Wentworth Wednesday

Persuasion_369In the opening of Chapter 18 of Persuasion, Anne receives a letter from Mary, dated February 1st. How exciting! We are all together in the same dreary days of winter. The letter was delivered by the Crofts, who came to Bath for the Admiral’s gout.

I guess gout was shameful as everyone seemed to be keeping it hush-hush.

Anyway,  in this letter, Anne gets the good news about Louisa and Capt. Benwick. And, Mary tells her that Charles wonders what Capt. Wentworth will say. Anne, in the privacy of her own room and thoughts wonders too. “She could not endure that such a friendship as theirs should be severed unfairly.

I’ve always thought that Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood were the most alike of the Austen heroines, but I see now that maybe Anne has a lot of Jane Bennet in her. This is somewhat like Jane dithering about poor Mr. Darcy and then about poor Mr. Wickham.

No matter. Frederick and Anne will have to sort themselves out in a few days. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.


I sure don’t feel 65!

And to Ciaran Hinds, happy birthday on Friday.

Wentworth Wednesday

BeFunky_Stenciler_1This is the last entry to Wentworth Wednesday. It’s taken me a while to figure out what to write, because, frankly, the last chapter of Persuasion is meh. Boring even.

The last chapter does the perfunctory job of tying up loose ends. We are told Sir Walter comes to think more highly of Frederick and so does Lady Russell. We find out that William Elliot takes off for London and that Penelope Clay eventually joins him. Mary takes credit for having Anne stay with her over the autumn, and thus making the reunion possible. Mrs Smith is also credited and is rewarded when Frederick helps resolve her husband’s estate. Ho-hum.

The most exciting thing we learn is the somewhere along the way Anne acquires a landaulette. It was a sassy little conveyance for its time, but we don’t even know what color it is. And what Frederick is doing is anyone’s guess.

There is no romantic close.

I suppose it’s no one’s fault. I am the child of the movies and so I expect to go out on a high. There are no intimate, sensual words whispered by a roaring fire. No exciting moment of joy where Frederick takes her in his arms and they kiss under a tree. There is no sigh of satisfaction as the screen fades to black.

I am also a child of the 70s where the myth of Happily Ever After was exploded in favor of the Ambiguous Ending, or Happily For Now. Unfortunately, Jane Austen didn’t even give me that.

Here is the last line of Persuasion: “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.”

Okay, I do sigh, but not in a good way.

This is why I have decided that when I read Persuasion next, I am ending with Chapter 23.

The last scene of Chapter 23 is the evening party at Camden Place. Anne and Frederick are admiring some of Elizabeth’s house plants. All the loose ends are waving in the breeze, but we don’t care because they are secretly re-engaged and sneaking in a tete-a-tete right under everyone’s noses. Anne is still glowing from the walk on the gravel path, while Frederick is still contrite about his mistakes over the past several months. It is perfecto!

Here is now—for me anyway—the new last lines of Persuasion: “Like other great men under reverses,” he added with a smile, “I must endeavor to subdue my mind to my fortunes. I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve.”


Anne smiles and leans into him. The voices of the party come up. The music rises. Camera fades to black.


Now that’s a Happily Ever After I can sigh over.

Thank you for sticking with me through Wentworth Wednesdays. Let me know what you think about my having the temerity to change Austen.

Wentworth Wednesday

Chapter 22

Chapter 21 has Wentworth in spirit only so I decided to go on to Chapter 22. This is Anne and Frederick’s first meeting since his hasty retreat from the concert, and Anne’s finding out all of William Elliot’s dirty secrets. This is the end of the chapter when our couple finally begins to thaw and speak. There are of course interruptions galore. And finally, an interruption of epic proportions. I decided to write my own version, from Frederick’s point-of-view. I hope you enjoy it.



Getting around Musgrove was awkwardly done, but I made it to the fireplace. By Anne’s side. She doesn’t look up. She has every right to be cool. I was an idiot flouncing out of the concert like a pettish schoolgirl. Well, never mind the manoeuvres, just go right at it, Captain. “You have not been long enough in Bath to enjoy the evening parties of the place.”

That sweet face looks up and smiles. I am not sunk just yet. “Oh! no.  The usual character of them has nothing for me.  I am no card-player.”

“You were not formerly, I know.  You did not use to like cards; but time makes many changes.”

“I am not yet so much changed.” Anne paused and frowned just a little. It was impossible to tell if it was genuine distress, or mere teasing.

“It is a period, indeed!  Eight years and a half is a period.” There, it is done. For the first time, one of us has dared to mention the past. Her frown blooms to her usual, tentative smile. This is hope—

“Anne, let us go now, before anyone else arrives.” Henrietta stands over her, holding out her purse. I suppose I could insinuate myself and offer them my services as escort. “May I offer—” The door opens and more visitors are announced.

The room grows instantly silent. The smiles disappear and everyone ceases to move. Or breath. I turn and see the reason.

