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More Justified In Acting Chapters 7-9 (Post 3)

October 07, 2017 03:36PM

Chapter 7

Between Uppercross and Monksford, October 29 1814

After some protest from the Miss Musgroves and lamentations from Mary about her ill usage, Anne finally escaped alone. She set off for the grove of trees near the Monksford parsonage in better spirits and looks than she had even on that fateful summer long ago. That young girl had known little of suffering and nothing of true, lasting heartbreak. The joy of mutual affection and understanding in an untested love had been immense, but it paled to the utter bliss of the reconciliation of love that had survived battered and bruised through hardships. She was not yet half way to their sanctuary when she saw a lone figure on horseback ahead and smiled radiantly.


Frederick had gone immediately to their secret hideaway where they had spent hours in blissful contentment that perfect summer together; where he had issued his first proposal; where he had kissed her for the first time; where they had discussed the abstract glory of their happy future. It was the ideal location to renew their engagement. However, after only minutes of happy reflections, he found the flaw in his plan. Monkford was a good two and a half miles from Uppercross cottage midway between Uppercross and Kellynch. On horseback he had traversed it with ease, but Anne was on foot and would take quite some time to arrive. He calculated that she could not possibly arrive for another hour, possibly longer depending on how quickly she could extricate herself from her sister, but all the while he was hoping for her sooner. As he paced the grove he grew more and more impatient. He was fairly certain of his reception after their conversation this morning, but he could not stand this wait!

He re-mounted his horse and began his journey back to Anne, eager to see her, to hear her say that she loved him and would spend the rest of her life with him. Growing nervous, he drew his horse to a stop before he was within sight of the Great House. What if the Miss Musgroves saw him and latched on? What if Charles was out shooting? He doubted he could attend to anyone other than Anne in this state. So it was that the dashing, decisive, and active Captain Wentworth found himself pacing his horse along a deserted stretch of dreary road between Uppercross and Munkford fretting.

He was pacing away from Uppercross when he finally heard her call, “Be careful sir, you appear to be missing a very important appointment!”

He reeled around – a maneuver his beleaguered horse objected to greatly – and saw her glowing cheeks and radiant smile as he quickly approached her. “I found a flaw in my romantic plan to meet in our special spot.” As there was no audience or public view to reign in their dancing spirits and rapture, he swept off of his horse and caught her up in his arms spinning them in a circle, “I could not wait!”

She giggled and slipped her arms around his neck, “I'm glad of it, it is a frightfully long walk.”

“Anne, I love you. Will you marry me?”

“Yes!” She barely got the word out before he pulled her in for a kiss that held eight long years of pent up passion and longing.

“Frederick!” She gasped when they finally separated, “perhaps we should get off of the road, anyone might find us!”

“Always practical my dear,” he sighed, kissed her forehead, then lifted her onto his horse and swung up behind her.

“I'm not sure sharing a horse is much more proper dearest.” She laughingly chided.

“Scandalous, no doubt,” he said as he kissed her nape, “why, if anyone were to come across us you would be forced to marry me with all due haste!”

“I believe eight years is a long enough interval as it is between a proposal and a wedding that nobody could consider it hasty. And remember, you do already have my father's consent.”

“And you are of age.”

“And we have one independent fortune between us.”

“Good heavens, I am tempted to make for Gretna Green straight away.”

“Frederick dearest, I love you, but Gretna Green is out of the question.” Here he abruptly stopped the horse and pulled her closer.

“Please say it again.”

“Riding to Graetna Green on one horse is impractical?”

“Not that part!”

“Oh!” She twisted as best she could to face him and repeated, “Dearest Frederick, I have loved you for nearly a third of my life, a life which was incomplete without you.” He pulled her close and kissed her soundly. When her mouth was again free, she said: “I would have said that earlier but you didn't allow me to say more than 'yes'.”

“I felt that actions spoke louder than words, and yet hearing the words proved just as powerful.” He gently resumed their journey and they continued in contented silence until they reached the grove – where the power of conversation would make the present hour a blessing indeed, and prepare it for all the immortality which the happiest recollections of their own future lives could bestow. There they exchanged again those feelings 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.

After the requisite time spent discussing and expressing the feelings of each, Anne turned to more practical questions. “And how did you come into possession of my diary sir?”

Frederick grinned at her sheepishly, “I was sitting in the window seat in the library at Kellynch, haunted by the vision of your tear-streaked face as you broke our engagement and with it my heart, when I spied a speck of green behind the bookshelf. Desperately trying to distract myself from my memories, I set to fishing it out. You can imagine my shock when I discovered that my chosen diversion, rather than distracting me from you, turned out to contain your innermost thoughts. When we first met and fell in love, I believed that I understood you better than I'd ever understood another human being. But after you cut me I felt perplexed and betrayed as if I'd never really known you at all. I apologize for intruding on your privacy in such a way, but I couldn't resist the chance at an insight into your mind.”

