Friday, November 19, 2010

Persuasion Janeicillin: Part Seven (Conclusion)

Read Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six.

It indeed was a very pretty laundaulette that promptly made its appearance in Camden Place the following morning, arousing more than passing interest in the residents of the house. Sir Walter abandoned his effort to write to Mr. Shepherd with the delicate news of Mrs. Clay's downfall, which was far more focused on the baronet's magnanimous condescension in maintaining the business relationship than on offering condolences to a longtime acquaintance, in order to survey the equipage and express his approbation. Elizabeth, following a polite acknowledgment of the vehicle's charms, hurried to compose her own letter to the doubtlessly jealous Mary, containing far more details than her very cursory inspection of the conveyance would be expected to provide, and offering sympathy for her youngest sister's continued dependance on the old fashioned coach of her in-laws. Once Sir Walter had tired of his inquisition into the make and model of the Captains's new acquisition, Anne and Wentworth were finally free to depart for Westgate Buildings, having to endure only one passing comment on the surprise the inhabitants of that domicile were sure to express upon sighting such a fashionable carriage in their humble midst.

The now familiar face of Nurse Rooke ushered the couple into Mrs. Smith's noisy parlor, where they were greeted with an outpouring of gratitude (though Sir Walter would be shaken to learn of the complete lack of observance paid to the laundaulette). A note from Anne had prepared the widow for both the visit and news of her good fortune, and it was clear that all of her limited resources had been utilized in providing her guests with as sumptuous an offering of refreshments as could be mustered. Despite the celebratory nature of the meeting, Mrs. Smith seemed to pay an undue amount of attention to Anne's comfort, a solicitousness which could not proceed unremarked for long. Upon Nurse Rooke looking in upon the guests for a third time, and Mrs. Smith inquiring once again into the satisfaction of Anne's chair, that perplexed lady was finally driven to inquire, “My dear friend, we are here to plan your own improved well-being. I myself, being perfectly healthy and secure, require no solace. So why trouble yourself so, when the subject of relocating you to the more comfortable lodgings available in Charles Street is far more pertinent?”

Mrs. Smith cast an uncomfortable glance towards Nurse Rooke, still lurking in the doorway, who, in turn, quickly made herself scarce. “But I am quite comfortable where I am. I do not pretend that my lodgings are ideal, but I am situated at a very convenient distance to the warm bath.”

“My dear Mrs. Smith,” interposed the Captain, “the distance is immaterial. Besides, as I am now the executor of your husband's estate, I shall happily advance you the funds. Your health will undoubtedly benefit from the fresher air to be had in Charles Street. Now, what else is troubling you.”

Casting her eyes downward, Mrs. Smith uttered these conscious words, “I am afraid I have been on the receiving end of some very disturbing gossip regarding Mr. Elliot.”

Anne and Wentworth glanced at each other. “So it begins already,” sighed the former.

Mrs. Smith looked up, “But do you already know?”

“If you seek to inform me that my cousin has entered into a most disreputable arrangement with my sister's former companion, then yes, I am sorry to say that I am fully aware of the disgraceful situation.”

Mrs. Smith looked at once relived and, simultaneously, concerned. “Nurse Rooke brought me the news just this morning. She had it from Mrs. Wallis.”

“I am not surprised.”

“I am afraid it is already much talked of in the town. Such things will not be kept secret, you know, particularly in a place like Bath. And the gossip, unfortunately, has taken a rather ugly turn.”

Captain Wentworth looked surprised, “Uglier than what is to be expected? I cannot see how it could be.”

“I am afraid many have surmised that Mr. Elliot's motivations were specifically intended to harm you, Miss Elliot.”

“Me?” cried Anne. “What can I possibly have to do with the affair?”

“Many believed that Mr. Elliot was on the verge of asking for your hand when your engagement was announced. Indeed, some even speculate that you had already received an offer. In such circumstances, creative minds will spin the most outlandish tales. Those of us more intimate with Mr. Elliot's character may recognize his true motivation was pure avariciousness, but one cannot deny that depressed hopes make for a far more romantic story.”

“Well,” replied Anne, “I do not see how either version of events undermines Mr. Elliot's culpability. I am an innocent bystander. Indeed, it is my father and sister who feel a personal injury in his defection. I am just relieved that neither he, nor Mrs. Clay, shall be allowed to impose upon my family any longer.”