“Sir Walter! Miss Elliot! You honour us with a visit,” Mrs Musgrove is neatly up and out of her chair to greet the esteemed guests.

I toss a glance at Harville and he’s stunned to his whiskers. He’s been in the midst of the Musgrove chaos enough to know that not many forces in nature have the ability to quiet it. Well, even a bucket of icy water can quell amorous cats. Icy describes that sister—

“Captain Wentworth, we meet again.” The old block bows as if we are good and fast mates. To Mrs Musgrove, he says, “The Captain was with us at the concert this past Tuesday night. It was a magnificent presentation, I must say.”

Adding me to their party. Cheek indeed.

“Captain Wentworth.” Miss Elliot suddenly has the time and energy to greet me. Imagine that.

Anne is unreadable. I think it embarrassment for she stares off just enough to mimic attention. I shall play nice and bent my knee to the pair of them. For her. For her alone.

All the neat and tidy nothings are being exchanged. Let them coddle one another, I shall slip out in a moment and wait for Anne and Miss Musgrove downstairs. There is plenty of the day to be salvaged.

Miss Elliot is extending an invitation to Mrs Musgrove and looking around at everyone. There will be no slipping away for me. Yes, just lay the cards on the table. Despite the elegant gloves, you wouldn’t want to get any on you if there happens to be an accidental touch.

“And one for you, Sir.” She extends a card particularly to me. Yes, make me come and fetch it. As if I should ever the Elliot threshold again. It is the longest three steps I ever walked in my life. There is no bow—my pride won’t bend that far—and my nod is too shallow to be understood as real respect. “Thank you, Miss.”

They are suddenly gone and the whole company magically returns to its previous happy self. Even in retrenchment, the Elliots must still have the finest paper and engraving. Tearing it up would give me such pleasure. Even fine linen paper gives a tug of satisfaction when you give it a good—

“Only think of Elizabeth’s including everybody!” one of the ladies whispered.  “I do not wonder Captain Wentworth is delighted!  You see he cannot put the card out of his hand.”

Anne watches. I could not do that to her. And it is not delight, Mrs Musgrove, merely my astonishment at how easily utter disdain shifts and becomes respect. No, not respect. Utility. Like a mallet when you need one.

Musgrove comes close and nudges me. “Come on, Wentworth. I have tickets to return.” The room is called to action and we all are separating. There is no salvaging this day in my favour.

I put the card in my pocket and that gives me some ideas about tomorrow.


Wentworth Wednesday

Chapter 10, part 2

“Yes; he had done it.  She was in the carriage, and felt that he had placed her there, that his will and his hands had done it, that she owed it to his perception of her fatigue, and his resolution to give her rest.  She was very much affected by the view of his disposition towards her, which all these things made apparent.  This little circumstance seemed the completion of all that had gone before.  She understood him.  He could not forgive her, but he could not be unfeeling.  Though condemning her for the past, and considering it with high and unjust resentment, though perfectly careless of her, and though becoming attached to another, still he could not see her suffer, without the desire of giving her relief.  It was a remainder of former sentiment; it was an impulse of pure, though unacknowledged friendship; it was a proof of his own warm and amiable heart, which she could not contemplate without emotions so compounded of pleasure and pain, that she knew not which prevailed.”


“…pure, though unacknowledged friendship…” This is the second instance where Wentworth has stepped in and given Anne relief from an uncomfortable situation. (The first being in Chapter 9, when he rescues her from Little Walter, Oppressor of the Cottage and All Lands Beyond.)

 Anne makes a mistake here, I think. She believes that even as he is becoming “attached to another” Frederick can’t see her suffer and wants to give her relief. At their first dinner together at Uppercross, she lamented how distant they have become, and how in the past, they were so like-minded and into each other, even in company. I think she’s torn between seeing that he is not in love and presuming that it will eventually happen.

 If Frederick Wentworth is truly falling for Louisa, how can he even notice Anne at this point? The walk to Winthrop clears the romantic decks of the tiresome Charles Hayter, and assures smooth sailing for the couple.

 The party meets the Crofts out-and-about, the Crofts offer any of the ladies a ride, and all refuse. The group crosses the road and has to use a stile so they might cross the next field. In my mind I see Wentworth crossing over first to help the ladies. The text says: “…and the admiral was putting his horse into motion again, when Captain Wentworth cleared the hedge in a moment to say something to his sister.” I envision him handing over one of the girls and he can’t help noticing Anne is tired to the bone. Being the manly hero, he jumps the hedge back to the lane and sees she’s looked after.

 I know thinking of him doing an Errol Flynn is overly romantic, but Frederick does care about Anne. These small acts show he observes her and her needs. Frederick breaking away, leaving the object of his supposed growing affection, to make sure a tired Anne has a ride home is not the behavior of a dewy-eyed lover. These are the actions of a man fighting to understand himself.