“I admit I find it hard to reproach you for it if it brought about our renewed understanding.”

“That first night it served only to torment me. I read only the final entry which revealed that Charles Musgrove had proposed, you were unsure of your decision, and that you still loved me. I had barely time to process this information before Admiral Croft informed me that we were engaged for dinner with the Musgroves, where I would meet the heir, Charles and his wife … formerly Miss Elliot. I was stricken. As soon as I came to understand your feelings and my own I discovered that you were married and forever out of my reach.”

“You thought I married Charles!”

“You may have noticed that the Admiral has some difficulty with ladies names, so he could enlighten me no further. As I knew that the man had proposed to you it was not too great an assumption to think you had accepted. And so I steeled myself against the pain of meeting you in the company of your husband. I fear I made a fool of myself when I was introduced to Mrs. Charles Musgrove and in my relief I was less guarded in my response than I would have wished.”

“Mary did inform me – with a suggestive tone – that you were very attentive to her,” Anne laughed.

“I smiled like a besotted fool, I believe. But that joy was diminished when I found you were not a quarter mile away and yet avoided the dinner. Your sister downplayed the child's injury and I suspected that you were avoiding me.”

“Little Charles really did need my care, though perhaps I was relieved by the delay in our reunion. I didn't know how to meet you as a common and indifferent acquaintance and I was unsure how you would act or feel.”

“My own concerns exactly! I knew that you had loved me at two and twenty, and apparently turned down an eligible match because of it, but that did not ensure that you loved me still. Meeting you the following morning, discerning that you had not altered, that you were as lovely and intelligent as I remembered, enjoying your smiles, was a sweet torture. You were polite but reserved and I could not tell your feelings.”

“I could say the same of you Frederick. I was not prepared for your easy camaraderie, and yet your conversation, your complements, were all on general matters that implied friendship rather than deeper feelings. Perhaps if you had called me lovely then...”

“I could hardly be more open in front of your sister and brother-in-law! And that fool had to go and add to every complement I gave you!”

“You can't be jealous of Charles! He's my brother!”

“Can't I? He's your brother-in-law, who had a long-standing attachment to you and married your younger sister only after you refused his offer of marriage,” he rationalized sulkily. Then taking her hand added, “a man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman. He ought not; he does not. I can assure you from personal experience that you are a hard woman to forget Anne Elliot.”

Anne leaned forward and kissed him gently. “You have nothing to fear from Charles. His attachment to me was more puppy love. He liked to follow me around, fetch me punch and the like. I in turn would praise him when he did the right thing, scold him when he was wrong. He and I are of an age, and his sense is perhaps a bit weak, so it was inevitable that he would admire me. But shortly after I refused him Mary returned from school grown up and polished and far more apt to return his adoration. He gladly transferred his affections and married her. They are mostly happy together. He would never jeopardize that and you must know I would never …”

“Of course I knew you would never dally with your sister's husband! But jealously is not rational.”

“Ah yes, I believe my share of jealousy outweighed yours two to one by the end of that meal.”

“Ah, the determined Miss Musgroves,” he said in a jovial manner.

“You may make light of it now, but I was quite miserable at the time. You were seated with two beautiful, young, lively girls on either side of you, giving you their rapt attention. I am well aware that my beauty at seven and twenty cannot compete with that of Louisa Musgrove at seven and ten.”

“Stuff and Nonsense!” He interrupted her, “you are every bit as beautiful and enchanting now as you were eight years ago and I will not hear a word against it.”

“I am glad you think so, even if I cannot be of the same mind,” at his scowl she hurried on, “even so, the Miss Musgroves were not as indifferent to your appearance as you were to theirs, and the whole family was certain you would marry one of them, I've heard of little else for the last week and a half.”

“Even had I maintained my wounded pride and resisted my love for you, I believe I could never care for either of them. Through all of the years of my resentment I never found a woman I thought your equal. As for the Miss Musgroves, their silliness could ill bear a comparison for your perfect excellence of the mind or the perfect unrivalled hold it possessed over my own. I am well able to distinguish between the steadiness of principle and the obstinacy of self-will, between the darings of heedlessness and the resolution of a collected mind. You see, my heart was well guarded against the flattery of a pair of flirtatious girls.”

“They shall be disappointed, but I daresay they are young enough to survive the shock. We will eventually have to leave this grove and face them.”

