By Jane Austen
Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who,
for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there
he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed
one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by
contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any
unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs changed naturally
into pity and contempt as he turned over the almost endless creations
of the last century; and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he
could read his own history with an interest which never failed. This
was the page at which the favourite volume always opened:
"ELLIOT OF KELLYNCH HALL.
"Walter Elliot, born March 1, 1760, married, July 15, 1784, Elizabeth,
daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. of South Park, in the county of
Gloucester, by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue Elizabeth, born
June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, November 5,
1789; Mary, born November 20, 1791."
Precisely such had the paragraph originally stood from the printer's
hands; but Sir Walter had improved it by adding, for the information of
himself and his family, these words, after the date of Mary's birth--
"Married, December 16, 1810, Charles, son and heir of Charles Musgrove,
Esq. of Uppercross, in the county of Somerset," and by inserting most
accurately the day of the month on which he had lost his wife.
Then followed the history and rise of the ancient and respectable
family, in the usual terms; how it had been first settled in Cheshire;
how mentioned in Dugdale, serving the office of high sheriff,
representing a borough in three successive parliaments, exertions of
loyalty, and dignity of baronet, in the first year of Charles II, with
all the Marys and Elizabeths they had married; forming altogether two
handsome duodecimo pages, and concluding with the arms and
motto:--"Principal seat, Kellynch Hall, in the county of Somerset," and
Sir Walter's handwriting again in this finale:--
"Heir presumptive, William Walter Elliot, Esq., great grandson of the
second Sir Walter."
Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot's character;
vanity of person and of situation. He had been remarkably handsome in
his youth; and, at fifty-four, was still a very fine man. Few women
could think more of their personal appearance than he did, nor could
the valet of any new made lord be more delighted with the place he held
in society. He considered the blessing of beauty as inferior only to
the blessing of a baronetcy; and the Sir Walter Elliot, who united
these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect and
His good looks and his rank had one fair claim on his attachment; since
to them he must have owed a wife of very superior character to any
thing deserved by his own. Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman,
sensible and amiable; whose judgement and conduct, if they might be
pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot, had never
required indulgence afterwards.--She had humoured, or softened, or
concealed his failings, and promoted his real respectability for
seventeen years; and though not the very happiest being in the world
herself, had found enough in her duties, her friends, and her children,
to attach her to life, and make it no matter of indifference to her
when she was called on to quit them.--Three girls, the two eldest
sixteen and fourteen, was an awful legacy for a mother to bequeath, an
awful charge rather, to confide to the authority and guidance of a
conceited, silly father. She had, however, one very intimate friend, a
sensible, deserving woman, who had been brought, by strong attachment
to herself, to settle close by her, in the village of Kellynch; and on
her kindness and advice, Lady Elliot mainly relied for the best help
and maintenance of the good principles and instruction which she had
been anxiously giving her daughters.
This friend, and Sir Walter, did not marry, whatever might have been
anticipated on that head by their acquaintance. Thirteen years had
passed away since Lady Elliot's death, and they were still near
neighbours and intimate friends, and one remained a widower, the other
That Lady Russell, of steady age and character, and extremely well
provided for, should have no thought of a second marriage, needs no
apology to the public, which is rather apt to be unreasonably
discontented when a woman does marry again, than when she does not; but
Sir Walter's continuing in singleness requires explanation. Be it
known then, that Sir Walter, like a good father, (having met with one
or two private disappointments in very unreasonable applications),
prided himself on remaining single for his dear daughters' sake. For
one daughter, his eldest, he would really have given up any thing,
which he had not been very much tempted to do. Elizabeth had
succeeded, at sixteen, to all that was possible, of her mother's rights
and consequence; and being very handsome, and very like himself, her
influence had always been great, and they had gone on together most
happily. His two other children were of very inferior value. Mary had
acquired a little artificial importance, by becoming Mrs Charles
Musgrove; but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of
character, which must have placed her high with any people of real
understanding, was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no
weight, her convenience was always to give way--she was only Anne.
To Lady Russell, indeed, she was a most dear and highly valued
god-daughter, favourite, and friend. Lady Russell loved them all; but
it was only in Anne that she could fancy the mother to revive again.
A few years before, Anne Elliot had been a very pretty girl, but her
bloom had vanished early; and as even in its height, her father had
found little to admire in her, (so totally different were her delicate
features and mild dark eyes from his own), there could be nothing in
them, now that she was faded and thin, to excite his esteem. He had
never indulged much hope, he had now none, of ever reading her name in
any other page of his favourite work. All equality of alliance must
rest with Elizabeth, for Mary had merely connected herself with an old
country family of respectability and large fortune, and had therefore
given all the honour and received none: Elizabeth would, one day or
other, marry suitably.
It sometimes happens that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she
was ten years before; and, generally speaking, if there has been
neither ill health nor anxiety, it is a time of life at which scarcely
any charm is lost. It was so with Elizabeth, still the same handsome
Miss Elliot that she had begun to be thirteen years ago, and Sir Walter
might be excused, therefore, in forgetting her age, or, at least, be
deemed only half a fool, for thinking himself and Elizabeth as blooming
as ever, amidst the wreck of the good looks of everybody else; for he
could plainly see how old all the rest of his family and acquaintance
were growing. Anne haggard, Mary coarse, every face in the
neighbourhood worsting, and the rapid increase of the crow's foot about
Lady Russell's temples had long been a distress to him.
Elizabeth did not quite equal her father in personal contentment.
Thirteen years had seen her mistress of Kellynch Hall, presiding and
directing with a self-possession and decision which could never have
given the idea of her being younger than she was. For thirteen years
had she been doing the honours, and laying down the domestic law at
home, and leading the way to the chaise and four, and walking
immediately after Lady Russell out of all the drawing-rooms and
dining-rooms in the country. Thirteen winters' revolving frosts had
seen her opening every ball of credit which a scanty neighbourhood
afforded, and thirteen springs shewn their blossoms, as she travelled
up to London with her father, for a few weeks' annual enjoyment of the
great world. She had the remembrance of all this, she had the
consciousness of being nine-and-twenty to give her some regrets and
some apprehensions; she was fully satisfied of being still quite as
handsome as ever, but she felt her approach to the years of danger, and
would have rejoiced to be certain of being properly solicited by
baronet-blood within the next twelvemonth or two. Then might she again
take up the book of books with as much enjoyment as in her early youth,
but now she liked it not. Always to be presented with the date of her
own birth and see no marriage follow but that of a youngest sister,
made the book an evil; and more than once, when her father had left it
open on the table near her, had she closed it, with averted eyes, and
pushed it away.
She had had a disappointment, moreover, which that book, and especially
the history of her own family, must ever present the remembrance of.
The heir presumptive, the very William Walter Elliot, Esq., whose
rights had been so generously supported by her father, had disappointed
She had, while a very young girl, as soon as she had known him to be,
in the event of her having no brother, the future baronet, meant to
marry him, and her father had always meant that she should. He had not
been known to them as a boy; but soon after Lady Elliot's death, Sir
Walter had sought the acquaintance, and though his overtures had not
been met with any warmth, he had persevered in seeking it, making
allowance for the modest drawing-back of youth; and, in one of their
spring excursions to London, when Elizabeth was in her first bloom, Mr
Elliot had been forced into the introduction.
He was at that time a very young man, just engaged in the study of the
law; and Elizabeth found him extremely agreeable, and every plan in his
favour was confirmed. He was invited to Kellynch Hall; he was talked
of and expected all the rest of the year; but he never came. The
following spring he was seen again in town, found equally agreeable,
again encouraged, invited, and expected, and again he did not come; and
the next tidings were that he was married. Instead of pushing his
fortune in the line marked out for the heir of the house of Elliot, he
had purchased independence by uniting himself to a rich woman of
Sir Walter has resented it. As the head of the house, he felt that he
ought to have been consulted, especially after taking the young man so
publicly by the hand; "For they must have been seen together," he
observed, "once at Tattersall's, and twice in the lobby of the House of
Commons." His disapprobation was expressed, but apparently very little
regarded. Mr Elliot had attempted no apology, and shewn himself as
unsolicitous of being longer noticed by the family, as Sir Walter
considered him unworthy of it: all acquaintance between them had
This very awkward history of Mr Elliot was still, after an interval of
several years, felt with anger by Elizabeth, who had liked the man for
himself, and still more for being her father's heir, and whose strong
family pride could see only in him a proper match for Sir Walter
Elliot's eldest daughter. There was not a baronet from A to Z whom her
feelings could have so willingly acknowledged as an equal. Yet so
miserably had he conducted himself, that though she was at this present
time (the summer of 1814) wearing black ribbons for his wife, she could
not admit him to be worth thinking of again. The disgrace of his first
marriage might, perhaps, as there was no reason to suppose it
perpetuated by offspring, have been got over, had he not done worse;
but he had, as by the accustomary intervention of kind friends, they
had been informed, spoken most disrespectfully of them all, most
slightingly and contemptuously of the very blood he belonged to, and
the honours which were hereafter to be his own. This could not be
Such were Elizabeth Elliot's sentiments and sensations; such the cares
to alloy, the agitations to vary, the sameness and the elegance, the
prosperity and the nothingness of her scene of life; such the feelings
to give interest to a long, uneventful residence in one country circle,
to fill the vacancies which there were no habits of utility abroad, no
talents or accomplishments for home, to occupy.
But now, another occupation and solicitude of mind was beginning to be
added to these. Her father was growing distressed for money. She
knew, that when he now took up the Baronetage, it was to drive the
heavy bills of his tradespeople, and the unwelcome hints of Mr
Shepherd, his agent, from his thoughts. The Kellynch property was
good, but not equal to Sir Walter's apprehension of the state required
in its possessor. While Lady Elliot lived, there had been method,
moderation, and economy, which had just kept him within his income; but
with her had died all such right-mindedness, and from that period he
had been constantly exceeding it. It had not been possible for him to
spend less; he had done nothing but what Sir Walter Elliot was
imperiously called on to do; but blameless as he was, he was not only
growing dreadfully in debt, but was hearing of it so often, that it
became vain to attempt concealing it longer, even partially, from his
daughter. He had given her some hints of it the last spring in town;
he had gone so far even as to say, "Can we retrench? Does it occur to
you that there is any one article in which we can retrench?" and
Elizabeth, to do her justice, had, in the first ardour of female alarm,
set seriously to think what could be done, and had finally proposed
these two branches of economy, to cut off some unnecessary charities,
and to refrain from new furnishing the drawing-room; to which
expedients she afterwards added the happy thought of their taking no
present down to Anne, as had been the usual yearly custom. But these
measures, however good in themselves, were insufficient for the real
extent of the evil, the whole of which Sir Walter found himself obliged
to confess to her soon afterwards. Elizabeth had nothing to propose of
deeper efficacy. She felt herself ill-used and unfortunate, as did her
father; and they were neither of them able to devise any means of
lessening their expenses without compromising their dignity, or
relinquishing their comforts in a way not to be borne.
There was only a small part of his estate that Sir Walter could dispose
of; but had every acre been alienable, it would have made no
difference. He had condescended to mortgage as far as he had the
power, but he would never condescend to sell. No; he would never
disgrace his name so far. The Kellynch estate should be transmitted
whole and entire, as he had received it.
Their two confidential friends, Mr Shepherd, who lived in the
neighbouring market town, and Lady Russell, were called to advise them;
and both father and daughter seemed to expect that something should be
struck out by one or the other to remove their embarrassments and
reduce their expenditure, without involving the loss of any indulgence
of taste or pride.
Mr Shepherd, a civil, cautious lawyer, who, whatever might be his hold
or his views on Sir Walter, would rather have the disagreeable prompted
by anybody else, excused himself from offering the slightest hint, and
only begged leave to recommend an implicit reference to the excellent
judgement of Lady Russell, from whose known good sense he fully
expected to have just such resolute measures advised as he meant to see
Lady Russell was most anxiously zealous on the subject, and gave it
much serious consideration. She was a woman rather of sound than of
quick abilities, whose difficulties in coming to any decision in this
instance were great, from the opposition of two leading principles.
She was of strict integrity herself, with a delicate sense of honour;
but she was as desirous of saving Sir Walter's feelings, as solicitous
for the credit of the family, as aristocratic in her ideas of what was
due to them, as anybody of sense and honesty could well be. She was a
benevolent, charitable, good woman, and capable of strong attachments,
most correct in her conduct, strict in her notions of decorum, and with
manners that were held a standard of good-breeding. She had a
cultivated mind, and was, generally speaking, rational and consistent;
but she had prejudices on the side of ancestry; she had a value for
rank and consequence, which blinded her a little to the faults of those
who possessed them. Herself the widow of only a knight, she gave the
dignity of a baronet all its due; and Sir Walter, independent of his
claims as an old acquaintance, an attentive neighbour, an obliging
landlord, the husband of her very dear friend, the father of Anne and
her sisters, was, as being Sir Walter, in her apprehension, entitled to
a great deal of compassion and consideration under his present
They must retrench; that did not admit of a doubt. But she was very
anxious to have it done with the least possible pain to him and
Elizabeth. She drew up plans of economy, she made exact calculations,
and she did what nobody else thought of doing: she consulted Anne, who
never seemed considered by the others as having any interest in the
question. She consulted, and in a degree was influenced by her in
marking out the scheme of retrenchment which was at last submitted to
Sir Walter. Every emendation of Anne's had been on the side of honesty
against importance. She wanted more vigorous measures, a more complete
reformation, a quicker release from debt, a much higher tone of
indifference for everything but justice and equity.
"If we can persuade your father to all this," said Lady Russell,
looking over her paper, "much may be done. If he will adopt these
regulations, in seven years he will be clear; and I hope we may be able
to convince him and Elizabeth, that Kellynch Hall has a respectability
in itself which cannot be affected by these reductions; and that the
true dignity of Sir Walter Elliot will be very far from lessened in the
eyes of sensible people, by acting like a man of principle. What will
he be doing, in fact, but what very many of our first families have
done, or ought to do? There will be nothing singular in his case; and
it is singularity which often makes the worst part of our suffering, as
it always does of our conduct. I have great hope of prevailing. We
must be serious and decided; for after all, the person who has
contracted debts must pay them; and though a great deal is due to the
feelings of the gentleman, and the head of a house, like your father,
there is still more due to the character of an honest man."
This was the principle on which Anne wanted her father to be
proceeding, his friends to be urging him. She considered it as an act
of indispensable duty to clear away the claims of creditors with all
the expedition which the most comprehensive retrenchments could secure,
and saw no dignity in anything short of it. She wanted it to be
prescribed, and felt as a duty. She rated Lady Russell's influence
highly; and as to the severe degree of self-denial which her own
conscience prompted, she believed there might be little more difficulty
in persuading them to a complete, than to half a reformation. Her
knowledge of her father and Elizabeth inclined her to think that the
sacrifice of one pair of horses would be hardly less painful than of
both, and so on, through the whole list of Lady Russell's too gentle
How Anne's more rigid requisitions might have been taken is of little
consequence. Lady Russell's had no success at all: could not be put up
with, were not to be borne. "What! every comfort of life knocked off!
Journeys, London, servants, horses, table--contractions and
restrictions every where! To live no longer with the decencies even of
a private gentleman! No, he would sooner quit Kellynch Hall at once,
than remain in it on such disgraceful terms."
"Quit Kellynch Hall." The hint was immediately taken up by Mr
Shepherd, whose interest was involved in the reality of Sir Walter's
retrenching, and who was perfectly persuaded that nothing would be done
without a change of abode. "Since the idea had been started in the
very quarter which ought to dictate, he had no scruple," he said, "in
confessing his judgement to be entirely on that side. It did not
appear to him that Sir Walter could materially alter his style of
living in a house which had such a character of hospitality and ancient
dignity to support. In any other place Sir Walter might judge for
himself; and would be looked up to, as regulating the modes of life in
whatever way he might choose to model his household."
Sir Walter would quit Kellynch Hall; and after a very few days more of
doubt and indecision, the great question of whither he should go was
settled, and the first outline of this important change made out.
There had been three alternatives, London, Bath, or another house in
the country. All Anne's wishes had been for the latter. A small house
in their own neighbourhood, where they might still have Lady Russell's
society, still be near Mary, and still have the pleasure of sometimes
seeing the lawns and groves of Kellynch, was the object of her
ambition. But the usual fate of Anne attended her, in having something
very opposite from her inclination fixed on. She disliked Bath, and
did not think it agreed with her; and Bath was to be her home.
Sir Walter had at first thought more of London; but Mr Shepherd felt
that he could not be trusted in London, and had been skilful enough to
dissuade him from it, and make Bath preferred. It was a much safer
place for a gentleman in his predicament: he might there be important
at comparatively little expense. Two material advantages of Bath over
London had of course been given all their weight: its more convenient
distance from Kellynch, only fifty miles, and Lady Russell's spending
some part of every winter there; and to the very great satisfaction of
Lady Russell, whose first views on the projected change had been for
Bath, Sir Walter and Elizabeth were induced to believe that they should
lose neither consequence nor enjoyment by settling there.
Lady Russell felt obliged to oppose her dear Anne's known wishes. It
would be too much to expect Sir Walter to descend into a small house in
his own neighbourhood. Anne herself would have found the
mortifications of it more than she foresaw, and to Sir Walter's
feelings they must have been dreadful. And with regard to Anne's
dislike of Bath, she considered it as a prejudice and mistake arising,
first, from the circumstance of her having been three years at school
there, after her mother's death; and secondly, from her happening to be
not in perfectly good spirits the only winter which she had afterwards
spent there with herself.
Lady Russell was fond of Bath, in short, and disposed to think it must
suit them all; and as to her young friend's health, by passing all the
warm months with her at Kellynch Lodge, every danger would be avoided;
and it was in fact, a change which must do both health and spirits
good. Anne had been too little from home, too little seen. Her spirits
were not high. A larger society would improve them. She wanted her to
be more known.
The undesirableness of any other house in the same neighbourhood for
Sir Walter was certainly much strengthened by one part, and a very
material part of the scheme, which had been happily engrafted on the
beginning. He was not only to quit his home, but to see it in the
hands of others; a trial of fortitude, which stronger heads than Sir
Walter's have found too much. Kellynch Hall was to be let. This,
however, was a profound secret, not to be breathed beyond their own
Sir Walter could not have borne the degradation of being known to
design letting his house. Mr Shepherd had once mentioned the word
"advertise," but never dared approach it again. Sir Walter spurned the
idea of its being offered in any manner; forbad the slightest hint
being dropped of his having such an intention; and it was only on the
supposition of his being spontaneously solicited by some most
unexceptionable applicant, on his own terms, and as a great favour,
that he would let it at all.
How quick come the reasons for approving what we like! Lady Russell
had another excellent one at hand, for being extremely glad that Sir
Walter and his family were to remove from the country. Elizabeth had
been lately forming an intimacy, which she wished to see interrupted.
It was with the daughter of Mr Shepherd, who had returned, after an
unprosperous marriage, to her father's house, with the additional
burden of two children. She was a clever young woman, who understood
the art of pleasing--the art of pleasing, at least, at Kellynch Hall;
and who had made herself so acceptable to Miss Elliot, as to have been
already staying there more than once, in spite of all that Lady
Russell, who thought it a friendship quite out of place, could hint of
caution and reserve.
Lady Russell, indeed, had scarcely any influence with Elizabeth, and
seemed to love her, rather because she would love her, than because
Elizabeth deserved it. She had never received from her more than
outward attention, nothing beyond the observances of complaisance; had
never succeeded in any point which she wanted to carry, against
previous inclination. She had been repeatedly very earnest in trying
to get Anne included in the visit to London, sensibly open to all the
injustice and all the discredit of the selfish arrangements which shut
her out, and on many lesser occasions had endeavoured to give Elizabeth
the advantage of her own better judgement and experience; but always in
vain: Elizabeth would go her own way; and never had she pursued it in
more decided opposition to Lady Russell than in this selection of Mrs
Clay; turning from the society of so deserving a sister, to bestow her
affection and confidence on one who ought to have been nothing to her
but the object of distant civility.
From situation, Mrs Clay was, in Lady Russell's estimate, a very
unequal, and in her character she believed a very dangerous companion;
and a removal that would leave Mrs Clay behind, and bring a choice of
more suitable intimates within Miss Elliot's reach, was therefore an
object of first-rate importance.
"I must take leave to observe, Sir Walter," said Mr Shepherd one
morning at Kellynch Hall, as he laid down the newspaper, "that the
present juncture is much in our favour. This peace will be turning all
our rich naval officers ashore. They will be all wanting a home.
Could not be a better time, Sir Walter, for having a choice of tenants,
very responsible tenants. Many a noble fortune has been made during
the war. If a rich admiral were to come in our way, Sir Walter--"
"He would be a very lucky man, Shepherd," replied Sir Walter; "that's
all I have to remark. A prize indeed would Kellynch Hall be to him;
rather the greatest prize of all, let him have taken ever so many
before; hey, Shepherd?"
Mr Shepherd laughed, as he knew he must, at this wit, and then added--
"I presume to observe, Sir Walter, that, in the way of business,
gentlemen of the navy are well to deal with. I have had a little
knowledge of their methods of doing business; and I am free to confess
that they have very liberal notions, and are as likely to make
desirable tenants as any set of people one should meet with.
Therefore, Sir Walter, what I would take leave to suggest is, that if
in consequence of any rumours getting abroad of your intention; which
must be contemplated as a possible thing, because we know how difficult
it is to keep the actions and designs of one part of the world from the
notice and curiosity of the other; consequence has its tax; I, John
Shepherd, might conceal any family-matters that I chose, for nobody
would think it worth their while to observe me; but Sir Walter Elliot
has eyes upon him which it may be very difficult to elude; and
therefore, thus much I venture upon, that it will not greatly surprise
me if, with all our caution, some rumour of the truth should get
abroad; in the supposition of which, as I was going to observe, since
applications will unquestionably follow, I should think any from our
wealthy naval commanders particularly worth attending to; and beg leave
to add, that two hours will bring me over at any time, to save you the
trouble of replying."
Sir Walter only nodded. But soon afterwards, rising and pacing the
room, he observed sarcastically--
"There are few among the gentlemen of the navy, I imagine, who would
not be surprised to find themselves in a house of this description."
"They would look around them, no doubt, and bless their good fortune,"
said Mrs Clay, for Mrs Clay was present: her father had driven her
over, nothing being of so much use to Mrs Clay's health as a drive to
Kellynch: "but I quite agree with my father in thinking a sailor might
be a very desirable tenant. I have known a good deal of the
profession; and besides their liberality, they are so neat and careful
in all their ways! These valuable pictures of yours, Sir Walter, if
you chose to leave them, would be perfectly safe. Everything in and
about the house would be taken such excellent care of! The gardens and
shrubberies would be kept in almost as high order as they are now. You
need not be afraid, Miss Elliot, of your own sweet flower gardens being
"As to all that," rejoined Sir Walter coolly, "supposing I were induced
to let my house, I have by no means made up my mind as to the
privileges to be annexed to it. I am not particularly disposed to
favour a tenant. The park would be open to him of course, and few navy
officers, or men of any other description, can have had such a range;
but what restrictions I might impose on the use of the
pleasure-grounds, is another thing. I am not fond of the idea of my
shrubberies being always approachable; and I should recommend Miss
Elliot to be on her guard with respect to her flower garden. I am very
little disposed to grant a tenant of Kellynch Hall any extraordinary
favour, I assure you, be he sailor or soldier."
