Posted on: 2016-01-06
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."
-Persuasion, Chapter 9
As a set ended, suddenly Admiral Croft exclaimed, "Miss Anne, do you not wish to dance this evening?"
Anne could not reply, such was her astonishment. Indeed, the room was silent. Admiral Croft, though, was persistent. "Surely Miss Anne, another lady could play if you desire to dance?"
Anne, still shocked, could only make out, "Admiral, you are too kind," before one of Charles Hayter's brothers asked to dance with her. Henrietta offered to play. Charles Hayter escorted her to the pianoforte and took a seat beside her.
As the dance progressed she tried her best to converse with her partner, but she could feel Captain Wentworth's eyes upon her as he sat upon a nearby sofa.
The set ended and Admiral Croft asked Anne for the next, while Sophy decided to rest. Captain Wentworth, meanwhile, danced with Mary.
Anne and Admiral Croft's set was filled with conversation about the Admiral's travels, greatly encouraged by Anne, whom the Admiral was stunned to find had knowledge of the Navy he would not have expected from a sheltered Baronet's daughter.
As the set ended, Admiral Croft bowed and Anne curtseyed. Louisa cried, "Anne, surely you have enjoyed yourself dancing tonight, but we cannot do without you at the pianoforte."
Once again, the room was silent.
Captain Wentworth suddenly appeared by Anne's side, bowed, and offered his hand. "May I have the next dance?"
Mrs. Musgrove offered to play while Charles Hayter took Henrietta's hand and asked her to dance. Anne, nearly overcome, gave her hand to Captain Wentworth. Louisa, meanwhile, was obliged to rest.
Anne and the Captain danced in silence, but to Anne every touch was filled with more emotion than even the greatest poets could express. He looked at her with an expression she could not place. She was grateful she knew the steps because all she wanted was to take him in and know that he was hers for just this brief time.
And then, it was over. The evening was over. The Crofts announced that they should return to Kellynch.
Captain Wentworth thanked the Musgroves for their hospitality, bowed, and was gone.
Soon after, Charles, Mary, and Anne left.
The next day, Captain Wentworth called at Uppercross Cottage to ask about the health of Little Charles. Upon being reassured by Mary that he was healing well, he inquired as to the health of her and her sister after the late evening before.
"We are both well," Mary replied.
"I am glad to hear it. I have a message from the Admiral for Miss Anne."
"I believe she is in the garden if you wish to speak to her."
Anne sat on a bench in the garden, reflecting. Her conflicted mind had kept her up most of the night and was still in the midst of battle even then.
She heard footsteps, and then saw him. Startled, she stood up.
Captain Wentworth stopped, collected himself, and bowed. "Miss Elliot."
He stood, looking at the robin in a nearby tree. Moments passed, feeling like an eternity. Suddenly, he spoke.
"Admiral Croft wished you to know how much he enjoyed your conversation last night. 'Only a Navy wife would know as much as she', he said. All the way to Kellynch he speculated as to how you would know."
Anne could not reply.
Captain Wentworth looked askance. "He did not guess correctly."
Anne gathered up what little courage she had. "I had an excellent instructor."
His head snapped towards her.
Trembling, she continued, "An instructor who entertained the foolish questions of an ignorant girl and answered them without mockery. An instructor who spoke from experience, reflected in his accomplishments."
She paused. "An instructor whose lessons I have missed these past eight years after I broke his heart, and mine."
The air was heavy with silence. He stood still.
She could not bear it.
"I would like to learn again, if he was willing to instruct me."
She sat back down on the bench, head bowed, hands clasped in front of her, shocked at her own forwardness.
His hand covered hers, and she looked at his face as he kneeled before her. "The honor would be mine."