Frederick sighed dramatically and pulled her closer, “and you're certain against Gretna Green?”

She laughed, “You know I do not aspire to a grand society wedding, but I would like my family and Lady Russell present.”

His arms tightened around her even as he stiffened, “I will concede only as long as we do not give them enough time to persuade you against it. I cannot loose you again.”

"You need not fear on that account, nothing could induce me to break our engagement again. However, I have been 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 have 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."

“After reading your rationale in your diary – in far greater detail than I allowed you to say before I stormed away – I must admit both you and that Lady were correct in some regards. We hadn't discussed where you would live. I would never have trusted the Asp with your life.”

“When your brother told me of the condition of the ship it broke my heart. Mr. Wentworth strongly suggested, and I did not disagree, that I had pushed you to take the first option offered regardless of the risks.”

“I do not know that I would have accepted the commission had I a wife to provide for, a life to look forward to. I walked on to that derelict a man with nothing to loose and it made my career. When you claimed that you released me for the sake of my career I thought it a mere ploy by Lady Russell to play into your obliging nature, but now I do see some merit in the claim.”

“I never would have given you up for my benefit alone. Had there been a way to ease your suffering I would have done it at whatever cost to myself.” Frederick, roused by her tender hearted compassion, could not resist bending his head to hers and kissing her again.

After several minutes of such ministrations, Frederick broached another of his failures. “Your diary has led me to question whether there may not have been one person more my enemy even than Lady Russell? 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 all her answer; but the accent was decisive enough.

“The sentiments in your diary from the year eight suggested as much. It is not that I did not think of it, or desire it, as what could alone crown all my other success; 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."

“Do not dwell on the suffering of the past, my love. Let us look instead to the future.”

“Indeed,” he responded with a smile. "I must endeavor to subdue my mind to my fortune. I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve."

After a period of breathless distraction, the ever practical Anne sighed. “We ought to return, my absence will be noted.”

“I suppose we must.” He reluctantly rose and lifted her onto the horse. “We may console ourselves by announcing our engagement.”

They had progressed only a quarter of a mile – plodding at the speed one might expect of lovers who were reluctant to reach their destination and end their solitude – when they were overtaken by a gig which pulled to a stop just before them. “Oh Frederick!” Sophy exclaimed, with an appraising look in her eye, “we thought we might come across you if we came this way.”

“Is anything the matter Miss Elliot? Sprained your ankle?” Inquired Admiral Croft, eying their unusual positions. “We might take you in the gig to your sisters in that case.”

“No Admiral, nothing at all is the matter, in fact it is all wonderfully, perfectly right.” Frederick beamed at his betrothed then turned to his sister and brother-in-law. “Anne has agreed to be my wife!”

The Admiral appeared ready to make an uncouth statement in his confusion, but his wife stayed him with a hand on his arm and said, “Oh Frederick! Anne! Congratulations! Welcome to the family my dear. Everyone calls my husband Admiral – I doubt Frederick even knows his Christian name – but you must call me Sophy!.”

“Thank you Sophy, Admiral! You are the first to share our joy, we are on our way to Uppercross Cottage now to tell my sister, will you join us?”

“Capital idea!” replied the Admiral.

“Frederick, I had better move to the gig.” Anne said reluctantly.

Unwilling to give up the contact, Frederick held fast. “Do you consult your own wishes or cater only to propriety? Would you be more comfortable in the gig?”

“Of course not, but we are in a rather scandalous position.”

“You must learn to put your own desires first on occasion, my dear. And besides, remember the benefits of scandal, you may be required to marry me in haste,” he said with a suggestive wiggle of his eyebrow.

The Admiral laughed, “just the kind of courtship I approve of, Sophy and I were married within days of meeting and have been happier for it. Come along then.” At that he started the gig leaving Anne and Frederick to trot alongside.

Chapter 8

Uppercross Cottage, October 29 1814

Louisa Musgrove was bored. Anne had left for her walk nearly two hours ago and Mary insisted on her and Henrietta remaining to help tend the boys. Mary persisted in her nervous complaint from the 'trials' of the morning and therefore was unable to see to an invalid and an active two year old herself. “What would happen were little Walter to latch on to me in such a manner, while I'm in such a delicate state and no dashing Captain to rescue me! And here is Anne gone off and left me to fend for myself, you simply must stay.”

