Thursday, June 10, 2010

Persuasion Janeicillin: Part One

"You wished to speak with me, Captain Wentworth?"

It took all of Frederick's willpower, the ingrained inscrutability of nine years in command, to maintain his composure.

“Indeed I do, Sir Walter. I have something of great importance to lay before you.”

“Yes. Anne suggested you might call today. You do understand that I am escorting my cousin, Lady Dalrymple, and Miss Elliot to a card party this evening and have only limited time to spare before I must attend to my preparations, but as Anne was insistent, I made sure to lay aside a quarter of an hour for you.” The impecunious baronet's smile was intended to convey the full honor of such condescension, but Fredrick only perceived its absurdity.

“Then you know my reasons for requesting an audience?”

“I do, and let me assure you that I feel quite confident bestowing my youngest daughter's hand on you. When we last discussed such an arrangement, it was out of the question, but I am not blind to how you have distinguished yourself. Why, Lady Dalrymple herself commented on your fine appearance.” It was of some chagrin to Sir Walter that this young man seemed totally insensible to the magnitude of such a compliment, but as he supposed him already overwhelmed by the honor of marrying an Elliot of Somersetshire, he could overlook the offense. “Of course, you do understand that current circumstances might render it inconvenient for the estate to part with the entirety of Anne's portion, ten thousand pounds, at this time. I will write to my lawyer, Mr. Shepherd, and he will advise me as to what can be done.”

With that, Sir Walter felt he had covered all the salient points of interests and behaved exceedingly handsomely throughout the interview. It was unfortunate his future son-in-law did not share this opinion. Frederick Wentworth felt all that remained unsaid. So what if Sir Walter Elliot no longer deemed him a nobody? With five-and-twenty thousand pounds, and as high in his profession as merit and activity could place him, should he be thankful that he was now esteemed quite worthy to address the daughter of a foolish, spendthrift baronet, who had not had principle or sense enough to maintain himself in the situation in which Providence had placed him? He felt nothing but scorn for the pompous man before him, one of the most worthless specimens of humanity he had the misfortune to encounter (and this from the man who once captained Dick Musgrove!), but love for his daughter, a woman of such perfections that her paternity was astonishing, held his tongue. He bowed so curtly that Sir Walter was left in wonder, bemused by the odd manner in which some men respond to good fortune, and exited the room, just pausing long enough to bow in response to Elizabeth's acknowledgment as he encountered her in the passageway before departing Camden-place.

“Captain Wentworth left rather abruptly, Father,” she commented lackadaisically as she entered the smaller drawing room, gracing a particularly elegant chair with her equally elegant self.

“Poor man! He was quite overwhelmed by my generosity, I am sure, and removed himself rather than make a spectacle. Quite right to have done so, too. Few things are more diminishing to a man's person than an excessive display of emotion, and the morning light is particularly unfavorable. I had wondered that Anne should not have thought of it – to arrange for me to speak with Captain Wentworth one evening when we are at home – but now that I have seen him in broad daylight, I find that his complexion is perhaps the most impressive I have encountered amongst our naval man, and as Bath has given me ample opportunity to observe the race, I feel I can speak with some expertise on the subject.”

“Undoubtedly, Father.”

“The concern must be for what the future will bring. Having already been so exposed to the elements, and very likely to be so again, I think I can do no better service for him than to recommend the constant use of Gowland when aboard ship. I shall do so when we next meet.”

“I am sure he will receive your advise just as he ought. Captain Wentworth has an unusual degree of countenance for a man of his station. His presence will be an asset to my drawing-rooms.”

“I agree. A very acceptable match for Anne, all in all. Captain certainly sounds better than a mere Mister, and I do believe the family must have some connection to the Strafford family after all, though it be distant and possibly unknown. It would not do for Captain Wentworth to pursue the acquaintance, of course, but the name sounds rather well, do you not think? Anne Wentworth. My daughter, Mrs. Wentworth.”

Elizabeth could not be as enthusiastic as her father on such account, for the notion of being both the eldest and only unmarried Miss Elliot was far from felicitous, but she found ample consolation in knowledge that Anne's ineligibility would restore Mr. Elliot's attentions to their proper quarter.