After a short pause, Mr Shepherd presumed to say--
"In all these cases, there are established usages which make everything
plain and easy between landlord and tenant. Your interest, Sir Walter,
is in pretty safe hands. Depend upon me for taking care that no tenant
has more than his just rights. I venture to hint, that Sir Walter
Elliot cannot be half so jealous for his own, as John Shepherd will be
Here Anne spoke--
"The navy, I think, who have done so much for us, have at least an
equal claim with any other set of men, for all the comforts and all the
privileges which any home can give. Sailors work hard enough for their
comforts, we must all allow."
"Very true, very true. What Miss Anne says, is very true," was Mr
Shepherd's rejoinder, and "Oh! certainly," was his daughter's; but Sir
Walter's remark was, soon afterwards--
"The profession has its utility, but I should be sorry to see any
friend of mine belonging to it."
"Indeed!" was the reply, and with a look of surprise.
"Yes; it is in two points offensive to me; I have two strong grounds of
objection to it. First, as being the means of bringing persons of
obscure birth into undue distinction, and raising men to honours which
their fathers and grandfathers never dreamt of; and secondly, as it
cuts up a man's youth and vigour most horribly; a sailor grows old
sooner than any other man. I have observed it all my life. A man is
in greater danger in the navy of being insulted by the rise of one
whose father, his father might have disdained to speak to, and of
becoming prematurely an object of disgust himself, than in any other
line. One day last spring, in town, I was in company with two men,
striking instances of what I am talking of; Lord St Ives, whose father
we all know to have been a country curate, without bread to eat; I was
to give place to Lord St Ives, and a certain Admiral Baldwin, the most
deplorable-looking personage you can imagine; his face the colour of
mahogany, rough and rugged to the last degree; all lines and wrinkles,
nine grey hairs of a side, and nothing but a dab of powder at top. 'In
the name of heaven, who is that old fellow?' said I to a friend of mine
who was standing near, (Sir Basil Morley). 'Old fellow!' cried Sir
Basil, 'it is Admiral Baldwin. What do you take his age to be?'
'Sixty,' said I, 'or perhaps sixty-two.' 'Forty,' replied Sir Basil,
'forty, and no more.' Picture to yourselves my amazement; I shall not
easily forget Admiral Baldwin. I never saw quite so wretched an
example of what a sea-faring life can do; but to a degree, I know it is
the same with them all: they are all knocked about, and exposed to
every climate, and every weather, till they are not fit to be seen. It
is a pity they are not knocked on the head at once, before they reach
Admiral Baldwin's age."
"Nay, Sir Walter," cried Mrs Clay, "this is being severe indeed. Have
a little mercy on the poor men. We are not all born to be handsome.
The sea is no beautifier, certainly; sailors do grow old betimes; I
have observed it; they soon lose the look of youth. But then, is not
it the same with many other professions, perhaps most other? Soldiers,
in active service, are not at all better off: and even in the quieter
professions, there is a toil and a labour of the mind, if not of the
body, which seldom leaves a man's looks to the natural effect of time.
The lawyer plods, quite care-worn; the physician is up at all hours,
and travelling in all weather; and even the clergyman--" she stopt a
moment to consider what might do for the clergyman;--"and even the
clergyman, you know is obliged to go into infected rooms, and expose
his health and looks to all the injury of a poisonous atmosphere. In
fact, as I have long been convinced, though every profession is
necessary and honourable in its turn, it is only the lot of those who
are not obliged to follow any, who can live in a regular way, in the
country, choosing their own hours, following their own pursuits, and
living on their own property, without the torment of trying for more;
it is only their lot, I say, to hold the blessings of health and a good
appearance to the utmost: I know no other set of men but what lose
something of their personableness when they cease to be quite young."
It seemed as if Mr Shepherd, in this anxiety to bespeak Sir Walter's
good will towards a naval officer as tenant, had been gifted with
foresight; for the very first application for the house was from an
Admiral Croft, with whom he shortly afterwards fell into company in
attending the quarter sessions at Taunton; and indeed, he had received
a hint of the Admiral from a London correspondent. By the report which
he hastened over to Kellynch to make, Admiral Croft was a native of
Somersetshire, who having acquired a very handsome fortune, was wishing
to settle in his own country, and had come down to Taunton in order to
look at some advertised places in that immediate neighbourhood, which,
however, had not suited him; that accidentally hearing--(it was just as
he had foretold, Mr Shepherd observed, Sir Walter's concerns could not
be kept a secret,)--accidentally hearing of the possibility of
Kellynch Hall being to let, and understanding his (Mr Shepherd's)
connection with the owner, he had introduced himself to him in order to
make particular inquiries, and had, in the course of a pretty long
conference, expressed as strong an inclination for the place as a man
who knew it only by description could feel; and given Mr Shepherd, in
his explicit account of himself, every proof of his being a most
responsible, eligible tenant.
"And who is Admiral Croft?" was Sir Walter's cold suspicious inquiry.
Mr Shepherd answered for his being of a gentleman's family, and
mentioned a place; and Anne, after the little pause which followed,
"He is a rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action,
and has been in the East Indies since; he was stationed there, I
believe, several years."
"Then I take it for granted," observed Sir Walter, "that his face is
about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery."
Mr Shepherd hastened to assure him, that Admiral Croft was a very hale,
hearty, well-looking man, a little weather-beaten, to be sure, but not
much, and quite the gentleman in all his notions and behaviour; not
likely to make the smallest difficulty about terms, only wanted a
comfortable home, and to get into it as soon as possible; knew he must
pay for his convenience; knew what rent a ready-furnished house of that
consequence might fetch; should not have been surprised if Sir Walter
had asked more; had inquired about the manor; would be glad of the
deputation, certainly, but made no great point of it; said he sometimes
took out a gun, but never killed; quite the gentleman.
Mr Shepherd was eloquent on the subject; pointing out all the
circumstances of the Admiral's family, which made him peculiarly
desirable as a tenant. He was a married man, and without children; the
very state to be wished for. A house was never taken good care of, Mr
Shepherd observed, without a lady: he did not know, whether furniture
might not be in danger of suffering as much where there was no lady, as
where there were many children. A lady, without a family, was the very
best preserver of furniture in the world. He had seen Mrs Croft, too;
she was at Taunton with the admiral, and had been present almost all
the time they were talking the matter over.
"And a very well-spoken, genteel, shrewd lady, she seemed to be,"
continued he; "asked more questions about the house, and terms, and
taxes, than the Admiral himself, and seemed more conversant with
business; and moreover, Sir Walter, I found she was not quite
unconnected in this country, any more than her husband; that is to say,
she is sister to a gentleman who did live amongst us once; she told me
so herself: sister to the gentleman who lived a few years back at
Monkford. Bless me! what was his name? At this moment I cannot
recollect his name, though I have heard it so lately. Penelope, my
dear, can you help me to the name of the gentleman who lived at
Monkford: Mrs Croft's brother?"
But Mrs Clay was talking so eagerly with Miss Elliot, that she did not
hear the appeal.
"I have no conception whom you can mean, Shepherd; I remember no
gentleman resident at Monkford since the time of old Governor Trent."
"Bless me! how very odd! I shall forget my own name soon, I suppose.
A name that I am so very well acquainted with; knew the gentleman so
well by sight; seen him a hundred times; came to consult me once, I
remember, about a trespass of one of his neighbours; farmer's man
breaking into his orchard; wall torn down; apples stolen; caught in the
fact; and afterwards, contrary to my judgement, submitted to an
amicable compromise. Very odd indeed!"
After waiting another moment--
"You mean Mr Wentworth, I suppose?" said Anne.
Mr Shepherd was all gratitude.
"Wentworth was the very name! Mr Wentworth was the very man. He had
the curacy of Monkford, you know, Sir Walter, some time back, for two
or three years. Came there about the year ---5, I take it. You
remember him, I am sure."
"Wentworth? Oh! ay,--Mr Wentworth, the curate of Monkford. You misled
me by the term gentleman. I thought you were speaking of some man of
property: Mr Wentworth was nobody, I remember; quite unconnected;
nothing to do with the Strafford family. One wonders how the names of
many of our nobility become so common."
As Mr Shepherd perceived that this connexion of the Crofts did them no
service with Sir Walter, he mentioned it no more; returning, with all
his zeal, to dwell on the circumstances more indisputably in their
favour; their age, and number, and fortune; the high idea they had
formed of Kellynch Hall, and extreme solicitude for the advantage of
renting it; making it appear as if they ranked nothing beyond the
happiness of being the tenants of Sir Walter Elliot: an extraordinary
taste, certainly, could they have been supposed in the secret of Sir
Walter's estimate of the dues of a tenant.
It succeeded, however; and though Sir Walter must ever look with an
evil eye on anyone intending to inhabit that house, and think them
infinitely too well off in being permitted to rent it on the highest
terms, he was talked into allowing Mr Shepherd to proceed in the
treaty, and authorising him to wait on Admiral Croft, who still
remained at Taunton, and fix a day for the house being seen.
Sir Walter was not very wise; but still he had experience enough of the
world to feel, that a more unobjectionable tenant, in all essentials,
than Admiral Croft bid fair to be, could hardly offer. So far went his
understanding; and his vanity supplied a little additional soothing, in
the Admiral's situation in life, which was just high enough, and not
too high. "I have let my house to Admiral Croft," would sound
extremely well; very much better than to any mere Mr--; a Mr (save,
perhaps, some half dozen in the nation,) always needs a note of
explanation. An admiral speaks his own consequence, and, at the same
time, can never make a baronet look small. In all their dealings and
intercourse, Sir Walter Elliot must ever have the precedence.
Nothing could be done without a reference to Elizabeth: but her
inclination was growing so strong for a removal, that she was happy to
have it fixed and expedited by a tenant at hand; and not a word to
suspend decision was uttered by her.
Mr Shepherd was completely empowered to act; and no sooner had such an
end been reached, than Anne, who had been a most attentive listener to
the whole, left the room, to seek the comfort of cool air for her
flushed cheeks; and as she walked along a favourite grove, said, with a
gentle sigh, "A few months more, and he, perhaps, may be walking here."
He was not Mr Wentworth, the former curate of Monkford, however
suspicious appearances may be, but a Captain Frederick Wentworth, his
brother, who being made commander in consequence of the action off St
Domingo, and not immediately employed, had come into Somersetshire, in
the summer of 1806; and having no parent living, found a home for half
a year at Monkford. He was, at that time, a remarkably fine young man,
with a great deal of intelligence, spirit, and brilliancy; and Anne an
extremely pretty girl, with gentleness, modesty, taste, and feeling.
Half the sum of attraction, on either side, might have been enough, for
he had nothing to do, and she had hardly anybody to love; but the
encounter of such lavish recommendations could not fail. They were
gradually acquainted, and when acquainted, rapidly and deeply in love.
It would be difficult to say which had seen highest perfection in the
other, or which had been the happiest: she, in receiving his
declarations and proposals, or he in having them accepted.
A short period of exquisite felicity followed, and but a short one.
Troubles soon arose. Sir Walter, on being applied to, without actually
withholding his consent, or saying it should never be, gave it all the
negative of great astonishment, great coldness, great silence, and a
professed resolution of doing nothing for his daughter. He thought it
a very degrading alliance; and Lady Russell, though with more tempered
and pardonable pride, received it as a most unfortunate one.
Anne Elliot, with all her claims of birth, beauty, and mind, to throw
herself away at nineteen; involve herself at nineteen in an engagement
with a young man, who had nothing but himself to recommend him, and no
hopes of attaining affluence, but in the chances of a most uncertain
profession, and no connexions to secure even his farther rise in the
profession, would be, indeed, a throwing away, which she grieved to
think of! Anne Elliot, so young; known to so few, to be snatched off
by a stranger without alliance or fortune; or rather sunk by him into a
state of most wearing, anxious, youth-killing dependence! It must not
be, if by any fair interference of friendship, any representations from
one who had almost a mother's love, and mother's rights, it would be
Captain Wentworth had no fortune. He had been lucky in his profession;
but spending freely, what had come freely, had realized nothing. But
he was confident that he should soon be rich: full of life and ardour,
he knew that he should soon have a ship, and soon be on a station that
would lead to everything he wanted. He had always been lucky; he knew
he should be so still. Such confidence, powerful in its own warmth,
and bewitching in the wit which often expressed it, must have been
enough for Anne; but Lady Russell saw it very differently. His
sanguine temper, and fearlessness of mind, operated very differently on
her. She saw in it but an aggravation of the evil. It only added a
dangerous character to himself. He was brilliant, he was headstrong.
Lady Russell had little taste for wit, and of anything approaching to
imprudence a horror. She deprecated the connexion in every light.
Such opposition, as these feelings produced, was more than Anne could
combat. Young and gentle as she was, it might yet have been possible
to withstand her father's ill-will, though unsoftened by one kind word
or look on the part of her sister; but Lady Russell, whom she had
always loved and relied on, could not, with such steadiness of opinion,
and such tenderness of manner, be continually advising her in vain.
She was persuaded to believe the engagement a wrong thing: indiscreet,
improper, hardly capable of success, and not deserving it. But it was
not a merely selfish caution, under which she acted, in putting an end
to it. Had she not imagined herself consulting his good, even more
than her own, she could hardly have given him up. The belief of being
prudent, and self-denying, principally for his advantage, was her chief
consolation, under the misery of a parting, a final parting; and every
consolation was required, for she had to encounter all the additional
pain of opinions, on his side, totally unconvinced and unbending, and
of his feeling himself ill used by so forced a relinquishment. He had
left the country in consequence.
A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance;
but not with a few months ended Anne's share of suffering from it. Her
attachment and regrets had, for a long time, clouded every enjoyment of
youth, and an early loss of bloom and spirits had been their lasting
More than seven years were gone since this little history of sorrowful
interest had reached its close; and time had softened down much,
perhaps nearly all of peculiar attachment to him, but she had been too
dependent on time alone; no aid had been given in change of place
(except in one visit to Bath soon after the rupture), or in any novelty
or enlargement of society. No one had ever come within the Kellynch
circle, who could bear a comparison with Frederick Wentworth, as he
stood in her memory. No second attachment, the only thoroughly
natural, happy, and sufficient cure, at her time of life, had been
possible to the nice tone of her mind, the fastidiousness of her taste,
in the small limits of the society around them. She had been
solicited, when about two-and-twenty, to change her name, by the young
man, who not long afterwards found a more willing mind in her younger
sister; and Lady Russell had lamented her refusal; for Charles Musgrove
was the eldest son of a man, whose landed property and general
importance were second in that country, only to Sir Walter's, and of
good character and appearance; and however Lady Russell might have
asked yet for something more, while Anne was nineteen, she would have
rejoiced to see her at twenty-two so respectably removed from the
partialities and injustice of her father's house, and settled so
permanently near herself. But in this case, Anne had left nothing for
advice to do; and though Lady Russell, as satisfied as ever with her
own discretion, never wished the past undone, she began now to have the
anxiety which borders on hopelessness for Anne's being tempted, by some
man of talents and independence, to enter a state for which she held
her to be peculiarly fitted by her warm affections and domestic habits.
They knew not each other's opinion, either its constancy or its change,
on the one leading point of Anne's conduct, for the subject was never
alluded to; but Anne, at seven-and-twenty, thought very differently
from what she had been made to think at nineteen. She did not blame
Lady Russell, she did not blame herself for having been guided by her;
but she felt that were any young person, in similar circumstances, to
apply to her for counsel, they would never receive any of such certain
immediate wretchedness, such uncertain future good. She was persuaded
that under every disadvantage of disapprobation at home, and every
anxiety attending his profession, all their probable fears, delays, and
disappointments, she should yet have been a happier woman in
maintaining the engagement, than she had been in the sacrifice of it;
and this, she fully believed, had the usual share, had even more than
the usual share of all such solicitudes and suspense been theirs,
without reference to the actual results of their case, which, as it
happened, would have bestowed earlier prosperity than could be
reasonably calculated on. All his sanguine expectations, all his
confidence had been justified. His genius and ardour had seemed to
foresee and to command his prosperous path. He had, very soon after
their engagement ceased, got employ: and all that he had told her would
follow, had taken place. He had distinguished himself, and early
gained the other step in rank, and must now, by successive captures,
have made a handsome fortune. She had only navy lists and newspapers
for her authority, but she could not doubt his being rich; and, in
favour of his constancy, she had no reason to believe him married.
How eloquent could Anne Elliot have been! how eloquent, at least, were
her wishes on the side of early warm attachment, and a cheerful
confidence in futurity, against that over-anxious caution which seems
to insult exertion and distrust Providence! She had been forced into
prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the
natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.
With all these circumstances, recollections and feelings, she could not
hear that Captain Wentworth's sister was likely to live at Kellynch
without a revival of former pain; and many a stroll, and many a sigh,
were necessary to dispel the agitation of the idea. She often told
herself it was folly, before she could harden her nerves sufficiently
to feel the continual discussion of the Crofts and their business no
evil. She was assisted, however, by that perfect indifference and
apparent unconsciousness, among the only three of her own friends in
the secret of the past, which seemed almost to deny any recollection of
it. She could do justice to the superiority of Lady Russell's motives
in this, over those of her father and Elizabeth; she could honour all
the better feelings of her calmness; but the general air of oblivion
among them was highly important from whatever it sprung; and in the
event of Admiral Croft's really taking Kellynch Hall, she rejoiced anew
over the conviction which had always been most grateful to her, of the
past being known to those three only among her connexions, by whom no
syllable, she believed, would ever be whispered, and in the trust that
among his, the brother only with whom he had been residing, had
received any information of their short-lived engagement. That brother
had been long removed from the country and being a sensible man, and,
moreover, a single man at the time, she had a fond dependence on no
human creature's having heard of it from him.
The sister, Mrs Croft, had then been out of England, accompanying her
husband on a foreign station, and her own sister, Mary, had been at
school while it all occurred; and never admitted by the pride of some,
and the delicacy of others, to the smallest knowledge of it afterwards.
With these supports, she hoped that the acquaintance between herself
and the Crofts, which, with Lady Russell, still resident in Kellynch,
and Mary fixed only three miles off, must be anticipated, need not
involve any particular awkwardness.
On the morning appointed for Admiral and Mrs Croft's seeing Kellynch
Hall, Anne found it most natural to take her almost daily walk to Lady
Russell's, and keep out of the way till all was over; when she found it
most natural to be sorry that she had missed the opportunity of seeing
This meeting of the two parties proved highly satisfactory, and decided
the whole business at once. Each lady was previously well disposed for
an agreement, and saw nothing, therefore, but good manners in the
other; and with regard to the gentlemen, there was such an hearty good
humour, such an open, trusting liberality on the Admiral's side, as
could not but influence Sir Walter, who had besides been flattered into
his very best and most polished behaviour by Mr Shepherd's assurances
of his being known, by report, to the Admiral, as a model of good
The house and grounds, and furniture, were approved, the Crofts were
approved, terms, time, every thing, and every body, was right; and Mr
Shepherd's clerks were set to work, without there having been a single
preliminary difference to modify of all that "This indenture sheweth."
Sir Walter, without hesitation, declared the Admiral to be the
best-looking sailor he had ever met with, and went so far as to say,
that if his own man might have had the arranging of his hair, he should
not be ashamed of being seen with him any where; and the Admiral, with
sympathetic cordiality, observed to his wife as they drove back through
the park, "I thought we should soon come to a deal, my dear, in spite
of what they told us at Taunton. The Baronet will never set the Thames
on fire, but there seems to be no harm in him."--reciprocal
compliments, which would have been esteemed about equal.
The Crofts were to have possession at Michaelmas; and as Sir Walter
proposed removing to Bath in the course of the preceding month, there
was no time to be lost in making every dependent arrangement.
Lady Russell, convinced that Anne would not be allowed to be of any
use, or any importance, in the choice of the house which they were
going to secure, was very unwilling to have her hurried away so soon,
and wanted to make it possible for her to stay behind till she might
convey her to Bath herself after Christmas; but having engagements of
her own which must take her from Kellynch for several weeks, she was
unable to give the full invitation she wished, and Anne though dreading
the possible heats of September in all the white glare of Bath, and
grieving to forego all the influence so sweet and so sad of the
autumnal months in the country, did not think that, everything
considered, she wished to remain. It would be most right, and most
wise, and, therefore must involve least suffering to go with the others.
Something occurred, however, to give her a different duty. Mary, often
a little unwell, and always thinking a great deal of her own
complaints, and always in the habit of claiming Anne when anything was
the matter, was indisposed; and foreseeing that she should not have a
day's health all the autumn, entreated, or rather required her, for it
was hardly entreaty, to come to Uppercross Cottage, and bear her
company as long as she should want her, instead of going to Bath.
"I cannot possibly do without Anne," was Mary's reasoning; and
Elizabeth's reply was, "Then I am sure Anne had better stay, for nobody
will want her in Bath."
To be claimed as a good, though in an improper style, is at least
better than being rejected as no good at all; and Anne, glad to be
thought of some use, glad to have anything marked out as a duty, and
certainly not sorry to have the scene of it in the country, and her own
dear country, readily agreed to stay.
This invitation of Mary's removed all Lady Russell's difficulties, and
it was consequently soon settled that Anne should not go to Bath till
Lady Russell took her, and that all the intervening time should be
divided between Uppercross Cottage and Kellynch Lodge.
So far all was perfectly right; but Lady Russell was almost startled by
the wrong of one part of the Kellynch Hall plan, when it burst on her,
which was, Mrs Clay's being engaged to go to Bath with Sir Walter and
Elizabeth, as a most important and valuable assistant to the latter in
all the business before her. Lady Russell was extremely sorry that
such a measure should have been resorted to at all, wondered, grieved,
and feared; and the affront it contained to Anne, in Mrs Clay's being
of so much use, while Anne could be of none, was a very sore
Anne herself was become hardened to such affronts; but she felt the
imprudence of the arrangement quite as keenly as Lady Russell. With a
great deal of quiet observation, and a knowledge, which she often
wished less, of her father's character, she was sensible that results
the most serious to his family from the intimacy were more than
possible. She did not imagine that her father had at present an idea
of the kind. Mrs Clay had freckles, and a projecting tooth, and a
clumsy wrist, which he was continually making severe remarks upon, in
her absence; but she was young, and certainly altogether well-looking,
and possessed, in an acute mind and assiduous pleasing manners,
infinitely more dangerous attractions than any merely personal might
have been. Anne was so impressed by the degree of their danger, that
she could not excuse herself from trying to make it perceptible to her
sister. She had little hope of success; but Elizabeth, who in the
event of such a reverse would be so much more to be pitied than
herself, should never, she thought, have reason to reproach her for
giving no warning.
She spoke, and seemed only to offend. Elizabeth could not conceive how
such an absurd suspicion should occur to her, and indignantly answered
for each party's perfectly knowing their situation.