Henrietta, always obliging, had readily agreed, cajoling Louisa into her own agreement. They had supposed she would take but a brief walk, but now time seemed to drone on. And so Henrietta was quietly reading Robinson Crusoe to little Charles, Mary was sleeping – or at least pretending to sleep in order to keep up the pretense of her indisposition, it was sometimes hard to tell – and Louisa was at the table drawing with little Walter. At least she had the benefit of a window to look out of. She would much rather be out walking, or reading a novel, or practicing the harp or pianoforte, or any of a dozen other things more interesting than watching a two year old scribble on paper and praising his talents. Anne was far better suited to nursing and childcare than Henrietta and she were. Although she must admit that Walter had calmed down significantly since his chat with Captain Wentworth this morning.

Captain Wentworth. What and ideal example of everything a gentleman ought to be. In addition to his handsome features, imposing build, illustrious career, charm, and ease of manner, she could now add good with children to the list. She wouldn't credit herself with being in love with him after so short an acquaintance, but she could be with only the slightest provocation from the gentleman. She was determined to have him. Her parents doted on her, but they rarely left Uppercross so she was unlikely to meet with a better suitor. Of course, it was somewhat uncomfortable being in competition with her dearest sister and closest friend, but she knew that Henrietta was in love with Charles Hayter and would remember that as soon as the novelty of Captain Wentworth wore off. Perhaps when Anne returned, she should persuade Henrieta into a walk to Winthrop to visit him.

She looked up at the sound of wheels crunching on gravel and saw the Admiral and Mrs. Croft, and if the bobbing top-hat she saw behind the gig was any indication, Captain Wentworth had returned as well! She was about to inform Mary and Henrietta of the visitors when the Captain rode into sight and she caught her breath. “Good Heavens!” Is that Anne? Is she injured? No, she was definitely smiling, maybe even glowing!

“Who is it Louisa?”

“The Crofts with Captain Wentworth and Anne,” Louisa murmured, attempting to parse the image before her as Mary straightened herself from the guise of invalid into the guise of gracious hostess and Henrietta attempted to keep little Charles from straining off of the sofa in the excitement. She watched as Captain Wentworth dismounted and gently lifted Anne off of the horse His hands lingered at her waist as he settled her on the ground, closer to him than strictly proper. They gazed soulfully into each other's eyes and smiled. Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot. And in that moment she knew that all of her plans were for naught. Anne slipped her hand in the crook of Captain Wentworth's arm and he lovingly covered it with his own as they moved for the door.

Louisa was grateful that she had the advantage of at least these few moments to school her emotions. She was disappointed, but it would never do to let that show. She loved Anne, and the pair were obviously in love. She couldn't begrudge Anne love simply because she admired the same man. At seven and twenty, lord knows that Anne will never have another chance at it.

The newcomers entered the house and Anne beamed as she made her announcement. Louisa had never truly looked at Anne, she was always meekly unobtrusive and obliging. Had she always been this beautiful, or was that the effect of Captain Wentworth's attentions? Mary shrieked her astonishment, followed by obsequious complements to the couple and an insufferable comment regarding showing her precedence by telling her first before going up to the great house. The Admiral and Mrs. Croft shared an amused glance at each other at Mary's convenient manner of forgetting that they had been told first. Henrietta seemed to overcome her own attachment to the Captain quickly enough to wish them joy with a heartfelt smile.

The commotion drew Charles's attention and he was quickly apprised of the news as he entered the room. He appeared rather flustered and gave his congratulations cautiously before looking at Louisa. As the whole room looked at her she realized she had yet to respond. Louisa looked at Anne and gave her the most sincere smile she could muster – she was not yet equal to looking at Captain Wentworth with equanimity. “I am so happy for you, but this is all so sudden!”

“Not sudden at all Miss Louisa,” said Captain Wentworth, drawing her attention to to him, “We have a longstanding attachment.” Louisa gasped, he has been in love with Ann this whole time! I've never really had a chance.

“We first fell in love over eight years ago …” Louisa stifled a grin as she saw Charles making some mental calculations with a frown. Poor Charles had never had a chance six years ago either. As Anne and the Captain jointly told the story of their history Louisa listened first with incredulity, followed by sadness and finally rapt interest. It was such a story to touch all of the tender feelings of a romantic young girl. She certainly hoped she would not have to wait until she was an old maid before reaching her happily ever after, but she now longed for her own tragic hero, brooding away for lost love. Perhaps Captain Wentworth would be able to introduce her to other dashing young officers.

The revelations of the morning had put her in an uncharacteristically reflective mood, so she surprised everyone by offering to tend to Little Charles while the others proceeded up to the Great House to share the news. While she could never stand in the way of the previously star crossed lovers, Captain Wentworth could not fail to remain her ideal gentleman and she suddenly was struck by his descriptions of Anne's merits. Of course, he mentioned her beauty, but he primarily extolled her mind, her understanding, her compassion, her skills as a nurse and caregiver. Many of the same traits which Louisa herself had spent her morning bemoaning. Why, this was the first time she had willingly helped with little Charles's care in the week and a half since his fall. She was his aunt as well, and yet she had not questioned that Anne would be his nurse while she and Henrietta continued their happy pursuits. She realized how ill equipped she was to attract a man such as Captain Wentworth and decided a new regime was in order. Perhaps Anne would help her compile a reading list.

