Chapters 1-3 (Post 1)

Jane KOctober 03, 2017 04:05AM

What a promising start!

elleOctober 02, 2017 06:33PM

I need more. (nfm)

elleOctober 03, 2017 12:07AM

Re: More Justified In Acting Chapters 1-3 (Post 1)

Lucy J.October 02, 2017 03:41AM

Re: More Justified In Acting Chapters 1-3 (Post 1)

AlidaOctober 01, 2017 11:57PM

Re: More Justified In Acting Chapters 1-3 (Post 1)

BeclynOctober 02, 2017 01:08AM


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