"Mrs Clay," said she, warmly, "never forgets who she is; and as I am
rather better acquainted with her sentiments than you can be, I can
assure you, that upon the subject of marriage they are particularly
nice, and that she reprobates all inequality of condition and rank more
strongly than most people. And as to my father, I really should not
have thought that he, who has kept himself single so long for our
sakes, need be suspected now. If Mrs Clay were a very beautiful woman,
I grant you, it might be wrong to have her so much with me; not that
anything in the world, I am sure, would induce my father to make a
degrading match, but he might be rendered unhappy. But poor Mrs Clay
who, with all her merits, can never have been reckoned tolerably
pretty, I really think poor Mrs Clay may be staying here in perfect
safety. One would imagine you had never heard my father speak of her
personal misfortunes, though I know you must fifty times. That tooth
of her's and those freckles. Freckles do not disgust me so very much
as they do him. I have known a face not materially disfigured by a
few, but he abominates them. You must have heard him notice Mrs Clay's
"There is hardly any personal defect," replied Anne, "which an
agreeable manner might not gradually reconcile one to."
"I think very differently," answered Elizabeth, shortly; "an agreeable
manner may set off handsome features, but can never alter plain ones.
However, at any rate, as I have a great deal more at stake on this
point than anybody else can have, I think it rather unnecessary in you
to be advising me."
Anne had done; glad that it was over, and not absolutely hopeless of
doing good. Elizabeth, though resenting the suspicion, might yet be
made observant by it.
The last office of the four carriage-horses was to draw Sir Walter,
Miss Elliot, and Mrs Clay to Bath. The party drove off in very good
spirits; Sir Walter prepared with condescending bows for all the
afflicted tenantry and cottagers who might have had a hint to show
themselves, and Anne walked up at the same time, in a sort of desolate
tranquillity, to the Lodge, where she was to spend the first week.
Her friend was not in better spirits than herself. Lady Russell felt
this break-up of the family exceedingly. Their respectability was as
dear to her as her own, and a daily intercourse had become precious by
habit. It was painful to look upon their deserted grounds, and still
worse to anticipate the new hands they were to fall into; and to escape
the solitariness and the melancholy of so altered a village, and be out
of the way when Admiral and Mrs Croft first arrived, she had determined
to make her own absence from home begin when she must give up Anne.
Accordingly their removal was made together, and Anne was set down at
Uppercross Cottage, in the first stage of Lady Russell's journey.
Uppercross was a moderate-sized village, which a few years back had
been completely in the old English style, containing only two houses
superior in appearance to those of the yeomen and labourers; the
mansion of the squire, with its high walls, great gates, and old trees,
substantial and unmodernized, and the compact, tight parsonage,
enclosed in its own neat garden, with a vine and a pear-tree trained
round its casements; but upon the marriage of the young 'squire, it had
received the improvement of a farm-house elevated into a cottage, for
his residence, and Uppercross Cottage, with its veranda, French
windows, and other prettiness, was quite as likely to catch the
traveller's eye as the more consistent and considerable aspect and
premises of the Great House, about a quarter of a mile farther on.
Here Anne had often been staying. She knew the ways of Uppercross as
well as those of Kellynch. The two families were so continually
meeting, so much in the habit of running in and out of each other's
house at all hours, that it was rather a surprise to her to find Mary
alone; but being alone, her being unwell and out of spirits was almost
a matter of course. Though better endowed than the elder sister, Mary
had not Anne's understanding nor temper. While well, and happy, and
properly attended to, she had great good humour and excellent spirits;
but any indisposition sunk her completely. She had no resources for
solitude; and inheriting a considerable share of the Elliot
self-importance, was very prone to add to every other distress that of
fancying herself neglected and ill-used. In person, she was inferior to
both sisters, and had, even in her bloom, only reached the dignity of
being "a fine girl." She was now lying on the faded sofa of the pretty
little drawing-room, the once elegant furniture of which had been
gradually growing shabby, under the influence of four summers and two
children; and, on Anne's appearing, greeted her with--
"So, you are come at last! I began to think I should never see you. I
am so ill I can hardly speak. I have not seen a creature the whole
"I am sorry to find you unwell," replied Anne. "You sent me such a
good account of yourself on Thursday!"
"Yes, I made the best of it; I always do: but I was very far from well
at the time; and I do not think I ever was so ill in my life as I have
been all this morning: very unfit to be left alone, I am sure.
Suppose I were to be seized of a sudden in some dreadful way, and not
able to ring the bell! So, Lady Russell would not get out. I do not
think she has been in this house three times this summer."
Anne said what was proper, and enquired after her husband. "Oh!
Charles is out shooting. I have not seen him since seven o'clock. He
would go, though I told him how ill I was. He said he should not stay
out long; but he has never come back, and now it is almost one. I
assure you, I have not seen a soul this whole long morning."
"You have had your little boys with you?"
"Yes, as long as I could bear their noise; but they are so unmanageable
that they do me more harm than good. Little Charles does not mind a
word I say, and Walter is growing quite as bad."
"Well, you will soon be better now," replied Anne, cheerfully. "You
know I always cure you when I come. How are your neighbours at the
"I can give you no account of them. I have not seen one of them
to-day, except Mr Musgrove, who just stopped and spoke through the
window, but without getting off his horse; and though I told him how
ill I was, not one of them have been near me. It did not happen to
suit the Miss Musgroves, I suppose, and they never put themselves out
of their way."
"You will see them yet, perhaps, before the morning is gone. It is
"I never want them, I assure you. They talk and laugh a great deal too
much for me. Oh! Anne, I am so very unwell! It was quite unkind of
you not to come on Thursday."
"My dear Mary, recollect what a comfortable account you sent me of
yourself! You wrote in the cheerfullest manner, and said you were
perfectly well, and in no hurry for me; and that being the case, you
must be aware that my wish would be to remain with Lady Russell to the
last: and besides what I felt on her account, I have really been so
busy, have had so much to do, that I could not very conveniently have
left Kellynch sooner."
"Dear me! what can you possibly have to do?"
"A great many things, I assure you. More than I can recollect in a
moment; but I can tell you some. I have been making a duplicate of the
catalogue of my father's books and pictures. I have been several times
in the garden with Mackenzie, trying to understand, and make him
understand, which of Elizabeth's plants are for Lady Russell. I have
had all my own little concerns to arrange, books and music to divide,
and all my trunks to repack, from not having understood in time what
was intended as to the waggons: and one thing I have had to do, Mary,
of a more trying nature: going to almost every house in the parish, as
a sort of take-leave. I was told that they wished it. But all these
things took up a great deal of time."
"Oh! well!" and after a moment's pause, "but you have never asked me
one word about our dinner at the Pooles yesterday."
"Did you go then? I have made no enquiries, because I concluded you
must have been obliged to give up the party."
"Oh yes! I went. I was very well yesterday; nothing at all the matter
with me till this morning. It would have been strange if I had not
"I am very glad you were well enough, and I hope you had a pleasant
"Nothing remarkable. One always knows beforehand what the dinner will
be, and who will be there; and it is so very uncomfortable not having a
carriage of one's own. Mr and Mrs Musgrove took me, and we were so
crowded! They are both so very large, and take up so much room; and Mr
Musgrove always sits forward. So, there was I, crowded into the back
seat with Henrietta and Louise; and I think it very likely that my
illness to-day may be owing to it."
A little further perseverance in patience and forced cheerfulness on
Anne's side produced nearly a cure on Mary's. She could soon sit
upright on the sofa, and began to hope she might be able to leave it by
dinner-time. Then, forgetting to think of it, she was at the other end
of the room, beautifying a nosegay; then, she ate her cold meat; and
then she was well enough to propose a little walk.
"Where shall we go?" said she, when they were ready. "I suppose you
will not like to call at the Great House before they have been to see
"I have not the smallest objection on that account," replied Anne. "I
should never think of standing on such ceremony with people I know so
well as Mrs and the Miss Musgroves."
"Oh! but they ought to call upon you as soon as possible. They ought
to feel what is due to you as my sister. However, we may as well go
and sit with them a little while, and when we have that over, we can
enjoy our walk."
Anne had always thought such a style of intercourse highly imprudent;
but she had ceased to endeavour to check it, from believing that,
though there were on each side continual subjects of offence, neither
family could now do without it. To the Great House accordingly they
went, to sit the full half hour in the old-fashioned square parlour,
with a small carpet and shining floor, to which the present daughters
of the house were gradually giving the proper air of confusion by a
grand piano-forte and a harp, flower-stands and little tables placed in
every direction. Oh! could the originals of the portraits against the
wainscot, could the gentlemen in brown velvet and the ladies in blue
satin have seen what was going on, have been conscious of such an
overthrow of all order and neatness! The portraits themselves seemed
to be staring in astonishment.
The Musgroves, like their houses, were in a state of alteration,
perhaps of improvement. The father and mother were in the old English
style, and the young people in the new. Mr and Mrs Musgrove were a
very good sort of people; friendly and hospitable, not much educated,
and not at all elegant. Their children had more modern minds and
manners. There was a numerous family; but the only two grown up,
excepting Charles, were Henrietta and Louisa, young ladies of nineteen
and twenty, who had brought from school at Exeter all the usual stock
of accomplishments, and were now like thousands of other young ladies,
living to be fashionable, happy, and merry. Their dress had every
advantage, their faces were rather pretty, their spirits extremely
good, their manner unembarrassed and pleasant; they were of consequence
at home, and favourites abroad. Anne always contemplated them as some
of the happiest creatures of her acquaintance; but still, saved as we
all are, by some comfortable feeling of superiority from wishing for
the possibility of exchange, she would not have given up her own more
elegant and cultivated mind for all their enjoyments; and envied them
nothing but that seemingly perfect good understanding and agreement
together, that good-humoured mutual affection, of which she had known
so little herself with either of her sisters.
They were received with great cordiality. Nothing seemed amiss on the
side of the Great House family, which was generally, as Anne very well
knew, the least to blame. The half hour was chatted away pleasantly
enough; and she was not at all surprised at the end of it, to have
their walking party joined by both the Miss Musgroves, at Mary's
Anne had not wanted this visit to Uppercross, to learn that a removal
from one set of people to another, though at a distance of only three
miles, will often include a total change of conversation, opinion, and
idea. She had never been staying there before, without being struck by
it, or without wishing that other Elliots could have her advantage in
seeing how unknown, or unconsidered there, were the affairs which at
Kellynch Hall were treated as of such general publicity and pervading
interest; yet, with all this experience, she believed she must now
submit to feel that another lesson, in the art of knowing our own
nothingness beyond our own circle, was become necessary for her; for
certainly, coming as she did, with a heart full of the subject which
had been completely occupying both houses in Kellynch for many weeks,
she had expected rather more curiosity and sympathy than she found in
the separate but very similar remark of Mr and Mrs Musgrove: "So, Miss
Anne, Sir Walter and your sister are gone; and what part of Bath do you
think they will settle in?" and this, without much waiting for an
answer; or in the young ladies' addition of, "I hope we shall be in
Bath in the winter; but remember, papa, if we do go, we must be in a
good situation: none of your Queen Squares for us!" or in the anxious
supplement from Mary, of--"Upon my word, I shall be pretty well off,
when you are all gone away to be happy at Bath!"
She could only resolve to avoid such self-delusion in future, and think
with heightened gratitude of the extraordinary blessing of having one
such truly sympathising friend as Lady Russell.
The Mr Musgroves had their own game to guard, and to destroy, their own
horses, dogs, and newspapers to engage them, and the females were fully
occupied in all the other common subjects of housekeeping, neighbours,
dress, dancing, and music. She acknowledged it to be very fitting,
that every little social commonwealth should dictate its own matters of
discourse; and hoped, ere long, to become a not unworthy member of the
one she was now transplanted into. With the prospect of spending at
least two months at Uppercross, it was highly incumbent on her to
clothe her imagination, her memory, and all her ideas in as much of
Uppercross as possible.
She had no dread of these two months. Mary was not so repulsive and
unsisterly as Elizabeth, nor so inaccessible to all influence of hers;
neither was there anything among the other component parts of the
cottage inimical to comfort. She was always on friendly terms with her
brother-in-law; and in the children, who loved her nearly as well, and
respected her a great deal more than their mother, she had an object of
interest, amusement, and wholesome exertion.
Charles Musgrove was civil and agreeable; in sense and temper he was
undoubtedly superior to his wife, but not of powers, or conversation,
or grace, to make the past, as they were connected together, at all a
dangerous contemplation; though, at the same time, Anne could believe,
with Lady Russell, that a more equal match might have greatly improved
him; and that a woman of real understanding might have given more
consequence to his character, and more usefulness, rationality, and
elegance to his habits and pursuits. As it was, he did nothing with
much zeal, but sport; and his time was otherwise trifled away, without
benefit from books or anything else. He had very good spirits, which
never seemed much affected by his wife's occasional lowness, bore with
her unreasonableness sometimes to Anne's admiration, and upon the
whole, though there was very often a little disagreement (in which she
had sometimes more share than she wished, being appealed to by both
parties), they might pass for a happy couple. They were always
perfectly agreed in the want of more money, and a strong inclination
for a handsome present from his father; but here, as on most topics, he
had the superiority, for while Mary thought it a great shame that such
a present was not made, he always contended for his father's having
many other uses for his money, and a right to spend it as he liked.
As to the management of their children, his theory was much better than
his wife's, and his practice not so bad. "I could manage them very
well, if it were not for Mary's interference," was what Anne often
heard him say, and had a good deal of faith in; but when listening in
turn to Mary's reproach of "Charles spoils the children so that I
cannot get them into any order," she never had the smallest temptation
to say, "Very true."
One of the least agreeable circumstances of her residence there was her
being treated with too much confidence by all parties, and being too
much in the secret of the complaints of each house. Known to have some
influence with her sister, she was continually requested, or at least
receiving hints to exert it, beyond what was practicable. "I wish you
could persuade Mary not to be always fancying herself ill," was
Charles's language; and, in an unhappy mood, thus spoke Mary: "I do
believe if Charles were to see me dying, he would not think there was
anything the matter with me. I am sure, Anne, if you would, you might
persuade him that I really am very ill--a great deal worse than I ever
Mary's declaration was, "I hate sending the children to the Great
House, though their grandmamma is always wanting to see them, for she
humours and indulges them to such a degree, and gives them so much
trash and sweet things, that they are sure to come back sick and cross
for the rest of the day." And Mrs Musgrove took the first opportunity
of being alone with Anne, to say, "Oh! Miss Anne, I cannot help wishing
Mrs Charles had a little of your method with those children. They are
quite different creatures with you! But to be sure, in general they
are so spoilt! It is a pity you cannot put your sister in the way of
managing them. They are as fine healthy children as ever were seen,
poor little dears! without partiality; but Mrs Charles knows no more
how they should be treated--! Bless me! how troublesome they are
sometimes. I assure you, Miss Anne, it prevents my wishing to see them
at our house so often as I otherwise should. I believe Mrs Charles is
not quite pleased with my not inviting them oftener; but you know it is
very bad to have children with one that one is obligated to be checking
every moment; "don't do this," and "don't do that;" or that one can
only keep in tolerable order by more cake than is good for them."
She had this communication, moreover, from Mary. "Mrs Musgrove thinks
all her servants so steady, that it would be high treason to call it in
question; but I am sure, without exaggeration, that her upper
house-maid and laundry-maid, instead of being in their business, are
gadding about the village, all day long. I meet them wherever I go;
and I declare, I never go twice into my nursery without seeing
something of them. If Jemima were not the trustiest, steadiest
creature in the world, it would be enough to spoil her; for she tells
me, they are always tempting her to take a walk with them." And on Mrs
Musgrove's side, it was, "I make a rule of never interfering in any of
my daughter-in-law's concerns, for I know it would not do; but I shall
tell you, Miss Anne, because you may be able to set things to rights,
that I have no very good opinion of Mrs Charles's nursery-maid: I hear
strange stories of her; she is always upon the gad; and from my own
knowledge, I can declare, she is such a fine-dressing lady, that she is
enough to ruin any servants she comes near. Mrs Charles quite swears
by her, I know; but I just give you this hint, that you may be upon the
watch; because, if you see anything amiss, you need not be afraid of
Again, it was Mary's complaint, that Mrs Musgrove was very apt not to
give her the precedence that was her due, when they dined at the Great
House with other families; and she did not see any reason why she was
to be considered so much at home as to lose her place. And one day
when Anne was walking with only the Musgroves, one of them after
talking of rank, people of rank, and jealousy of rank, said, "I have no
scruple of observing to you, how nonsensical some persons are about
their place, because all the world knows how easy and indifferent you
are about it; but I wish anybody could give Mary a hint that it would
be a great deal better if she were not so very tenacious, especially if
she would not be always putting herself forward to take place of mamma.
Nobody doubts her right to have precedence of mamma, but it would be
more becoming in her not to be always insisting on it. It is not that
mamma cares about it the least in the world, but I know it is taken
notice of by many persons."
How was Anne to set all these matters to rights? She could do little
more than listen patiently, soften every grievance, and excuse each to
the other; give them all hints of the forbearance necessary between
such near neighbours, and make those hints broadest which were meant
for her sister's benefit.
In all other respects, her visit began and proceeded very well. Her
own spirits improved by change of place and subject, by being removed
three miles from Kellynch; Mary's ailments lessened by having a
constant companion, and their daily intercourse with the other family,
since there was neither superior affection, confidence, nor employment
in the cottage, to be interrupted by it, was rather an advantage. It
was certainly carried nearly as far as possible, for they met every
morning, and hardly ever spent an evening asunder; but she believed
they should not have done so well without the sight of Mr and Mrs
Musgrove's respectable forms in the usual places, or without the
talking, laughing, and singing of their daughters.
She played a great deal better than either of the Miss Musgroves, but
having no voice, no knowledge of the harp, and no fond parents, to sit
by and fancy themselves delighted, her performance was little thought
of, only out of civility, or to refresh the others, as she was well
aware. She knew that when she played she was giving pleasure only to
herself; but this was no new sensation. Excepting one short period of
her life, she had never, since the age of fourteen, never since the
loss of her dear mother, known the happiness of being listened to, or
encouraged by any just appreciation or real taste. In music she had
been always used to feel alone in the world; and Mr and Mrs Musgrove's
fond partiality for their own daughters' performance, and total
indifference to any other person's, gave her much more pleasure for
their sakes, than mortification for her own.
The party at the Great House was sometimes increased by other company.
The neighbourhood was not large, but the Musgroves were visited by
everybody, and had more dinner-parties, and more callers, more visitors
by invitation and by chance, than any other family. There were more
The girls were wild for dancing; and the evenings ended, occasionally,
in an unpremeditated little ball. There was a family of cousins within
a walk of Uppercross, in less affluent circumstances, who depended on
the Musgroves for all their pleasures: they would come at any time,
and help play at anything, or dance anywhere; and Anne, very much
preferring the office of musician to a more active post, played country
dances to them by the hour together; a kindness which always
recommended her musical powers to the notice of Mr and Mrs Musgrove
more than anything else, and often drew this compliment;--"Well done,
Miss Anne! very well done indeed! Lord bless me! how those little
fingers of yours fly about!"
So passed the first three weeks. Michaelmas came; and now Anne's heart
must be in Kellynch again. A beloved home made over to others; all the
precious rooms and furniture, groves, and prospects, beginning to own
other eyes and other limbs! She could not think of much else on the
29th of September; and she had this sympathetic touch in the evening
from Mary, who, on having occasion to note down the day of the month,
exclaimed, "Dear me, is not this the day the Crofts were to come to
Kellynch? I am glad I did not think of it before. How low it makes
The Crofts took possession with true naval alertness, and were to be
visited. Mary deplored the necessity for herself. "Nobody knew how
much she should suffer. She should put it off as long as she could;"
but was not easy till she had talked Charles into driving her over on
an early day, and was in a very animated, comfortable state of
imaginary agitation, when she came back. Anne had very sincerely
rejoiced in there being no means of her going. She wished, however to
see the Crofts, and was glad to be within when the visit was returned.
They came: the master of the house was not at home, but the two
sisters were together; and as it chanced that Mrs Croft fell to the
share of Anne, while the Admiral sat by Mary, and made himself very
agreeable by his good-humoured notice of her little boys, she was well
able to watch for a likeness, and if it failed her in the features, to
catch it in the voice, or in the turn of sentiment and expression.
Mrs Croft, though neither tall nor fat, had a squareness, uprightness,
and vigour of form, which gave importance to her person. She had
bright dark eyes, good teeth, and altogether an agreeable face; though
her reddened and weather-beaten complexion, the consequence of her
having been almost as much at sea as her husband, made her seem to have
lived some years longer in the world than her real eight-and-thirty.
Her manners were open, easy, and decided, like one who had no distrust
of herself, and no doubts of what to do; without any approach to
coarseness, however, or any want of good humour. Anne gave her credit,
indeed, for feelings of great consideration towards herself, in all
that related to Kellynch, and it pleased her: especially, as she had
satisfied herself in the very first half minute, in the instant even of
introduction, that there was not the smallest symptom of any knowledge
or suspicion on Mrs Croft's side, to give a bias of any sort. She was
quite easy on that head, and consequently full of strength and courage,
till for a moment electrified by Mrs Croft's suddenly saying,--
"It was you, and not your sister, I find, that my brother had the
pleasure of being acquainted with, when he was in this country."
Anne hoped she had outlived the age of blushing; but the age of emotion
she certainly had not.
"Perhaps you may not have heard that he is married?" added Mrs Croft.
She could now answer as she ought; and was happy to feel, when Mrs
Croft's next words explained it to be Mr Wentworth of whom she spoke,
that she had said nothing which might not do for either brother. She
immediately felt how reasonable it was, that Mrs Croft should be
thinking and speaking of Edward, and not of Frederick; and with shame
at her own forgetfulness applied herself to the knowledge of their
former neighbour's present state with proper interest.
The rest was all tranquillity; till, just as they were moving, she
heard the Admiral say to Mary--
"We are expecting a brother of Mrs Croft's here soon; I dare say you
know him by name."
He was cut short by the eager attacks of the little boys, clinging to
him like an old friend, and declaring he should not go; and being too
much engrossed by proposals of carrying them away in his coat pockets,
&c., to have another moment for finishing or recollecting what he had
begun, Anne was left to persuade herself, as well as she could, that
the same brother must still be in question. She could not, however,
reach such a degree of certainty, as not to be anxious to hear whether
anything had been said on the subject at the other house, where the
Crofts had previously been calling.
The folks of the Great House were to spend the evening of this day at
the Cottage; and it being now too late in the year for such visits to
be made on foot, the coach was beginning to be listened for, when the
youngest Miss Musgrove walked in. That she was coming to apologize,
and that they should have to spend the evening by themselves, was the
first black idea; and Mary was quite ready to be affronted, when Louisa
made all right by saying, that she only came on foot, to leave more
room for the harp, which was bringing in the carriage.
"And I will tell you our reason," she added, "and all about it. I am
come on to give you notice, that papa and mamma are out of spirits this
evening, especially mamma; she is thinking so much of poor Richard!
And we agreed it would be best to have the harp, for it seems to amuse
her more than the piano-forte. I will tell you why she is out of
spirits. When the Crofts called this morning, (they called here
afterwards, did not they?), they happened to say, that her brother,
Captain Wentworth, is just returned to England, or paid off, or
something, and is coming to see them almost directly; and most
unluckily it came into mamma's head, when they were gone, that
Wentworth, or something very like it, was the name of poor Richard's
captain at one time; I do not know when or where, but a great while
before he died, poor fellow! And upon looking over his letters and
things, she found it was so, and is perfectly sure that this must be
the very man, and her head is quite full of it, and of poor Richard!