Chapter 9

Happy Endings

In spite of every wish for haste between the two lovers, they were obliged to wait until December to wed. The initial plan was to wait until Lady Russell's return to Kellynch Lodge and marry from Kellynch. They were swiftly informed, however, that it would be a degradation for Sir Walter and Elizabeth to return to Kellynch without the comforts of their own home. No manner of persuasion or warm invitations from the Crofts could induce them home under such embarrassing circumstances. The solution came from an unexpected champion.

When she received Anne's news via post, Lady Russell was inclined to look far more favorably on the match than she had in the past. Back then, Captain Wentworth's manners had not suited her own ideas, so she had been too quick in suspecting them to indicate a character of dangerous impetuosity. However, Captain Wentworth's continued regard for Anne was a mark in his favor. He had succeeded in his profession and was quite rich and therefore able to support a wife and children – indeed far more capable of supporting Anne than her spendthrift father. She was also conscious of Anne's advancing age and diminishing prospects. In the year six, she had assumed that Anne's youthful infatuation with the dashing Captain would pass once she was introduced to a broader society but in eight years it had not abated. Any hopes Lady Russell had of a more illustrious match for Anne had long since faded into a desire only to see her god daughter happy. Anne had not had a serious suitor since Charles Musgrove, and had shown at that juncture that she was disinclined to heed to persuasion towards a marriage of convenience. And so, determined that this marriage was Anne's best chance at happiness, Lady Russell had become their staunchest defender against the coldness and incivility of Sir Walter and Elizabeth. When she learned of his objections, she wrote to Anne proposing that upon her return to the Lodge, she remain only for a week to recover from her journey before she and Anne travel to Bath where the wedding could take place with no embarrassment to Sir Walter.


Frederick consoled himself for their prolonged engagement with daily visits to Uppercross to bask in Anne's presence. Any resentment or awkwardness that may have resulted from the shock of the engagement in certain members of their circle were soon overcome in the face of the obvious love and affection between the couple. They were overall a merry party, even if they were a bit constrained by forced idleness and the anticipation of a long awaited event. In November, a letter from Captain Wentworth's friend Captain Harville suggested a diversion from this tedium. It brought intelligence of Captain Harville's being settled with his family at Lyme for the winter; of their being therefore, quite unknowingly, within twenty miles of each other. Captain Harville had never been in good health since a severe wound which he received two years before, and Captain Wentworth's anxiety to see him had determined him to go immediately to Lyme. Unwilling to part from his betrothed for even a day or two, Captain Wentworth proposed an excursion and therefore to Lyme they were to go – Charles, Mary, Anne, Henrietta, Louisa, and Captain Wentworth.

It was overall an uneventful trip. Their primary goal, of course, was meeting Captain Wentworth's closest friends Captain and Mrs Harville, and a Captain Benwick, who was staying with them. Through the fraternity of the navy on the one side and the marital connections and affection on the other, the whole party treated each other quite as family from the first introductions. The party from Uppercross felt the joys of walking along the Cobb and enjoying the sea air. If a young gentleman walking along the Cobb gazed appraisingly at Anne, she and her fiancé were far too engrossed in conversation with each other to pay him any heed.

Louisa's high spirits and impetuosity were greatly subdued by the shock of Captain Wentworth's engagement and her subsequent self reflection and attempts at self-improvement. She remained an energetic and happy girl, but she had somehow matured in the preceding weeks and developed a greater reserve.

Captain Benwick had some time ago been first lieutenant of the Laconia; and the account which Captain Wentworth had given of him, on his return from Lyme before, his warm praise of him as an excellent young man and an officer, whom he had always valued highly, which must have stamped him well in the esteem of every listener, had been followed by a little history of his private life, which rendered him perfectly interesting in the eyes of all the ladies. He had been engaged to Captain Harville's sister, and was now mourning her loss. They had been a year or two waiting for fortune and promotion. Fortune came, his prize-money as lieutenant being great; promotion, too, came at last; but Fanny Harville did not live to know it. She had died the preceding summer while he was at sea. Captain Wentworth believed it impossible for man to be more attached to woman than poor Benwick had been to Fanny Harville, or to be more deeply afflicted under the dreadful change. He considered his disposition as of the sort which must suffer heavily, uniting very strong feelings with quiet, serious, and retiring manners, and a decided taste for reading, and sedentary pursuits.