“Be that as it may, do not be surprised to find yourself the subject of interest in the coming weeks.”

And so she was. Much of the quiet laughter that should have been reserved for Sir Walter and Elizabeth, instead manifested itself as whisperings and conjectures wherever Anne made an appearance. The constant presence of the Captain, however, deterred those who might be so bold as to question her directly on the subject, and the engaged couple's obvious devotion did its office in quelling the worst suppositions. Only two parties were so forward as to comment to the Elliot's directly on their predicament. Lady Dalrymple did not hesitate to inform Sir Walter as to her disillusionment in the young man, whom she had considered as much under her own wing as he ever had, and expressed a great deal of concern over the fate of Miss Cateret, having exposed her delicate sensibilities to such an unscrupulous associate. It was quickly decided that the acquaintance with the Wallis' must be dropped by the entire family, and while Sir Walter felt some pain over never having had the pleasure of meeting the beautiful Mrs. Wallis, on which event he had set such store, it was a sacrifice he did not hesitate to make. As a result of the couple finding themselves quite shunned by the best of Bath society, they quickly made their exit following the lady's recovery. As Nurse Rooke's services were no longer required, their presence was mourned by none of concern to us.

The other party who felt empowered to comment on the situation, though only to Anne and Wentworth, were the Crofts. The Admiral expressed his indignation at the usage the Elliots had endured, and seconded the Captains sentiment that a good flogging was what Mr. Elliot required. Mrs. Croft was more pragmatic in her approach, and while she never mentioned the scandal to anyone in her own circle, she did make sure that everyone of her acquaintance was left in no doubt of the long-standing devotion of the engaged couple.

Mary had much to say on the subject, but most of her diatribe was reserved for her husband's ears. She begged quite ceaselessly for a return to Bath, in order to both provide support and show solidarity with her family in their time of need, but the better information Charles received from Wentworth regarding the Elliots' impenetrability on the subject decided him firmly against such a display. The duty of attending his own sisters' approaching nuptials far outweighed the inconvenience of Mary's complaints, and, it should be said, that she found her own consolation in the added consequence attendant on her position as the future mistress of the Great House that the departure of the eldest daughters of the estate provided.

Who can be in doubt of what followed? Time past quickly, what with wedding preparations, gossip quelling, attending to Mrs. Smith's affairs, and bridging the narrowing gulf between Captain Wentworth and Lady Russell. Much faster than she had ever believed possible, Anne's wedding day was upon her. Frequently, a couple embarking on the adventure that is marriage express a great deal of nervous anxiety, and very understandable so, but on this occasion both bride and groom entered the Abby with perfect confidence. Years of separation and the attendant sorrow, followed by the joy of reaching a long overdue understanding, had effectively overpowered any and all doubts the happy couple had about their union. If any questions still lingered in the minds of those in attendance regarding the bride's relationship with her cousin, the assurance with which her vows were spoken forever laid them to rest. Nothing but goodwill remained for the newlyweds as they departed for Camden Place, where a select few had been invited to a wedding breakfast. Anne and Wentworth did not linger long, as they were anxious to begin their lengthy journey to Plymouth, having planned several strategic stops in coastal towns along the way.

Sir Walter was highly gratified by the proceedings. The Bishop had done great honor to Anne's illustrious heritage during the ceremony, Lady Dalrymple expressed her approbation for the entirety of the event, and Bath had relished the opportunity (the late gossip playing no little part in their interest) to witness his handsome family at great advantage. All this, assisted by the Captain's well-sounding name (though no connection ever was established to the Strafford family), 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. Elizabeth's feelings upon having recorded in the book of books not just one, but the marriage of both younger sisters, can be so easily surmised that we shall not waste the reader's time by recording such sentiments here. Instead, let us concluded on Sir Walter's happier reflections, or , better yet, on the far more appropriate sentiments of those character's whose opinions matters: the Crofts, Lady Russell, Mrs. Smith, and, of course, Captain and Mrs. Wentworth, whose felicity stands without question.


  1. Thank you for the wrap-up of Persuasion Janeicillin. :)

  2. I hope you enjoyed it, OreAnnie! It was far harder to write than I had bargained for. I think the more you care about characters, the more sacred they feel, which can hinder creative license, but I am not displeased with the results.