So we must be as merry as we can, that she may not be dwelling upon
such gloomy things."
The real circumstances of this pathetic piece of family history were,
that the Musgroves had had the ill fortune of a very troublesome,
hopeless son; and the good fortune to lose him before he reached his
twentieth year; that he had been sent to sea because he was stupid and
unmanageable on shore; that he had been very little cared for at any
time by his family, though quite as much as he deserved; seldom heard
of, and scarcely at all regretted, when the intelligence of his death
abroad had worked its way to Uppercross, two years before.
He had, in fact, though his sisters were now doing all they could for
him, by calling him "poor Richard," been nothing better than a
thick-headed, unfeeling, unprofitable Dick Musgrove, who had never done
anything to entitle himself to more than the abbreviation of his name,
living or dead.
He had been several years at sea, and had, in the course of those
removals to which all midshipmen are liable, and especially such
midshipmen as every captain wishes to get rid of, been six months on
board Captain Frederick Wentworth's frigate, the Laconia; and from the
Laconia he had, under the influence of his captain, written the only
two letters which his father and mother had ever received from him
during the whole of his absence; that is to say, the only two
disinterested letters; all the rest had been mere applications for
In each letter he had spoken well of his captain; but yet, so little
were they in the habit of attending to such matters, so unobservant and
incurious were they as to the names of men or ships, that it had made
scarcely any impression at the time; and that Mrs Musgrove should have
been suddenly struck, this very day, with a recollection of the name of
Wentworth, as connected with her son, seemed one of those extraordinary
bursts of mind which do sometimes occur.
She had gone to her letters, and found it all as she supposed; and the
re-perusal of these letters, after so long an interval, her poor son
gone for ever, and all the strength of his faults forgotten, had
affected her spirits exceedingly, and thrown her into greater grief for
him than she had known on first hearing of his death. Mr Musgrove was,
in a lesser degree, affected likewise; and when they reached the
cottage, they were evidently in want, first, of being listened to anew
on this subject, and afterwards, of all the relief which cheerful
companions could give them.
To hear them talking so much of Captain Wentworth, repeating his name
so often, puzzling over past years, and at last ascertaining that it
might, that it probably would, turn out to be the very same Captain
Wentworth whom they recollected meeting, once or twice, after their
coming back from Clifton--a very fine young man--but they could not say
whether it was seven or eight years ago, was a new sort of trial to
Anne's nerves. She found, however, that it was one to which she must
inure herself. Since he actually was expected in the country, she must
teach herself to be insensible on such points. And not only did it
appear that he was expected, and speedily, but the Musgroves, in their
warm gratitude for the kindness he had shewn poor Dick, and very high
respect for his character, stamped as it was by poor Dick's having been
six months under his care, and mentioning him in strong, though not
perfectly well-spelt praise, as "a fine dashing felow, only two
perticular about the schoolmaster," were bent on introducing
themselves, and seeking his acquaintance, as soon as they could hear of
The resolution of doing so helped to form the comfort of their evening.
A very few days more, and Captain Wentworth was known to be at
Kellynch, and Mr Musgrove had called on him, and come back warm in his
praise, and he was engaged with the Crofts to dine at Uppercross, by
the end of another week. It had been a great disappointment to Mr
Musgrove to find that no earlier day could be fixed, so impatient was
he to shew his gratitude, by seeing Captain Wentworth under his own
roof, and welcoming him to all that was strongest and best in his
cellars. But a week must pass; only a week, in Anne's reckoning, and
then, she supposed, they must meet; and soon she began to wish that she
could feel secure even for a week.
Captain Wentworth made a very early return to Mr Musgrove's civility,
and she was all but calling there in the same half hour. She and Mary
were actually setting forward for the Great House, where, as she
afterwards learnt, they must inevitably have found him, when they were
stopped by the eldest boy's being at that moment brought home in
consequence of a bad fall. The child's situation put the visit
entirely aside; but she could not hear of her escape with indifference,
even in the midst of the serious anxiety which they afterwards felt on
His collar-bone was found to be dislocated, and such injury received in
the back, as roused the most alarming ideas. It was an afternoon of
distress, and Anne had every thing to do at once; the apothecary to
send for, the father to have pursued and informed, the mother to
support and keep from hysterics, the servants to control, the youngest
child to banish, and the poor suffering one to attend and soothe;
besides sending, as soon as she recollected it, proper notice to the
other house, which brought her an accession rather of frightened,
enquiring companions, than of very useful assistants.
Her brother's return was the first comfort; he could take best care of
his wife; and the second blessing was the arrival of the apothecary.
Till he came and had examined the child, their apprehensions were the
worse for being vague; they suspected great injury, but knew not where;
but now the collar-bone was soon replaced, and though Mr Robinson felt
and felt, and rubbed, and looked grave, and spoke low words both to the
father and the aunt, still they were all to hope the best, and to be
able to part and eat their dinner in tolerable ease of mind; and then
it was, just before they parted, that the two young aunts were able so
far to digress from their nephew's state, as to give the information of
Captain Wentworth's visit; staying five minutes behind their father and
mother, to endeavour to express how perfectly delighted they were with
him, how much handsomer, how infinitely more agreeable they thought him
than any individual among their male acquaintance, who had been at all
a favourite before. How glad they had been to hear papa invite him to
stay dinner, how sorry when he said it was quite out of his power, and
how glad again when he had promised in reply to papa and mamma's
farther pressing invitations to come and dine with them on the
morrow--actually on the morrow; and he had promised it in so pleasant a
manner, as if he felt all the motive of their attention just as he
ought. And in short, he had looked and said everything with such
exquisite grace, that they could assure them all, their heads were both
turned by him; and off they ran, quite as full of glee as of love, and
apparently more full of Captain Wentworth than of little Charles.
The same story and the same raptures were repeated, when the two girls
came with their father, through the gloom of the evening, to make
enquiries; and Mr Musgrove, no longer under the first uneasiness about
his heir, could add his confirmation and praise, and hope there would
be now no occasion for putting Captain Wentworth off, and only be sorry
to think that the cottage party, probably, would not like to leave the
little boy, to give him the meeting. "Oh no; as to leaving the little
boy," both father and mother were in much too strong and recent alarm
to bear the thought; and Anne, in the joy of the escape, could not help
adding her warm protestations to theirs.
Charles Musgrove, indeed, afterwards, shewed more of inclination; "the
child was going on so well, and he wished so much to be introduced to
Captain Wentworth, that, perhaps, he might join them in the evening; he
would not dine from home, but he might walk in for half an hour." But
in this he was eagerly opposed by his wife, with "Oh! no, indeed,
Charles, I cannot bear to have you go away. Only think if anything
The child had a good night, and was going on well the next day. It
must be a work of time to ascertain that no injury had been done to the
spine; but Mr Robinson found nothing to increase alarm, and Charles
Musgrove began, consequently, to feel no necessity for longer
confinement. The child was to be kept in bed and amused as quietly as
possible; but what was there for a father to do? This was quite a
female case, and it would be highly absurd in him, who could be of no
use at home, to shut himself up. His father very much wished him to
meet Captain Wentworth, and there being no sufficient reason against
it, he ought to go; and it ended in his making a bold, public
declaration, when he came in from shooting, of his meaning to dress
directly, and dine at the other house.
"Nothing can be going on better than the child," said he; "so I told my
father, just now, that I would come, and he thought me quite right.
Your sister being with you, my love, I have no scruple at all. You
would not like to leave him yourself, but you see I can be of no use.
Anne will send for me if anything is the matter."
Husbands and wives generally understand when opposition will be vain.
Mary knew, from Charles's manner of speaking, that he was quite
determined on going, and that it would be of no use to teaze him. She
said nothing, therefore, till he was out of the room, but as soon as
there was only Anne to hear--
"So you and I are to be left to shift by ourselves, with this poor sick
child; and not a creature coming near us all the evening! I knew how
it would be. This is always my luck. If there is anything
disagreeable going on men are always sure to get out of it, and Charles
is as bad as any of them. Very unfeeling! I must say it is very
unfeeling of him to be running away from his poor little boy. Talks of
his being going on so well! How does he know that he is going on well,
or that there may not be a sudden change half an hour hence? I did not
think Charles would have been so unfeeling. So here he is to go away
and enjoy himself, and because I am the poor mother, I am not to be
allowed to stir; and yet, I am sure, I am more unfit than anybody else
to be about the child. My being the mother is the very reason why my
feelings should not be tried. I am not at all equal to it. You saw
how hysterical I was yesterday."
"But that was only the effect of the suddenness of your alarm--of the
shock. You will not be hysterical again. I dare say we shall have
nothing to distress us. I perfectly understand Mr Robinson's
directions, and have no fears; and indeed, Mary, I cannot wonder at
your husband. Nursing does not belong to a man; it is not his
province. A sick child is always the mother's property: her own
feelings generally make it so."
"I hope I am as fond of my child as any mother, but I do not know that
I am of any more use in the sick-room than Charles, for I cannot be
always scolding and teazing the poor child when it is ill; and you saw,
this morning, that if I told him to keep quiet, he was sure to begin
kicking about. I have not nerves for the sort of thing."
"But, could you be comfortable yourself, to be spending the whole
evening away from the poor boy?"
"Yes; you see his papa can, and why should not I? Jemima is so
careful; and she could send us word every hour how he was. I really
think Charles might as well have told his father we would all come. I
am not more alarmed about little Charles now than he is. I was
dreadfully alarmed yesterday, but the case is very different to-day."
"Well, if you do not think it too late to give notice for yourself,
suppose you were to go, as well as your husband. Leave little Charles
to my care. Mr and Mrs Musgrove cannot think it wrong while I remain
"Are you serious?" cried Mary, her eyes brightening. "Dear me! that's
a very good thought, very good, indeed. To be sure, I may just as well
go as not, for I am of no use at home--am I? and it only harasses me.
You, who have not a mother's feelings, are a great deal the properest
person. You can make little Charles do anything; he always minds you
at a word. It will be a great deal better than leaving him only with
Jemima. Oh! I shall certainly go; I am sure I ought if I can, quite as
much as Charles, for they want me excessively to be acquainted with
Captain Wentworth, and I know you do not mind being left alone. An
excellent thought of yours, indeed, Anne. I will go and tell Charles,
and get ready directly. You can send for us, you know, at a moment's
notice, if anything is the matter; but I dare say there will be nothing
to alarm you. I should not go, you may be sure, if I did not feel
quite at ease about my dear child."
The next moment she was tapping at her husband's dressing-room door,
and as Anne followed her up stairs, she was in time for the whole
conversation, which began with Mary's saying, in a tone of great
"I mean to go with you, Charles, for I am of no more use at home than
you are. If I were to shut myself up for ever with the child, I should
not be able to persuade him to do anything he did not like. Anne will
stay; Anne undertakes to stay at home and take care of him. It is
Anne's own proposal, and so I shall go with you, which will be a great
deal better, for I have not dined at the other house since Tuesday."
"This is very kind of Anne," was her husband's answer, "and I should be
very glad to have you go; but it seems rather hard that she should be
left at home by herself, to nurse our sick child."
Anne was now at hand to take up her own cause, and the sincerity of her
manner being soon sufficient to convince him, where conviction was at
least very agreeable, he had no farther scruples as to her being left
to dine alone, though he still wanted her to join them in the evening,
when the child might be at rest for the night, and kindly urged her to
let him come and fetch her, but she was quite unpersuadable; and this
being the case, she had ere long the pleasure of seeing them set off
together in high spirits. They were gone, she hoped, to be happy,
however oddly constructed such happiness might seem; 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.
Her brother and sister came back delighted with their new acquaintance,
and their visit in general. There had been music, singing, talking,
laughing, all that was most agreeable; charming manners in Captain
Wentworth, no shyness or reserve; they seemed all to know each other
perfectly, and he was coming the very next morning to shoot with
Charles. He was to come to breakfast, but not at the Cottage, though
that had been proposed at first; but then he had been pressed to come
to the Great House instead, and he seemed afraid of being in Mrs
Charles Musgrove's way, on account of the child, and therefore,
somehow, they hardly knew how, it ended in Charles's being to meet him
to breakfast at his father's.
Anne understood it. He wished to avoid seeing her. He had inquired
after her, she found, slightly, as might suit a former slight
acquaintance, seeming to acknowledge such as she had acknowledged,
actuated, perhaps, by the same view of escaping introduction when they
were to meet.
The morning hours of the Cottage were always later than those of the
other house, and on the morrow the difference was so great that Mary
and Anne were not more than beginning breakfast when Charles came in to
say that they were just setting off, that he was come for his dogs,
that his sisters were following with Captain Wentworth; his sisters
meaning to visit Mary and the child, and Captain Wentworth proposing
also to wait on her for a few minutes if not inconvenient; and though
Charles had answered for the child's being in no such state as could
make it inconvenient, Captain Wentworth would not be satisfied without
his running on to give notice.
Mary, very much gratified by this attention, was delighted to receive
him, while a thousand feelings rushed on Anne, of which this was the
most consoling, that it would soon be over. And it was soon over. In
two minutes after Charles's preparation, the others appeared; they were
in the drawing-room. Her eye half met Captain Wentworth's, a bow, a
curtsey passed; she heard his voice; he talked to Mary, said all that
was right, said something to the Miss Musgroves, enough to mark an easy
footing; the room seemed full, full of persons and voices, but a few
minutes ended it. Charles shewed himself at the window, all was ready,
their visitor had bowed and was gone, the Miss Musgroves were gone too,
suddenly resolving to walk to the end of the village with the
sportsmen: the room was cleared, and Anne might finish her breakfast
as she could.
"It is over! it is over!" she repeated to herself again and again, in
nervous gratitude. "The worst is over!"
Mary talked, but she could not attend. She had seen him. They had
met. They had been once more in the same room.
Soon, however, she began to reason with herself, and try to be feeling
less. Eight years, almost eight years had passed, since all had been
given up. How absurd to be resuming the agitation which such an
interval had banished into distance and indistinctness! What might not
eight years do? Events of every description, changes, alienations,
removals--all, all must be comprised in it, and oblivion of the past--
how natural, how certain too! It included nearly a third part of her
Alas! with all her reasoning, she found, that to retentive feelings
eight years may be little more than nothing.
Now, how were his sentiments to be read? Was this like wishing to
avoid her? And the next moment she was hating herself for the folly
which asked the question.
On one other question which perhaps her utmost wisdom might not have
prevented, she was soon spared all suspense; for, after the Miss
Musgroves had returned and finished their visit at the Cottage she had
this spontaneous information from Mary:--
"Captain Wentworth is not very gallant by you, Anne, though he was so
attentive to me. Henrietta asked him what he thought of you, when they
went away, and he said, 'You were so altered he should not have known
Mary had no feelings to make her respect her sister's in a common way,
but she was perfectly unsuspicious of being inflicting any peculiar
"Altered beyond his knowledge." Anne fully submitted, in silent, deep
mortification. Doubtless it was so, and she could take no revenge, for
he was not altered, or not for the worse. She had already acknowledged
it to herself, and she could not think differently, let him think of
her as he would. No: the years which had destroyed her youth and
bloom had only given him a more glowing, manly, open look, in no
respect lessening his personal advantages. She had seen the same
"So altered that he should not have known her again!" These were words
which could not but dwell with her. Yet she soon began to rejoice that
she had heard them. They were of sobering tendency; they allayed
agitation; they composed, and consequently must make her happier.
Frederick Wentworth had used such words, or something like them, but
without an idea that they would be carried round to her. He had
thought her wretchedly altered, and in the first moment of appeal, had
spoken as he felt. He had not forgiven Anne Elliot. She had used him
ill, deserted and disappointed him; and worse, she had shewn a
feebleness of character in doing so, which his own decided, confident
temper could not endure. She had given him up to oblige others. It
had been the effect of over-persuasion. It had been weakness and
He had been most warmly attached to her, and had never seen a woman
since whom he thought her equal; but, except from some natural
sensation of curiosity, he had no desire of meeting her again. Her
power with him was gone for ever.
It was now his object to marry. He was rich, and being turned on
shore, fully intended to settle as soon as he could be properly
tempted; actually looking round, ready to fall in love with all the
speed which a clear head and a quick taste could allow. He had a heart
for either of the Miss Musgroves, if they could catch it; a heart, in
short, for any pleasing young woman who came in his way, excepting Anne
Elliot. This was his only secret exception, when he said to his
sister, in answer to her suppositions:--
"Yes, here I am, Sophia, quite ready to make a foolish match. Anybody
between fifteen and thirty may have me for asking. A little beauty,
and a few smiles, and a few compliments to the navy, and I am a lost
man. Should not this be enough for a sailor, who has had no society
among women to make him nice?"
He said it, she knew, to be contradicted. His bright proud eye spoke
the conviction that he was nice; and Anne Elliot was not out of his
thoughts, when he more seriously described the woman he should wish to
meet with. "A strong mind, with sweetness of manner," made the first
and the last of the description.
"That is the woman I want," said he. "Something a little inferior I
shall of course put up with, but it must not be much. If I am a fool,
I shall be a fool indeed, for I have thought on the subject more than
From this time Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot were repeatedly in the
same circle. They were soon dining in company together at Mr
Musgrove's, for the little boy's state could no longer supply his aunt
with a pretence for absenting herself; and this was but the beginning
of other dinings and other meetings.
Whether former feelings were to be renewed must be brought to the
proof; former times must undoubtedly be brought to the recollection of
each; they could not but be reverted to; the year of their engagement
could not but be named by him, in the little narratives or descriptions
which conversation called forth. His profession qualified him, his
disposition lead him, to talk; and "That was in the year six;" "That
happened before I went to sea in the year six," occurred in the course
of the first evening they spent together: and though his voice did not
falter, and though she had no reason to suppose his eye wandering
towards her while he spoke, Anne felt the utter impossibility, from her
knowledge of his mind, that he could be unvisited by remembrance any
more than herself. There must be the same immediate association of
thought, though she was very far from conceiving it to be of equal pain.
They had no conversation together, no intercourse but what the
commonest civility required. Once so much to each other! Now nothing!
There had been a time, when of all the large party now filling the
drawing-room at Uppercross, they would have found it most difficult to
cease to speak to one another. With the exception, perhaps, of Admiral
and Mrs Croft, who seemed particularly attached and happy, (Anne could
allow no other exceptions even among the married couples), there could
have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so
in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers;
nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It
was a perpetual estrangement.
When he talked, she heard the same voice, and discerned the same mind.
There was a very general ignorance of all naval matters throughout the
party; and he was very much questioned, and especially by the two Miss
Musgroves, who seemed hardly to have any eyes but for him, as to the
manner of living on board, daily regulations, food, hours, &c., and
their surprise at his accounts, at learning the degree of accommodation
and arrangement which was practicable, drew from him some pleasant
ridicule, which reminded Anne of the early days when she too had been
ignorant, and she too had been accused of supposing sailors to be
living on board without anything to eat, or any cook to dress it if
there were, or any servant to wait, or any knife and fork to use.
From thus listening and thinking, she was roused by a whisper of Mrs
Musgrove's who, overcome by fond regrets, could not help saying--
"Ah! Miss Anne, if it had pleased Heaven to spare my poor son, I dare
say he would have been just such another by this time."
Anne suppressed a smile, and listened kindly, while Mrs Musgrove
relieved her heart a little more; and for a few minutes, therefore,
could not keep pace with the conversation of the others.
When she could let her attention take its natural course again, she
found the Miss Musgroves just fetching the Navy List (their own navy
list, the first that had ever been at Uppercross), and sitting down
together to pore over it, with the professed view of finding out the
ships that Captain Wentworth had commanded.
"Your first was the Asp, I remember; we will look for the Asp."
"You will not find her there. Quite worn out and broken up. I was the
last man who commanded her. Hardly fit for service then. Reported fit
for home service for a year or two, and so I was sent off to the West
The girls looked all amazement.
"The Admiralty," he continued, "entertain themselves now and then, with
sending a few hundred men to sea, in a ship not fit to be employed.
But they have a great many to provide for; and among the thousands that
may just as well go to the bottom as not, it is impossible for them to
distinguish the very set who may be least missed."
"Phoo! phoo!" cried the Admiral, "what stuff these young fellows talk!
Never was a better sloop than the Asp in her day. For an old built
sloop, you would not see her equal. Lucky fellow to get her! He knows
there must have been twenty better men than himself applying for her at
the same time. Lucky fellow to get anything so soon, with no more
interest than his."
"I felt my luck, Admiral, I assure you;" replied Captain Wentworth,
seriously. "I was as well satisfied with my appointment as you can
desire. It was a great object with me at that time to be at sea; a
very great object, I wanted to be doing something."
"To be sure you did. What should a young fellow like you do ashore for
half a year together? If a man had not a wife, he soon wants to be
"But, Captain Wentworth," cried Louisa, "how vexed you must have been
when you came to the Asp, to see what an old thing they had given you."
"I knew pretty well what she was before that day;" said he, smiling.
"I had no more discoveries to make than you would have as to the
fashion and strength of any old pelisse, which you had seen lent about
among half your acquaintance ever since you could remember, and which
at last, on some very wet day, is lent to yourself. Ah! she was a dear
old Asp to me. She did all that I wanted. I knew she would. I knew
that we should either go to the bottom together, or that she would be
the making of me; and I never had two days of foul weather all the time
I was at sea in her; and after taking privateers enough to be very
entertaining, I had the good luck in my passage home the next autumn,
to fall in with the very French frigate I wanted. I brought her into
Plymouth; and here another instance of luck. We had not been six hours
in the Sound, when a gale came on, which lasted four days and nights,
and which would have done for poor old Asp in half the time; our touch
with the Great Nation not having much improved our condition.
Four-and-twenty hours later, and I should only have been a gallant
Captain Wentworth, in a small paragraph at one corner of the
newspapers; and being lost in only a sloop, nobody would have thought
about me." Anne's shudderings were to herself alone; but the Miss
Musgroves could be as open as they were sincere, in their exclamations
of pity and horror.
"And so then, I suppose," said Mrs Musgrove, in a low voice, as if
thinking aloud, "so then he went away to the Laconia, and there he met
with our poor boy. Charles, my dear," (beckoning him to her), "do ask
Captain Wentworth where it was he first met with your poor brother. I
"It was at Gibraltar, mother, I know. Dick had been left ill at
Gibraltar, with a recommendation from his former captain to Captain
"Oh! but, Charles, tell Captain Wentworth, he need not be afraid of
mentioning poor Dick before me, for it would be rather a pleasure to
hear him talked of by such a good friend."
Charles, being somewhat more mindful of the probabilities of the case,
only nodded in reply, and walked away.
The girls were now hunting for the Laconia; and Captain Wentworth could
not deny himself the pleasure of taking the precious volume into his
own hands to save them the trouble, and once more read aloud the little
statement of her name and rate, and present non-commissioned class,
observing over it that she too had been one of the best friends man
"Ah! those were pleasant days when I had the Laconia! How fast I made
money in her. A friend of mine and I had such a lovely cruise together
off the Western Islands. Poor Harville, sister! You know how much he
wanted money: worse than myself. He had a wife. Excellent fellow. I
shall never forget his happiness. He felt it all, so much for her
sake. I wished for him again the next summer, when I had still the
same luck in the Mediterranean."