Lady Russell had only just entered the salon when her goddaughter was announced. Readily did she acquiescence to her admittance. A visit with Anne was always a pleasure, and under current circumstances, Lady Russell was quite prepared to encounter a lady experiencing the second bloom which only love can bestow. However, she was not braced for the the vision that entered. Before her stood the image of Anne Elliot – not the near daughter she had reared for so long, but her dear departed friend. Never had the younger Anne so resembled her mother. Here was the woman whom the vain Sir Walter Elliot had found beautiful enough to marry. The roses on her cheeks and sparkle in her eyes were a delightful surprise to her ladyship, and never had she so wanted the daughter to succeed to the mother's place.

“My dear Anne, what a delightful surprise. I wasn't expecting you until this evening.”

“I had my reasons for wanting to escape Camden-place, and have long delayed an intended visit to you. Are you at leisure?”

“For you I have all the time in the world. Do sit down.”

“Thank you, Lady Russell.”

Such formality was unusual in Anne, who had always felt more at ease in her godmother's home than her own, and it gave Lady Russell pause. Anne was amply aware that she approved of Mr. Elliot, so why should she hesitate to share her obvious success? Never before had she more clearly felt the justice of her own words, “You are your mother's self in countenance and disposition,” and never before had she more wanted Anne to be the future Lady Elliot.

Anne, feeling the necessity to speak, said, “I have something of great import to impart to you, which I hope will not cause you undue distress.”

Lady Russell's smile twitched. What could Anne possibly say to distress her?

Anne continued, “I have been given an offer of marriage, which I have accepted.”

Here the smile grew firm. “My dearest Anne! From the first moment I saw you together, I was sure how it would come to pass. You have my utmost felicitations.”

Anne looked puzzled. “From the very first, madam? I was always of the opinion that you disapproved of Frederick.”

The smile fell. “Frederick?”

“Yes. Captain Wentworth. You thought I referred to Mr. Elliot?”

“Oh, Anne! I'm afraid I did.”

She rose and took a chair closer to her godmother, clasping her hand warmly. “I could not marry Mr. Elliot, even if he had asked me. There are things you do not know about his character. We could not be happy together. I will tell you all.”

And so she did. Anne revealed the entirety of Mrs. Smith's disclosures regarding Mr. Elliot's behavior to Lady Russell, who was predictably shocked, perhaps most by her own failure to discern his true character, blinded as she was by his pleasing manners. But as difficult as the truth was for her to hear, the fact that Anne was to marry the man who had every reason to think ill of her was far more painful. Yet he was also the man who inspired such bloom and health in her dear girl's complexion! Such conflicting emotions were difficult to express, but upon parting, Lady Russell revealed much of her fears in this simple, heartfelt wish, “I do hope Captain Wentworth will forgive my advise all those years ago. I did mean well.”

“I know you did, and he will, but it might take some time.”

“I could not bear to lose your company, Anne.”

“You never shall.”


Come back next Thursday for another weekly dose!


  1. I like to follow writer’s blogs as I feel I learn from each one. I have a book of Communion devotionals at the printers. I am a follower on your blog and invite you to follow mine as well…and please leave a comment when and if you visit.

  2. Hi covnitkepr1. Thanks for stopping by. What is the name/url for your blog? I'm happy to check it out!

  3. You know I love Persuasion, Alexa, and this post of yours was just the needed medicine , well , Janeicillin, to start another hard-working Saturday. Thanks! Have a great weekend!
    Poor Captain Wentworth. He's got his final delayed gratification but ...what an unbearable father-in-law he gets with it!

  4. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it, Maria! I actually kind of adore Sir Walter Elliot. Hopefully, readers have as much fun with that scene between him and Wentworth as I had writing it. But your are correct, poor Wentworth! I'll have to make it up to him ...

  5. Thank you, Alexa! I love Persuasion and I can't wait to read the second part. :)

  6. You are very welcome, Giada. Unfortunately, the inspiration has left the building. I think I need to put the whole project on hiatus. It is starting to stress me out.

  7. I had no idea you started a Persuasion Janeicillin! What an interesting beginning! I have to laugh at Sir Walter wanting to recommend Gowland's lotion to him!

  8. Hi Meredith. Glad I made you laugh! I might rewrite this beginning - not sure yet. It just isn't flowing right.