To Louisa Musgrove, who had so recently grown more introspective herself, he was a particularly romantic figure. He shared many of those qualities she had admired in Captain Wentworth and had the added romance of a long separation culminating in a tragic end. His naval brothers looked on him as quite inconsolable and doomed to forever mourn the loss of his beloved. Louisa, whose high spirits and optimistic nature could never be fully repressed, did not take such a dire view of the matter. He had loved deeply and suffered a great loss, and yet she felt such a tragic hero all the more worthy of the solace of a happily ever after.

Louisa had newly gained a heightened interest in poetry – influenced by Anne's tutelage and her own wish to broaden her mind – and upon discovering that he was evidently a young man of considerable taste in reading, though principally in poetry she engaged him in a discussion. She had the hope of being of real use to him in some suggestions as to the duty and benefit of struggling against affliction, which had naturally grown out of their conversation. For, though shy, he did not seem reserved; it had rather the appearance of feelings glad to burst their usual restraints; and having talked of poetry, the richness of the present age, he repeated, with such tremulous feeling, the various lines which imaged a broken heart, or a mind destroyed by wretchedness, and looked so entirely as if he meant to be understood, that she ventured to hope he did not always read only poetry, and to say, that she thought it was the misfortune of poetry to be seldom safely enjoyed by those who enjoyed it completely; and that the strong feelings which alone could estimate it truly were the very feelings which ought to taste it but sparingly.

His looks shewing him not pained, but pleased with this allusion to his situation, she was emboldened to go on, she ventured to recommend a larger allowance of prose in his daily study. On being requested to particularize,
Louisa lost her footing and blushingly admitted her own deficiencies on the subject, but added that they both might benefit from such an occupation. They discretely applied to Anne for her own superior knowledge on the subject and were recommended such works of our best moralists, such collections of the finest letters, such memoirs of characters of worth and suffering, as occurred to her at the moment as calculated to rouse and fortify the mind by the highest precepts, and the strongest examples of moral and religious endurances.

Captain Benwick listened attentively, and seemed grateful for the interest implied; and though with a shake of the head, and sighs which declared his little faith in the efficacy of any books on grief like his, noted down the names of those she recommended, and promised to procure and read them.
Louisa ventured to boldly suggest with a sweet smile, “Perhaps, Captain Benwick, we could select a few titles from the list to read and discuss them together when we meet again in Bath for the wedding.” He stared at her with a stunned look and she added, “I have always found that improving reading is far more pleasant when shared with the company of others. Perhaps we may help each other.”

For the first time in their acquaintance, his gloom broke far enough to allow a small rueful smile and he said quietly, “I think I would like that Miss Musgrove.”


The second week of December brought the return of Lady Russell to Kellynch Lodge, and Anne returned to stay with her until they departed for Bath. Over the course of the week, Lady Russell had daily opportunities to see the lovers together and any lingering reservations she had were smoothed away by their doting smiles and solicitous behavior towards one another. She went to some pains to make herself agreeable to Captain Wentworth. This proved a difficult undertaking as she refused to apologize for the advice which had separated the lovers and he refused to accept that she had given that advice with all possible good will. By the end of the week, however, they were able to bear each other's company with tolerable civility and had hopes of reconciling for Anne's sake before too long.

Frederick lamented the folly of four carriages transporting eleven people to Bath for the wedding in order to placate the pretensions of only two – especially as Anne particularly detested Bath in the first place. He had scarcely begun to admonish Anne about her tendency to place the wishes of others before her own when she gently interrupted him.

“Frederick my love, I have few desires for my wedding: you smiling at the altar, my father giving me away, and our family and friends present, it does not much matter to me if it happens in Kellynch or Bath. Besides, Lady Russell would have gone to Bath regardless in a few weeks, the Crofts have been recommended to visit Bath because of the Admiral's gout, and the Miss Musgroves have been pleading with their parents for a trip to Bath for years. It may be an inconvenience, to some of us, but it is one I am willing to live with if it gains my father's cooperation.”

Frederick had little defense against her reasoning other than a wish to blame Sir Walter and Elizabeth. Although Lady Russell had made her amends, he could not forget Sir Walter's previous behavior and the cold letters they had received from him and his eldest daughter did nothing to improve Frederick's opinion. And so, with some grumbling and a great deal of anticipation, the bride and groom and their guests started out for Bath. Lady Russel put Anne down at her father's home in Camden Place – where her sister Elizabeth and her companion Mrs. Clay were also in residence – before settling in her own lodgings in Rivers Street. Mary was very much put out that her father and Elizabeth did not offer her and Charles a room at in Camden place and she was therefore obliged to put up at the White Hart with the Musgroves. The the Crofts took lodgings in Gay Street which were barely large enough to accommodate their guests: Frederick, Captain and Mrs. Harville, Captain Benwick, and Mr. and Mrs. Edward Wentworth who journeyed down from Shropshire for the event. While they all fit, it was fortuitous that most of the guests were sailors and accustomed to tight quarters.