"And I am sure, Sir," said Mrs Musgrove, "it was a lucky day for us,
when you were put captain into that ship. We shall never forget what
Her feelings made her speak low; and Captain Wentworth, hearing only in
part, and probably not having Dick Musgrove at all near his thoughts,
looked rather in suspense, and as if waiting for more.
"My brother," whispered one of the girls; "mamma is thinking of poor
"Poor dear fellow!" continued Mrs Musgrove; "he was grown so steady,
and such an excellent correspondent, while he was under your care! Ah!
it would have been a happy thing, if he had never left you. I assure
you, Captain Wentworth, we are very sorry he ever left you."
There was a momentary expression in Captain Wentworth's face at this
speech, a certain glance of his bright eye, and curl of his handsome
mouth, which convinced Anne, that instead of sharing in Mrs Musgrove's
kind wishes, as to her son, he had probably been at some pains to get
rid of him; but it was too transient an indulgence of self-amusement to
be detected by any who understood him less than herself; in another
moment he was perfectly collected and serious, and almost instantly
afterwards coming up to the sofa, on which she and Mrs Musgrove were
sitting, took a place by the latter, and entered into conversation with
her, in a low voice, about her son, doing it with so much sympathy and
natural grace, as shewed the kindest consideration for all that was
real and unabsurd in the parent's feelings.
They were actually on the same sofa, for Mrs Musgrove had most readily
made room for him; they were divided only by Mrs Musgrove. It was no
insignificant barrier, indeed. Mrs Musgrove was of a comfortable,
substantial size, infinitely more fitted by nature to express good
cheer and good humour, than tenderness and sentiment; and while the
agitations of Anne's slender form, and pensive face, may be considered
as very completely screened, Captain Wentworth should be allowed some
credit for the self-command with which he attended to her large fat
sighings over the destiny of a son, whom alive nobody had cared for.
Personal size and mental sorrow have certainly no necessary
proportions. A large bulky figure has as good a right to be in deep
affliction, as the most graceful set of limbs in the world. But, fair
or not fair, there are unbecoming conjunctions, which reason will
patronize in vain--which taste cannot tolerate--which ridicule will
The Admiral, after taking two or three refreshing turns about the room
with his hands behind him, being called to order by his wife, now came
up to Captain Wentworth, and without any observation of what he might
be interrupting, thinking only of his own thoughts, began with--
"If you had been a week later at Lisbon, last spring, Frederick, you
would have been asked to give a passage to Lady Mary Grierson and her
"Should I? I am glad I was not a week later then."
The Admiral abused him for his want of gallantry. He defended himself;
though professing that he would never willingly admit any ladies on
board a ship of his, excepting for a ball, or a visit, which a few
hours might comprehend.
"But, if I know myself," said he, "this is from no want of gallantry
towards them. It is rather from feeling how impossible it is, with all
one's efforts, and all one's sacrifices, to make the accommodations on
board such as women ought to have. There can be no want of gallantry,
Admiral, in rating the claims of women to every personal comfort high,
and this is what I do. I hate to hear of women on board, or to see
them on board; and no ship under my command shall ever convey a family
of ladies anywhere, if I can help it."
This brought his sister upon him.
"Oh! Frederick! But I cannot believe it of you.--All idle
refinement!--Women may be as comfortable on board, as in the best house
in England. I believe I have lived as much on board as most women, and
I know nothing superior to the accommodations of a man-of-war. I
declare I have not a comfort or an indulgence about me, even at
Kellynch Hall," (with a kind bow to Anne), "beyond what I always had in
most of the ships I have lived in; and they have been five altogether."
"Nothing to the purpose," replied her brother. "You were living with
your husband, and were the only woman on board."
"But you, yourself, brought Mrs Harville, her sister, her cousin, and
three children, round from Portsmouth to Plymouth. Where was this
superfine, extraordinary sort of gallantry of yours then?"
"All merged in my friendship, Sophia. I would assist any brother
officer's wife that I could, and I would bring anything of Harville's
from the world's end, if he wanted it. But do not imagine that I did
not feel it an evil in itself."
"Depend upon it, they were all perfectly comfortable."
"I might not like them the better for that perhaps. Such a number of
women and children have no right to be comfortable on board."
"My dear Frederick, you are talking quite idly. Pray, what would
become of us poor sailors' wives, who often want to be conveyed to one
port or another, after our husbands, if everybody had your feelings?"
"My feelings, you see, did not prevent my taking Mrs Harville and all
her family to Plymouth."
"But I hate to hear you talking so like a fine gentleman, and as if
women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of
us expect to be in smooth water all our days."
"Ah! my dear," said the Admiral, "when he had got a wife, he will sing
a different tune. When he is married, if we have the good luck to live
to another war, we shall see him do as you and I, and a great many
others, have done. We shall have him very thankful to anybody that
will bring him his wife."
"Ay, that we shall."
"Now I have done," cried Captain Wentworth. "When once married people
begin to attack me with,--'Oh! you will think very differently, when
you are married.' I can only say, 'No, I shall not;' and then they say
again, 'Yes, you will,' and there is an end of it."
He got up and moved away.
"What a great traveller you must have been, ma'am!" said Mrs Musgrove
to Mrs Croft.
"Pretty well, ma'am in the fifteen years of my marriage; though many
women have done more. I have crossed the Atlantic four times, and have
been once to the East Indies, and back again, and only once; besides
being in different places about home: Cork, and Lisbon, and Gibraltar.
But I never went beyond the Streights, and never was in the West
Indies. We do not call Bermuda or Bahama, you know, the West Indies."
Mrs Musgrove had not a word to say in dissent; she could not accuse
herself of having ever called them anything in the whole course of her
"And I do assure you, ma'am," pursued Mrs Croft, "that nothing can
exceed the accommodations of a man-of-war; I speak, you know, of the
higher rates. When you come to a frigate, of course, you are more
confined; though any reasonable woman may be perfectly happy in one of
them; and I can safely say, that the happiest part of my life has been
spent on board a ship. While we were together, you know, there was
nothing to be feared. Thank God! I have always been blessed with
excellent health, and no climate disagrees with me. A little
disordered always the first twenty-four hours of going to sea, but
never knew what sickness was afterwards. The only time I ever really
suffered in body or mind, the only time that I ever fancied myself
unwell, or had any ideas of danger, was the winter that I passed by
myself at Deal, when the Admiral (Captain Croft then) was in the North
Seas. I lived in perpetual fright at that time, and had all manner of
imaginary complaints from not knowing what to do with myself, or when I
should hear from him next; but as long as we could be together, nothing
ever ailed me, and I never met with the smallest inconvenience."
"Aye, to be sure. Yes, indeed, oh yes! I am quite of your opinion,
Mrs Croft," was Mrs Musgrove's hearty answer. "There is nothing so bad
as a separation. I am quite of your opinion. I know what it is, for
Mr Musgrove always attends the assizes, and I am so glad when they are
over, and he is safe back again."
The evening ended with dancing. On its being proposed, Anne offered
her services, as usual; and though her eyes would sometimes fill with
tears as she sat at the instrument, she was extremely glad to be
employed, and desired nothing in return but to be unobserved.
It was a merry, joyous party, and no one seemed in higher spirits than
Captain Wentworth. She felt that he had every thing to elevate him
which general attention and deference, and especially the attention of
all the young women, could do. The Miss Hayters, the females of the
family of cousins already mentioned, were apparently admitted to the
honour of being in love with him; and as for Henrietta and Louisa, they
both seemed so entirely occupied by him, that nothing but the continued
appearance of the most perfect good-will between themselves could have
made it credible that they were not decided rivals. If he were a
little spoilt by such universal, such eager admiration, who could
These were some of the thoughts which occupied Anne, while her fingers
were mechanically at work, proceeding for half an hour together,
equally without error, and without consciousness. Once she felt that
he was looking at herself, observing her altered features, perhaps,
trying to trace in them the ruins of the face which had once charmed
him; and once she knew that he must have spoken of her; she was hardly
aware of it, till she heard the answer; but then she was sure of his
having asked his partner whether Miss Elliot never danced? The answer
was, "Oh, no; never; she has quite given up dancing. She had rather
play. She is never tired of playing." Once, too, he spoke to her.
She had left the instrument on the dancing being over, and he had sat
down to try to make out an air which he wished to give the Miss
Musgroves an idea of. Unintentionally she returned to that part of the
room; he saw her, and, instantly rising, said, with studied politeness--
"I beg your pardon, madam, this is your seat;" and though she
immediately drew back with a decided negative, he was not to be induced
to sit down again.
Anne did not wish for more of such looks and speeches. His cold
politeness, his ceremonious grace, were worse than anything.
Captain Wentworth was come to Kellynch as to a home, to stay as long as
he liked, being as thoroughly the object of the Admiral's fraternal
kindness as of his wife's. He had intended, on first arriving, to
proceed very soon into Shropshire, and visit the brother settled in
that country, but the attractions of Uppercross induced him to put this
off. There was so much of friendliness, and of flattery, and of
everything most bewitching in his reception there; the old were so
hospitable, the young so agreeable, that he could not but resolve to
remain where he was, and take all the charms and perfections of
Edward's wife upon credit a little longer.
It was soon Uppercross with him almost every day. The Musgroves could
hardly be more ready to invite than he to come, particularly in the
morning, when he had no companion at home, for the Admiral and Mrs
Croft were generally out of doors together, interesting themselves in
their new possessions, their grass, and their sheep, and dawdling about
in a way not endurable to a third person, or driving out in a gig,
lately added to their establishment.
Hitherto there had been but one opinion of Captain Wentworth among the
Musgroves and their dependencies. It was unvarying, warm admiration
everywhere; but this intimate footing was not more than established,
when a certain Charles Hayter returned among them, to be a good deal
disturbed by it, and to think Captain Wentworth very much in the way.
Charles Hayter was the eldest of all the cousins, and a very amiable,
pleasing young man, between whom and Henrietta there had been a
considerable appearance of attachment previous to Captain Wentworth's
introduction. He was in orders; and having a curacy in the
neighbourhood, where residence was not required, lived at his father's
house, only two miles from Uppercross. A short absence from home had
left his fair one unguarded by his attentions at this critical period,
and when he came back he had the pain of finding very altered manners,
and of seeing Captain Wentworth.
Mrs Musgrove and Mrs Hayter were sisters. They had each had money, but
their marriages had made a material difference in their degree of
consequence. Mr Hayter had some property of his own, but it was
insignificant compared with Mr Musgrove's; and while the Musgroves were
in the first class of society in the country, the young Hayters would,
from their parents' inferior, retired, and unpolished way of living,
and their own defective education, have been hardly in any class at
all, but for their connexion with Uppercross, this eldest son of course
excepted, who had chosen to be a scholar and a gentleman, and who was
very superior in cultivation and manners to all the rest.
The two families had always been on excellent terms, there being no
pride on one side, and no envy on the other, and only such a
consciousness of superiority in the Miss Musgroves, as made them
pleased to improve their cousins. Charles's attentions to Henrietta
had been observed by her father and mother without any disapprobation.
"It would not be a great match for her; but if Henrietta liked him,"--
and Henrietta did seem to like him.
Henrietta fully thought so herself, before Captain Wentworth came; but
from that time Cousin Charles had been very much forgotten.
Which of the two sisters was preferred by Captain Wentworth was as yet
quite doubtful, as far as Anne's observation reached. Henrietta was
perhaps the prettiest, Louisa had the higher spirits; and she knew not
now, whether the more gentle or the more lively character were most
likely to attract him.
Mr and Mrs Musgrove, either from seeing little, or from an entire
confidence in the discretion of both their daughters, and of all the
young men who came near them, seemed to leave everything to take its
chance. There was not the smallest appearance of solicitude or remark
about them in the Mansion-house; but it was different at the Cottage:
the young couple there were more disposed to speculate and wonder; and
Captain Wentworth had not been above four or five times in the Miss
Musgroves' company, and Charles Hayter had but just reappeared, when
Anne had to listen to the opinions of her brother and sister, as to
which was the one liked best. Charles gave it for Louisa, Mary for
Henrietta, but quite agreeing that to have him marry either could be
Charles "had never seen a pleasanter man in his life; and from what he
had once heard Captain Wentworth himself say, was very sure that he had
not made less than twenty thousand pounds by the war. Here was a
fortune at once; besides which, there would be the chance of what might
be done in any future war; and he was sure Captain Wentworth was as
likely a man to distinguish himself as any officer in the navy. Oh! it
would be a capital match for either of his sisters."
"Upon my word it would," replied Mary. "Dear me! If he should rise to
any very great honours! If he should ever be made a baronet! 'Lady
Wentworth' sounds very well. That would be a noble thing, indeed, for
Henrietta! She would take place of me then, and Henrietta would not
dislike that. Sir Frederick and Lady Wentworth! It would be but a new
creation, however, and I never think much of your new creations."
It suited Mary best to think Henrietta the one preferred on the very
account of Charles Hayter, whose pretensions she wished to see put an
end to. She looked down very decidedly upon the Hayters, and thought
it would be quite a misfortune to have the existing connection between
the families renewed--very sad for herself and her children.
"You know," said she, "I cannot think him at all a fit match for
Henrietta; and considering the alliances which the Musgroves have made,
she has no right to throw herself away. I do not think any young woman
has a right to make a choice that may be disagreeable and inconvenient
to the principal part of her family, and be giving bad connections to
those who have not been used to them. And, pray, who is Charles
Hayter? Nothing but a country curate. A most improper match for Miss
Musgrove of Uppercross."
Her husband, however, would not agree with her here; for besides having
a regard for his cousin, Charles Hayter was an eldest son, and he saw
things as an eldest son himself.
"Now you are talking nonsense, Mary," was therefore his answer. "It
would not be a great match for Henrietta, but Charles has a very fair
chance, through the Spicers, of getting something from the Bishop in
the course of a year or two; and you will please to remember, that he
is the eldest son; whenever my uncle dies, he steps into very pretty
property. The estate at Winthrop is not less than two hundred and
fifty acres, besides the farm near Taunton, which is some of the best
land in the country. I grant you, that any of them but Charles would
be a very shocking match for Henrietta, and indeed it could not be; he
is the only one that could be possible; but he is a very good-natured,
good sort of a fellow; and whenever Winthrop comes into his hands, he
will make a different sort of place of it, and live in a very different
sort of way; and with that property, he will never be a contemptible
man--good, freehold property. No, no; Henrietta might do worse than
marry Charles Hayter; and if she has him, and Louisa can get Captain
Wentworth, I shall be very well satisfied."
"Charles may say what he pleases," cried Mary to Anne, as soon as he
was out of the room, "but it would be shocking to have Henrietta marry
Charles Hayter; a very bad thing for her, and still worse for me; and
therefore it is very much to be wished that Captain Wentworth may soon
put him quite out of her head, and I have very little doubt that he
has. She took hardly any notice of Charles Hayter yesterday. I wish
you had been there to see her behaviour. And as to Captain Wentworth's
liking Louisa as well as Henrietta, it is nonsense to say so; for he
certainly does like Henrietta a great deal the best. But Charles is so
positive! I wish you had been with us yesterday, for then you might
have decided between us; and I am sure you would have thought as I did,
unless you had been determined to give it against me."
A dinner at Mr Musgrove's had been the occasion when all these things
should have been seen by Anne; but she had staid at home, under the
mixed plea of a headache of her own, and some return of indisposition
in little Charles. She had thought only of avoiding Captain Wentworth;
but an escape from being appealed to as umpire was now added to the
advantages of a quiet evening.
As to Captain Wentworth's views, she deemed it of more consequence that
he should know his own mind early enough not to be endangering the
happiness of either sister, or impeaching his own honour, than that he
should prefer Henrietta to Louisa, or Louisa to Henrietta. Either of
them would, in all probability, make him an affectionate, good-humoured
wife. With regard to Charles Hayter, she had delicacy which must be
pained by any lightness of conduct in a well-meaning young woman, and a
heart to sympathize in any of the sufferings it occasioned; but if
Henrietta found herself mistaken in the nature of her feelings, the
alternation could not be understood too soon.
Charles Hayter had met with much to disquiet and mortify him in his
cousin's behaviour. She had too old a regard for him to be so wholly
estranged as might in two meetings extinguish every past hope, and
leave him nothing to do but to keep away from Uppercross: but there
was such a change as became very alarming, when such a man as Captain
Wentworth was to be regarded as the probable cause. He had been absent
only two Sundays, and when they parted, had left her interested, even
to the height of his wishes, in his prospect of soon quitting his
present curacy, and obtaining that of Uppercross instead. It had then
seemed the object nearest her heart, that Dr Shirley, the rector, who
for more than forty years had been zealously discharging all the duties
of his office, but was now growing too infirm for many of them, should
be quite fixed on engaging a curate; should make his curacy quite as
good as he could afford, and should give Charles Hayter the promise of
it. The advantage of his having to come only to Uppercross, instead of
going six miles another way; of his having, in every respect, a better
curacy; of his belonging to their dear Dr Shirley, and of dear, good Dr
Shirley's being relieved from the duty which he could no longer get
through without most injurious fatigue, had been a great deal, even to
Louisa, but had been almost everything to Henrietta. When he came
back, alas! the zeal of the business was gone by. Louisa could not
listen at all to his account of a conversation which he had just held
with Dr Shirley: she was at a window, looking out for Captain
Wentworth; and even Henrietta had at best only a divided attention to
give, and seemed to have forgotten all the former doubt and solicitude
of the negotiation.
"Well, I am very glad indeed: but I always thought you would have it;
I always thought you sure. It did not appear to me that--in short, you
know, Dr Shirley must have a curate, and you had secured his promise.
Is he coming, Louisa?"
One morning, very soon after the dinner at the Musgroves, at which Anne
had not been present, Captain Wentworth walked into the drawing-room at
the Cottage, where were only herself and the little invalid Charles,
who was lying on the sofa.
The surprise of finding himself almost alone with Anne Elliot, deprived
his manners of their usual composure: he started, and could only say,
"I thought the Miss Musgroves had been here: Mrs Musgrove told me I
should find them here," before he walked to the window to recollect
himself, and feel how he ought to behave.
"They are up stairs with my sister: they will be down in a few
moments, I dare say," had been Anne's reply, in all the confusion that
was natural; and if the child had not called her to come and do
something for him, she would have been out of the room the next moment,
and released Captain Wentworth as well as herself.
He continued at the window; and after calmly and politely saying, "I
hope the little boy is better," was silent.
She was obliged to kneel down by the sofa, and remain there to satisfy
her patient; and thus they continued a few minutes, when, to her very
great satisfaction, she heard some other person crossing the little
vestibule. She hoped, on turning her head, to see the master of the
house; but it proved to be one much less calculated for making matters
easy--Charles Hayter, probably not at all better pleased by the sight
of Captain Wentworth than Captain Wentworth had been by the sight of
She only attempted to say, "How do you do? Will you not sit down? The
others will be here presently."
Captain Wentworth, however, came from his window, apparently not
ill-disposed for conversation; but Charles Hayter soon put an end to
his attempts by seating himself near the table, and taking up the
newspaper; and Captain Wentworth returned to his window.
Another minute brought another addition. The younger boy, a remarkable
stout, forward child, of two years old, having got the door opened for
him by some one without, made his determined appearance among them, and
went straight to the sofa to see what was going on, and put in his
claim to anything good that might be giving away.
There being nothing to eat, he could only have some play; and as his
aunt would not let him tease his sick brother, he began to fasten
himself upon her, as she knelt, in such a way that, busy as she was
about Charles, she could not shake him off. She spoke to him, ordered,
entreated, and insisted in vain. Once she did contrive to push him
away, but the boy had the greater pleasure in getting upon her back
"Walter," said she, "get down this moment. You are extremely
troublesome. I am very angry with you."
"Walter," cried Charles Hayter, "why do you not do as you are bid? Do
not you hear your aunt speak? Come to me, Walter, come to cousin
But not a bit did Walter stir.
In another moment, however, she found herself in the state of being
released from him; some one was taking him from her, though he had bent
down her head so much, that his little sturdy hands were unfastened
from around her neck, and he was resolutely borne away, before she knew
that Captain Wentworth had done it.
Her sensations on the discovery made her perfectly speechless. She
could not even thank him. She could only hang over little Charles,
with most disordered feelings. His kindness in stepping forward to her
relief, the manner, the silence in which it had passed, the little
particulars of the circumstance, with the conviction soon forced on her
by the noise he was studiously making with the child, that he meant to
avoid hearing her thanks, and rather sought to testify that her
conversation was the last of his wants, produced such a confusion of
varying, but very painful agitation, as she could not recover from,
till enabled by the entrance of Mary and the Miss Musgroves to make
over her little patient to their cares, and leave the room. She could
not stay. It might have been an opportunity of watching the loves and
jealousies of the four--they were now altogether; but she could stay
for none of it. It was evident that Charles Hayter was not well
inclined towards Captain Wentworth. She had a strong impression of his
having said, in a vext tone of voice, after Captain Wentworth's
interference, "You ought to have minded me, Walter; I told you not to
teaze your aunt;" and could comprehend his regretting that Captain
Wentworth should do what he ought to have done himself. But neither
Charles Hayter's feelings, nor anybody's feelings, could interest her,
till she had a little better arranged her own. She was ashamed of
herself, quite ashamed of being so nervous, so overcome by such a
trifle; but so it was, and it required a long application of solitude
and reflection to recover her.
Other opportunities of making her observations could not fail to occur.
Anne had soon been in company with all the four together often enough
to have an opinion, though too wise to acknowledge as much at home,
where she knew it would have satisfied neither husband nor wife; for
while she considered Louisa to be rather the favourite, she could not
but think, as far as she might dare to judge from memory and
experience, that Captain Wentworth was not in love with either. They
were more in love with him; yet there it was not love. It was a little
fever of admiration; but it might, probably must, end in love with
some. Charles Hayter seemed aware of being slighted, and yet Henrietta
had sometimes the air of being divided between them. Anne longed for
the power of representing to them all what they were about, and of
pointing out some of the evils they were exposing themselves to. She
did not attribute guile to any. It was the highest satisfaction to her
to believe Captain Wentworth not in the least aware of the pain he was
occasioning. There was no triumph, no pitiful triumph in his manner.
He had, probably, never heard, and never thought of any claims of
Charles Hayter. He was only wrong in accepting the attentions (for
accepting must be the word) of two young women at once.
After a short struggle, however, Charles Hayter seemed to quit the
field. Three days had passed without his coming once to Uppercross; a
most decided change. He had even refused one regular invitation to
dinner; and having been found on the occasion by Mr Musgrove with some
large books before him, Mr and Mrs Musgrove were sure all could not be
right, and talked, with grave faces, of his studying himself to death.
It was Mary's hope and belief that he had received a positive dismissal
from Henrietta, and her husband lived under the constant dependence of
seeing him to-morrow. Anne could only feel that Charles Hayter was
One morning, about this time Charles Musgrove and Captain Wentworth
being gone a-shooting together, as the sisters in the Cottage were
sitting quietly at work, they were visited at the window by the sisters
from the Mansion-house.
