"Many people in town today," she commented, "Perhaps we shall venture out later?" She asked almost mockingly, "You keep me cooped up in this house all the time, am I your slave that I should stay and wait on you?"
"No, no, I keep you here lest a more handsome man try and steal you away."
"What if I want to go with him?"
"Peace little minx!" he laughed in feigned annoyance.
She leaned back and a smile broke on to her face. She is so beautiful, he thought to himself. His eyes grew serious and a look of sheer love swept over them, a look that sent goose bumps down her spine and neck.
"I love you Anne Wentworth."
"And I absolutely adore you." She whispered.
He lowered his head and placed a gentle kiss on her soft sweet lips, then he kissed her nose, and then her forehead. He wrapped his strong arms around her and intertwined their fingers together. And there they sat... Their relationship was ideal and of a fairy-tale nature, no one would ever believe that these two had come close to ruining each other's lives. No one could tell the turmoil these two had been through before they could sit as they were, in each other's arms.
"Do you ever think back and remember? Remember how we met--and after that?"
He was silent. His gaze went to the window.
"You hated me."
"I was angry," he didn't look at her.
"No, you really hated me."
"No, no I loved you. That is why I was angry at you."
"Do you think back?" She glanced at his face.
"Only the good times, when we were together." He said with a half smile.
"Never that one day?"
"Never. It doesn't matter now."
"I have you, and you have me now, and all of that stuff so many years ago will only help me remember how much I love you now."
She sighed pleasantly, "I love you Frederick."
"Good." And he kissed her again, only this time her lingered there savoring her sweetness, he lingered for a long time...
Footsteps echoed eerily in the corridor. Anne Elliot began to tiptoe, because the sound of her own footsteps unnerved her. The rustling of her skirts made a sweet sound that countered the harsh noise of her feet.
She passed the large hall mirror, but she stopped and turned to stare at herself with an enigmatic look on her face. She saw a slight slim girl, between childhood and womanhood. Her reddish-brown hair, delicately pulled up, had little whispers of locks falling from their pins. Her face, thought thin and pale, held a bright light that came from her eyes and her lips. The light of womanhood might be hidden behind that callow façade. With a flick of her head and a low chuckle she turned and continued her solitary ramble through the halls of the great Kellynch Hall.
"Becoming quite vain Anne," she said to herself, "admiring yourself in mirrors?" but dear Anne Elliot was far from vain, in fact she was as humble and as artless as a child. This humility accentuated her childlike features.
A few years before, Anne Elliot had been a very pretty girl, but her bloom had vanished early; and even in its height, her father, Sir Elliot, had found little to admire in her, now she was faded and thin.
Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot's character; vanity of person and situation. He had been remarkably handsome in his youth and at forty-six, was still a very fine man. Few women could think more of their personal appearance than he did, and for this he could not admire Anne's haggard appearance.
His good looks had one fair claim, since to them he must have owed a wife of very superior character to anything he deserved. Lady Elizabeth Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable. She had humored or softened, or concealed his failings. Three daughters were an awful legacy for a mother to bequeath to this conceited silly father.
Elizabeth, the eldest, had succeeded to all that was possible of her mother's rights and consequences and being very handsome, her influence had always been great, and she and her father had gone on together most happily. The youngest, Mary, was a course, disagreeable child, but Anne, with 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; she was only Anne.
We turn back to sweet Anne now as she tiptoed down the hall, smiling in some memory. She made her way downstairs and into the library. Her movements were so silent and careful now that she could have been mistaken as a ghost-perhaps the spirit of Lady Elizabeth come to watch over the household.
Once in the library, Anne breathed easier and picked up a volume of poems, they were poems by Scott and she turned to the verse "To a Lady" and began to read...
Take these flowers which, purple waving
On the ruined rampart grew
Where, the sons of freedom braving
Rome's imperial standards flow.
Warriors from the breach of danger
Pluck no longer laurels there
They but yield the passing stranger
Wild-flower wreaths for Beauty's hair.
Anne leaned back in the luxurious chair and closed her eyes. She could almost see the purple bouquet rustling in the wind near the city walls. She could picture the warrior giving a bouquet to his fiancée as he left for wars, she could...
Anne jumped and the book landed on the floor, "Oh! Lady Russell, I did not see you come in. What do you do here?"
"It is such a lovely day! Why are you not outside?"
"It looked as if it would rain this morning."
"Oh, well it is beautiful now, come ride with me into Monkford, I am in such need of an outing."
"But dear Lady Russell, I must..."