Although entirely unknown to the bride and groom before, Anne's cousin, Mr. Elliot was also in attendance at the wedding. He had only just arrived but his first object on arriving, had been to leave his card in Camden Place, following it up by such assiduous endeavors to meet, and when they did meet, by such great openness of conduct, such readiness to apologize for the past, such solicitude to be received as a relation again, that their former good understanding was completely re-established. As it was, Sir Walter found it a credit to their family to have his heir present at Anne's wedding. Mr. Elliot made an effort to be everything charming to his relations, but silently cursed the fact that he had not met the lovely Miss Anne until after her betrothal.

Elizabeth, as she was the mistress of Sir Walter's household, had planned the whole wedding and breakfast. Had she attended merely as a guest, she would have thought it all extremely shabby, and very inferior to the grand affair her own wedding would be – Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business! But as it was just Anne, and as they had to make economies where they could, she was rather pleased with the event in the end.

Anne and Frederick, however, found no fault with the wedding. They were finally man and wife and nothing could damper their happiness. Indeed there was little to distress them beyond the want of graciousness and warmth. Sir Walter made no objection, and Elizabeth did nothing worse than look cold and unconcerned. Sir Walter, indeed, though he had no affection for Anne, and no vanity flattered, to make him really happy on the occasion, was very far from thinking it a bad match for her. On the contrary, when he saw more of Captain Wentworth, saw him repeatedly by daylight, and eyed him well, he was very much struck by his personal claims, and felt that his superiority of appearance might be not unfairly balanced against her superiority of rank; and all this, assisted by his well-sounding name, enabled Sir Walter at last to prepare his pen, with a very good grace, for the insertion of the marriage in the volume of honor.


Anne and Frederick remained at the wedding breakfast only as long as propriety dictated they must. They journeyed back to Kellynch that day. The Crofts had decided to make a stay of two months in Bath to ease the Admiral's gout. Therefore Captain and Mrs. Wentworth looked forward to returning to a blessedly empty house. However, when they arrived they were warmly greeted and congratulated by old family retainers who all held Anne in the highest esteem. They were then subjected to an extravagant dinner of six removes that a well meaning Sophy had ordered for them. When the footmen finally cleared the desert, Frederick impatiently scooped Anne up – servants be damned – and carried her up to his room.

“Frederick!” Anne exclaimed with an impish smile as they crossed the doorway, “were you aware that this was my bedroom?”

“I doubt I would have been able to sleep these last months if I had been,” he replied, his eyes growing darker with desire as he set her down without releasing her from his embrace. “However, as fate seems to have been toiling particularly hard these past months to see us united, such coincidences no longer surprise me.”

“It does seem fitting. It was my bedroom, then your bedroom, and now it is our bedroom,” Anne smiled sweetly drawing Frederick's head down for a kiss.

When they finally separated, Frederick rested his forehead on Anne's. “It is a period, indeed!” He said introspectively. “Eight years and a half is a period. I can scarce believe that after all of those lonely years you are here in my arms. My wife!"

“And do you not think that was long enough of a wait?” She replied with a blush as she slowly began unbuttoning her gown. Frederick fervently agreed and directed his full attention to his wife. He wasted no further time that evening on remembrances of the past.


Six months after Anne's marriage, Elizabeth Elliot had the great satisfaction of planning another wedding. This time, however, economy played no role in the preparations. Only the finest materials, most elegant modiste, and most extravagant foods could be expected to usher in the marriage of the eldest daughter of Sir Walter Elliot to his heir William Walter Elliot. Her charming husband even suggested that for her comfort, Mrs. Clay ought to continue as her companion. He was so attentive to her needs. The Crofts gladly gave over their lease to Mr. Elliot whose large fortune – acquired through his deceased wife – allowed him to take possession of Kellynch before his inheritance. Mr. Elliot insisted that Sir Walter return with him and his wife to Kellynch to reclaim their rightful role in the community. That gentleman remained only a year under his son-in-law's strictures before he returned again to Bath to squander away the rest of his meager income in peace.