It was a very fine November day, and the Miss Musgroves came through
the little grounds, and stopped for no other purpose than to say, that
they were going to take a long walk, and therefore concluded Mary could
not like to go with them; and when Mary immediately replied, with some
jealousy at not being supposed a good walker, "Oh, yes, I should like
to join you very much, I am very fond of a long walk;" Anne felt
persuaded, by the looks of the two girls, that it was precisely what
they did not wish, and admired again the sort of necessity which the
family habits seemed to produce, of everything being to be
communicated, and everything being to be done together, however
undesired and inconvenient. She tried to dissuade Mary from going, but
in vain; and that being the case, thought it best to accept the Miss
Musgroves' much more cordial invitation to herself to go likewise, as
she might be useful in turning back with her sister, and lessening the
interference in any plan of their own.
"I cannot imagine why they should suppose I should not like a long
walk," said Mary, as she went up stairs. "Everybody is always
supposing that I am not a good walker; and yet they would not have been
pleased, if we had refused to join them. When people come in this
manner on purpose to ask us, how can one say no?"
Just as they were setting off, the gentlemen returned. They had taken
out a young dog, who had spoilt their sport, and sent them back early.
Their time and strength, and spirits, were, therefore, exactly ready
for this walk, and they entered into it with pleasure. Could Anne have
foreseen such a junction, she would have staid at home; but, from some
feelings of interest and curiosity, she fancied now that it was too
late to retract, and the whole six set forward together in the
direction chosen by the Miss Musgroves, who evidently considered the
walk as under their guidance.
Anne's object was, not to be in the way of anybody; and where the
narrow paths across the fields made many separations necessary, to keep
with her brother and sister. Her pleasure in the walk must arise from
the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year
upon the tawny leaves, and withered hedges, and from repeating to
herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of
autumn, that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind
of taste and tenderness, that season which had drawn from every poet,
worthy of being read, some attempt at description, or some lines of
feeling. She occupied her mind as much as possible in such like
musings and quotations; but it was not possible, that when within reach
of Captain Wentworth's conversation with either of the Miss Musgroves,
she should not try to hear it; yet she caught little very remarkable.
It was mere lively chat, such as any young persons, on an intimate
footing, might fall into. He was more engaged with Louisa than with
Henrietta. Louisa certainly put more forward for his notice than her
sister. This distinction appeared to increase, and there was one
speech of Louisa's which struck her. After one of the many praises of
the day, which were continually bursting forth, Captain Wentworth
"What glorious weather for the Admiral and my sister! They meant to
take a long drive this morning; perhaps we may hail them from some of
these hills. They talked of coming into this side of the country. I
wonder whereabouts they will upset to-day. Oh! it does happen very
often, I assure you; but my sister makes nothing of it; she would as
lieve be tossed out as not."
"Ah! You make the most of it, I know," cried Louisa, "but if it were
really so, I should do just the same in her place. If I loved a man,
as she loves the Admiral, I would always be with him, nothing should
ever separate us, and I would rather be overturned by him, than driven
safely by anybody else."
It was spoken with enthusiasm.
"Had you?" cried he, catching the same tone; "I honour you!" And there
was silence between them for a little while.
Anne could not immediately fall into a quotation again. The sweet
scenes of autumn were for a while put by, unless some tender sonnet,
fraught with the apt analogy of the declining year, with declining
happiness, and the images of youth and hope, and spring, all gone
together, blessed her memory. She roused herself to say, as they
struck by order into another path, "Is not this one of the ways to
Winthrop?" But nobody heard, or, at least, nobody answered her.
Winthrop, however, or its environs--for young men are, sometimes to be
met with, strolling about near home--was their destination; and after
another half mile of gradual ascent through large enclosures, where the
ploughs at work, and the fresh made path spoke the farmer counteracting
the sweets of poetical despondence, and meaning to have spring again,
they gained the summit of the most considerable hill, which parted
Uppercross and Winthrop, and soon commanded a full view of the latter,
at the foot of the hill on the other side.
Winthrop, without beauty and without dignity, was stretched before them
an indifferent house, standing low, and hemmed in by the barns and
buildings of a farm-yard.
Mary exclaimed, "Bless me! here is Winthrop. I declare I had no idea!
Well now, I think we had better turn back; I am excessively tired."
Henrietta, conscious and ashamed, and seeing no cousin Charles walking
along any path, or leaning against any gate, was ready to do as Mary
wished; but "No!" said Charles Musgrove, and "No, no!" cried Louisa
more eagerly, and taking her sister aside, seemed to be arguing the
Charles, in the meanwhile, was very decidedly declaring his resolution
of calling on his aunt, now that he was so near; and very evidently,
though more fearfully, trying to induce his wife to go too. But this
was one of the points on which the lady shewed her strength; and when
he recommended the advantage of resting herself a quarter of an hour at
Winthrop, as she felt so tired, she resolutely answered, "Oh! no,
indeed! walking up that hill again would do her more harm than any
sitting down could do her good;" and, in short, her look and manner
declared, that go she would not.
After a little succession of these sort of debates and consultations,
it was settled between Charles and his two sisters, that he and
Henrietta should just run down for a few minutes, to see their aunt and
cousins, while the rest of the party waited for them at the top of the
hill. Louisa seemed the principal arranger of the plan; and, as she
went a little way with them, down the hill, still talking to Henrietta,
Mary took the opportunity of looking scornfully around her, and saying
to Captain Wentworth--
"It is very unpleasant, having such connexions! But, I assure you, I
have never been in the house above twice in my life."
She received no other answer, than an artificial, assenting smile,
followed by a contemptuous glance, as he turned away, which Anne
perfectly knew the meaning of.
The brow of the hill, where they remained, was a cheerful spot: Louisa
returned; and Mary, finding a comfortable seat for herself on the step
of a stile, was very well satisfied so long as the others all stood
about her; but when Louisa drew Captain Wentworth away, to try for a
gleaning of nuts in an adjoining hedge-row, and they were gone by
degrees quite out of sight and sound, Mary was happy no longer; she
quarrelled with her own seat, was sure Louisa had got a much better
somewhere, and nothing could prevent her from going to look for a
better also. She turned through the same gate, but could not see them.
Anne found a nice seat for her, on a dry sunny bank, under the
hedge-row, in which she had no doubt of their still being, in some spot
or other. Mary sat down for a moment, but it would not do; she was
sure Louisa had found a better seat somewhere else, and she would go on
till she overtook her.
Anne, really tired herself, was glad to sit down; and she very soon
heard Captain Wentworth and Louisa in the hedge-row, behind her, as if
making their way back along the rough, wild sort of channel, down the
centre. They were speaking as they drew near. Louisa's voice was the
first distinguished. She seemed to be in the middle of some eager
speech. What Anne first heard was--
"And so, I made her go. I could not bear that she should be frightened
from the visit by such nonsense. What! would I be turned back from
doing a thing that I had determined to do, and that I knew to be right,
by the airs and interference of such a person, or of any person I may
say? No, I have no idea of being so easily persuaded. When I have
made up my mind, I have made it; and Henrietta seemed entirely to have
made up hers to call at Winthrop to-day; and yet, she was as near
giving it up, out of nonsensical complaisance!"
"She would have turned back then, but for you?"
"She would indeed. I am almost ashamed to say it."
"Happy for her, to have such a mind as yours at hand! After the hints
you gave just now, which did but confirm my own observations, the last
time I was in company with him, I need not affect to have no
comprehension of what is going on. I see that more than a mere dutiful
morning visit to your aunt was in question; and woe betide him, and her
too, when it comes to things of consequence, when they are placed in
circumstances requiring fortitude and strength of mind, if she have not
resolution enough to resist idle interference in such a trifle as this.
Your sister is an amiable creature; but yours is the character of
decision and firmness, I see. If you value her conduct or happiness,
infuse as much of your own spirit into her as you can. But this, no
doubt, you have been always doing. It is the worst evil of too
yielding and indecisive a character, that no influence over it can be
depended on. You are never sure of a good impression being durable;
everybody may sway it. Let those who would be happy be firm. Here is
a nut," said he, catching one down from an upper bough, "to exemplify:
a beautiful glossy nut, which, blessed with original strength, has
outlived all the storms of autumn. Not a puncture, not a weak spot
anywhere. This nut," he continued, with playful solemnity, "while so
many of his brethren have fallen and been trodden under foot, is still
in possession of all the happiness that a hazel nut can be supposed
capable of." Then returning to his former earnest tone--"My first
wish for all whom I am interested in, is that they should be firm. If
Louisa Musgrove would be beautiful and happy in her November of life,
she will cherish all her present powers of mind."
He had done, and was unanswered. It would have surprised Anne if
Louisa could have readily answered such a speech: words of such
interest, spoken with such serious warmth! She could imagine what
Louisa was feeling. For herself, she feared to move, lest she should
be seen. While she remained, a bush of low rambling holly protected
her, and they were moving on. Before they were beyond her hearing,
however, Louisa spoke again.
"Mary is good-natured enough in many respects," said she; "but she does
sometimes provoke me excessively, by her nonsense and pride--the Elliot
pride. She has a great deal too much of the Elliot pride. We do so
wish that Charles had married Anne instead. I suppose you know he
wanted to marry Anne?"
After a moment's pause, Captain Wentworth said--
"Do you mean that she refused him?"
"Oh! yes; certainly."
"When did that happen?"
"I do not exactly know, for Henrietta and I were at school at the time;
but I believe about a year before he married Mary. I wish she had
accepted him. We should all have liked her a great deal better; and
papa and mamma always think it was her great friend Lady Russell's
doing, that she did not. They think Charles might not be learned and
bookish enough to please Lady Russell, and that therefore, she
persuaded Anne to refuse him."
The sounds were retreating, and Anne distinguished no more. Her own
emotions still kept her fixed. She had much to recover from, before
she could move. The listener's proverbial fate was not absolutely
hers; she had heard no evil of herself, but she had heard a great deal
of very painful import. She saw how her own character was considered
by Captain Wentworth, and there had been just that degree of feeling
and curiosity about her in his manner which must give her extreme
As soon as she could, she went after Mary, and having found, and walked
back with her to their former station, by the stile, felt some comfort
in their whole party being immediately afterwards collected, and once
more in motion together. Her spirits wanted the solitude and silence
which only numbers could give.
Charles and Henrietta returned, bringing, as may be conjectured,
Charles Hayter with them. The minutiae of the business Anne could not
attempt to understand; even Captain Wentworth did not seem admitted to
perfect confidence here; but that there had been a withdrawing on the
gentleman's side, and a relenting on the lady's, and that they were now
very glad to be together again, did not admit a doubt. Henrietta
looked a little ashamed, but very well pleased;--Charles Hayter
exceedingly happy: and they were devoted to each other almost from the
first instant of their all setting forward for Uppercross.
Everything now marked out Louisa for Captain Wentworth; nothing could
be plainer; and where many divisions were necessary, or even where they
were not, they walked side by side nearly as much as the other two. In
a long strip of meadow land, where there was ample space for all, they
were thus divided, forming three distinct parties; and to that party of
the three which boasted least animation, and least complaisance, Anne
necessarily belonged. She joined Charles and Mary, and was tired
enough to be very glad of Charles's other arm; but Charles, though in
very good humour with her, was out of temper with his wife. Mary had
shewn herself disobliging to him, and was now to reap the consequence,
which consequence was his dropping her arm almost every moment to cut
off the heads of some nettles in the hedge with his switch; and when
Mary began to complain of it, and lament her being ill-used, according
to custom, in being on the hedge side, while Anne was never incommoded
on the other, he dropped the arms of both to hunt after a weasel which
he had a momentary glance of, and they could hardly get him along at
This long meadow bordered a lane, which their footpath, at the end of
it was to cross, and when the party had all reached the gate of exit,
the carriage advancing in the same direction, which had been some time
heard, was just coming up, and proved to be Admiral Croft's gig. He
and his wife had taken their intended drive, and were returning home.
Upon hearing how long a walk the young people had engaged in, they
kindly offered a seat to any lady who might be particularly tired; it
would save her a full mile, and they were going through Uppercross.
The invitation was general, and generally declined. The Miss Musgroves
were not at all tired, and Mary was either offended, by not being asked
before any of the others, or what Louisa called the Elliot pride could
not endure to make a third in a one horse chaise.
The walking party had crossed the lane, and were surmounting an
opposite stile, and the Admiral was putting his horse in motion again,
when Captain Wentworth cleared the hedge in a moment to say something
to his sister. The something might be guessed by its effects.
"Miss Elliot, I am sure you are tired," cried Mrs Croft. "Do let us
have the pleasure of taking you home. Here is excellent room for
three, I assure you. If we were all like you, I believe we might sit
four. You must, indeed, you must."
Anne was still in the lane; and though instinctively beginning to
decline, she was not allowed to proceed. The Admiral's kind urgency
came in support of his wife's; they would not be refused; they
compressed themselves into the smallest possible space to leave her a
corner, and Captain Wentworth, without saying a word, turned to her,
and quietly obliged her to be assisted into the carriage.
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.
Her answers to the kindness and the remarks of her companions were at
first unconsciously given. They had travelled half their way along the
rough lane, before she was quite awake to what they said. She then
found them talking of "Frederick."
"He certainly means to have one or other of those two girls, Sophy,"
said the Admiral; "but there is no saying which. He has been running
after them, too, long enough, one would think, to make up his mind.
Ay, this comes of the peace. If it were war now, he would have settled
it long ago. We sailors, Miss Elliot, cannot afford to make long
courtships in time of war. How many days was it, my dear, between the
first time of my seeing you and our sitting down together in our
lodgings at North Yarmouth?"
"We had better not talk about it, my dear," replied Mrs Croft,
pleasantly; "for if Miss Elliot were to hear how soon we came to an
understanding, she would never be persuaded that we could be happy
together. I had known you by character, however, long before."
"Well, and I had heard of you as a very pretty girl, and what were we
to wait for besides? I do not like having such things so long in hand.
I wish Frederick would spread a little more canvass, and bring us home
one of these young ladies to Kellynch. Then there would always be
company for them. And very nice young ladies they both are; I hardly
know one from the other."
"Very good humoured, unaffected girls, indeed," said Mrs Croft, in a
tone of calmer praise, such as made Anne suspect that her keener powers
might not consider either of them as quite worthy of her brother; "and
a very respectable family. One could not be connected with better
people. My dear Admiral, that post! we shall certainly take that
But by coolly giving the reins a better direction herself they happily
passed the danger; and by once afterwards judiciously putting out her
hand they neither fell into a rut, nor ran foul of a dung-cart; and
Anne, with some amusement at their style of driving, which she imagined
no bad representation of the general guidance of their affairs, found
herself safely deposited by them at the Cottage.
The time now approached for Lady Russell's return: the day was even
fixed; and Anne, being engaged to join her as soon as she was
resettled, was looking forward to an early removal to Kellynch, and
beginning to think how her own comfort was likely to be affected by it.
It would place her in the same village with Captain Wentworth, within
half a mile of him; they would have to frequent the same church, and
there must be intercourse between the two families. This was against
her; but on the other hand, he spent so much of his time at Uppercross,
that in removing thence she might be considered rather as leaving him
behind, than as going towards him; and, upon the whole, she believed
she must, on this interesting question, be the gainer, almost as
certainly as in her change of domestic society, in leaving poor Mary
for Lady Russell.
She wished it might be possible for her to avoid ever seeing Captain
Wentworth at the Hall: those rooms had witnessed former meetings which
would be brought too painfully before her; but she was yet more anxious
for the possibility of Lady Russell and Captain Wentworth never meeting
anywhere. They did not like each other, and no renewal of acquaintance
now could do any good; and were Lady Russell to see them together, she
might think that he had too much self-possession, and she too little.
These points formed her chief solicitude in anticipating her removal
from Uppercross, where she felt she had been stationed quite long
enough. Her usefulness to little Charles would always give some
sweetness to the memory of her two months' visit there, but he was
gaining strength apace, and she had nothing else to stay for.
The conclusion of her visit, however, was diversified in a way which
she had not at all imagined. Captain Wentworth, after being unseen and
unheard of at Uppercross for two whole days, appeared again among them
to justify himself by a relation of what had kept him away.
A letter from his friend, Captain Harville, having found him out at
last, had 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. He had been there for four-and-twenty
hours. His acquittal was complete, his friendship warmly honoured, a
lively interest excited for his friend, and his description of the fine
country about Lyme so feelingly attended to by the party, that an
earnest desire to see Lyme themselves, and a project for going thither
was the consequence.
The young people were all wild to see Lyme. Captain Wentworth talked
of going there again himself, it was only seventeen miles from
Uppercross; though November, the weather was by no means bad; and, in
short, Louisa, who was the most eager of the eager, having formed the
resolution to go, and besides the pleasure of doing as she liked, being
now armed with the idea of merit in maintaining her own way, bore down
all the wishes of her father and mother for putting it off till summer;
and to Lyme they were to go--Charles, Mary, Anne, Henrietta, Louisa,
and Captain Wentworth.
The first heedless scheme had been to go in the morning and return at
night; but to this Mr Musgrove, for the sake of his horses, would not
consent; and when it came to be rationally considered, a day in the
middle of November would not leave much time for seeing a new place,
after deducting seven hours, as the nature of the country required, for
going and returning. They were, consequently, to stay the night there,
and not to be expected back till the next day's dinner. This was felt
to be a considerable amendment; and though they all met at the Great
House at rather an early breakfast hour, and set off very punctually,
it was so much past noon before the two carriages, Mr Musgrove's coach
containing the four ladies, and Charles's curricle, in which he drove
Captain Wentworth, were descending the long hill into Lyme, and
entering upon the still steeper street of the town itself, that it was
very evident they would not have more than time for looking about them,
before the light and warmth of the day were gone.
After securing accommodations, and ordering a dinner at one of the
inns, the next thing to be done was unquestionably to walk directly
down to the sea. They were come too late in the year for any amusement
or variety which Lyme, as a public place, might offer. The rooms were
shut up, the lodgers almost all gone, scarcely any family but of the
residents left; and, as there is nothing to admire in the buildings
themselves, the remarkable situation of the town, the principal street
almost hurrying into the water, the walk to the Cobb, skirting round
the pleasant little bay, which, in the season, is animated with bathing
machines and company; the Cobb itself, its old wonders and new
improvements, with the very beautiful line of cliffs stretching out to
the east of the town, are what the stranger's eye will seek; and a very
strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate
environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better. The scenes in
its neighbourhood, Charmouth, with its high grounds and extensive
sweeps of country, and still more, its sweet, retired bay, backed by
dark cliffs, where fragments of low rock among the sands, make it the
happiest spot for watching the flow of the tide, for sitting in
unwearied contemplation; the woody varieties of the cheerful village of
Up Lyme; and, above all, Pinny, with its green chasms between romantic
rocks, where the scattered forest trees and orchards of luxuriant
growth, declare that many a generation must have passed away since the
first partial falling of the cliff prepared the ground for such a
state, where a scene so wonderful and so lovely is exhibited, as may
more than equal any of the resembling scenes of the far-famed Isle of
Wight: these places must be visited, and visited again, to make the
worth of Lyme understood.
The party from Uppercross passing down by the now deserted and
melancholy looking rooms, and still descending, soon found themselves
on the sea-shore; and lingering only, as all must linger and gaze on a
first return to the sea, who ever deserved to look on it at all,
proceeded towards the Cobb, equally their object in itself and on
Captain Wentworth's account: for in a small house, near the foot of an
old pier of unknown date, were the Harvilles settled. Captain
Wentworth turned in to call on his friend; the others walked on, and he
was to join them on the Cobb.
They were by no means tired of wondering and admiring; and not even
Louisa seemed to feel that they had parted with Captain Wentworth long,
when they saw him coming after them, with three companions, all well
known already, by description, to be Captain and Mrs Harville, and a
Captain Benwick, who was staying with them.
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
finish the interest of the story, the friendship between him and the
Harvilles seemed, if possible, augmented by the event which closed all
their views of alliance, and Captain Benwick was now living with them
entirely. Captain Harville had taken his present house for half a
year; his taste, and his health, and his fortune, all directing him to
a residence inexpensive, and by the sea; and the grandeur of the
country, and the retirement of Lyme in the winter, appeared exactly
adapted to Captain Benwick's state of mind. The sympathy and good-will
excited towards Captain Benwick was very great.
"And yet," said Anne to herself, as they now moved forward to meet the
party, "he has not, perhaps, a more sorrowing heart than I have. I
cannot believe his prospects so blighted for ever. He is younger than
I am; younger in feeling, if not in fact; younger as a man. He will
rally again, and be happy with another."
They all met, and were introduced. Captain Harville was a tall, dark
man, with a sensible, benevolent countenance; a little lame; and from
strong features and want of health, looking much older than Captain
Wentworth. Captain Benwick looked, and was, the youngest of the three,
and, compared with either of them, a little man. He had a pleasing
face and a melancholy air, just as he ought to have, and drew back from
Captain Harville, though not equalling Captain Wentworth in manners,
was a perfect gentleman, unaffected, warm, and obliging. Mrs Harville,
a degree less polished than her husband, seemed, however, to have the
same good feelings; and nothing could be more pleasant than their
desire of considering the whole party as friends of their own, because
the friends of Captain Wentworth, or more kindly hospitable than their
entreaties for their all promising to dine with them. The dinner,
already ordered at the inn, was at last, though unwillingly, accepted
as a excuse; but they seemed almost hurt that Captain Wentworth should
have brought any such party to Lyme, without considering it as a thing
of course that they should dine with them.
There was so much attachment to Captain Wentworth in all this, and such
a bewitching charm in a degree of hospitality so uncommon, so unlike
the usual style of give-and-take invitations, and dinners of formality
and display, that Anne felt her spirits not likely to be benefited by
an increasing acquaintance among his brother-officers. "These would
have been all my friends," was her thought; and she had to struggle
against a great tendency to lowness.
On quitting the Cobb, they all went in-doors with their new friends,
and found rooms so small as none but those who invite from the heart
could think capable of accommodating so many. Anne had a moment's
astonishment on the subject herself; but it was soon lost in the
pleasanter feelings which sprang from the sight of all the ingenious
contrivances and nice arrangements of Captain Harville, to turn the
actual space to the best account, to supply the deficiencies of
lodging-house furniture, and defend the windows and doors against the
winter storms to be expected. The varieties in the fitting-up of the
rooms, where the common necessaries provided by the owner, in the
common indifferent plight, were contrasted with some few articles of a
rare species of wood, excellently worked up, and with something curious
and valuable from all the distant countries Captain Harville had
visited, were more than amusing to Anne; connected as it all was with
his profession, the fruit of its labours, the effect of its influence
on his habits, the picture of repose and domestic happiness it
presented, made it to her a something more, or less, than gratification.
Captain Harville was no reader; but he had contrived excellent
accommodations, and fashioned very pretty shelves, for a tolerable
collection of well-bound volumes, the property of Captain Benwick. His
lameness prevented him from taking much exercise; but a mind of
usefulness and ingenuity seemed to furnish him with constant employment
within. He drew, he varnished, he carpentered, he glued; he made toys
for the children; he fashioned new netting-needles and pins with
improvements; and if everything else was done, sat down to his large
fishing-net at one corner of the room.
Anne thought she left great happiness behind her when they quitted the
house; and Louisa, by whom she found herself walking, burst forth into
raptures of admiration and delight on the character of the navy; their
friendliness, their brotherliness, their openness, their uprightness;
protesting that she was convinced of sailors having more worth and
warmth than any other set of men in England; that they only knew how to
live, and they only deserved to be respected and loved.