"Never mind that dear, do come with me, I long for your company."
"Well I suppose so. Yes! I'll come."
Lady Russell was a sensible, deserving woman who had been brought, by strong attachment to Lady Elliot, to settle close by. To Lady Russell Anne was a most dear and highly valued goddaughter, favorite and friend. Lady Russell loved them all, but it was only in Anne that she could fancy the mother to revive again.
"We will take my carriage into Monkford," stated Lady Russell as they walked to the door.
"Why are we not going into Kellynch? It is much closer than Monkford."
"Atmosphere, dear Anne! Even I tire of the same sights of Kellynch. Also the new curate has arrived and I have great desire to meet him."
"Yes indeed so do I."
The two ladies made their way to the carriage and stepped flowingly inside. With a sharp crack of the whip the horses leapt forward and they were on their way to wee village of Monkford.
The ride into Monkford was delightful and pleasant and the carriage was full of lively dialogue. In town Lady Russell directed the coachman to drive at once to the parsonage.
The new rector was standing in his lawn when the ladies arrived. He welcomed them with a warm smile and affable greeting. "Lady Russell how good of you to come. I have heard much about you."
"Thank you sir...this is my goddaughter Anne Elliot of Kellynch."
"He bowed majestically and flashed her a winning smile, "Miss Elliot, my name is Edward Wentworth and it's a pleasure to have you. Shall I apply to Mrs. Burned for tea?"
Anne liked the young Reverend Wentworth. His open manners and vivacious nature made her feel welcome. He did not appear like country parson, but more like a seaman or a soldier. He was tall, and lean, but not at all feeble. His dark hair was disheveled in an odd way that complimented his care-free disposition. His humor and gentlemanly manners caused both ladies to approve of him instantly.
"I understand, Mr. Wentworth," said Lady Russell as soon as they were comfortable, "that many of your family are seafaring people."
"Yes indeed Ma'am. My sister is married to a good man who is very soon to be admiral, they are in the Indies now. My younger brother has newly been made captain and commands the Asp. He will be sailing into Portsmouth in a few months."
Lady Russell was little interested in the sea, but she was interested in people and she proceeded to draw young Mr. Wentworth out. Anne wished that he could have continued talking about the ocean, his descriptions engaged her rapt attention
The visit ended too quickly for all parties and Mr. Wentworth invited them to return before long. He stood in his lawn until the carriage was out of sight.
As soon as the trees blocked the ladies view of him, Lady Russell turned to Anne, "Well?"
"What?" Anne was thoroughly perplexed.
"What about Mr. Wentworth?"
"He was a very agreeable and charming."
"I agree, but be careful Anne.:
"He is not the sort of man that you should get emotionally involved with."
Anne laughed, "Oh Lady Russell, surely you did not think that I liked him?"
"It is only that you and people of your station must be very careful with the kinds of men they are involved with. Mr. Wentworth is a dear man, but I should like the distinction of rank preserved."
"Have no fear, Lady Russell. Your advice will always fall on eager ears where I am concerned."
Life at Kellynch was always very dull for our heroine. She spent a great deal of time in the library or with Lady Russell. Her father and sisters rarely paid much attention to her. She had no great attributes to grip their interest and so she was forgotten.
On great persuasion by Lady Russell, Anne began to take daily walks. Either to the village of Kellynch, or to the Russell estate to visit her friend. It was not a long walk to either destination and Anne found herself dawdling slowly and enjoying the scenery around her. It was a unusually beautiful day, warm and sunny. And the flowers seemed to have a more brilliant hue than usual.
She heard a carriage approach from behind her and she stopped to move out of its way, standing just on the edge of the roadway. Surprisingly it began to slow down and as it came to her it halted all together. Reverend Wentworth's head thrust instantly from the window and grinned at her.
"Miss Elliot how fortunate that I met you here.. How wonderful!"
"Good morning, Mr. Wentworth. How do you do?"
"Well, thank you, are you on your way to Lady Russell's home?"
"Indeed I am."
"Splendid, you must ride with me. Oh I absolutely insist." He stepped out and took her hand to assist her in. After he made sure she was comfortable he rapped the carriage roof as a signal for the driver to continue. "I was on my way, Miss Elliot, to Lady Russell's home in order to tell her some excellent news."
"My brother, who captain's the Asp, is returning to England for leave."
"He will come and stay with me in the parsonage."
"How long is his leave?"
"Indefinite, but probably of some duration. Some months, I pray, in the very least."
"What is his name, sir."
"A fine family name, Frederick Allen Wentworth."