To the great satisfaction of all, Elizabeth gave birth to a healthy baby boy within the first year of her marriage and her happiness was complete. However, she had soon the mortification of seeing Mr Elliot withdraw, having completed the duty of begetting an heir. He soon quitted Kellynch; and on Mrs Clay's quitting it soon afterwards, and being next heard of as established under his protection in London, Elizabeth's mortification was complete. She soon came to the realization that obtaining a long desired wish does not always bring happiness. While her father had allowed her free reign of the household budget, her husband enforced far stricter regulations. She therefore remained the mistress of Kellynch for the rest of her days but with far less elegance than she had enjoyed in her youth. She lived her life in bitter seclusion with her only son, who reminded her daily of her scoundrel of a husband. Her only solace was in the fact that her father never remarried out of deference to his daughter and grandson. Her son would one day be a baronet. The same could not be said of Mrs. Clay's four children with Mr. Elliot.


Captain Benwick had remained in Bath with the Crofts for several days after the wedding, during which he spent many hours discussing his studies with Miss Louisa Musgrove. He only returned to Lyme after she departed for Uppercross. During that brief stay, his wounded heart had found solace in Miss Musgrove's solicitude. For the first time since his beloved Fanny's death, he had felt something other than despair. After allowing only a few weeks for Captain and Mrs. Wentworth to settle into married life, Captain Benwick arrived unexpectedly for an extended visit at Kellynch. The daily schedule at Kellynch again mirrored that of the fall: Frederick and Anne – assuming the roles of Sophy and the Admiral – spent most of their mornings outdoors together enjoying each other's company while Captain Benwick made daily trips to Uppercross.

He could never forget Fanny Harville, she would always be his first love and his greatest tragedy, but she was gone forever. He could either continue to whither his life away in despair or make the choice to find happiness. His attachment to Louisa Musgrove grew steadily and soon blossomed into love. Not the passionate consuming love he had known before, but a steady strong love built on companionship and mutual felicity. Her liveliness and cheer brought light again to his life and under his direction her understanding and knowledge grew.

He proposed to her on a blustery March morning where their brisk walk was warmed only by their affection. Happily, their own announcement was succeeded within days with the announcement that Charles Hayter had secured the curacy at Uppercross, allowing him and Henrietta to finally marry. So it was that the Miss Musgroves – never long to be outdone by each other, and always happiest when in accord – were married in a double ceremony. Mr. and Mrs. Hayter lived simply, but were happy in the achievement of their long held dearest wish. Captain and Mrs. Benwick lived happily in a balance of high spirits and sedate reflection which would have continued to perplex their friends were it not for clear evidence of their mutual regard.


Anne and Frederick's marriage bore all of the fruits of a couple long denied their happiness. Anne's spring of felicity was in the warmth of her heart. Anne was tenderness itself, and she had the full worth of it in Captain Wentworth's affection. His profession was all that could ever make her friends wish that tenderness less, the dread of a future war all that could dim her sunshine. She gloried in being a sailor's wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance.

They remained at Kellynch only three months. Agreeing that it was possible for a woman to be settled too near her family, they purchased a modest but charming estate on the sea outside of Plymouth. Their new home was happily situated a convenient distance from Kellynch and Bath as to make occasional visits feasible, but frequent visits improbable. They were an easy distance from the naval ports at Plymouth, but far enough from the city to avoid the putrid air and close confines. As they took possession of their new home just before Harville's lease at Lyme ended, they invited the Harvilles to live with them in the manor house. As Harville's pride would not allow him to live indefinitely off of the charity of his friend, he agreed to lease a suitable cottage on the property. The two families met daily and raised their children together. The Benwicks were frequent visitors as well, although Louisa could never bear to live permanently so far from her sister.

Due to his efficiency and industry, Captain Wentworth was at length promoted to Admiral Wentworth – much to her sisters' relief, he was never made a baronet. Whenever possible, Anne sailed with her husband and flourished at sea. Although some sailors objected to the presence of a woman aboard ship, her calm and obliging nature, steadiness of character, and readiness to contribute where possible – typically in the role of nurse and confidant – readily endeared her to even the most superstitious old salts. However, as their family grew, Anne was more frequently required at home. The solace of Mrs. Harville and Mrs. Benwick at these times was a balm to the unease of separation from Frederick. Thankfully, the Pax Britannica offered Frederick relative protection from violence and he always returned home eagerly and safely to his wife and children. While every separation was painful and fraught with worry, they never surpassed the despair of their initial eight years estrangement because they were always secure in the knowledge of their mutual love.

The End

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed this short take on my favorite Austen Novel. Thank you all for your lovely comments, I read and treasure them all. Would anyone be interested in a separate story fleshing out the Elizabeth/Mr. Elliot relationship? It wouldn't be a happily ever after, but it could be interesting and it would have some more of the Wentworths for contrast.

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