They went back to dress and dine; and so well had the scheme answered
already, that nothing was found amiss; though its being "so entirely
out of season," and the "no thoroughfare of Lyme," and the "no
expectation of company," had brought many apologies from the heads of
Anne found herself by this time growing so much more hardened to being
in Captain Wentworth's company than she had at first imagined could
ever be, that the sitting down to the same table with him now, and the
interchange of the common civilities attending on it (they never got
beyond), was become a mere nothing.
The nights were too dark for the ladies to meet again till the morrow,
but Captain Harville had promised them a visit in the evening; and he
came, bringing his friend also, which was more than had been expected,
it having been agreed that Captain Benwick had all the appearance of
being oppressed by the presence of so many strangers. He ventured
among them again, however, though his spirits certainly did not seem
fit for the mirth of the party in general.
While Captains Wentworth and Harville led the talk on one side of the
room, and by recurring to former days, supplied anecdotes in abundance
to occupy and entertain the others, it fell to Anne's lot to be placed
rather apart with Captain Benwick; and a very good impulse of her
nature obliged her to begin an acquaintance with him. He was shy, and
disposed to abstraction; but the engaging mildness of her countenance,
and gentleness of her manners, soon had their effect; and Anne was well
repaid the first trouble of exertion. He was evidently a young man of
considerable taste in reading, though principally in poetry; and
besides the persuasion of having given him at least an evening's
indulgence in the discussion of subjects, which his usual companions
had probably no concern in, 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, and gone
through a brief comparison of opinion as to the first-rate poets,
trying to ascertain whether Marmion or The Lady of the Lake were to be
preferred, and how ranked the Giaour and The Bride of Abydos; and
moreover, how the Giaour was to be pronounced, he showed himself so
intimately acquainted with all the tenderest songs of the one poet, and
all the impassioned descriptions of hopeless agony of the other; 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
His looks shewing him not pained, but pleased with this allusion to his
situation, she was emboldened to go on; and feeling in herself the
right of seniority of mind, she ventured to recommend a larger
allowance of prose in his daily study; and on being requested to
particularize, mentioned 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.
When the evening was over, Anne could not but be amused at the idea of
her coming to Lyme to preach patience and resignation to a young man
whom she had never seen before; nor could she help fearing, on more
serious reflection, that, like many other great moralists and
preachers, she had been eloquent on a point in which her own conduct
would ill bear examination.
Anne and Henrietta, finding themselves the earliest of the party the
next morning, agreed to stroll down to the sea before breakfast. They
went to the sands, to watch the flowing of the tide, which a fine
south-easterly breeze was bringing in with all the grandeur which so
flat a shore admitted. They praised the morning; gloried in the sea;
sympathized in the delight of the fresh-feeling breeze--and were
silent; till Henrietta suddenly began again with--
"Oh! yes,--I am quite convinced that, with very few exceptions, the
sea-air always does good. There can be no doubt of its having been of
the greatest service to Dr Shirley, after his illness, last spring
twelve-month. He declares himself, that coming to Lyme for a month,
did him more good than all the medicine he took; and, that being by the
sea, always makes him feel young again. Now, I cannot help thinking it
a pity that he does not live entirely by the sea. I do think he had
better leave Uppercross entirely, and fix at Lyme. Do not you, Anne?
Do not you agree with me, that it is the best thing he could do, both
for himself and Mrs Shirley? She has cousins here, you know, and many
acquaintance, which would make it cheerful for her, and I am sure she
would be glad to get to a place where she could have medical attendance
at hand, in case of his having another seizure. Indeed I think it
quite melancholy to have such excellent people as Dr and Mrs Shirley,
who have been doing good all their lives, wearing out their last days
in a place like Uppercross, where, excepting our family, they seem shut
out from all the world. I wish his friends would propose it to him. I
really think they ought. And, as to procuring a dispensation, there
could be no difficulty at his time of life, and with his character. My
only doubt is, whether anything could persuade him to leave his parish.
He is so very strict and scrupulous in his notions; over-scrupulous I
must say. Do not you think, Anne, it is being over-scrupulous? Do not
you think it is quite a mistaken point of conscience, when a clergyman
sacrifices his health for the sake of duties, which may be just as well
performed by another person? And at Lyme too, only seventeen miles
off, he would be near enough to hear, if people thought there was
anything to complain of."
Anne smiled more than once to herself during this speech, and entered
into the subject, as ready to do good by entering into the feelings of
a young lady as of a young man, though here it was good of a lower
standard, for what could be offered but general acquiescence? She said
all that was reasonable and proper on the business; felt the claims of
Dr Shirley to repose as she ought; saw how very desirable it was that
he should have some active, respectable young man, as a resident
curate, and was even courteous enough to hint at the advantage of such
resident curate's being married.
"I wish," said Henrietta, very well pleased with her companion, "I wish
Lady Russell lived at Uppercross, and were intimate with Dr Shirley. I
have always heard of Lady Russell as a woman of the greatest influence
with everybody! I always look upon her as able to persuade a person to
anything! I am afraid of her, as I have told you before, quite afraid
of her, because she is so very clever; but I respect her amazingly, and
wish we had such a neighbour at Uppercross."
Anne was amused by Henrietta's manner of being grateful, and amused
also that the course of events and the new interests of Henrietta's
views should have placed her friend at all in favour with any of the
Musgrove family; she had only time, however, for a general answer, and
a wish that such another woman were at Uppercross, before all subjects
suddenly ceased, on seeing Louisa and Captain Wentworth coming towards
them. They came also for a stroll till breakfast was likely to be
ready; but Louisa recollecting, immediately afterwards that she had
something to procure at a shop, invited them all to go back with her
into the town. They were all at her disposal.
When they came to the steps, leading upwards from the beach, a
gentleman, at the same moment preparing to come down, politely drew
back, and stopped to give them way. They ascended and passed him; and
as they passed, Anne's face caught his eye, and he looked at her with a
degree of earnest admiration, which she could not be insensible of.
She was looking remarkably well; her very regular, very pretty
features, having the bloom and freshness of youth restored by the fine
wind which had been blowing on her complexion, and by the animation of
eye which it had also produced. It was evident that the gentleman,
(completely a gentleman in manner) admired her exceedingly. Captain
Wentworth looked round at her instantly in a way which shewed his
noticing of it. He gave her a momentary glance, a glance of
brightness, which seemed to say, "That man is struck with you, and even
I, at this moment, see something like Anne Elliot again."
After attending Louisa through her business, and loitering about a
little longer, they returned to the inn; and Anne, in passing
afterwards quickly from her own chamber to their dining-room, had
nearly run against the very same gentleman, as he came out of an
adjoining apartment. She had before conjectured him to be a stranger
like themselves, and determined that a well-looking groom, who was
strolling about near the two inns as they came back, should be his
servant. Both master and man being in mourning assisted the idea. It
was now proved that he belonged to the same inn as themselves; and this
second meeting, short as it was, also proved again by the gentleman's
looks, that he thought hers very lovely, and by the readiness and
propriety of his apologies, that he was a man of exceedingly good
manners. He seemed about thirty, and though not handsome, had an
agreeable person. Anne felt that she should like to know who he was.
They had nearly done breakfast, when the sound of a carriage, (almost
the first they had heard since entering Lyme) drew half the party to
the window. It was a gentleman's carriage, a curricle, but only coming
round from the stable-yard to the front door; somebody must be going
away. It was driven by a servant in mourning.
The word curricle made Charles Musgrove jump up that he might compare
it with his own; the servant in mourning roused Anne's curiosity, and
the whole six were collected to look, by the time the owner of the
curricle was to be seen issuing from the door amidst the bows and
civilities of the household, and taking his seat, to drive off.
"Ah!" cried Captain Wentworth, instantly, and with half a glance at
Anne, "it is the very man we passed."
The Miss Musgroves agreed to it; and having all kindly watched him as
far up the hill as they could, they returned to the breakfast table.
The waiter came into the room soon afterwards.
"Pray," said Captain Wentworth, immediately, "can you tell us the name
of the gentleman who is just gone away?"
"Yes, Sir, a Mr Elliot, a gentleman of large fortune, came in last
night from Sidmouth. Dare say you heard the carriage, sir, while you
were at dinner; and going on now for Crewkherne, in his way to Bath and
"Elliot!" Many had looked on each other, and many had repeated the
name, before all this had been got through, even by the smart rapidity
of a waiter.
"Bless me!" cried Mary; "it must be our cousin; it must be our Mr
Elliot, it must, indeed! Charles, Anne, must not it? In mourning, you
see, just as our Mr Elliot must be. How very extraordinary! In the
very same inn with us! Anne, must not it be our Mr Elliot? my
father's next heir? Pray sir," turning to the waiter, "did not you
hear, did not his servant say whether he belonged to the Kellynch
"No, ma'am, he did not mention no particular family; but he said his
master was a very rich gentleman, and would be a baronight some day."
"There! you see!" cried Mary in an ecstasy, "just as I said! Heir to
Sir Walter Elliot! I was sure that would come out, if it was so.
Depend upon it, that is a circumstance which his servants take care to
publish, wherever he goes. But, Anne, only conceive how extraordinary!
I wish I had looked at him more. I wish we had been aware in time, who
it was, that he might have been introduced to us. What a pity that we
should not have been introduced to each other! Do you think he had the
Elliot countenance? I hardly looked at him, I was looking at the
horses; but I think he had something of the Elliot countenance, I
wonder the arms did not strike me! Oh! the great-coat was hanging over
the panel, and hid the arms, so it did; otherwise, I am sure, I should
have observed them, and the livery too; if the servant had not been in
mourning, one should have known him by the livery."
"Putting all these very extraordinary circumstances together," said
Captain Wentworth, "we must consider it to be the arrangement of
Providence, that you should not be introduced to your cousin."
When she could command Mary's attention, Anne quietly tried to convince
her that their father and Mr Elliot had not, for many years, been on
such terms as to make the power of attempting an introduction at all
At the same time, however, it was a secret gratification to herself to
have seen her cousin, and to know that the future owner of Kellynch was
undoubtedly a gentleman, and had an air of good sense. She would not,
upon any account, mention her having met with him the second time;
luckily Mary did not much attend to their having passed close by him in
their earlier walk, but she would have felt quite ill-used by Anne's
having actually run against him in the passage, and received his very
polite excuses, while she had never been near him at all; no, that
cousinly little interview must remain a perfect secret.
"Of course," said Mary, "you will mention our seeing Mr Elliot, the
next time you write to Bath. I think my father certainly ought to hear
of it; do mention all about him."
Anne avoided a direct reply, but it was just the circumstance which she
considered as not merely unnecessary to be communicated, but as what
ought to be suppressed. The offence which had been given her father,
many years back, she knew; Elizabeth's particular share in it she
suspected; and that Mr Elliot's idea always produced irritation in both
was beyond a doubt. Mary never wrote to Bath herself; all the toil of
keeping up a slow and unsatisfactory correspondence with Elizabeth fell
Breakfast had not been long over, when they were joined by Captain and
Mrs Harville and Captain Benwick; with whom they had appointed to take
their last walk about Lyme. They ought to be setting off for
Uppercross by one, and in the mean while were to be all together, and
out of doors as long as they could.
Anne found Captain Benwick getting near her, as soon as they were all
fairly in the street. Their conversation the preceding evening did not
disincline him to seek her again; and they walked together some time,
talking as before of Mr Scott and Lord Byron, and still as unable as
before, and as unable as any other two readers, to think exactly alike
of the merits of either, till something occasioned an almost general
change amongst their party, and instead of Captain Benwick, she had
Captain Harville by her side.
"Miss Elliot," said he, speaking rather low, "you have done a good deed
in making that poor fellow talk so much. I wish he could have such
company oftener. It is bad for him, I know, to be shut up as he is;
but what can we do? We cannot part."
"No," said Anne, "that I can easily believe to be impossible; but in
time, perhaps--we know what time does in every case of affliction, and
you must remember, Captain Harville, that your friend may yet be called
a young mourner--only last summer, I understand."
"Ay, true enough," (with a deep sigh) "only June."
"And not known to him, perhaps, so soon."
"Not till the first week of August, when he came home from the Cape,
just made into the Grappler. I was at Plymouth dreading to hear of
him; he sent in letters, but the Grappler was under orders for
Portsmouth. There the news must follow him, but who was to tell it?
not I. I would as soon have been run up to the yard-arm. Nobody could
do it, but that good fellow" (pointing to Captain Wentworth.) "The
Laconia had come into Plymouth the week before; no danger of her being
sent to sea again. He stood his chance for the rest; wrote up for
leave of absence, but without waiting the return, travelled night and
day till he got to Portsmouth, rowed off to the Grappler that instant,
and never left the poor fellow for a week. That's what he did, and
nobody else could have saved poor James. You may think, Miss Elliot,
whether he is dear to us!"
Anne did think on the question with perfect decision, and said as much
in reply as her own feeling could accomplish, or as his seemed able to
bear, for he was too much affected to renew the subject, and when he
spoke again, it was of something totally different.
Mrs Harville's giving it as her opinion that her husband would have
quite walking enough by the time he reached home, determined the
direction of all the party in what was to be their last walk; they
would accompany them to their door, and then return and set off
themselves. By all their calculations there was just time for this;
but as they drew near the Cobb, there was such a general wish to walk
along it once more, all were so inclined, and Louisa soon grew so
determined, that the difference of a quarter of an hour, it was found,
would be no difference at all; so with all the kind leave-taking, and
all the kind interchange of invitations and promises which may be
imagined, they parted from Captain and Mrs Harville at their own door,
and still accompanied by Captain Benwick, who seemed to cling to them
to the last, proceeded to make the proper adieus to the Cobb.
Anne found Captain Benwick again drawing near her. Lord Byron's "dark
blue seas" could not fail of being brought forward by their present
view, and she gladly gave him all her attention as long as attention
was possible. It was soon drawn, perforce another way.
There was too much wind to make the high part of the new Cobb pleasant
for the ladies, and they agreed to get down the steps to the lower, and
all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight,
excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth.
In all their walks, he had had to jump her from the stiles; the
sensation was delightful to her. The hardness of the pavement for her
feet, made him less willing upon the present occasion; he did it,
however. She was safely down, and instantly, to show her enjoyment,
ran up the steps to be jumped down again. He advised her against it,
thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she
smiled and said, "I am determined I will:" he put out his hands; she
was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the
Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless! There was no wound, no blood,
no visible bruise; but her eyes were closed, she breathed not, her face
was like death. The horror of the moment to all who stood around!
Captain Wentworth, who had caught her up, knelt with her in his arms,
looking on her with a face as pallid as her own, in an agony of
silence. "She is dead! she is dead!" screamed Mary, catching hold of
her husband, and contributing with his own horror to make him
immoveable; and in another moment, Henrietta, sinking under the
conviction, lost her senses too, and would have fallen on the steps,
but for Captain Benwick and Anne, who caught and supported her between
"Is there no one to help me?" were the first words which burst from
Captain Wentworth, in a tone of despair, and as if all his own strength
"Go to him, go to him," cried Anne, "for heaven's sake go to him. I
can support her myself. Leave me, and go to him. Rub her hands, rub
her temples; here are salts; take them, take them."
Captain Benwick obeyed, and Charles at the same moment, disengaging
himself from his wife, they were both with him; and Louisa was raised
up and supported more firmly between them, and everything was done that
Anne had prompted, but in vain; while Captain Wentworth, staggering
against the wall for his support, exclaimed in the bitterest agony--
"Oh God! her father and mother!"
"A surgeon!" said Anne.
He caught the word; it seemed to rouse him at once, and saying only--
"True, true, a surgeon this instant," was darting away, when Anne
"Captain Benwick, would not it be better for Captain Benwick? He knows
where a surgeon is to be found."
Every one capable of thinking felt the advantage of the idea, and in a
moment (it was all done in rapid moments) Captain Benwick had resigned
the poor corpse-like figure entirely to the brother's care, and was
off for the town with the utmost rapidity.
As to the wretched party left behind, it could scarcely be said which
of the three, who were completely rational, was suffering most: Captain
Wentworth, Anne, or Charles, who, really a very affectionate brother,
hung over Louisa with sobs of grief, and could only turn his eyes from
one sister, to see the other in a state as insensible, or to witness
the hysterical agitations of his wife, calling on him for help which he
could not give.
Anne, attending with all the strength and zeal, and thought, which
instinct supplied, to Henrietta, still tried, at intervals, to suggest
comfort to the others, tried to quiet Mary, to animate Charles, to
assuage the feelings of Captain Wentworth. Both seemed to look to her
"Anne, Anne," cried Charles, "What is to be done next? What, in
heaven's name, is to be done next?"
Captain Wentworth's eyes were also turned towards her.
"Had not she better be carried to the inn? Yes, I am sure: carry her
gently to the inn."
"Yes, yes, to the inn," repeated Captain Wentworth, comparatively
collected, and eager to be doing something. "I will carry her myself.
Musgrove, take care of the others."
By this time the report of the accident had spread among the workmen
and boatmen about the Cobb, and many were collected near them, to be
useful if wanted, at any rate, to enjoy the sight of a dead young lady,
nay, two dead young ladies, for it proved twice as fine as the first
report. To some of the best-looking of these good people Henrietta was
consigned, for, though partially revived, she was quite helpless; and
in this manner, Anne walking by her side, and Charles attending to his
wife, they set forward, treading back with feelings unutterable, the
ground, which so lately, so very lately, and so light of heart, they
had passed along.
They were not off the Cobb, before the Harvilles met them. Captain
Benwick had been seen flying by their house, with a countenance which
showed something to be wrong; and they had set off immediately,
informed and directed as they passed, towards the spot. Shocked as
Captain Harville was, he brought senses and nerves that could be
instantly useful; and a look between him and his wife decided what was
to be done. She must be taken to their house; all must go to their
house; and await the surgeon's arrival there. They would not listen to
scruples: he was obeyed; they were all beneath his roof; and while
Louisa, under Mrs Harville's direction, was conveyed up stairs, and
given possession of her own bed, assistance, cordials, restoratives
were supplied by her husband to all who needed them.
Louisa had once opened her eyes, but soon closed them again, without
apparent consciousness. This had been a proof of life, however, of
service to her sister; and Henrietta, though perfectly incapable of
being in the same room with Louisa, was kept, by the agitation of hope
and fear, from a return of her own insensibility. Mary, too, was
The surgeon was with them almost before it had seemed possible. They
were sick with horror, while he examined; but he was not hopeless. The
head had received a severe contusion, but he had seen greater injuries
recovered from: he was by no means hopeless; he spoke cheerfully.
That he did not regard it as a desperate case, that he did not say a
few hours must end it, was at first felt, beyond the hope of most; and
the ecstasy of such a reprieve, the rejoicing, deep and silent, after a
few fervent ejaculations of gratitude to Heaven had been offered, may
The tone, the look, with which "Thank God!" was uttered by Captain
Wentworth, Anne was sure could never be forgotten by her; nor the sight
of him afterwards, as he sat near a table, leaning over it with folded
arms and face concealed, as if overpowered by the various feelings of
his soul, and trying by prayer and reflection to calm them.
Louisa's limbs had escaped. There was no injury but to the head.
It now became necessary for the party to consider what was best to be
done, as to their general situation. They were now able to speak to
each other and consult. That Louisa must remain where she was, however
distressing to her friends to be involving the Harvilles in such
trouble, did not admit a doubt. Her removal was impossible. The
Harvilles silenced all scruples; and, as much as they could, all
gratitude. They had looked forward and arranged everything before the
others began to reflect. Captain Benwick must give up his room to
them, and get another bed elsewhere; and the whole was settled. They
were only concerned that the house could accommodate no more; and yet
perhaps, by "putting the children away in the maid's room, or swinging
a cot somewhere," they could hardly bear to think of not finding room
for two or three besides, supposing they might wish to stay; though,
with regard to any attendance on Miss Musgrove, there need not be the
least uneasiness in leaving her to Mrs Harville's care entirely. Mrs
Harville was a very experienced nurse, and her nursery-maid, who had
lived with her long, and gone about with her everywhere, was just such
another. Between these two, she could want no possible attendance by
day or night. And all this was said with a truth and sincerity of
Charles, Henrietta, and Captain Wentworth were the three in
consultation, and for a little while it was only an interchange of
perplexity and terror. "Uppercross, the necessity of some one's going
to Uppercross; the news to be conveyed; how it could be broken to Mr
and Mrs Musgrove; the lateness of the morning; an hour already gone
since they ought to have been off; the impossibility of being in
tolerable time." At first, they were capable of nothing more to the
purpose than such exclamations; but, after a while, Captain Wentworth,
exerting himself, said--
"We must be decided, and without the loss of another minute. Every
minute is valuable. Some one must resolve on being off for Uppercross
instantly. Musgrove, either you or I must go."
Charles agreed, but declared his resolution of not going away. He
would be as little incumbrance as possible to Captain and Mrs Harville;
but as to leaving his sister in such a state, he neither ought, nor
would. So far it was decided; and Henrietta at first declared the
same. She, however, was soon persuaded to think differently. The
usefulness of her staying! She who had not been able to remain in
Louisa's room, or to look at her, without sufferings which made her
worse than helpless! She was forced to acknowledge that she could do
no good, yet was still unwilling to be away, till, touched by the
thought of her father and mother, she gave it up; she consented, she
was anxious to be at home.
The plan had reached this point, when Anne, coming quietly down from
Louisa's room, could not but hear what followed, for the parlour door
"Then it is settled, Musgrove," cried Captain Wentworth, "that you
stay, and that I take care of your sister home. But as to the rest, as
to the others, if one stays to assist Mrs Harville, I think it need be
only one. Mrs Charles Musgrove will, of course, wish to get back to
her children; but if Anne will stay, no one so proper, so capable as
She paused a moment to recover from the emotion of hearing herself so
spoken of. The other two warmly agreed with what he said, and she then
"You will stay, I am sure; you will stay and nurse her;" cried he,
turning to her and speaking with a glow, and yet a gentleness, which
seemed almost restoring the past. She coloured deeply, and he
recollected himself and moved away. She expressed herself most
willing, ready, happy to remain. "It was what she had been thinking
of, and wishing to be allowed to do. A bed on the floor in Louisa's
room would be sufficient for her, if Mrs Harville would but think so."
One thing more, and all seemed arranged. Though it was rather
desirable that Mr and Mrs Musgrove should be previously alarmed by some
share of delay; yet the time required by the Uppercross horses to take
them back, would be a dreadful extension of suspense; and Captain
Wentworth proposed, and Charles Musgrove agreed, that it would be much
better for him to take a chaise from the inn, and leave Mr Musgrove's
carriage and horses to be sent home the next morning early, when there
would be the farther advantage of sending an account of Louisa's night.
Captain Wentworth now hurried off to get everything ready on his part,
and to be soon followed by the two ladies. When the plan was made
known to Mary, however, there was an end of all peace in it. She was
so wretched and so vehement, complained so much of injustice in being
expected to go away instead of Anne; Anne, who was nothing to Louisa,
while she was her sister, and had the best right to stay in Henrietta's
stead! Why was not she to be as useful as Anne? And to go home
without Charles, too, without her husband! No, it was too unkind. And
in short, she said more than her husband could long withstand, and as
none of the others could oppose when he gave way, there was no help for
it; the change of Mary for Anne was inevitable.
Anne had never submitted more reluctantly to the jealous and
ill-judging claims of Mary; but so it must be, and they set off for the
town, Charles taking care of his sister, and Captain Benwick attending
to her. She gave a moment's recollection, as they hurried along, to
the little circumstances which the same spots had witnessed earlier in
the morning. There she had listened to Henrietta's schemes for Dr
Shirley's leaving Uppercross; farther on, she had first seen Mr Elliot;
a moment seemed all that could now be given to any one but Louisa, or
those who were wrapt up in her welfare.
Captain Benwick was most considerately attentive to her; and, united as
they all seemed by the distress of the day, she felt an increasing
degree of good-will towards him, and a pleasure even in thinking that
it might, perhaps, be the occasion of continuing their acquaintance.
Captain Wentworth was on the watch for them, and a chaise and four in
waiting, stationed for their convenience in the lowest part of the
street; but his evident surprise and vexation at the substitution of
one sister for the other, the change in his countenance, the
astonishment, the expressions begun and suppressed, with which Charles
was listened to, made but a mortifying reception of Anne; or must at
least convince her that she was valued only as she could be useful to
She endeavoured to be composed, and to be just. Without emulating the
feelings of an Emma towards her Henry, she would have attended on
Louisa with a zeal above the common claims of regard, for his sake; and
she hoped he would not long be so unjust as to suppose she would shrink
unnecessarily from the office of a friend.
In the mean while she was in the carriage. He had handed them both in,
and placed himself between them; and in this manner, under these
circumstances, full of astonishment and emotion to Anne, she quitted
Lyme. How the long stage would pass; how it was to affect their
manners; what was to be their sort of intercourse, she could not
foresee. It was all quite natural, however. He was devoted to
Henrietta; always turning towards her; and when he spoke at all, always
with the view of supporting her hopes and raising her spirits. In
general, his voice and manner were studiously calm. To spare Henrietta
from agitation seemed the governing principle. Once only, when she had
been grieving over the last ill-judged, ill-fated walk to the Cobb,
bitterly lamenting that it ever had been thought of, he burst forth, as
if wholly overcome--
"Don't talk of it, don't talk of it," he cried. "Oh God! that I had
not given way to her at the fatal moment! Had I done as I ought! But
so eager and so resolute! Dear, sweet Louisa!"
Anne wondered whether it ever occurred to him now, to question the
justness of his own previous opinion as to the universal felicity and
advantage of firmness of character; and whether it might not strike him
that, like all other qualities of the mind, it should have its
proportions and limits. She thought it could scarcely escape him to
feel that a persuadable temper might sometimes be as much in favour of
happiness as a very resolute character.
They got on fast. Anne was astonished to recognise the same hills and
the same objects so soon. Their actual speed, heightened by some dread
of the conclusion, made the road appear but half as long as on the day
before. It was growing quite dusk, however, before they were in the
neighbourhood of Uppercross, and there had been total silence among
them for some time, Henrietta leaning back in the corner, with a shawl
over her face, giving the hope of her having cried herself to sleep;
when, as they were going up their last hill, Anne found herself all at
once addressed by Captain Wentworth. In a low, cautious voice, he
"I have been considering what we had best do. She must not appear at
first. She could not stand it. I have been thinking whether you had
not better remain in the carriage with her, while I go in and break it
to Mr and Mrs Musgrove. Do you think this is a good plan?"
She did: he was satisfied, and said no more. But the remembrance of
the appeal remained a pleasure to her, as a proof of friendship, and of
deference for her judgement, a great pleasure; and when it became a
sort of parting proof, its value did not lessen.
When the distressing communication at Uppercross was over, and he had
seen the father and mother quite as composed as could be hoped, and the
daughter all the better for being with them, he announced his intention
of returning in the same carriage to Lyme; and when the horses were
baited, he was off.
(End of volume one.)
The remainder of Anne's time at Uppercross, comprehending only two
days, was spent entirely at the Mansion House; and she had the
satisfaction of knowing herself extremely useful there, both as an
immediate companion, and as assisting in all those arrangements for the
future, which, in Mr and Mrs Musgrove's distressed state of spirits,
would have been difficulties.
They had an early account from Lyme the next morning. Louisa was much
the same. No symptoms worse than before had appeared. Charles came a
few hours afterwards, to bring a later and more particular account. He
was tolerably cheerful. A speedy cure must not be hoped, but
everything was going on as well as the nature of the case admitted. In
speaking of the Harvilles, he seemed unable to satisfy his own sense of
their kindness, especially of Mrs Harville's exertions as a nurse.
"She really left nothing for Mary to do. He and Mary had been
persuaded to go early to their inn last night. Mary had been
hysterical again this morning. When he came away, she was going to
walk out with Captain Benwick, which, he hoped, would do her good. He
almost wished she had been prevailed on to come home the day before;
but the truth was, that Mrs Harville left nothing for anybody to do."
Charles was to return to Lyme the same afternoon, and his father had at
first half a mind to go with him, but the ladies could not consent. It
would be going only to multiply trouble to the others, and increase his
own distress; and a much better scheme followed and was acted upon. A
chaise was sent for from Crewkherne, and Charles conveyed back a far
more useful person in the old nursery-maid of the family, one who
having brought up all the children, and seen the very last, the
lingering and long-petted Master Harry, sent to school after his
brothers, was now living in her deserted nursery to mend stockings and
dress all the blains and bruises she could get near her, and who,
consequently, was only too happy in being allowed to go and help nurse
dear Miss Louisa. Vague wishes of getting Sarah thither, had occurred
before to Mrs Musgrove and Henrietta; but without Anne, it would hardly
have been resolved on, and found practicable so soon.
They were indebted, the next day, to Charles Hayter, for all the minute
knowledge of Louisa, which it was so essential to obtain every
twenty-four hours. He made it his business to go to Lyme, and his
account was still encouraging. The intervals of sense and
consciousness were believed to be stronger. Every report agreed in
Captain Wentworth's appearing fixed in Lyme.
Anne was to leave them on the morrow, an event which they all dreaded.
"What should they do without her? They were wretched comforters for
one another." And so much was said in this way, that Anne thought she
could not do better than impart among them the general inclination to
which she was privy, and persuaded them all to go to Lyme at once. She
had little difficulty; it was soon determined that they would go; go
to-morrow, fix themselves at the inn, or get into lodgings, as it
suited, and there remain till dear Louisa could be moved. They must be
taking off some trouble from the good people she was with; they might
at least relieve Mrs Harville from the care of her own children; and in
short, they were so happy in the decision, that Anne was delighted with
what she had done, and felt that she could not spend her last morning
at Uppercross better than in assisting their preparations, and sending
them off at an early hour, though her being left to the solitary range
of the house was the consequence.
She was the last, excepting the little boys at the cottage, she was the
very last, the only remaining one of all that had filled and animated
both houses, of all that had given Uppercross its cheerful character.
A few days had made a change indeed!
If Louisa recovered, it would all be well again. More than former
happiness would be restored. There could not be a doubt, to her mind
there was none, of what would follow her recovery. A few months hence,
and the room now so deserted, occupied but by her silent, pensive self,
might be filled again with all that was happy and gay, all that was
glowing and bright in prosperous love, all that was most unlike Anne
An hour's complete leisure for such reflections as these, on a dark
November day, a small thick rain almost blotting out the very few
objects ever to be discerned from the windows, was enough to make the
sound of Lady Russell's carriage exceedingly welcome; and yet, though
desirous to be gone, she could not quit the Mansion House, or look an
adieu to the Cottage, with its black, dripping and comfortless veranda,
or even notice through the misty glasses the last humble tenements of
the village, without a saddened heart. Scenes had passed in Uppercross
which made it precious. It stood the record of many sensations of
pain, once severe, but now softened; and of some instances of relenting
feeling, some breathings of friendship and reconciliation, which could
never be looked for again, and which could never cease to be dear. She
left it all behind her, all but the recollection that such things had
Anne had never entered Kellynch since her quitting Lady Russell's house
in September. It had not been necessary, and the few occasions of its
being possible for her to go to the Hall she had contrived to evade and
escape from. Her first return was to resume her place in the modern
and elegant apartments of the Lodge, and to gladden the eyes of its
There was some anxiety mixed with Lady Russell's joy in meeting her.
She knew who had been frequenting Uppercross. But happily, either Anne
was improved in plumpness and looks, or Lady Russell fancied her so;
and Anne, in receiving her compliments on the occasion, had the
amusement of connecting them with the silent admiration of her cousin,
and of hoping that she was to be blessed with a second spring of youth
When they came to converse, she was soon sensible of some mental
change. The subjects of which her heart had been full on leaving
Kellynch, and which she had felt slighted, and been compelled to
smother among the Musgroves, were now become but of secondary interest.
She had lately lost sight even of her father and sister and Bath.
Their concerns had been sunk under those of Uppercross; and when Lady
Russell reverted to their former hopes and fears, and spoke her
satisfaction in the house in Camden Place, which had been taken, and
her regret that Mrs Clay should still be with them, Anne would have
been ashamed to have it known how much more she was thinking of Lyme
and Louisa Musgrove, and all her acquaintance there; how much more
interesting to her was the home and the friendship of the Harvilles and
Captain Benwick, than her own father's house in Camden Place, or her
own sister's intimacy with Mrs Clay. She was actually forced to exert
herself to meet Lady Russell with anything like the appearance of equal
solicitude, on topics which had by nature the first claim on her.
There was a little awkwardness at first in their discourse on another
subject. They must speak of the accident at Lyme. Lady Russell had
not been arrived five minutes the day before, when a full account of
the whole had burst on her; but still it must be talked of, she must
make enquiries, she must regret the imprudence, lament the result, and
Captain Wentworth's name must be mentioned by both. Anne was conscious
of not doing it so well as Lady Russell. She could not speak the name,
and look straight forward to Lady Russell's eye, till she had adopted
the expedient of telling her briefly what she thought of the attachment
between him and Louisa. When this was told, his name distressed her no
Lady Russell had only to listen composedly, and wish them happy, but
internally her heart revelled in angry pleasure, in pleased contempt,
that the man who at twenty-three had seemed to understand somewhat of
the value of an Anne Elliot, should, eight years afterwards, be charmed
by a Louisa Musgrove.
The first three or four days passed most quietly, with no circumstance
to mark them excepting the receipt of a note or two from Lyme, which
found their way to Anne, she could not tell how, and brought a rather
improving account of Louisa. At the end of that period, Lady Russell's
politeness could repose no longer, and the fainter self-threatenings of
the past became in a decided tone, "I must call on Mrs Croft; I really
must call upon her soon. Anne, have you courage to go with me, and pay
a visit in that house? It will be some trial to us both."
Anne did not shrink from it; on the contrary, she truly felt as she
said, in observing--
"I think you are very likely to suffer the most of the two; your
feelings are less reconciled to the change than mine. By remaining in
the neighbourhood, I am become inured to it."
She could have said more on the subject; for she had in fact so high an
opinion of the Crofts, and considered her father so very fortunate in
his tenants, felt the parish to be so sure of a good example, and the
poor of the best attention and relief, that however sorry and ashamed
for the necessity of the removal, she could not but in conscience feel
that they were gone who deserved not to stay, and that Kellynch Hall
had passed into better hands than its owners'. These convictions must
unquestionably have their own pain, and severe was its kind; but they
precluded that pain which Lady Russell would suffer in entering the
house again, and returning through the well-known apartments.
In such moments Anne had no power of saying to herself, "These rooms
ought to belong only to us. Oh, how fallen in their destination! How
unworthily occupied! An ancient family to be so driven away!
Strangers filling their place!" No, except when she thought of her
mother, and remembered where she had been used to sit and preside, she
had no sigh of that description to heave.
Mrs Croft always met her with a kindness which gave her the pleasure of
fancying herself a favourite, and on the present occasion, receiving
her in that house, there was particular attention.
The sad accident at Lyme was soon the prevailing topic, and on
comparing their latest accounts of the invalid, it appeared that each
lady dated her intelligence from the same hour of yestermorn; that
Captain Wentworth had been in Kellynch yesterday (the first time since
the accident), had brought Anne the last note, which she had not been
able to trace the exact steps of; had staid a few hours and then
returned again to Lyme, and without any present intention of quitting
it any more. He had enquired after her, she found, particularly; had
expressed his hope of Miss Elliot's not being the worse for her
exertions, and had spoken of those exertions as great. This was
handsome, and gave her more pleasure than almost anything else could
As to the sad catastrophe itself, it could be canvassed only in one
style by a couple of steady, sensible women, whose judgements had to
work on ascertained events; and it was perfectly decided that it had
been the consequence of much thoughtlessness and much imprudence; that
its effects were most alarming, and that it was frightful to think, how
long Miss Musgrove's recovery might yet be doubtful, and how liable she
would still remain to suffer from the concussion hereafter! The
Admiral wound it up summarily by exclaiming--
"Ay, a very bad business indeed. A new sort of way this, for a young
fellow to be making love, by breaking his mistress's head, is not it,
Miss Elliot? This is breaking a head and giving a plaster, truly!"
Admiral Croft's manners were not quite of the tone to suit Lady
Russell, but they delighted Anne. His goodness of heart and simplicity
of character were irresistible.
"Now, this must be very bad for you," said he, suddenly rousing from a
little reverie, "to be coming and finding us here. I had not
recollected it before, I declare, but it must be very bad. But now, do
not stand upon ceremony. Get up and go over all the rooms in the house
if you like it."
"Another time, Sir, I thank you, not now."
"Well, whenever it suits you. You can slip in from the shrubbery at
any time; and there you will find we keep our umbrellas hanging up by
that door. A good place is not it? But," (checking himself), "you
will not think it a good place, for yours were always kept in the
butler's room. Ay, so it always is, I believe. One man's ways may be
as good as another's, but we all like our own best. And so you must
judge for yourself, whether it would be better for you to go about the
house or not."
Anne, finding she might decline it, did so, very gratefully.
"We have made very few changes either," continued the Admiral, after
thinking a moment. "Very few. We told you about the laundry-door, at
Uppercross. That has been a very great improvement. The wonder was,
how any family upon earth could bear with the inconvenience of its
opening as it did, so long! You will tell Sir Walter what we have
done, and that Mr Shepherd thinks it the greatest improvement the house
ever had. Indeed, I must do ourselves the justice to say, that the few
alterations we have made have been all very much for the better. My
wife should have the credit of them, however. I have done very little
besides sending away some of the large looking-glasses from my
dressing-room, which was your father's. A very good man, and very much
the gentleman I am sure: but I should think, Miss Elliot," (looking
with serious reflection), "I should think he must be rather a dressy
man for his time of life. Such a number of looking-glasses! oh Lord!
there was no getting away from one's self. So I got Sophy to lend me a
hand, and we soon shifted their quarters; and now I am quite snug, with
my little shaving glass in one corner, and another great thing that I
never go near."
Anne, amused in spite of herself, was rather distressed for an answer,
and the Admiral, fearing he might not have been civil enough, took up
the subject again, to say--
"The next time you write to your good father, Miss Elliot, pray give
him my compliments and Mrs Croft's, and say that we are settled here
quite to our liking, and have no fault at all to find with the place.
The breakfast-room chimney smokes a little, I grant you, but it is only
when the wind is due north and blows hard, which may not happen three
times a winter. And take it altogether, now that we have been into
most of the houses hereabouts and can judge, there is not one that we
like better than this. Pray say so, with my compliments. He will be
glad to hear it."
Lady Russell and Mrs Croft were very well pleased with each other: but
the acquaintance which this visit began was fated not to proceed far at
present; for when it was returned, the Crofts announced themselves to
be going away for a few weeks, to visit their connexions in the north
of the county, and probably might not be at home again before Lady
Russell would be removing to Bath.
So ended all danger to Anne of meeting Captain Wentworth at Kellynch
Hall, or of seeing him in company with her friend. Everything was safe
enough, and she smiled over the many anxious feelings she had wasted on
Though Charles and Mary had remained at Lyme much longer after Mr and
Mrs Musgrove's going than Anne conceived they could have been at all
wanted, they were yet the first of the family to be at home again; and
as soon as possible after their return to Uppercross they drove over to
the Lodge. They had left Louisa beginning to sit up; but her head,
though clear, was exceedingly weak, and her nerves susceptible to the
highest extreme of tenderness; and though she might be pronounced to be
altogether doing very well, it was still impossible to say when she
might be able to bear the removal home; and her father and mother, who
must return in time to receive their younger children for the Christmas
holidays, had hardly a hope of being allowed to bring her with them.
They had been all in lodgings together. Mrs Musgrove had got Mrs
Harville's children away as much as she could, every possible supply
from Uppercross had been furnished, to lighten the inconvenience to the
Harvilles, while the Harvilles had been wanting them to come to dinner
every day; and in short, it seemed to have been only a struggle on each
side as to which should be most disinterested and hospitable.
Mary had had her evils; but upon the whole, as was evident by her
staying so long, she had found more to enjoy than to suffer. Charles
Hayter had been at Lyme oftener than suited her; and when they dined
with the Harvilles there had been only a maid-servant to wait, and at
first Mrs Harville had always given Mrs Musgrove precedence; but then,
she had received so very handsome an apology from her on finding out
whose daughter she was, and there had been so much going on every day,
there had been so many walks between their lodgings and the Harvilles,
and she had got books from the library, and changed them so often, that
the balance had certainly been much in favour of Lyme. She had been
taken to Charmouth too, and she had bathed, and she had gone to church,
and there were a great many more people to look at in the church at
Lyme than at Uppercross; and all this, joined to the sense of being so
very useful, had made really an agreeable fortnight.
Anne enquired after Captain Benwick, Mary's face was clouded directly.
"Oh! Captain Benwick is very well, I believe, but he is a very odd
young man. I do not know what he would be at. We asked him to come
home with us for a day or two: Charles undertook to give him some
shooting, and he seemed quite delighted, and, for my part, I thought it
was all settled; when behold! on Tuesday night, he made a very awkward
sort of excuse; 'he never shot' and he had 'been quite misunderstood,'
and he had promised this and he had promised that, and the end of it
was, I found, that he did not mean to come. I suppose he was afraid of
finding it dull; but upon my word I should have thought we were lively
enough at the Cottage for such a heart-broken man as Captain Benwick."
Charles laughed again and said, "Now Mary, you know very well how it
really was. It was all your doing," (turning to Anne.) "He fancied
that if he went with us, he should find you close by: he fancied
everybody to be living in Uppercross; and when he discovered that Lady
Russell lived three miles off, his heart failed him, and he had not
courage to come. That is the fact, upon my honour, Mary knows it is."
But Mary did not give into it very graciously, whether from not
considering Captain Benwick entitled by birth and situation to be in
love with an Elliot, or from not wanting to believe Anne a greater
attraction to Uppercross than herself, must be left to be guessed.
Anne's good-will, however, was not to be lessened by what she heard.
She boldly acknowledged herself flattered, and continued her enquiries.
"Oh! he talks of you," cried Charles, "in such terms--" Mary
interrupted him. "I declare, Charles, I never heard him mention Anne
twice all the time I was there. I declare, Anne, he never talks of you
"No," admitted Charles, "I do not know that he ever does, in a general
way; but however, it is a very clear thing that he admires you
exceedingly. His head is full of some books that he is reading upon
your recommendation, and he wants to talk to you about them; he has
found out something or other in one of them which he thinks--oh! I
cannot pretend to remember it, but it was something very fine--I
overheard him telling Henrietta all about it; and then 'Miss Elliot'
was spoken of in the highest terms! Now Mary, I declare it was so, I
heard it myself, and you were in the other room. 'Elegance, sweetness,
beauty.' Oh! there was no end of Miss Elliot's charms."
"And I am sure," cried Mary, warmly, "it was a very little to his
credit, if he did. Miss Harville only died last June. Such a heart is
very little worth having; is it, Lady Russell? I am sure you will
agree with me."
"I must see Captain Benwick before I decide," said Lady Russell,
"And that you are very likely to do very soon, I can tell you, ma'am,"
said Charles. "Though he had not nerves for coming away with us, and
setting off again afterwards to pay a formal visit here, he will make
his way over to Kellynch one day by himself, you may depend on it. I
told him the distance and the road, and I told him of the church's
being so very well worth seeing; for as he has a taste for those sort
of things, I thought that would be a good excuse, and he listened with
all his understanding and soul; and I am sure from his manner that you
will have him calling here soon. So, I give you notice, Lady Russell."
"Any acquaintance of Anne's will always be welcome to me," was Lady
Russell's kind answer.
"Oh! as to being Anne's acquaintance," said Mary, "I think he is rather
my acquaintance, for I have been seeing him every day this last
"Well, as your joint acquaintance, then, I shall be very happy to see
"You will not find anything very agreeable in him, I assure you, ma'am.
He is one of the dullest young men that ever lived. He has walked with
me, sometimes, from one end of the sands to the other, without saying a
word. He is not at all a well-bred young man. I am sure you will not
"There we differ, Mary," said Anne. "I think Lady Russell would like
him. I think she would be so much pleased with his mind, that she
would very soon see no deficiency in his manner."
"So do I, Anne," said Charles. "I am sure Lady Russell would like him.
He is just Lady Russell's sort. Give him a book, and he will read all
"Yes, that he will!" exclaimed Mary, tauntingly. "He will sit poring
over his book, and not know when a person speaks to him, or when one
drop's one's scissors, or anything that happens. Do you think Lady
Russell would like that?"
Lady Russell could not help laughing. "Upon my word," said she, "I
should not have supposed that my opinion of any one could have admitted
of such difference of conjecture, steady and matter of fact as I may
call myself. I have really a curiosity to see the person who can give
occasion to such directly opposite notions. I wish he may be induced
to call here. And when he does, Mary, you may depend upon hearing my
opinion; but I am determined not to judge him beforehand."
"You will not like him, I will answer for it."
Lady Russell began talking of something else. Mary spoke with
animation of their meeting with, or rather missing, Mr Elliot so
"He is a man," said Lady Russell, "whom I have no wish to see. His
declining to be on cordial terms with the head of his family, has left
a very strong impression in his disfavour with me."
This decision checked Mary's eagerness, and stopped her short in the
midst of the Elliot countenance.
With regard to Captain Wentworth, though Anne hazarded no enquiries,
there was voluntary communication sufficient. His spirits had been
greatly recovering lately as might be expected. As Louisa improved, he
had improved, and he was now quite a different creature from what he
had been the first week. He had not seen Louisa; and was so extremely
fearful of any ill consequence to her from an interview, that he did
not press for it at all; and, on the contrary, seemed to have a plan of
going away for a week or ten days, till her head was stronger. He had
talked of going down to Plymouth for a week, and wanted to persuade
Captain Benwick to go with him; but, as Charles maintained to the last,
Captain Benwick seemed much more disposed to ride over to Kellynch.
There can be no doubt that Lady Russell and Anne were both occasionally
thinking of Captain Benwick, from this time. Lady Russell could not
hear the door-bell without feeling that it might be his herald; nor
could Anne return from any stroll of solitary indulgence in her
father's grounds, or any visit of charity in the village, without
wondering whether she might see him or hear of him. Captain Benwick
came not, however. He was either less disposed for it than Charles had
imagined, or he was too shy; and after giving him a week's indulgence,
Lady Russell determined him to be unworthy of the interest which he had
been beginning to excite.
The Musgroves came back to receive their happy boys and girls from